Saturday, October 22, 2011

Relationship Addiction and Co Dependency Counseling

Relationship addiction is becoming recognised more and more as a serious problem requiring careful co-dependency counselling. Co-dependency in general terms means two parties in a relationship based on a mutual dependency. Most relationships have a mutual level of healthy dependency. However, some relationships can become addictive, toxic and extremely unhealthy to the point where the relationship addiction begins to affect both parties negatively.
What is Co-Dependency?
Co-dependency or relationship addiction is when one or both people in a relationship become literally dependent on the other. Drugs, compulsive behaviour or other destructive habits from one person in a relationship can affect the other person to such a degree that they find themselves acting out on co-dependency.
Often when a person is involved in a close relationship, whether it is friendship, a romantic relationship, a family member or a spouse, if the other half of that relationship begins to self destruct in some way, that person becomes co-dependent. Some even believe it is the unavoidable consequence of a person's obsessive and compulsive behaviour - the people close to them become co-dependent.
For someone in the traps of co-dependency, life is far from free and simple. It is a binding prison of fear, obsession and compulsion. Void of the freedom of choice, the co-dependent finds themselves helpless and driven to look after and control the other person in the relationship. A search for affirmation and complete dependence on the other person for a reason to do anything leads them to insane and unstable behaviour.
Many relationships are mutually co-dependent. Both parties are addicted to the other half of the partnership and become almost like a single person. Co-dependents who have a relationship addiction will find themselves taking on the personality of the other person, sacrificing their own likes, tastes and wellbeing to keep their attachment safe from harm. Co-dependents manage to convince themselves that they are happy - that bowing to the other person's needs and likes makes them happy, but it is truly driven by an immense fear of rejection and terror of losing that person.
Treatment for Co-Dependency
Usually a person needing treatment for co-dependency or relationship addiction issues has other addictions such as drug addiction or eating disorders. Co-dependency is viewed as a disease of the same nature as drug addiction or alcoholism. It is an obsessive and compulsive disease, characterised by powerless behaviour and major consequences. There is no cure, however a programme of recovery can help the co-dependent arrest their condition and begin to piece a life together that is self-loving and caring.
Treatment for co-dependency will usually happen when a person seeks help for another addiction and their co-dependency becomes a major problem. Typically, when a person has the disease of addiction, if one destructive behaviour is ceased, another will manifest, and this can often be co-dependency. However, there are those who seek help from co-dependency alone as this is the only addictive behaviour with which they struggle.
Upon starting recovery for a co-dependency addiction, a person will need to separate completely from the person on whom they are dependent. Even though the person who is the object of a co-dependents control is what they are addicted to, the problem lies within the co-dependent. Establishing abstinence of the person is not the cure by any means and it is abnormal for a person in a relationship to cut the other half off and never see them again.
What Needs to Change
The behaviour is the addiction and once the person is able to abstain from the addictive behaviour, the deeper issues can be explored in therapy and co-dependency counselling.
In a treatment centre, a co-dependent will usually receive counselling on a one to one basis and also group therapy. A good programme of daily recovery is a twelve step programme, where the co-dependent can attend daily meetings, work with a sponsor who is more experienced in recovery, work the steps and trust in a higher power.
Self-love is extremely important for a co-dependent to establish in becoming healthy and able to have nontoxic relationships again. A healthy lifestyle with healthy eating and exercise is vital in the process of a co-dependent becoming a self-respecting and independent person as it is an important aspect of growing a person's self esteem.
Co-dependency can allow a person to give up their life for another in the sense that they lose all inclination of who they are and what they are doing with their life. The end result leaves the co-dependent as a shell without control over their emotions or actions and is a heartbreaking sight to see. Yet with treatment, therapy, a healthy lifestyle and a daily programme of recovery, their spirit can be healed and the addiction arrested so they may go on to have healthy and productive relationships.

