As with any addiction, the addiction to love serves to remove those intolerable aspects of reality via certain obsessive-compulsive experiences. The obsessions in this instance are about the person with whom the love addict is infatuated – endlessly preoccupied with the other person.
The search for one’s soul mate, one’s true love, is the subject of many stories from childhood and onwards into romantic novels, movies and songs. A formative example is that of sleeping beauty who lies motionless in an endless slumber. She lies there, disconnected from herself and her surroundings awaiting her Prince Charming to break the spell and be restored to life by his kiss.
This children’s story is a powerful metaphor for the struggle of the love addict who seeks to be released from the pains of life by their saviour. As with any addiction, the addiction to love serves to remove those intolerable aspects of reality via certain obsessive-compulsive experiences. The obsessions in this instance are about the person with whom the love addict is infatuated – endlessly preoccupied with the other person.
This asks the question: is it ‘love’ that the person is addicted to? The love addict’s relationships are normally characterized by infatuation, by obsession, with intensity, preoccupation and a magical sense that this could be the one. The one relationship that can fill the emptiness that can ease the dragging pains of inadequacy and give the fullness of affirmation that is dearly sought. Like the alcoholic who finds refuge in a bottle, the gambler who finds release in the casino, so the love addict finds relief in the promise of the perfect love. Each relationship offers a whispered ‘maybe’ upon which such heavy expectations rest.
Though it seems so, this painful searching is not for a real love. It is the impossible seeking for a magical love that will make the vicissitudes of life disappear. So often emerging from the ruins of physical or emotional abandonment as a child, this self-destructive search is a tragic one that offers healing in each new relationship but it never works out. And then the next one comes along; same hope, same pain of disappointment that becomes ever more excruciating.
Most people carry hopes of finding love; a connected relationship full of joys. Often there is the belief in the one true love but this is not necessarily an indication of love addiction. For the love addict is seeking, through the relationship, to heal the pain and the loss of childhood abandonments. The healing of such pain and loss does not come through the perfect love that is perpetually out of one’s grasp. Rather it is the pain of the addiction sufferer which can be understood and treated through a 12 step support program and psychotherapy. As I can understand what I am seeking in love addiction and find ways to begin my healing so I can let go of my self-destructive patterns and begin to heal my relationship with myself, and with others.