Monday, May 08, 2017

Is It Love Or Addiction?

Love is a fact of human life. The need to love and be loved, get close to another person, is natural. It’s human.

As a psychotherapist, I’m constantly aware of how this need for love or connection exists in the shadow of people’s problems in their relationships.

But the root causes or reasons why love turns “good” or “bad” are anything but simple.


The story of Agnes illustrates how one’s mental state affects one’s love relationships. When there’s psychological illness, it hovers over one’s relationship like a powerful, unseen ghost.

While Agnes’ story seems an extreme case, it vividly demonstrates a significant truth: there is often more to love than sexual attraction, emotional need, or compatibility.

Agnes, 41, was extremely pretty and intelligent.  She was never married. Yet, she professed “love” to 34 different men in the past — all failed relationships. She had sex with almost all of them.

In one of her therapy sessions with me, Agnes admitted being overpowered with a sense of insecurity, jealousy, and need to control in all her relationships. Even with the slightest provocation, she’d go into a rage and inflict violence, either on her self or her partner.

Love can be “good” or “bad.” It depends upon how it serves it’s purpose on you.

It’s “good” love when there’s expression of nurture, care, respect, vulnerability, trust, responsibility, growth, and happiness to another based on one’s own capacity to truly love. It’s unconditional.

This kind of love is life-giving and expansive. It’s energy that gives wholeness to one’s state of being, emanating from within you and and extending outward to another.

Love turns to something bad when there’s unhealthy overdependency on the other to get unmet needs met, avoid fears or emotional pain, solve problems, or feel good about one’s self.

It’s essentially self serving and compulsive. Addictive lovers labor under the illusion that their dependent love relationships will ultimately “fix” their selves or their needs.

Dr. Brenda Schaefer, a noted psychotherapist on love addiction, writes:  “Love addiction creeps into the best of relationships, and the challenge we face is to acknowledge the addictive elements and build on the best aspects of a relationship.

If there is any reason to heal an unhealthy relationship, it is so that we can be more and give more to life.”

So, is it love or addiction for you?

That seems a valid diagnostic question to ask your self when you’re in a relationship. You need to adequately explore such question if you desire to build a healthy, long-lasting relationship.

The seeds of whether our love will turn to “good” or “bad” lie deep in our psychological beliefs, our childhood development, our social context, our biology, and even our spiritual values.

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