The Pain of Codependency - "Addicted to Love"

Ever have trouble letting go of a relationship? Obsessed with another person? Way too loyal, to the point where it hurts you and possibly others who care about you? Are others who are dependent on you, even your children, getting hurt because you are keeping yourself and them in a destructive, even dangerous relationship? Are your friends offering suggestions that you immediately reject? Or are you avoiding telling anyone what is really going on? Embarrassed by the behavior of the one you love? Embarrassed by your own behavior? Do you find ways to distort what your therapist says and discount his/her knowledge by saying, to him and/or to yourself, "you just don't understand!"
Think you can change someone?
If only you are good enough, he/she would not have that affair. If only you can meet his/her needs, he/she will love you and not need to go elsewhere. Maybe if you lose a few pounds or cook his favorite meal perfectly, he will come home instead of "working late" know he is with another woman. If you bring her flowers more often and take her to the best restaurants in town, maybe THEN she will stop seeing the rich man who comes into town once a month. The pain you feel when you are together in public and he/she is flirting with other men/women has only made your own self-hatred increase.
Some people even think they can make another person stop drinking or abusing drugs! Or lose weight. Or stop gambling. Or stop working 60 hours a week and skiing the rest. Same scenario as above: the "co-dependent" is dependent on the behavior of others for his/her sense of self. He/she continues to get his/her sense of self from the behavior of the person he/she is dependent on. How many people do you know who have tried to help or make someone else stop drinking or drugging? Children and spouses, lovers and friends, all over the world, are known to hide alcohol or pour it out. They try joining the drinker and hoping he will limit it to two or three drinks. They try threatening to leave the relationship, but always change their minds at the last minute. They try having dinner ready when he walks through the door. They lose themselves in their focus on the alcoholic/addict/dysfunctional person they "love." They are convinced that if they only do the right thing at the right time, if they are only good enough, they will be able to change the other person. Codependents loose themselves; they become oblivious to their own value as separate human beings.
What is this? Sounds like addiction. Yup. Addiction to a PERSON! Addiction to trying to fix someone or fix a relationship. It is NOT your fault that you are obsessed with trying to do this! You are not a bad person. You probably grew up in a chaotic household, or maybe an alcoholic or abusive one, or came from an unprocessed divorce, or even a rigid, dogmatic setting. Any of these childhood scenarios can produce a wonderful human being who has an addiction ... in this case, to a person.
There is a solution. Other people recovering from the same thing can help; a therapist knowledgeable about addiction can help. There are LOTS of books on recovery from codependency. There are no absolutes regarding to stay or not to stay in the relationship with the addict, unless there is overt physical or sexual abuse, or child abuse. There IS help in getting a sense of self, some level of self-esteem, and a life not dependent on the behavior of the other person, whether or not he/she gets recovery and whether or not you stay in the relationship.

