Healing Love Addiction Within a RelationshipBy Dr. Margaret Paul
June 17, 2013
Relationships can provide a wonderful arena for healing love addiction.
Many relationships flounder due to the issue of love addiction. Since people come together at their common level of woundedness – i.e., their common level of self-abandonment – if one partner is love addicted, it is likely that the other partner is also love addicted or addicted to caretaking the love-addicted partner.
Does the relationship need to end to heal this, or can it be healed within the relationship? This is the question that Marianne is asking:
"Is it possible to recover from a love addiction and remain in/redefine the relationship? What is required of both partners to make this successful?
"We are in the process of changing a love-addicted relationship into a loving relationship. How will we know when we've achieved it?
"I think I may have confused love addiction for love in my relationship. Is there a 'litmus test' to determine if this is the case? Is it possible for real love to grow in a place where previously only a love addiction existed?"
I will answer each of these questions, one at a time.
"Is it possible to recover from a love addiction and remain in/redefine the relationship?"
Yes! In fact, it's far preferable to heal love addiction within the relationship than to try to heal it outside of the relationship, because the underlying issues get triggered within the relationship. If you leave the relationship, the deeper issues might not surface again until you are in another relationship, and then it is likely that the same issues will emerge.
"What is required of both partners to make this successful?"
While one partner can begin to change the codependent system, when both partners are willing to learn how to take loving care of their own feelings, they have an excellent chance of healing their relationship.
Love addiction, like all addictions, is the result of self-rejection/self-abandonment. When each partner practices Inner Bonding and learns how to take loving care of their own feelings, then they are no longer needy of the other's love and attention to feel lovable and worthy, and no longer available to care-take a love-addicted partner.
"How will we know when we've achieved a loving relationship?"
When you find yourselves loving to be together – fully enjoying each other and having fun together and you are able to caringly resolve conflicts, you are well on your way to a loving relationship. When you are no longer making your partner responsible for your self-worth, and are no longer taking responsibility for your partner's feelings of self-worth, you will likely find yourselves feeling much more connected with each other.
"I think I may have confused love addiction for love in my relationship. Is there a 'litmus test' to determine if this is the case?"
You are loving your partner when you are able to fully support your partner in whatever brings him or her joy. When love-addicted, you often want to limit what your partner does out of your fear and insecurity, but when you love your partner, you feel joy for their joy. You are focused on sharing your love with your partner rather than on getting love.
"Is it possible for real love to grow in a place where previously only a love addiction existed?"
Yes, it is very possible, but it depends on each partner's devotion to loving self-care. Your ability to share real love with your partner is the result of learning how to fill yourself with love so that you have love to share. If you are rejecting and abandoning yourself, you are empty inside and needy of another's love to feel okay. The love between you will likely grow as you each learn to love and value yourselves.
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Today, think about what you do that makes you feel invisible to others. Do you give in to others rather than stand in your truth? Do you avoid asking for what you want to avoid rejection? Do you act like everything is okay when it isn't? Do you agree with others to avoid conflict? Do you ignore your own feelings but attend to others' feelings? If you sometimes feel invisible, notice what you may be doing to create this.
By Dr. Margaret Paul