Do you have a history of troubled relationships? Intimacy is a normal, deeply fulfilling part of life, but it can also get out of control and result in self-destructive thoughts, beliefs and actions that seriously undermine health, mental well-being and everyday functioning.
Ironically, love addiction isn’t about love at all. It is more often a fear of being alone, rejected or abandoned, or an endless search for that perfect someone who will make your life complete or restore you and make you whole. So much rides on this obsessive search that the cycle of self-destructive behavior can be difficult to break.
Individuals who struggle with intimacy disorders or love and relationship addiction are constantly looking to feel that intense “rush” that comes with early romantic love. Once in a relationship and the rush fades, the love addict remains on high alert for someone else to produce that desired feeling over and over again. As a result, the love/relationship addict never works to develop the initial relationship into one that is stable and enduring.
Many turn to drugs and alcohol and other self-destructive behaviors as a means to cope, to block out the emptiness, and to ease depression and anxiety.
Expert treatment for love/relationship addiction in a healing environment. Call Lucida. 844-874-8503
Causes of Love/Relationship Addiction
Love and relationship addiction often stems from experiences during childhood and adolescence. Neglect by primary caregivers, early trauma and depression may also be factors in the development of love/relationship addiction.
Children who grow up lacking self-esteem or who never felt they were worthwhile may find themselves as adults constantly looking for reassurance from other people. One study found that 80 percent of individuals with sex addiction suffered sexual abuse or emotional trauma during childhood.
Certain physiological changes are also thought to contribute to love/relationship addiction, specifically levels of phenylethylamine (PEA), the brain chemical that rises with feelings of infatuation, boosting euphoria and excitement associated with love. Love/relationship addicts may become dependent on the psychological and physical arousal of PEA and other brain chemicals.
While women are more likely to suffer from love/relationship addiction, men can be affected as well.
What Are the Symptoms of Love/Relationship Addition?
When someone is suffering from love or relationship addiction, signs may include:
- Feeling alone and desperate when not in a relationship
- Consistently choosing partners who are unsuitable, as in emotionally unavailable and/or physically or verbally abusive
- Mistaking the intensity of a new romantic relationship or sexual experience for love
- Always searching for a romantic relationship
- Filling loneliness when not in a relationship with compulsive sex or fantasy
- Desperately trying to please a partner when in a relationship so they won’t leave
- Being unable to maintain an intimate relationship after the newness and “rush” have waned
- Going against personal values or participating in activities you don’t enjoy just to please your partner
- Sacrificing your own interests, friendships or beliefs to devote all your time to the relationship or to please your partner
- Despite repeated promises to yourself and others, finding it difficult to leave abusive or unhealthy relationships
- Trying to hold on to a partner by using sex, seduction or manipulation to guilt or shame the partner into staying
- Avoiding and thus missing out on important family, social or career events and opportunities in order to search for a sexual or romantic relationship
- Using porn, compulsive masturbation or anonymous sex in an attempt to avoid needing someone, sometimes resulting in avoiding all relationships
Treatment for Love/Relationship Addiction
At Lucida, men and women with love/relationship addiction or intimacy disorders receive gender-specific treatment and a personalized treatment plan that includes multidisciplinary therapeutic approaches. These include dialectical behavior therapy (DBT), Acceptance and Commitment therapy (ACT) and family therapy. It is not uncommon for clients to have problems with substance abuse and co-occurring depression, anxiety or other mental health disorders. Treatment for these co-occurring disorders occurs simultaneously with love/relationship addiction treatment.
Dialectical behavior therapy helps clients learn to tolerate distress and practice problem-solving skills. DBT helps them develop healthier ways to communicate with others as well as emotional regulation to decrease impulsivity and emotional reactivity. Through interpersonal effectiveness, clients at Lucida learn to decrease interpersonal conflicts by managing their emotions and communicating in a more thoughtful and deliberate manner.
Acceptance and Commitment Therapy assists clients with love/relationship addiction to develop psychological flexibility so that they can let feelings and thoughts happen without acting on them in destructive ways. ACT helps them cultivate acceptance in their relationships. It also teaches them how to manage intense emotions and resolve conflict with cognitive defusion without avoiding the experience; instead, learning how to make it more manageable. Finally, ACT helps clients address their commitment to making changes and setting goals.
During family therapy, clients and their families work together on how relationship issues have impacted the family. Family therapy helps rebuild trust and focuses on the way family members express disappointment with each other.
Another vitally important aspect of family therapy involves decision-making. At Lucida, we use a specific model. We get all family members together and talk about what’s working, engage them in creating solutions and mapping out ways that they will be able to support the client in recovery, or find avenues to provide such support if it is lacking. Feedback from families is that they find family therapy very helpful and healing for all involved.
Whether singly or working together, clients at Lucida are encouraged to learn how to establish healthy boundaries and to begin the all-important work of building genuine self-esteem and intimacy.
This is an important decision. Call 844-874-8503 today to find out if Lucida is the right choice for you or your loved one.