Typical Kinds of Love Addicts

In the last decade, a lot has changed in the world of love addiction. Not that love addiction itself has changed. It is pretty much the same insidious disorder it always has been. What has changed is how the world looks at it. Twenty years ago, our understanding of love addiction was still emerging out of our understanding of codependency. Therefore, love addiction and codependency seemed to be one in the same. However, today we understand that this is not true. Love addiction stands alone, and codependency is only one of several underlying personality disorders. To make it perfectly clear how one love addict differs from another, here is a list:
Obsessed Love Addicts (OLAs) cannot let go, even if their partners are:
Unavailable emotionally or sexually; afraid to commit; cannot communicate;unloving;distant; abusive; controlling and dictatorial; ego-centric; selfish; or addicted to something outside the relationship (hobbies, drugs, alcohol, sex, someone else, gambling, shopping etc.)
Codependent Love Addicts (CLAs) are the most widely recognized. They fit a pretty standard profile. Most of them suffer from low self-esteem and have a certain predictable way of thinking, feeling and behaving. This means that from a place of insecurity and low self-esteem, they try desperately to hold on to the people they are addicted to using codependent behavior. This includes enabling, rescuing, caretaking, passive-aggressive controlling, and accepting neglect or abuse. In general, CLAs will do anything to "take care" of their partners in the hope that they will not leave-or that someday they will reciprocate.
Relationship Addicts (RAs), unlike other love addicts, are no longer in love with their partners but they cannot let go. Usually, they are so unhappy that the relationship is usually affecting their health, spirit and emotional well being. Even if their partner batters them, and they are in danger, they cannot let go. They are afraid of being alone. They are afraid of change. They do not want to hurt or abandon their partners. This can be described as "I hate you don't leave me."
Narcissistic Love Addicts (NLAs) use dominance, seduction and withholding to control their partners. Unlike codependents, who accept a lot of discomfort, narcissists won't put up with anything that interferes with their happiness. They are self-absorbed and their low self-esteem is masked by their grandiosity. Furthermore, rather than seeming to obsess about the relationship, NLAs appear aloof and unconcerned. They do not appear to be addicted at all. Rarely do you even know that NLAs are hooked until you try to leave them. Then they will no longer be aloof and uncaring. They will panic and use anything at their disposal to hold on to the relationship-including violence. Many professionals have rejected the idea that narcissists can be love addicts. This may be because they rarely come in for treatment. However, if you have ever seen how some narcissists react to perceived or real abandonment, you will see that they are indeed "hooked."
Ambivalent Love Addicts (ALAs suffer) from avoidant personality disorder-or what SLAA calls emotional anorexia. They don't have a hard time letting go, they have a hard time moving forward. They desperately crave love, but at the same time they are terrified of intimacy. This combination is agonizing. ALAs come in different forms too. They are listed below.
Torch Bearers are ALAs who obsess about someone who is unavailable. This can be done without acting out (suffering in silence) or by pursuing the person they are in love with. Some torch bearers are more addicted than others. This kind of addiction feeds on fantasies and illusions. It is also known as unrequited love.
Saboteurs are ALAs who destroy relationships when they start to get serious or at whatever point their fear of intimacy comes up. This can be anytime-before the first date, after the first date, after sex, after the subject of commitment comes up-whenever.
Seductive Withholders are ALAs who always come on to you when they want sex or companionship. When they become frightened, or feel unsafe, they begin withholding companionship, sex, affection-anything that makes them feel anxious. If they leave the relationship when they become frightened, they are just Saboteurs. If they keep repeating the pattern of being available/unavailable, they are seductive withholders.
Romance Addicts are ALA who are addicted to multiple partners. Unlike sex addicts, who are trying to avoid bonding altogether, romance addicts bond with each of their partners-to one degree or another- even if the romantic liaisons are short-lived or happening simultaneously. By "romance" I mean sexual passion and pseudo emotional intimacy. Please note that while romance addicts bond with each of their partners to a degree, their goal (besides getting high off of romance and drama) is to avoid commitment or bonding on a deeper level with one partner. Often romance addicts are confused with sex addicts.
A Note about ALAs: Not all avoidants are love addicts. If you accept your fear of intimacy and social situations, and do not get hooked on unavailable people, or just keep your social circle small and unthreatening you are not necessarily an ALA. But if you eat your heart out over some unavailable person year after year, or sabotage one relationship after another, or have serial romantic affairs, or only feel close when you are with another avoidant, you may be an Ambivalent Love Addict.
Combinations: You may find that you have more than one type of love addiction. Many of these types overlap and combine themselves with other behavioral problems. For instance, you may be a codependent, alcoholic love addict. Or a love/relationship addict. The important thing is to identify your own personal profile so you know what you are dealing with.
