An individual who has an addiction to relationships cannot function without being in the confines of a relationship and tends to feel incomplete. Moreover, the “addict” may stop engaging in self-care while in a relationship, and neglect any purpose or meaning they might have had for their lives.
Like all addictions, relationship addiction can result in many negative consequences. An individual can be addicted to relationships without realizing it. Recognizing these signs is the first critical step in getting help. If you or a person you love is experiencing any of the following, you may want to seek therapy and counseling.
Signs of Relationship Addiction
Many people addicted to relationships find themselves unable to break free from their romantic partners, although emotional, sexual, or physical abuse occurs. Deep down, they realize that the relationship isn’t healthy or functional, and yet any attempts to end it result in making up.
While they may, in fact, experience intense feelings of love for the other individual, they also sometimes feel taken for granted. They, as well as the other partner, may question their own self-worth.
Many relationship addictions are deeply rooted in fear of being alone or abandoned. Relationship addicts often fail to recognize they are currently in a completely dysfunctional relationship or turn the other cheek.
Having Multiple Break Up Cycles
One of the hallmark signs of relationship addiction is going through many breakup and makeup cycles with one or more partners. In other words, the addict loses resolve and cannot stay away from the romance for a significant amount of time.
Instead, the addict will usually reconcile with their partner, although they are aware it is probably not their best interest—or the interest of others. This can occur even though the addicted individual was the one who was wronged through abuse or infidelity. And against common sense, that person is frequently the one who initiates the reconciliation.
Multiple breakups are likely a warning sign that the relationship is not functional, or that one or both people cannot or will not change their behaviors to bring about harmony.
Having a Lack of Self-Control
Similar to a person who is an alcoholic or addicted to drugs, a relationship addict has difficulty exercising self-control. They do not exert control over a new relationship, and they can move from one partnership to the next without a break in routine.
For example, a relationship addict may discover that their romantic partner is having an affair. Instead of summoning up the courage and self-esteem to do what is best for them, they keep begging their partner to stop being unfaithful. Whether or not the other person agrees to this, it is not power. Rather, it is an unwillingness to ensure that a relationship is providing both individuals with the respect they deserve.
There Is Little or No Life Outside the Relationship
Many relationship addicts often give too much of themselves, sometimes to the point where their partner feels smothered. Like all addictions, relationship addiction has adverse effects on many different aspects of a person’s life, such as losing interest in work, hobbies, family, and social life.
Instead, all attention is given to the relationship, even when the other partner is disinterested or is disrespectful or abusive. Everything else is neglected for the sake of maintaining the relationship. And ironically, the relationship addicts tend to feel very lonely and empty despite being in a relationship.
Believing That Sex = Love
Individuals who are addicted to relationships may also confuse sex for love. They may allow their partners to use them for sex, operating under the belief that sexual intimacy is the same as love intimacy. For example, a partner may be physically or emotionally abusive and then resolve this problem by initiating sex. While sex and love can undoubtedly co-exist, sex should not be used as a replacement for love, not even in an intimate relationship.
Obsessive Thinking About The Relationship
A person who has a relationship addiction is continuously thinking about it and over-analyzing it. They may be wondering how to appease the other person or change themselves to make their partner love them more or treat them better.
Even while at work or with loved ones, they are continuously thinking about the relationship or talking about it with others. Serious issues can arise from these obsessive thoughts and behaviors because the individual can’t focus on anything else or deal with other problems.
Making Excuses for Wrong Partners
It’s common for relationship addicts to make excuses for a partner’s abusive or neglectful behavior. They may say things like, “Well, I know I complain about him being abusive, but I stay with him for the times when he’s good to me.” Unfortunately, people addicted to relationships tend to attract the wrong kind of partners—those who are often narcissistic, unfaithful, deceitful, and skilled at using manipulation to keep the other person in their place.
Moreover, relationship addicts will frequently drive away healthy partners with their needy and obsessive behavior or overall lack of self-esteem and self-worth. Instead, they will settle for someone else who is less than deserving of their affections. Their fear of abandonment is enough to keep these persons in a toxic relationship because they find it preferable to being alone.
Low Self-Esteem and Self-Defeating Behaviors
People with addictions in any form tend to have self-esteem issues. These problems may drive the addictive behavior, and their actions themselves tend to lower their self-worth as they engage in them. Also, because they often attract the wrong people, their partners use manipulation tactics an inflict emotional abuse to make them feel even worse.
Sometimes a person can become addicted to a romantic partner who ends up bringing them down from a more positive place. They soon discover themselves behaving in ways they never imagined, and feel hopeless, exhausted, and lonely.
Others will notice this decline and may speak up in concern. Still, the person in the addictive relationship will continue to make excuses for their partner and possibly withdraw themselves from family and friends so that they don’t have to deal with the other interpersonal issues it’s causing.
Substance Abuse in a Dysfunctional Relationship
Many of the same factors that underlie behavioral addictions, like relationship addiction, also contribute to an individual’s need to abuse substances. Childhood trauma, fear of abandonment, emotional dysregulation, attachment disorder, and many other mental health conditions are prevalent among those who have relationship issues and those who engage in drug or alcohol abuse.
Other times, relationship addiction can compel a person to resort to the use of substances to self-medicate negative emotions regarding themselves and their lives. Conversely, people with substance use disorders may become involved in unhealthy relationships because their overuse of drugs and alcohol is problematic. Moreover, a person seeking a sense of stability may very well be scared away by this fact.
Regardless of which behavior came first, both problems tend to worsen the other, and may eventually lead to an ever-increasing cycle of relationship conflict and escalating substance abuse.
Getting Help for Addiction
Just Believe Detox and Just Believe Recovery are specialized addiction treatment centers that offer comprehensive programs designed to treat all aspects of a person’s mental and physical health and well-being. Severe emotional issues, such as those related to relationship addiction, need to be addressed concurrently with substance abuse to prevent relapse and ensure a person is emotionally stable enough to sustain long-lasting sobriety.
If you or someone you love is suffering from addiction to substances and relationships, contact us today! We are dedicated to ensuring that each individual we treat receives the tools they need to reclaim their lives for good!