FALLING IN LOVE WITH AN UNAVAILABLE PERSON
Many love addicts find they have a history of falling in love with an unavailable person and they wonder why this keeps happening over and over again. The following is a list of the most common reasons love addicts keep falling into this trap.
Reminders of our first love: We are always attracted to people who remind us of our first love. If a person's first love was an absent or emotionally unavailable parent, then he or she is only attracted to unavailable people, and this is the only kind of person they pursue. They do this out of habit, despite the pain it will cause them later on.
Looking for the happy ending: Many love addicts are not only attracted to unavailable people, they choose them as partners in order to recreate the past and change the ending. They often become obsessed trying to gain, through their current partner, the love they never got as a child. They do this unconsciously over and over again. It is a form of insanity. It is their inner child forcing his or her will on them despite the painful consequences. (See Recovery section for more about the inner child.)
Miscalculations: Many love addicts do not choose an unavailable person. They just fall in love before they find out the person is unavailable. Then, out of stubbornness, and because they have become so dependent, they refuse to give up and move on.
Unrequited Love: Some love addicts can only fall in love with the person of their dreams. Since no such person really exists, they project their fantasies onto someone and then see in that person only what they want to see. These completely unavailable people are a good target for this kind of projection because the love addict never really gets to know them. They are always who the love addict wants them to be. Love addicts, who are also addicted to fantasizing, are drawn to the phenomenon of unrequited love.
Excitement: Chasing after someone who is unavailable can be exciting. It can really get the adrenalin going, not to mention the libido. Romance addicts often go after unavailable people because they are addicted to the chase.
Unconscious Fear of Intimacy: While love addicts consciously obsess about love, they often have an underlying fear of intimacy. Choosing to fall in love with someone who is unavailable (to one degree or another) is one way to avoid facing this fear.
BECOMING DEPENDENT ON AN ABUSIVE PARTNER
Many love addicts find themselves drawn into abusive relationships and do not understand why. The following is a list of the most common conscious and unconscious reasons love addicts fall into this trap:
Love is blind: Most love addicts fall in love or get married before they find out their partner is abusive. The abusive partner keeps this hidden until the trap is sprung. After the abuse starts, these love addicts continue to love their abuser. They tell themselves that they are just taking the good with the bad.
Dependency on the relationship: Other love addicts don't love their abuser, but they are dependent on the relationship, and they would rather suffer physical pain than endure the emotional pain of breaking up. They cannot tolerate separation anxiety.
Abusive parents: Some love addicts had an abusive parent so this abuse is not out of the ordinary for them. It is seen as the norm. It may even be equated with love. An abusive parent can also be loving, so battered children grow up confusing love with abuse. This confusion becomes a distorted value which influences them as adults.
Neighborhood norm: To some love addicts abuse may seem ordinary because all of their friends are being abused as well. In some neighborhoods domestic violence is the norm. It may seem futile to try and change the status quo.
It's my fault: Some love addicts blame themselves rather than their partner. They are sure it is their own faultâÅ¸that they did something to provoke their partner. Sometimes they even think they deserve the abuse. They keep trying to change themselves so it won't happen anymore.
Gullibility: Some love addicts are gullible and don't learn from the past. They believe their partner when he or she says the abuse will never happen again. Like children, they cling to the fantasy that this person will change.
Sympathy: Many love addicts feel sorry for their partner when he or she asks for forgiveness. They know their partner is sick so they decide to take care of him or her rather than end the relationship. Caretakers are used to putting the needs of others before their own. This is misguided compassion.
Loyalty: When some love addicts make a commitment they feel they must be loyal no matter whatâÅ¸that they have no right to change their mind. They feel guilty if they reject someone, even if that someone is abusing them. This is misguided loyalty.
Projecting one's fear of abandonment: Some love addicts project their fear of abandonment onto their partners. They are so afraid of being rejected themselves that they become overly empathetic. They feel their partner will suffer from the rejection and they cannot bear to see someone else suffer, even someone who hurts them.
Fear of revenge: Many love addicts are terrified of leaving an abusive partner because they fear revenge or because they are financially dependent on this person.
Martyr's complex: Some love addicts have a martyr's complex. They feel superior when they suffer in the name of love. They wear abuse like a badge of courage. In a twisted sort of way this actually elevates their self-esteem. Christians especially fall into this trap. They think that because Christ died on the cross for the sins of mankind that they should die on the cross for the sins of their partner. They should not. They are not Christ. Some Christians read in the Bible that "love bears all things" and they think that this includes abuse. I don't think it does. Non-Christians fall into this trap also. They listen to the song "Stand by your man," and they think it is romantic to stick with a relationship no matter what.
Self-pity: Some love addicts let people abuse them because they like feeling sorry for themselves. They like licking their own wounds. Their self-esteem is so low that they substitute self-pity for self-love. Then they become dependent on the self-pity and allow, or even promote, abuse to get a fix.
Making up: Some love addicts don't like being abused, but they like making up. For instance, when their partner is begging for forgiveness they feel superior and in control. They like the attention. They like the flowers and apologies, so they talk themselves into believing that these gestures of remorse actually make up for the abuse.
Negative attention: Many love addicts are so starved for attention that even negative attention will do. They might tell themselves that if he didn't love me so much he wouldn't be so angry. This is twisted thinking and can lead to trouble.
Sexual stimulation: Some love addicts find some aspects of abuse sexually stimulating, so they endure the pain to get the pleasure that follows.
If having an abusive partner is a pattern, love addicts may have to face the fact that they have become addicted to the abuseâÅ¸not to their partners. The phenomenon of pain followed by pleasure can be especially addictive. One actually starts to believe that the only way to find pleasure is to suffer first.
Susan Peabody is the author of Addiction to Love: Overcoming Obsession and Dependency in Relationships and The Art of Changing: Your Path to a Better Life