Robert was a love addict, relationship addict, romance addict and sex addict. He was married but did not want to divorce his wife of twenty years even though he was not in love with her (relationship addiction) His hobby was masturbating to pornography when his wife was not home (sex addiction). He had affairs with several other women simultaneously without his wife finding out. He really cared about each of these women (romance addict). One day he met Jennifer and fell in love with her. It did not take long before he was obsessed with her. She did not want to be with him because he was married, so he began stalking and harassing her (love addict). Robert finally got into recovery, divorced his wife, gave up the pornography and affairs and married the woman he was obsessed with. At first his jealousy was out of control, but after a few years of therapy and 12-Step meetings he began to trust his new wife. Because she was mature, well-grounded and had high self esteem, the relationship began to normalize. Today, all of Robert's addictions are in remission.
Narcissists and Codependents: It is very common for love addicts to end up in relationships with other love addicts. The most common kind of love-addicted couple is, as you might have guessed, the codependent and the narcissist. In the beginning, narcissists are often seductive. After they have hooked their codependent partners, however, they change. Here is an example of a narcissist/codependent relationship.
Nancy and James met at a bar and were instantly attracted to one another. Within days, Nancy (the codependent) had fallen madly in love with James (the narcissist). From the beginning, she was helpful, nurturing, attentive and went out of her way to make him happy. James, on the other hand, appeared to be able to take or leave the relationship after they made love. He canceled dates, neglected to return phone calls, saw other women, became very domineering and for the most part seemed aloof and detached. Still, six months later, Nancy married James because she was in love with him and secretly hoped that he would change.
After Nancy and James were married, the pattern of neglect continued-especially his affairs with other women. When Nancy objected, James bullied her until she stopped nagging him about it. This went on for years. Nancy tried to save her marriage by placating James in every way she could think of, but he continued to do what he wanted. Eventually, Nancy stopped loving James and thought about leaving him, but she just couldn't bring herself to face the loneliness of being single again. This was better than nothing she thought. So she continued her codependent behavior, always trying to keep James happy and comfortable even if it meant sacrificing her own happiness in the process. Eventually, Nancy sought counseling and within a year she felt strong enough to leave James. He had other ideas. The first time Nancy brought up the subject of divorce he laughed at her. Then he threatened her verbally. The day she presented him with divorce papers, he beat her so badly she had to go to the hospital. It seems that despite his lack of love and respect for Nancy, James was addicted to her and the relationship they shared. He also felt that if he couldn't have her, nobody else could.
Eventually, Nancy got away from James even though he stalked her for months-threatening to kill her if she didn't come back. Thankfully, he eventually let go. However, you only have to read the newspapers to realize that such a lethal combination of codependency and narcissism can lead to homicide.
Switch-hitting: Many love addicts switch-hit because they have more than one underlying personality disorder. For instance, a relationship addict may play the role of a codependent for years, then finally get out of the relationship and fall in love with someone who is unavailable. Suddenly, our relationship addict is an obsessed love addict or a torchbearer. Even narcissists switch-hit-believe it or not. For years they be in one relationship after another playing the role of the dominant, uncaring partner. However, if they ever fall hard, they can easily turn into a torchbearer or obsessed love addict. If they fall in love with another narcissist then they have no choice but to become the codependent love addict in the relationship because the narcissist will not stand for anything else. Even ambivalent love addicts will start obsessing instead of running away when they are addicted.
Love addicts switch-hit because of separation anxiety. If another form of behavior is necessary to placate a partner and to hold on the him or her, the love addict will adopt that behavior. Is it an act? Sometimes... but if the love addict has weak personality boundaries, they may actually become the other person while under the spell of the addiction.. The point here is not to identify all the kinds of switch-hitting going on, or to even explain it, but o point it out and learn from it.
Conclusion: The Importance of All This: If all this seems complicated it is. And, to be honest, the only reason it is important is because it makes a difference when it comes to treatment. Codependent love addicts, for instance, need a boost in self-esteem and self-acceptance. They must learn to think better of themselves. Narcissistic love addicts, on the other hand, use grandiosity to bolster their low self-esteem and need to come down to earth. They need to learn some humility and how to become "unselfish." Ambivalent Love Addicts need to find a healthy relationship and stay engaged it even when their fear threatens to overwhelm them. Most of all, understanding as much as you can about love addiction will form the basis of your Fourth Step Inventory in LAA or lay the groundwork for professional therapy.

