Love is in the air! Maybe not literally, but it is all around us. In the novels we read, the movies we watch, our favorite tv shows, and even the local newspaper with marriage announcement photos and “love is love” posters.
There is no escaping love or the want for it. We grew up with the ideas of beauty turning the beast into prince charming and a heartfelt kiss bringing back snow white from the dead. But is love the best thing to happen to everyone? Or are we creating a void we believe only another person can fill?
Love is a powerful force that can bring joy, fulfillment, and deep connection when rightfully found. However, for some individuals, navigating romantic relationships can become complicated due to unhealthy behavior patterns.
Love Addiction vs Love Avoidance
Two common patterns that can disrupt relationships are
The two can lead to a very dysfunctional relationship that does not bring the true essence of love to either. A love addict believes love conquers all and lives in a fantasy. And a love-avoidant thinks the complete opposite and builds emotional walls so high that the addict keeps trying to wear them down. It leads to a toxic cycle that can fast become emotionally draining.
When you deep-dive into mental health disorders, substance abuse disorders, and addiction disorders, it is no surprise that love addiction or avoidance is a common precursor to most, if not all, of these issues.
Let's discuss love addiction vs love avoidance.
What Exactly Is Love Addiction?
Love addiction is a compulsive and often unhealthy reliance on romantic relationships for validation, self-worth, and emotional fulfillment. It is the belief that the right partner, the right relationship can somehow miraculously fix all that needs fixing. It gives birth to a pattern of addictive behaviors centered around gaining love.
According to the Addiction Center, Love addiction creates fixations and compulsions in love interests and can play itself out in unhealthy behaviors toward loved ones.
Note that love addiction is different from sexual addiction where one only craves sexual and physical intimacy at a problematic level.
Signs Of A Love Addict Personality
A love addict tends to have behaviors that gravitate towards seeking love and providing inordinate affection when it is uncalled for. Some of the signs of a typical love addict personality include:
Experiencing obsessive and intense emotions: Love addicts tend to experience intense moments of infatuation, emotional highs border lining on mania, and an overwhelming desire to be around the partner all the time.
Being codependent and seeking external validation: Love addicts often struggle with codependency- they tend to rely heavily on their romantic partner's approval for building their self-esteem, defining their identity, and gaining emotional stability. It leads to them developing unhealthy coping mechanisms.
Having a constant fear of abandonment and rejection: Love addicts may often exhibit a fear of being alone, leading to a persistent need for companionship and reassurance. So much so that it becomes mentally draining for the partner
Having the inability to maintain healthy boundaries: Love addiction can cause an irrational need to be always around the romantic partner. It can exhibit as partaking in the partner’s interest and ignoring your own.
What Causes One To Develop A Love Addict Personality?
As with all other addiction disorders, love addiction has an undersurface built on by years of early childhood experiences, underlying personality issues, and bad social experiences.
Some of the common triggers seen in those facing love addiction include:
Childhood trauma and attachment issues: Love addiction can be rooted in early childhood experiences such as those neglect from family members, abandonment by a parent, or unreliable/inconsistent caregiving. These experiences can create a fear of being unlovable or unworthy. It leads to an obsession with being loved.
Low self-esteem and self-worth: Individuals with love addiction often struggle with low self-esteem. It leads to them seeking validation from external sources and relying heavily on approval from others instead of having any concept of self-worth.
Unresolved emotional pain: Bad relationships may have caused emotional hurt that a love addict believes can only be cured by true love.
Unresolved trauma: having PTSD or previous traumatic experiences predisposes to love addiction. One may use romantic relationships to escape or numb painful emotions. It causes an unhealthy level of dependency on the partner.
How Does Love Addiction Impact One’s Life?
You may think if someone needs an unhealthy amount of love to get by, what’s wrong with that? They aren’t hurting anyone else.
As per the Addiction Center, the love addiction cycle can cause emotional problems (for both parties involved) and may lead to the eventual breakdown of relationships.
Some consequences of love addiction include:
Having unhealthy relationship dynamics: such individuals may engage in toxic relationship patterns. These can include being excessively jealous and controlling. And also becoming overly reliant on their romantic partners.
Experiencing recurrent relationship failures: Love addicts may repeatedly find themselves involved in troubled relationships that lack a healthy dynamic. Partners may leave such individuals due to the lack of personal boundaries and functionality.
Emotional distress and instability: repeatedly experiencing these scenarios can eventually strain one’s mental health. It can lead to emotional turmoil, anxiety, and depression.
These consequences give birth to an eventual cycle of unhealthy relationship patterns, heartbreak, and love avoidance.
What Is the Definition of a Love Avoidant?
