Affection, sex, comfort: these don’t sound like such terrible things to be addicted to, do they? Well, let’s look at the word “addiction.” It generally means you are dependent on something to the point of being dysfunctional without it. It means that all of the amazing feelings you receive from having that thing you are addicted to go hand in hand with a constant fear—the fear of what life would be like without it. And once you begin to fear what life would be like without something, I mean really, really fear it, you’ll start to do crazy things to keep that addictive substance in your life. You’ll even compromise yourself, your values, everything you are.
Now, I’ll ask the question again: is it so bad to be addicted to affection, sex and comfort? Honestly, it’s pretty much bad to be addicted to anything.
Has anyone ever told you that quality is more important than quantity? The concept applies to relationships, too. Unfortunately, some people are so afraid to be alone that they jump from one relationship to the next. And the problem with this is that, the less time you spend alone—I don’t mean curled up in the corner of a dark room, but simply single— the less you know who you are as an individual.
If you’ve been in a relationship for a long time and it ends, you can wake up and have no idea what to do with yourself that day. Everything—where and when you ate, what time you exercised, which friends you spent time with—was dictated by your relationship. For some people it goes so far that someone’s partner’s identity becomes his or her identity. They absorb it. He liked sports bars, so she liked sports bars. He liked The Colbert Report, so she liked it. He wasn’t into exercising, so she gained ten pounds over the course of the relationship…
For some women, being a good girlfriend means soaking up their boyfriend’s personality like a sponge, so when he is gone, they feel all wrung out and identity-less. And this is where a relationship addiction can set in. Because it’s much easier and quicker to find a new boyfriend whose life you can just acquiesce yourself to rather than building up a life of your own.
Confession: I once dated a relationship addict. No, I’m not someone who needs to be the center of a man’s life. I just had never encountered a relationship addict before and had no idea what I was getting myself into. At first, it felt incredible! I never felt more compatible with anyone before! He laughed at every joke I made, he was enthusiastic to do everything I suggested, he constantly asked me how my work was going, how my family was doing. What a perfect boyfriend, right?
But then I began to realize, I hadn’t met any of his friends. He never made any suggestions of what we should do with our day. I had no idea who this guy was aside from my boyfriend! He had just taken on my identity. Another little detail I discovered: the 3 months he had told me he’d been separated from his previous girlfriend had actually only been about 3 weeks. He was nowhere near being his own person again when he got involved with me. He was just terrified of being alone.
The trouble is, the moment that fear is your motivation to do just about anything, you’re going to do a sloppy job. Same goes with finding a relationship. If your main priority is to not be alone—that’s it, simply to be in a relationship—then things like compatibility, mutual respect, and fair treatment automatically take a back seat. Sure, you could by chance jump into a relationship with a totally loving, stable guy. But, it will be just that; by chance that it happens. Because generally, actively looking for a quality relationship with someone you are compatible with takes time—time you’ll spend alone as you weed through the inevitable dozens of guys that just don’t quite work. And that is time that most relationship addicts won’t take.
Generally speaking though, if you are a relationship addict, you’re going to attract other relationship addicts. Or, you are going to find a guy who wants to be your “savior” in a sense. Because trust me, when you’re desperately seeking a relationship and you actually believe that one person is going to fix your life, people can see that. You’re most likely not going to attract the type of guy that likes strong, independent, self-sufficient and self-respecting women who hold themselves at high value, because if you are a relationship addict, you are most likely none of those things.
If you held yourself at a high value, you would be perfectly fine being alone, at least while you searched for the best match for you.
So, like I said, relationship addicts attract the “savior” types. This is a guy who has such low self-confidence that he needs to feel like he is your world. He needs to feel like he is the one and only reason you are happy. And if he was attracted to you in the first place because you seemed weak and desperate, he is going to want you to stay that way. And therein begins the cycle of mental and emotional abuse. He plays on your fear of being alone—a fear he is well aware that you have—in order to manipulate the relationship the way he wants to. And you, being afraid that he will leave you, allow him to do this.
That relationship addict I dated never wanted to break up. It got to the point in our relationship where we were arguing 90% of the time. But anytime I would even hint at a separation, he would desperately start appeasing me, apologizing, saying we should just forget the fight ever happened. This got to be too sad for me. I broke up with him, suggesting he spend some time alone figuring out who he is alone. Maybe that’s the best thing that ever happened to him. Probably not though. He was in a new relationship within a week.
I know this sounds harsh or even drastic. But I had to delve into the worst consequences of relationship addictions just in case yours is only budding. If you catch yourself getting into the habit of jumping into a relationship immediately in order to avoid the pain of being alone, just remember that pain is actually a good thing. If you can refrain from jumping into a relationship, that pain is what motivates you to rediscover yourself—how you like to spend your time, how you want to live your life. You need to learn that you can be completely happy on your own, because once you know that, you won’t feel so desperate to fill that hole in your life. It won’t even feel like that hole is there. And it’s only when you really don’t feel you need a relationship, that you will have clear enough vision to evaluate a new one.