Codependency - Identifying Its Causes and Effects

Codependency is a condition brought on by growing up in a dysfunctional family and promoted by our culture. Children whose parents are unable to be fully present with them because they are unable to be fully present to themselves and each other, can be deeply affected. You grow up without seeing how to love with openness and spontaneity, as well as discipline. You gradually turn off your ability to be fully alive. You learn distorted ways to protect your self from abuse (i.e., core beliefs and coping patterns) that interfere with intimacy.
This process can take place subtly, much like water eroding a rock little by little. Eventually you adapt by burying your heart and denying that you need your parents' love in the way you really do.
Here are some doubts and concerns of clients which reflect the harm that codependency can cause in one's life:
-Did my parents really love me? Really, care for me? If they really loved me, why didn't they treat me with more dignity and caring? Why were they so distant, so self-absorbed and sometimes even abusive and violent?
I got burned growing up. My family hurt me so much, why should I give anyone else a chance to hurt me again?
-I feel drained and my helping others is never enough. I can't fix the problem and people just get mad at me for interfering.
-Is being intimate something I can learn or am I doomed to feel alone even when I am with others?
-Is it possible to have a good relationship? Sometimes I feel I give my heart but they want my soul. Recognize energy drainers.
These statements may sound familiar to you. You may have heard them said, or said them yourself. They reflect what I call the "Dilemma of Love".
The AMA has recognized codependency as a disease, meaning it has an onset, a progression, and a finality. When you try to take care of unhealthy parents and protect your family system, you have no time to be a child or learn, in age appropriate ways, how to be an adult. Your feelings and needs are frequently suppressed as they are too threatening. Your emotional growth becomes stunted. Subtly, you learn to play your role, follow the rules, doing what is expected of you. You feel you have to act this way to help your parents and family. Usually on an unconscious level you believe that if you truly love your family, your will keep trying to save it. As you continue to abandon yourself, you fall prey to the disease of codependency.
In her book, "Choicemaking", Sharon Wegscheider-Cruse calls codependency...
"... a specific condition characterized by preoccupation and extreme dependence (emotionally, socially and sometimes physically) on a person or object. Eventually this dependence on another person becomes a pathological condition that affects the codependent in all other relationships." Anne Wilson Schaef has identified this same pathological condition in our society as a whole. She looks at how a society can operate as a dysfunctional system just as a family can.
Codependency now refers to people who are afflicted by their own addictive process. They may come from families in which there were no noticeable addictions. Everything may have looked fine on the surface, but the parents were emotionally unavailable to the children and to each other. Because addiction is built into our society, most people, regardless of their family background, need to recover from some form of addictiveness.
The prefix "co" in the term codependency means "in relation to" an addictive process. It reflects the reality, recognized by clinicians, that a family of addictive disorders exists that includes alcoholism, drug addiction, gambling, sex addiction, and compulsive spending as well as compulsive deprivations such as anorexia nervosa, sexual anorexia, compulsive saving and hoarding, and some phobic responses. The most important new insight of all is that the compulsive deprivation of one substance or behavior often balances the excess of another-in the same person.
You can become addicted to substances, people, ideas, activities, behaviors or anything that takes away the pain of reality and gives you a sense of personal identity. The addictive process is the same regardless of the addiction. Therefore, to free your heart and become fully alive it is necessary to heal on two levels: to arrest your addictions, as well as to heal your underlying disease of codependency.
As with any other disease, if you do not seek help your codependency will progress. As you fall prey to addictions and continually live from a false self, you will eventually break down under the strain. Untreated codependency invariably leads to stress-related complications, physical illness, depression, anxiety and eventually death. Fortunately, although it is a chronic and fatal disease, it is also treatable.
It is especially challenging to treat because it can be subtle and insidious. You may have a successful career and look all together on the outside, but feel tense and uneasy on the inside. This can make it difficult for you to seek help. You may not be able to make sense of the way you feel and you may not see a cause for your pain. Codependents often say, "Everything's fine in my life. I'm married; I've got a family and great kids. I should be happy, but I feel so empty."
It is important for you to understand that you are not at fault for having this illness. It was passed on to you through the generations whether you wanted it or not.
It is possible to suffer from this even if your parents were not emotionally unavailable. This "late onset codependency" appears even if you come from a relatively healthy family but stay with an untreated partner, you find yourself caught up in the abuse cycle of a dysfunctional relationship. This means your partner lives by dysfunctional rules and you can develop codependent symptoms as an adult. This leaves you vulnerable to developing some degree of codependency. It is not a black or white situation. It is on a continuum.
As with any issue, your responsibility begins once you are aware you may have this illness and begin to research what how to treat your problems. At this point, you can begin to recover your personal power and choose the kind of life you want. There is so much hope today and as I have said, working with a really knowledgeable coach/counselor can bring you the freedom to be who you want to be
Dr Susan Ricketson holds a PhD in psychology and as the co-founder and Executive Director of Triad Recovery Center in Connecticut; she is a trained and seasoned family counselor who has worked with couples and individuals using body-mind integration and a holistic approach. Her specialties are codependency, bereavement counseling, addiction recovery, and mentor coaching. She has been mentor coaching for years, helping other coaches develop the sophisticated techniques needed to help other reach their goals.