Love avoidance refers to a pattern of behavior characterized by an aversion to true intimacy, emotional closeness, and long-term commitment in romantic relationships.
Such people do not seek love and affection for themselves but are subconsciously drawn to becoming a hero or savior for others. They often try to mask their inability to commit or be vulnerable by providing extra affection and attention to their partner and assuming the role of primary caregiver.
Signs Of Love Avoidant or Attachment Avoidant Personality
Being emotionally detached and excessively self-sufficient: People with this personality type often prioritize being independent and self-reliant. They may struggle to express emotions, be vulnerable or connect deeply with their partners. It often leads to their partners craving more and being unhappy in an unfulfilled relationship.
Fear of being consumed by the relationship and losing autonomy: Love avoidant associates being in a relationship with being controlled It leads them to hold onto their autonomy, even where it is not required. It may also cause them to sometimes act in defiant manners against their partners’ wishes just to prove their self-autonomy
Facing difficulty trusting their partner and forming deep connections with them: Love avoidants may have severe trust issues that cause them to keep their emotions to themselves. They can not rely on anyone else for their own needs or emotional wants.
What Causes Or Triggers Love Avoidance?
Children crave love and attention. Hence, there must be an explanation as to why some people grow out of this need for love and instead grow averse to it.
Some common causes of Attachment Avoidance personality include:
Childhood experiences and attachment styles: Detachment can stem from early experiences of poor caregiving, trauma from abandonment, or a lack of emotional connection to either parent.
Fear of vulnerability and emotional pain: Such individuals may have experienced pain or rejection in their past relationships. A love avoidant’s ultimate fear is being hurt again. It translates into them developing defense mechanisms that prevent future hurt and an aversion to emotional intimacy.
Cultural beliefs and social conditioning: Cultural, societal, or familial influences may reinforce the beliefs that independence and self-sufficiency are more desirable and exhibit strength. Or that having emotions is weak and must be discouraged.
Experiencing these conditions from an early age enables one to believe that love is not all that is cracked up to be and must be avoided to remain safe.
Impact of Love Avoidance On One’s Social Life
Having a love-avoidant personality is not easy. While it may trick one into believing they’re avoiding hurt and heartbreak, it eventually leads to loneliness and despair since craving companionship is human nature.
These people may face the following:
Having a hard time forming and maintaining relationships: Being distant and emotionally detached results in superficial relationships. Such relationships often remain short-lived since the partner feels a lack of trust and commitment. Relationships lacking such essential components often prove to be unfruitful and can not be sustained for too long.
Emotional detachment and isolation: As these people leave a trail of failed relationships and broken friendships behind them, they may eventually experience a sense of emotional emptiness or loneliness. Their fear of intimacy prevents them from correcting their behaviors leading to a vicious cycle that does not end well for them.
Dissatisfaction in a relationship: Love is felt at its true essence once it’s reciprocated. If someone fails to form an intimate connection, they are staying in a relationship that won’t satisfy their emotional needs no matter what.
Missed opportunities for growth in a relationship: Even if they find their perfect match, their fear of commitment and emotional coldness prevents them from growing their adult relationship and building a life that’s good for them.
How To Overcome Unhealthy Relationship Patterns
If you recognized any of the above patterns in yourself or someone close to you, here’s how you can begin the journey to recovery:
Self-awareness and reflection: Recognize and Identify underlying problems that are causing you to behave this way. Observe your own emotions, and fears, and see what triggers them.
Seek professional help and support: Speaking to a professional can help you identify underlying issues or trauma. Once you have that sorted, they can help you deal with these issues and resolve them so you can focus on your present self. You can also join support groups or workshops focused on helping those with relationship and attachment issues.
Work towards developing self-worth: Try to cultivate a healthy sense of self and work towards building your self-esteem. Acknowledge your accomplishments, no matter how small, and offer yourself daily affirmations about how worthy you are of love. Also, engage in more self-care practices and pursue things and activities that make you feel good about yourself. It can be anything, joining an art class, going to the gym, getting a pet, etc.
Work towards building and growing healthy relationships
While it’s easier said than done, take active steps such as talking to a psychologist to learn effective steps for healthy communication.
Also, work with a professional to seek functional methods of conflict resolution. It is also essential that you learn when to give space and claim it when you need to.
In conclusion, love addiction and avoidance can significantly impact an individual's ability to form and sustain healthy relationships. Taking the initiative to understand the red flags and problematic behavioral patterns is the first step toward personal growth and building healthier relationships.
Seeking professional help, becoming self-aware, and cultivating self-worth are essential steps one can take. With dedication and support from their loved ones, individuals can break free from the dance of love addiction or love avoidance and have a chance to live a healthy life.