Addiction is a growing phenomenon in our culture. The dictionary definition of addiction is the state of enslavement to a practice or habit, or to something that is habit forming (either physically or psychologically) to the point where trauma is caused - an emotional shock that damages a person's psychological development in a lasting, damaging way, often leading to neurosis. The word addiction comes from the word addictio, which means to surrender or give something over.
Thomas Moor, the author and spiritual leader, asserts that most addictive behavior is just us distorting or interpreting the longing in our souls. When we don't really know who we are or what we really need or want, we are much more likely to revert to all the conditioned, programmed actions we learned as defense mechanisms when we were children, behaviors that helped us temporarily deal with our longings or quench our thirst for them. When we have potentially harmful internal ways to comfort ourselves, especially where externally referenced "object love" is concerned, often this can unwittingly lay a foundation on which addictive love and relationships are built.
The ancient Greeks had several words for love. Thelema was the desire to do something; storge was natural affection; philia was friendly, loyal love; agape was selfless giving. And of course there was eros, the passionate, romantic love based on longing and desire. In English, although we have many words to describe different aspects of that desire - endearment, worship, affection, lust, passion, rapture - there is in fact only one word we have to describe love itself. When you add addiction into the love equation, you really have something that is in a class by itself, and that can be a really dark and dangerous place to venture for everyone involved.
Pattern forming in itself is not inherently bad, and in fact we often rely on repetition and healthy patterns to make ourselves successful. The problem begins when the repetition we engage in is unhealthy or destructive. If we can catch these patterns before they become addictions, then we have an opportunity for deeper self-examination and self-inquiry.
But what if you're the kind of person who thrives on the dramatic? Bad boys seem so much more interesting than nice guys. And that may be true... for a while. If you think your thirst for drama has lead you down an unhealthy path, here are some ways to help test whether you are affected by relationship addiction:
- Do you try your hardest to be sexier, more agreeable, or more accommodating toward this person in order to keep them interested?
- Do you act in a way you normally wouldn't when you are around this person?
- Do you find yourself rationalizing this person's behavior or actions, to yourself or others?
- Do you and this person have very different core values and behavioral standards?
- Is there something about your relationship that seems exciting and forbidden?
- Does it seem that your attraction for this person has grown into its own entity?
- Do you feel a natural high when you get a call or message from this person?
- Do you find yourself fidgety or restless when you don't know where this person is?
- Do you have a feeling of emptiness, feeling ultimately unfulfilled by this relationship as time goes by?
- Has your relationship caused other important relationships in your life to suffer or fail?
- Do you make excuses to stay even though you know your relationship is unhealthy or dangerous?
- Do you know that this is not the right relationship for you, but you can't bring yourself to leave?
Awareness is one of the most important factors in all this, and I applaud your courage if you think you may be in an addictive relationship and you are finding the strength to label it as such. If you're dealing with that struggle now, try keeping a journal of your relationship habits, and see if that doesn't bring you some clarity. Sometimes seeing things written down can be a big reality check. If you find yourself needing help to overcome an addictive relationship or to start developing healthier relationship patterns, try contacting your local chapter of Sex and Love Addicts Anonymous, who are dedicated to helping men and women deal with their relationship addictions.
by Maryanne Comaroto of Maryanne Live