How many times have you listened to a friend talk about her terrible relationship, only to realize that nothing you can say or do will get her to end it?
I never learn that these people are caught in a cycle of addiction and will crawl back for more abuse until circumstances intervene to break things off.
It should be easy for smart people to figure out that they’re playing a losing game. To everyone else, it’s all so obvious. Now there are 12 step groups for Love Addiction but try getting your friend to go to a meeting. I once got as far as showing someone the online questionnaire about Love Addiction. She answered Yes to nearly every question. But mostly what she really wanted was to talk about the horrible creep who was making her miserable and showed every intention of making her even more miserable.
A long time ago in a galaxy far away, I got caught up like this. A man who didn’t love me and treated me badly was ruining my life. When I broke up with him, he took it well. I felt proud of myself for ending it. Now I would be free! Within 48 hours, I’d call him and whine, “I miss you.” Thus would begin another round of the same pathetic cycle. I needed a fix of whatever it was he was dealing, and he was glad to give it to me. In retrospect, I am amazed at how patient my friends were when I ranted about what a bastard he was.
Feelings of inadequacy, fear of abandonment, fear of rejection, buried rage, lack of self-identity are all characteristics of the Love Addict. Then there’s the dopamine issue once the game gets going.
It’s so painful to watch someone you care about waste their time and batter their own self-esteem through this irrational and obsessive behavior. I have three friends at present who are lost in addictive affairs that are dragging them down. I wish I could help, but I can’t. I’m glad it’s not me, though.
If you’ve broken free of a screwed up addictive relationship, what have you learned about yourself? What helped you to survive the withdrawal? Or how have you been able to lead a friend toward self-preservation?