Codependency Co-Addiction - The Dance

The "dance" of codependency requires two people: the pleaser/fixer and the taker/controller. This inherently dysfunctional dance can only happen with one partner who is a codependent and another partner who is a narcissist (abuser or addict). Codependents do not know how to emotionally disconnect or avoid significant relationships with individuals who are selfish, controlling, and harmful to them. They find partners who are experienced with their dance style: a dance that begins as thrilling and exciting, but ends up rife with drama, conflict, and feelings of being trapped.
When a codependent and narcissist come together in a relationship, their "dance," unfolds flawlessly: the narcissistic partner maintains the lead and the codependent follows. Because the codependent gives up their power, the dance is perfectly coordinated: no one gets their toes stepped on.
Typically, codependents give of themselves much more than their partners give to them. As a "generous" but bitter partner, they seem to be stuck on the dance floor, always waiting for "next song," at which time their partner will finally understand their needs. The codependent confuses care-taking and sacrifice with love and responsibility. Although they are proud of their self-described strength, unselfishness, and endless compassion, they end up feeling deflated, empty, and yearning to be loved, but angry that they are not. They are essentially stuck in a pattern of giving and sacrificing, without the potential of receiving the same from their partner. When they dance, they often pretend to enjoy the dance, but usually hide their feelings of bitterness, sadness, and loneliness.
The codependent's fears and insecurities create a sense of pessimism and doubt over ever finding a healthy partner, someone who could love them for who they are versus what they can do. Naturally, the narcissist is attracted to the codependent's lack of self-worth and low self-esteem. They intuitively know that they will be able to control this person and be able to choose and control the dancing experience.
All codependents want balance in their relationships, but seem to consistently choose a partner who leads them to chaos and resentment. When given a chance to stop dancing with their narcissistic partner, or comfortably sit out the dance until someone healthy comes around, they choose to continue to dance. The codependent dares not to leave their narcissistic dance partner because their lack of self-esteem and low sense of self-worth manifests into the fear of being alone. Being alone is equivalent to feeling lonely, and loneliness is an intolerable feeling for a codependent.
Without self-esteem or feelings of personal power, the codependent does not know how to choose healthy (mutually giving) partners. Their inability to find a healthy partner is usually related to an unconscious motivation to find a person who is familiar...someone who reminds them of their powerless childhood. Many codependents come from families in which they were children of parents who were also experts at the dance. Their fear of being alone, compulsion to control and fix at any cost, and comfort in their role as the martyr who is endlessly loving, devoted, and patient, is a result of roles they observed early on in their childhood.
No matter how often the codependent tries to avoid "unhealthy" partners, they find themselves consistently on the dance floor dancing to different songs, but with the same dance partner. Through psychotherapy and, perhaps, a 12-step recovery program, the codependent begins to recognize that their dream to dance the grand dance of love, reciprocity, and mutuality, is indeed possible. Through therapy and/or change of lifestyle, they build self-esteem, personal power, and hope to finally dance with partners who are willing and capable to share the lead, communicate their movements, and pursue a shared rhythm.

