My encounter with addiction unsurprisingly started with love addiction. I never defined myself as an addict in the past. Jokingly I said I was a shopaholic or I suffered from body image problems. I knew that I was extreme and did things compulsively. However the dormant addictive traits were not full-blown and remained invisible to me.
When I look back at my past relationships they were rarely easy. I usually went for unavailable men like my father. My father had never been kind or helpful to my mother and I guess this was the kind of man I wanted because I was naturally inclined to repeat their story.
In the end I found a lovely husband and was happy ever after. Until one day...
....one day I started to work with an online coach for endurance sports. The drama started without me noticing it. He was the type of man like my father: distant and strict. Unresponsive and clearly unavailable.
Training was hard and getting hard to a point where physical and mental fatigue were setting in. Something in my mind went wrong and I became unhealthily attached to this stranger. It was a very bad situation. I craved hearing back from my coach and the more emotionally attached I became the more he withdrew.
After the first signs of this I went to therapy specifically to look what was happening to me. The word addiction fell and I guess I knew and had always known that I am an addict.
So how do you know you are a love addict?
A. The relationship you are in is „on and off“.
I used to end the coaching and reinitiate the contact. The reason was that there were many low moments when I craved to hear back from him. There were also highs because the intensity of emotions was so much stronger than I felt with other people or in other situations.
I knew that the relationship was not good for me. I was constantly trying to understand what was happening and making up justifications and reasons for it.
B. Your friends tell you to let go of this relationship.
If your closest friends are skeptical and want a better situation for you this is a clear sign that something is not right.
Does this person trigger cravings in you? Do you crave hearing back and sometimes this is fulfilled but sometimes you go empty?
Is the emotional intensity unusually high but there is a large part of unhealthy attachment in the mix?
Do you crave for this person to love you and see you but you are being denied these fundamental aspects of a relationship?
C. You are unable to let go of this person.
The fault for falling for this person is yours and you take responsibility for having let yourself into this. Whenever you get away or have moments of clarity these moments are for others not yourself. You try to get away because you want to feel better but initially getting away from this person is scary. You crave the highs and lows you are in. Nothing else feels as strong as what this person is able to instigate.
You depend on this person for happiness and know deep down that no other human can touch you (emotionally) in the same way.
Once you recognize this pattern in yourself it is time to give the baby a name. You know you are in addiction mode and it will take time and patience to untie the knots. I struggled for years to undo this unhealthy bond. One of my ways was to open up about it first to people who encouraged me to stay and later to people who were more neutral. In a final step I created new habits. After several relapses I am still struggling.