February is a conundrum for me. I love the month because it is the month of my birth and an opportunity to celebrate Black history. But, I can also be a bit of a pessimist when it comes to the month of February; because of Valentine's Day. This day tends to "make or break" relationships as people place value to the love a person has for them based on a span of 24hrs in that ONE day (nevermind the other 364 days) But I digress. This is not about my views on a holiday. Love away!
I will preface that many may not like my use of words related to addiction with relationship to love, but hopefully there will be an extension of grace as I attempt to give perspective on why it is an addiction (Not sex addiction) but love addiction.
With February here and having worked with a number of individuals in unhealthy relationships, my concerns are for the relationships and whether it's serving you well, or increasing toxicity. A lot of how we engage in relationships is rooted in our attachment styles which is rooted in our childhood. Dr. Bolby Coined Attachment Theory which is best explained in this video:
So basically, how we navigate our lives and people is explained. Which attachment style resonates with you? Based on the presence and/or absence of a healthy attachment manifests in our relationships whether you or your partner is "clingy" or "distant" can tell a lot for me as a provider regarding your core attachments growing up. We tend to look at clingy and distant as negative traits, but what if I were to tell you these are "protective" features we develop in the absence of not having security? Yet, now we are in relationships with individuals and have not learned how to become secure in ourselves to be secure with relationships. Thus, individuals enter codependent, or toxic relationship cycles (Not on purpose) but because of attachment issues in childhood. Or maybe we witnessed certain relationship types from our parents and mirror the same behaviors in selecting partners. Regardless the reasons, unhealthy sense of self increases risks to entering codependent or love addicted relationships.
There is a phrase I heard quoted once from a song:
Love and Other Drugs
It holds true; love taps into the same receptors as drug dependency. Why do you think its so hard to break up with him,her,them? Because we have grown an immense attachment to them. Walk with me for a moment as I share how people (or you) may be love addicted.
Set scene, You meet your person. The honeymoon phase initiates, you may be love bombed (or not) but you have all of the happy receptors on overload! (That first high). Then as you exit the honeymoon phase you begin to feel "distant," you yearn for the high of love, so you create situations or scenarios to cause the person to have to show up for you (there is a difference between love happening naturally vs manipulating situations to get a response). The person shows up and you feel a sense of attachment again. Now we are chasing feelings of love as opposed to building a foundation. We begin to tolerate risky situations such as abuse, neglect to feel connected to someone. Like with substance use, individuals may go to great lengths to risk their safety for a high. Now any form of attention is desired as opposed to the attention that is healthy. By the time you are ready to break up with them, you are interconnected because your whole world became the love addiction of them. So, when you try to break up (or they attempt to break up with you) it feels like you are "dying" the world is ending. The pain of grief and detachment ache and hurt. Because you are going through withdrawal. UNTIL they open the door and you get that hit of love again. THIS is how individuals end up in cycles of toxicity. It's a high-withdrawal-high situation. So, when seeing someone in an unhealthy relationship, do not pass judgement, but see it as an addiction. Those who use substances understand it is not healthy for them, when I worked with the population many wanted to "quit." But it is not that simple. Like with Love addiction, support and patience for when they area ready to "go to
treatment" I.e. therapy to better understand their attachments and core beliefs which contribute to the love addiction.
Lets find out what your attachment style is in relationships:
If your relationship style is anything other than secure, this may be a time to reassess how you are navigating you and your partner. Consider therapy and/or if you are a self-help kind of person try reading a book I recommend to all of my clients and staff.
Comment below your attachment style. The great thing is that everyone has the ability to move towards a secure attachment in order to avoid the chance of falling into unhealthy love addiction.