Love addiction can consume a person’s life and create ongoing emotional chaos. But like other addictions it can be overcome through careful therapy and treatment.
Groups such as Sex and Love Addicts Anonymous employ a 12 Step program based on the successful recovery format used in Alcoholics Anonymous. Love addicts are encouraged to work step by step to increase self-awareness and learn more positive ways of relating with others. Persons who do work through the process gain a growing awareness of the many choices they face each day.
A major help to love addicts is a new understanding about what measures make for healthy attraction. Many love addicts find themselves repeatedly enmeshed in unhealthy liaisons because they find themselves attracted to either other love addicts or people who are decidedly avoidant. Healthy self-respect can change the sort of love partner an individual chooses to seek out.
In fact, addicts of all stripes are encouraged to set aside all romantic pursuits for a time in order to develop the proper self-respect that engenders a healthier partner search. Over time love addicts come to realize that their smothering affection and turbulent relationships are poor substitutes for the genuine satisfaction of shared intimacy.
During this period of reflection it often comes out that the person experienced some unmet needs during childhood. Contemplating early family issues can help a person discern what needs they may have unwittingly carried into their adult relationships. It can be useful to identify the hunger for parental acceptance, for example, as a driver in adult relationships. Once a person realizes how unrealistic it is to expect a partner to replace a parent healing can begin. Adult relationships cannot be used to successfully resolve childhood family issues.
On the other hand, coming to grips with the emotional cravings that have been propelling their relational addiction can be freeing. Finding acceptance within oneself, and/or with a higher power, can fill the emptiness that the person had been demanding partners to satisfy. No longer must the person choose to create emotional upheaval in the quest for an unconditional acceptance that was not given by parents. The beauty of 12 Step is the insight of what needs drive behavior and what choices a person can make to change that behavior.
Love addiction is real. So is the help available through a 12 Step recovery program along with a comprehensive treatment plan. It is possible to escape the cycle of chaotic relationships and live a life based on realistic expectations and healthy interactions. It doesn’t happen overnight, but with help a new paradigm is possible.