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Addictive Relationships

Always Giving and Never Feeling Satisfied

The basis for a healthy relationship with another must start with a healthy relationship with yourself.
Relationship Don't Work....
when you don't know whether to continue a relationship.
when you know you should let go and don't.
when you ask yourself, "What's making me stay."
when you feel your hopes might be unrealistic.
when you believe you can't live without that person.
when you think you will never find somebody else again.
when you feel this he/she will be the only "real" friend you will ever have.

Addictive Love is An Intense or Exaggerated Reaction (to) Involvement (with) Expectations (of) Another That Results in Inadequate Attention Concern Care for Yourself.

Addictive Relationship (definition) The relationship addict feels a sense of incompleteness, emptiness, despair, and sadness that he or she seeks to remedy by connecting with another. The relationship is viewed as a means of meeting one's needs for love, attention, and security rather than as a shared experience. The addictive relationship becomes an arena for trying to resolve unfinished business from the past. Addictive relationships are characterized by a simultaneous excess and lack of love; an over abundance of love to obsessive attention is bestowed upon someone else while an inadequate amount is given to self. You think and daydream about your partner or friend much too often; you give excessively of your time, energy, and hopes. All healthy boundaries disappear in terms of what you are willing to do or to give up to maintain the relationship. Ultimately, the self is abandoned in favor of someone else:

The Self

The Other is emotionally over-available is emotionally unavailable focuses on the other focuses on self gives encouragement, support, money, time, and so on has desires and needs met gives more than 50 percent gives less than 50 percent gives up or losses power gains power validates the other is validated tolerates inappropriate behavior often engages in appropriate behavior attaches or becomes enmeshed with the other detaches or moves away

Relationship Addictive Responses Overreacting

Experience intense feelings of needing the other person. Experience intense feelings of needing the relationship. Experience intense feelings of infatuation. Experience feelings of jealousy and possessiveness. Are self-sacrificing and self-depriving. Express affection prematurely. Disclose your feelings prematurely. Blame yourself when conflict occurs. Are unable to endure separation.

Excessive Involvement

Are preoccupied with the other person and the relationship. Have limited or no social contact outside of the relationship. Have no interests outside of the relationship. Find that your life revolves around hearing from and seeing the other person. You notice that every act or event is connected to some aspect of your partner. You find that your life is out of balance.

Unrealistic Expectations

Focus only on the future and the outcome of the relationship. Expect the relationship to change your life-to make your life better or make you feel better about yourself. Attempt to change the other to fit your fantasy. Play roles, engage in ritualized activities, and "act out your fantasy."

Choosing to Change

Recovery from an addictive relationship requires bringing love and concern into balance-you must learn to develop a healthy regard for YOURSELF.

What are you in for when you decide to change? Exactly what does choosing to change mean?

Change is:

Taking a Risk. When you decide to change, your relationships will most certainly change as well; your relationships may also end. Your changed self may be distasteful to your friends and/or partner that it makes them decide to leave the relationship.

Facing the Unknown. You will not know what to expect when you decided to change the way you relate to others. Things will definitely be different, but you don't know how different. You don't know how you or others will respond. You will have to learn to trust that you will be able to handle whatever situations bring.

Change. You must learn how not to repeat the same old patterns that bring the same unsatisfactory results. You must do things and think about yourself differently.

Making things Happen. You must take responsibility for making good things happen in your relationships and life. You and only you can change the ways you respond within your relationships. You must be actively involved in creating the relationships you want.

Discovering your Personal Power. You will begin to feel a new sense of self-confidence, self-reliance, and self-respect. You will realize that you can handle your relationships and your life. You will discover that you don't have to accept crumbs, nor do you have to give 110 percent to make relationships work. In order to change you must:

Accept yourself, addiction, and all. -Confront the unhealthy aspects of your behavior.

Assume responsibility for your self-worth.

Steps to Change

Step 1: Determine why you are choosing to change.

Step 2: Choose to change.

Step 3: Decide what you would like to change.

Step 4: Start some aspect of the change process now.

Step 5: Evaluate your progress and reward yourself for taking steps toward change.


