Love Addiction and Codependency
Love Addiction and Codependency are the result of unresolved relational trauma and can be extremely disruptive in an individual’s life and relationships. Using post-induction therapy coupled with other individualized treatment methods, Core Recovery clinicians facilitate the process of healing wounds from past trauma and learning how to have functional adult relationships.
Love addicts are searching for something outside of themselves – a person, relationship, or experience – to provide them with the emotional and life stability they lack. In other words, love addicts use their intensely stimulating romantic experiences to (temporarily) fix themselves and feel emotionally stable. Happily, in a similar fashion to sex addicts – and, in fact, in many of the same treatment and self-help venues – love addicts can find the help they need.
Codependency is a type of relationship where one person feels they must care for the other at all costs in order to be worthy of their love and attention. In some situations, the relationship can turn manipulative, where the codependent person feels they must control the other’s life in order to keep them safe.
Ultimately, however, a codependent relationship is not healthy. The codependent person will struggle to understand their own identity apart from caring for the addicted person, and their efforts can actually impede the addicted person’s ability to get better.
Surprisingly, “codependency” is not an actual medical term, but rather a set of behaviors that can occur in someone who is close to a person with an addiction or other mental health problem. It’s not a mental illness itself, but in many ways, a developed response to dealing with someone with mental illness. For this reason, when seeking a therapist, it’s important to find a compassionate one who is able to understand codependency in the context of the wider relationship. Core Recovery has specialists in this area and can provide the support you need.
Signs of Codependency
Below is a list of common signs of codependency. However, every situation is different, it’s important to note that exhibiting these behaviors does not necessarily mean you are in a codependent relationship. A therapist will be able to help you make that distinction.
- Covering for the other person’s shortcomings
- A person in a codependent relationship might feel responsible for the other person’s behavior, leading them to make excuses to the person’s boss or school, or loan money to them to keep them from stealing.
- Often being worried that the other person will leave
- A person exhibiting codependent behavior might experience a deep-seated fear of their loved one leaving them. Because of this, they’ll do just about anything they believe will help keep the relationship alive, even if the relationship is damaging.
- Focusing on the other person’s emotions
- A hallmark of codependent behavior is having difficulty identifying your own emotions and separating them from the other person’s. You might get wrapped up in the emotional life of the addict, riding their roller coaster and trying to keep them stable so you can feel stable yourself.
- Putting the other person’s needs before your own
- Sometimes, putting the other person first is simply part of a loving relationship. But in a codependent relationship, the individual will place far more importance on the other person’s well-being than their own. They place their self-worth in being able to care for the other person. And when those efforts don’t work, the codependent person can get depressed.
- Letting go of personal values for the other person’s
- A codependent person will stay extremely loyal to someone, even if that person doesn’t deserve their loyalty. They might lay strong boundaries at first, but they’ll ultimately do what they have to in order to avoid the other person’s anger and rejection. For example, they might crave love,but settle for sexual attention. They may lose their own interests and be wrapped up in what the addict likes to do.
- Keeping track of the other person
- It’s one thing to make sure your loved one is safe. But in a codependent relationship, that behavior can become obsessive. They’re worried about the person, and they feel that they have to keep tabs on him or her. A codependent person might spend a lot of time worrying about what their loved one is doing or wondering where they are, and ask them often about their plans.
- Attempting to convince others of the right way to do things
- As the codependent person tries to maintain as much stability at home as possible, they may try to control the people around them. They’ll often put themselves in situations where others are dependent on them, and will offer advice even when it’s not asked for. They think they can “fix” the addict and help them get better.
- Avoiding conflict
- The codependent person may act very passively around the addicted individual. They’ll use indirect communication, and avoid showing any feelings that might incite the other person’s anger, harsh words, or violence.
- Self harm
- When outward control doesn’t work, the codependent person might direct that control inward. For example, studies show a correlation between codependent relationships and developing eating disorders. Trying to control one’s body can also take the form of cutting and other self-harm behaviors.
Signs of Love Addiction
- Mistaking intense sexual experiences and new romantic excitement for love
- Constantly craving and searching for a romantic relationship
- When in a relationship, being desperate to please and fearful of the other’s unhappiness
- When not in a relationship, feeling desperate and alone
- Inability to maintain an intimate relationship once the newness and excitement have worn off
- Finding it unbearable or emotionally difficult to be alone
- When not in a relationship, compulsively using sex and fantasy to fill the loneliness
- Choosing partners who are emotionally unavailable and/or verbally or physically abusive
- Choosing partners who demand a great deal of attention and caretaking but who do not meet, or even try to meet, your emotional or physical needs
- Participating in activities that don’t interest you or go against your personal values in order to keep or please a partner
- Giving up important interests, beliefs, or friendships to maximize time in the relationship or to please a romantic partner
- Using sex, seduction, and manipulation (guilt/shame) to “hook” or hold on to a partner
- Using sex or romantic intensity to tolerate difficult experiences or emotions
- Missing out on important family, career, or social experiences to search for a romantic or sexual relationship
- Using anonymous sex, porn, or compulsive masturbation to avoid “needing” someone, thereby avoiding all relationships
- Finding it difficult or impossible to leave unhealthy or abusive relationships despite repeated promises to oneself or others to do so
- Repeatedly returning to previously unmanageable or painful relationships despite promises to oneself or others to not do so