Are you addicting to sexual love?Dave Smith
The Sex and Love Addicts Anonymous website explains that people with an addiction to sex or love face the struggles of loneliness, fear of abandonment, shame and other emotions when sexualizing their relationships. As part of a desperate attempt to avoid feeling lonely and vulnerable, they confuse love with emotional need and physical attraction. They are even willing to remain in problematic or destructive relationships based on their need for connection.
From the perspective of psychological attachment theory, this definition of addiction to sex and love seems to describe many people struggling with a very anxious attachment style. People with this style of connection tend to see themselves as unworthy, inadequate and unkind. There are two subgroups of anxious attached people, and each group sees other people a little differently.
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People with a fearful elusive style see others as emotionally unavailable. So, when they feel upset, they cannot find comfort in themselves or in others. The result is that they can try both, but they don’t do it effectively. As a result, their relationships are highly emotional and problematic.
Another subgroup of anxiously attached people has a worried style and sees others as possible sources of comfort and support. But, because of their negative perceptions of themselves, they feel they need to work hard to earn love, an effort they must always keep, making them “worried” about gaining the approval of others.
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I doubt calling addiction to the relationship struggles of very attached people because the evidence is not clear about whether they are experiencing a true addiction. It is true that their love relationships can consume their lives and that they can use them to modify their mood. However, a critical aspect of addiction is that there is a growing need for the substance or activity to have the same effect over time. I wonder if this is really the case with most people who consider themselves addicted to sex or love.
In any case, for these people, the overwhelming need for love and approval (often experienced as a need for sex) is very real. The solution to this problem is that they develop a feeling of being worthy and kind, as well as a feeling that other meaningful people can be trusted to support them emotionally. In other words, the deep sense of loneliness and the desperate need for love and approval can be alleviated by fostering a safer attachment.
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If you have difficulties with these problems, it can often help to work simultaneously to foster a positive relationship with yourself and others. Begin by observing the ways in which you feel unworthy or unworthy of love. Also observe how others respond in an emotionally supportive or rejection way.
Then, practice allowing yourself to remain with the positive feelings that arise when viewed positively or supported by you or others. They can be fleeting, quickly overcome by their self-criticism and fear of judgment. Recognize these negative responses and then return your awareness to the positive ones. This may seem like a battle, maybe even a loss. But choose to keep that. With time and practice, hopefully you will experience more positively and allow the care of others.
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This exercise is just a beginning. But in facing the internal demons that cause you internal pain, you choose to return to a better life. The path of “love addiction” to truly loving relationships with yourself and others is not easy, but it is worth the effort and struggle.
Postscript: The reader who initially wrote to me about “love addiction” said that he thinks he is finally on the road to healing and that he thinks he has found the right person for him. I hope that by doing the healing work he has, in fact, found and is fostering a truly loving relationship with himself and his new partner.
TOPICS: Sex, Dating and Marriage, love, addiction, love addiction, sex addiction, relationships, dating, marriage