Fall in love with yourself and you will always have love.

You will never again have to fear being abandoned.

Self-validation involves accepting and approving of yourself. It is learning to do for the self what you have needed and expected from others to do for you. You will have to unlearn the many erroneous beliefs you have about yourself and relationships. It appears clear that learning to validate yourself can be a difficult and frustrating job. However, the benefits of feeling good about yourself and being able to have the types of relationships you desire will clearly out weigh the effort and struggles you may face.

The self-validation process contains three main steps that must be worked through if you are to experience true happiness with yourself and others:

Step 1: Accept yourself. Change can only happen if self-acceptance occurs which unlocks the doors to respecting and loving the self. It is important to remember that self- acceptance doesn't mean that you do not want make improvements-but rather that you accept the realities at any particular moment in time.

Step 2: Appreciate yourself. Discovering the uniqueness of you is essential to learning how to validate yourself. The goal is to uncover and praise what is positive.

Step 3: Act loving toward yourself. The final step in being self-validating involves acting in ways that reflect self-love. You actions should show respect, concern, and caring for your well being. In no time you will discover that treating yourself in a loving manner has become a part of you and is not simply an act.

As you continue to self-validate, a strange and wonderful thing will happen regarding how you feel and think about yourself. You will experience an increase in self-esteem, self- confidence, and self-reliance.

Creating a Balanced Life and Changing Unhealthy Expectations

If you are involved in an addictive relationship, your life is probably not in balance. You are probably giving most of your emotional, physical, and mental energies over to some else. To create a balanced life is to own your life. When you take responsibility for your life and happiness you always feel an increased feeling of self power. A balanced perspective on life is a prerequisite to enjoying a sense of wholeness as a complete person. There are several arenas of life that most people struggle with while attempting to create a balanced life; these life arenas include, but are no limited to, work (school), leisure, social, and personal. Creating a balanced life consists of four steps:

Step 1: Gain an awareness of your level of involvement in each arena of life.

Step 2: Choose to establish and maintain balance in your life. set goals for increasing or decreasing involvement in specific arenas.

Step 3: apply the principle of balance to your life arenas. Take steps to increase or decrease involvement in specific arenas.

Healthy relationships come from healthy expectations, while unhealthy relationships come from unhealthy expectations. If you are in an unhealthy relationship it may be very difficult for you to know what healthy expectations. The faulty belief system regarding yourself and relationships have helped you to develop distorted views of what is appropriate to expect or not expect in a relationship. A healthy relationship is reality based. You have realistic expectations of what the other can provide to you. You are only able to have healthy expectations about relationships when you have healthy expectations about yourself. Within a healthy relationship you can expect to:
Be accepted for who you are. -Grow and change. -Come to know yourself better.
Be respected, valued, and appreciated. -Maintain your individuality and sense of selfhood.
Share some common values.
Share some interests and expectations. Have your life enhanced by the presence of the other.

Unhealthy expectations come from unmet needs of security, completeness, and validation. You will often experience chaos, insecurity, and unpredictability. During your childhood you may have, experience feeling helpless and powerless which made you feel that you need someone else to make you happy and whole. You subsequently expect your friends or partner to fill your life with fun and excitement. There is a strong tendency to focus on what could happen in the relationship instead of focusing on what is going on presently. The product of relationships becomes more important than the development.

To change the outcomes of your relationships you will have to change the expectations you tie to these relationships. The steps to change unhealthy expectations into healthy ones include:

Step 1: Understand your expectations regarding your friends, partner , and relationship.

Step 2: Challenge your unhealthy or unrealistic expectation.

Step 3: Choose alternative ways to meet your needs for security, completeness, and validation.

Step 4: Learn and reinforce healthy expectations.

Step 5: Evaluate your progress and reward your success.

Readings to Consider

Bireda, M. R. (1990). Love Addiction: A guide to emotional independence. New Harbinger Publications.

Halpern, H. M. (1982). How to break your addiction to a person. McGraw Hill.

Woititz, Janet G. (1985). Struggle for intimacy. Health Communications, Inc.