Your Relationship: Love or Addiction?By Dr. Margaret Paul
June 07, 2021
Have you wondered if your relationship is based on healthy love and devotion, or on obsession and addiction?
Have you ever felt confused about whether your feelings in a relationship were coming from a healthy place or from a wounded place? This is Mari's concern:
"How would you describe the difference between obsession/addiction and devotion? When you are deeply in love and moved to be emotionally and physically intimate with someone, how can you tell the difference?"
We can 'fall in love' from two different places:
- When you reject and abandon yourself with your self-judgments, staying focused in your head rather than your heart, and turn to addictions, including the addiction of making someone else responsible for your self-worth, you 'fall in love' from your wounded self. This means that your intent in being in the relationship is to get love rather than to share love.
Unless you love yourself and fill yourself with love, you can’t share love with another. When you abandon yourself, you create an empty hole inside that looks for a relationship in order to get filled externally.
This is obsession/addiction.
- When you love and connect with someone as a loving adult with the intention to love yourself and share your love with your partner, this is healthy devotion. You want to be emotionally and physically intimate with your beloved as a way to express your love rather than trying to get love.
We can be devoted to loving another when we are taking responsibility for our own feelings – not when we expect or need another to make us feel safe, worthy and lovable.
How do you tell the difference?
You tell the difference by how you feel. If you feel like you can't live without the other person, then you are making that person responsible for you and are operating out of a love addiction. If you are happy by yourself and happy with your partner, then you are taking loving care of yourself, and your love for your partner is coming from your fullness and your open heart, not from your emptiness and neediness.
It is sometimes hard to tell the difference at the beginning of a relationship, when the intensity of the “can’t-live-without-them, never-felt-this-way-before, no-one-has-ever-known-this-kind-of-love” feelings of early “in-love-ness” prevail. Enjoy this, but see it for what it is, not allowing yourself to expect it to last forever at this level. You need time to see what your new love does in conflict and whether or not he or she is open to learning.
In order to tell the difference, you need to be honest with yourself.
It's wonderful to want to be emotionally and sexually intimate with a partner, but if you obsess about it, are anxious about it or get depressed if your partner isn't around, then it is likely addictive. You are in your wounded self, hoping your partner will give to you what you are not giving to yourself.
If you greatly look forward to emotionally and physically connected time with your partner, and you can also make yourself happy if plans change, then you are coming from your healthy connected loving adult self.
True devotion is a beautiful thing, and it is the result of first being devoted to loving yourself. This is the challenge.
Relationships fall into place once we are loving ourselves, which means once we are taking responsibility for all of our feelings. It's when we avoid responsibility for our feelings – both the wounded feelings that we cause (anxiety, depression, guilt, shame, anger, emptiness, aloneness and so on) and the painful feelings of life (loneliness, heartbreak, grief, helplessness over others, and so on) that relationships get into trouble.
As soon as you avoid responsibility for your own feelings with self-rejecting behaviors, you then become needy of the other person to give you the love you are not giving yourself. You then pull on the other person to take responsibility for your feelings, which he or she cannot do. This is the main cause of relationship failure.
If a loving relationship is what you want, then first create a loving relationship with yourself. The Inner Bonding process is a powerful way of learning how to learn to love yourself.
Start learning how to love yourself, with Dr. Margaret's 30-Day at-home course, Love Yourself.
Heal your relationship with Dr. Margaret’s 30-Day online video relationship course: Wildly, Deeply, Joyously in Love.
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By Dr. Margaret Paul