Let’s face it. Some people are addicted to relationships. They like the thrill of the chase, and they love the feeling of being attached to someone. It can be a physical hook, an emotional one. In most cases, the results are the same. An addiction to love can be as damaging as any other addiction in our lives. Unless you want to lead a future of heartbreak and uncertainty, you must break out of your patterns and find a better way to love and connect with the world (and people) around you.
What happens when you're addicted to relationships.
Relationship addictions shouldn’t be taken lightly. Those who define themselves by romantic attachments can end up bouncing from relationship-to-relationship — to disastrous effects. You can lose yourself entirely, and you can find your self-esteem ruptured. Making all the wrong investments puts you in bed with partners who are dangerous in several ways. What’s worse? You can wind up with damaged families and crushed emotional health.
Total loss of self
Constantly chasing the love and validation in others prevents you from ever really accessing it in yourself. You lose yourself, and you do it trying to become all the things you think the world wants from you.
But here’s the truth — the world wants you to love yourself. That is the version it wants most. That self-assured, confident, and self-actualized version which can only come by investing as much time in ourselves as we put into our relationships with others.
Those who obsess over romantic relationships are often those with a low sense of self-esteem. Feeling as though they can’t love themselves, they seek the love of others to prove that they are worthy. Of course, this always comes with disappointment. Because the love of others is neither as filling nor as reliable as a strong love for self. To love others fully, we have to love ourselves fully and spend time and energy on our own wellbeing.
Making bad investments
Think about the most desperate friend or family member you know. Now, think about the quality of relationships they’ve had. Have they all been a cakewalk? Or have some of them been rocky, poorly thought out?
Being desperate isn’t a great place to be. Your fear of being alone can force you toward partners who don’t really have what you need or what you want. When you invest time and energy into relationships like this, you take away room in your life for the right relationships to come in.
While we like to think that we’re the only casualties of our bad relationship habits, that’s rarely the case. Children become those who bear the consequences of your dramatic relationships. Families arise even from the wrong relationships.
As the conflict and dysfunction ensue, children become the ones who take on the cycles, behaviors, and punishments of the whole experience. Damaged families often result from immature parents who allowed their relationship addictions to get out of control.
Low emotional health
Bouncing from a failed relationship to another failed relationship makes it hard to balance your emotional health. Blow-after-blow can create feelings of hopelessness and low levels of self-esteem. This crushed emotional health compounds, creating new beliefs and assumptions about self that can further erode our confidence and our relationship addictions.
Extra-toxic partners often result from our desperate relationship addictions. Those who prize having a relationship over having the ideal partner get into a habit of settling for anyone who will take them.
This desperation puts you at increased risk of abusers. Opening the door on anyone who can check the box, you fall into the arms of those who are in the relationship only to take what they can. In the end, you’re the one who ends up disappointed and heartbroken.
Breaking your relationship addiction to build better connections.
Ready to break your relationship addiction? Getting there is a process, and one which you which asks you to question everything you are and everything you believe. You won’t break your addiction without shifting your perspective and becoming the ideal partner you were seeking in the world to begin with.
1. Get to the root of the issue
Question the root of your relationship addiction. Where does it come from? What experiences taught you to see these connections as more prized than anything else? We can chase these questions over a path of insecurity. And when we reach the end, we are empowered to rebuild.
Seek to ease the insecurities and doubts that were taught to you over time. Address the root of the issue, whether that is childhood trauma, witness the dysfunction of your parents, or just a basic lack of relationship skills.
Journal, meditate, talk to your friends, speak with a professional. There is a reason you’ve come to (erroneously) think that you need a romantic connection to be complete. Until you know where this wellspring of confusion comes from, you’ll stay locked in the cycle.
2. Reprioritize your relationships
Redefine the way you see love and where you see love in your life. The love and affection of a friend, a pet, a family member can be just as gratifying as anything romantic you find in this world. Appreciate the love you have around you right now in this moment and foster more of that love throughout your life.
Get out of your head and stop associating romantic love with the greatest love. It’s not. It’s simply another form of love that can make us more connected to the experience of living.
Celebrate the love you get from everywhere else in your life. Reach out and establish deep platonic connections; nurture them and allow them to fill your need for love. Spend as much time seeking friends as you do seeking lovers, and your definition of love, support, and comfort will change entirely.
3. Become your own ideal partner
Become your own ideal partner. Stop waiting for someone else to provide the love you already can provide. Fall in love with yourself. Charm yourself. Accept yourself and celebrate yourself. By becoming the type of partner you want to fall in love with, you increase your chances of finding that love.
It’s a different way of manifesting the connections you truly want. By building a greater connection with self, you show the world that you value who you are. This puts you on a collision course with those who also have healthier boundaries, self-esteem, and a sense of who they are.
Think of it like putting yourself on the right wavelength. When you become a person you can fall in love with, the rest of the world takes the message and follows suit. Elevate the quality of your partners by being that partner for you first and foremost.
Putting it all together…
Do you suffer from a relationship addiction? Whether this came from a childhood history of neglect or bad patterns adopted over time — you have to learn how to break the cycle in order to redefine your own life. After all, chasing the love of others prevents us from fully loving ourselves. Don’t get stuck in a place of powerlessness. Learn to love yourself so you don’t have to chase love everywhere else in the world.
Question the root of your relationship addictions, and where you’re craving for that external validation comes from. Once identified, you can make moves to improve on these places of insecurity. Shift the way you see relationships and move them from the center of the universe you’re building. Redefine love and learn to appreciate the plethora of affection that exists around in a million other forms. Romantic love is not the only love. Find comfort in time with yourself and embrace a life defined entirely by yourself. Become your own ideal partner and fall in love with the real you — inside and out. The love of a partner can only come when we learn to love ourselves in the truest of ways.
- Carson, J., Carson, K., Gil, K., & Baucom, D. (2004). Mindfulness-based relationship enhancement. Behavior Therapy, 35(3), 471-494. doi: 10.1016/s0005-7894(04)80028-5