Codependency: The Addiction of Love

If you feel you spend too much effort looking out for your partner's needs rather than your own, and are unfulfilled as a result, you may be suffering from love addiction, otherwise known as codependency. The side effects of these one-sided relationships can be extremely destructive. In essence, codependency is a mechanism employed to avoid emotional suffering. It is habitual behavior which has been learned in order to escape pain, although many times the perceived source of this pain is unfounded. If your current relationship is questionable, think about your ability to resolve conflict, and whether it feels like a constant uphill battle. Do you feel as though you are the only one in the relationship who willingly tries to make amends? Do you feel as though your relationship is built on emotional conflict? If so, you could be in a codependent relationship.
Codependency can affect many types of relationships, whether romantic, friendships, or even family relationships, and at its root is a relationship addiction. You may be undermining your relationship if you use assertiveness to overcome issues to the detriment of your partner. In such cases, you may feel you are simply trying to assist your partner, while you are actually causing damage to the relationship. In such cases it is necessary to determine whether your behavior is driven by love or a need to take control and put others before yourself. It takes a great deal of inner strength to sincerely diagnose your propensity for love addiction.
If you feel you may have a codependent personality, consider whether:
• It is hard for you to say "No"
• You sometimes believe you care more than your partner about your relationship
• You waste too much time caring for your partner, and not enough for yourself
• You feel worthless and blameworthy if you can't help your partner
• You give up your own needs so your partner can accomplish theirs
• You feel as though your self-esteem is constantly decreasing
If you are concerned that this addiction to love may describe you, think about how closely you measure your own self-esteem to your partners' opinion of you, and whether or not you hide your troubled feelings under a fa├žade of indifference. Thinking back to your past relationships you may recognize a pattern of hiding your own negative feelings for the "benefit" of your relationship.
Guilt and confusion often accompany this state of mind, and becoming involved in toxic relationships only worsens these negative emotions. Therefore, if you believe your relationship has become toxic, begin to acknowledge that you are not to blame, and take comfort in the realization that you can take steps to make it better. It is extremely important to note that although these types of relationships are very common, it takes great strength and courage to acknowledge that you may be drawn to certain types of people, and these people may be dangerous for you. Therefore, if you want a real shot at breaking your love addiction, you must proactively stop your cycle of negative thoughts and consequent behaviors. In fact, it may be worth considering whether you need the help of a professional counselor.
Recovering from love addiction takes time, but is the speed of your recovery correlates directly to the effort you put into it. The single most important factor in your codependency recovery is your will to do it. It is imperative to take a personal inventory of your emotions, and recognize that the harmful relationship is not your fault. Once you can understand the logic behind your way of thinking, you can develop healthier relational patterns, and seek more emotionally balanced relationships.

Codependent Relationships - The Love Addiction

Often termed the love addiction, Codependent relationships can be complex at the best of times. If you are the codependent, you may find yourself lavishing a great deal of time and energy on your partner, obsessively caring for them and sorting out any problems for them. In a way, you begin to control or manipulate them even if without intent. There will be a strong desire to protect, cherish and cure-all and this situation can be overwhelmingly intense for all concerned.
Codependent relationships occur when one or both partners have issues often formed and deeply rooted within their childhood. Dysfunctional families and the lessons learned within these family groups often begin to emerge throughout adulthood and can have a devastating effect on the codependent and their family unit. Sadly, this cycle of destructive emotional behavior is often passed down from generation to generation unless you make the conscious decision to stop.
There are variables within the codependency umbrella of course and your reactions or behaviors will be very much relevant to the lessons absorbed in those early days and lessons learned through previous relationships.
Typical codependent symptoms include:
  • Achieving fulfillment through being needed by others
  • Feeling hurt or resentful if you are not needed
  • Changing your behaviors if in an abusive relationship so that your actions do not cause anger or upset the abuser
  • Giving up your own interests or hobbies for the sake of your relationship
  • Manipulating your partner through an intense need to be in control
Quite often the codependent experiences an intrinsic lack of self-esteem and confidence and if this mirrors how you are feeling inside, you may well be aware that control that you seek masks a great deal of pain inside. Abandonment or rejection issues may be the pinnacle on which your codependency sits.
Essentially, any codependent relationship is an unhealthy one and often people are drawn together because instinctively they recognize familiar behavioral traits and as such, understanding why you are continuously drawn to a relationship that is likely to be unhealthy is extremely important.
Acknowledging that there is a problem is an essential part of any recovery process and it is not always easy to do because familiarity and well-worn behavioral paths offers you security of sorts. Seeking professional help is the next vital step and so is identifying a counselor who is trained in this area. Just remember that it is not an overnight process, and this is because your behaviors and feelings are potentially so deeply ingrained within your everyday thoughts and actions, that the counselor is likely to have to help you unravel many emotional knots.
A love addiction is strong even whilst it may not be healthy. It's not easy to simply walk away or to change, but with professional help you can start to open yourself up to more loving and honest associations and move away from codependent relationships permanently.
Jim Moustakas is the CEO of My Life Assistant Pty Ltd an online counseling and life coaching interactive platform. My Life Assistant provides a live 24 hour counseling or coaching service by qualified counselors, psychologists and life coaches from around the world. To get full access now please visit select whether you are a general user or a therapist and get started right away.