Love Addiction

Constantly chasing “the one”—no matter what…

Marcos* was 36 and unmarried. He sat in front of me on the verge of tears while he explained the collapse of his recent relationship. “She was perfect,” he said. “Do you think she’ll come back?”

The “she” he was speaking about was a married woman of 44, who had been the most recent person to break his heart. Even after she ended the relationship, Marcos called and texted her frequently. He even wrote some poetry and mailed it to her. Although she didn’t respond to any of this, Marcos’s every thought seemed to be about her… all topics in therapy directed back to her.

This wasn’t a new experience for Marcos. He had been in and out of romantic relationships since he was 15. He had never married or had children, and this filled him with regret.

Although desperately longing for her return, he admitted to sleeping with six different women at the time, none of whom he was particularly interested. “She’s the only one I want,” he said.

It’s so easy to ignore the warning signs…

As we explored this recent relationship in detail, Marcos eventually admitted there were times that she had seemed “a little distant.”

She had been critical of Marcos’s career success and was on and off about her commitment to her marriage. Marcos relayed his confusion: “She said she was going to leave him and I would be like, ‘Yeah, great!’ And then a week later it was like she never even had said that!”

With work, you start to see those same behavior patterns.

As therapy progressed, Marcos began remembering more details about all of his past relationships.

In some cases, he noted that they didn’t seem to find him attractive enough, as they went from frequent sex in the beginning to rejecting most of his sexual overtures. He then became “bored” and initiated encounters with other women, sometimes even before ending the relationship he was in.

In other cases, the women he was “very into” broke up with him, citing his inability to commit to the relationship. Or he found out they were cheating on him, in which case he ended the relationship himself.

There’s always something deeper behind the “love seeking.”

Through therapy, Marcos was able to connect these patterns with a past history of emotional neglect and inconsistency in his childhood. He was able to grieve the loss of his mother, who, when he was only 2, had remarried a man who demanded all of her attention—to the point of even being jealous of the relationship Marcos and his mother shared. Ultimately, Marcos was forced to move aside so that his mother could remain involved with her new husband.

As he grieved the loss of his mother, he began to understand that he was looking for someone to love him… and with whom he could feel safe without the fear of abandonment.

Insight is what lets you move forward…

Marcos was astonished to realize that his “boredom” in relationships was really the fear that he would be left, accompanied by the negative belief that he was not loveable.

This insight was what enabled Marcos to move forward with dating and relationships in a healthy way. Six months later, he met a woman who was emotionally available and his newfound ability to love enabled him to commit to this relationship.

If you are a love addict, you are in love with being in love.

You become addicted to the “rush”—the intensity that occurs in the beginning stages of a romantic relationship—and you pursue this “high” in various ways, often to your detriment:

… jumping from relationship to relationship,

… staying in dissatisfying relationships while engaging in cheating or emotional affairs,

… spending excessive amounts of time fantasizing about the perfect partner, and

… creating frequent drama with your significant other when the relationship is otherwise “stable.”

The high produced by the intensity of the relationship offers you comfort, soothing and/or arousal, which medicates your underlying distressing feelings. When you are addicted to love, the addiction can be very destructive:

… you may leave a healthy relationship when the intensity fades and “boredom” sets in, or

… you may unconsciously select “unavailable” partners.

Just like Marcos, you can resolve your patterns.

I will be with you from beginning to end while we identify problematic relationship patterns and resolve the earlier trauma that caused you to develop this pattern.

The therapy…

I used Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing Therapy (EMDR) and integrated somatic psychotherapy to help Marcos to heal…

Marcos and I sat face to face. We worked together to develop a target memory to begin the therapy with. Marcos selected the memory of his mother rejecting his efforts to hug her when he was 5. I had Marcos bring up this memory and identify what physical sensations he felt in his body and emotions and negative self-beliefs he had in association with this memory.

When he was able to identify these, I had him hold a “tapper” in each hand while he recalled the memory, and anything associated with the memory. This is a neurobiological intervention. The tappers each give off a gentle vibration that alternates between left and right, which facilitates deeper and faster processing of memories.

Periodically, I inquired as to what Marcos was “noticing” – any memories, beliefs, emotions, images, or physical sensations associated with the memory. Paying attention to the physical sensations and, including my noticing and commenting on the Marcos’s movements, facial expressions, mannerisms, pace and/or intensity of vocal expressions allowed for Marcos to access and process deep memories that are usually inaccessible with other therapy approaches.

This allowed Marcos to heal all trauma, even that which occurred in the first few years of his life that he couldn’t directly access memories of.

This connection between past and present, enhanced with EMDR and somatic psychotherapy, enabled Marcos to finally face the destruction that had resulted from childhood dynamics. Through processing of the emotions and faulty beliefs generated by his past, he was able to feel and move through past memories, so that he was eventually able to authentically connect to a partner and sustain a healthy relationship.

Ready to free yourself from the past?

If you can connect even in a small way to Marcos, you will benefit from your own therapy to move forward.

Call me today for help: (562) 375-4389.

*Names changed to preserve client confidentiality.