A lot has been written about love addiction and yet it is still a misunderstood disorder. For instance, many people believe that love addicts only run hot (passionately pursue someone who is unavailable like in the movie Fatal Attraction.) However, many love addicts also run cold (appear aloof)and yet they are still addicted.

It is the narcissistic and codependent love addicts who run hot and cold. Let me give you an example. Nancy and James met at a bar and were instantly attracted to one another. Within days Nancy (the codependent) had fallen madly in love with James (the narcissist). From the beginning she was helpful, nurturing, attentive and went out of her way to make him happy. James, on the other hand, appeared to be able to take or leave the relationship. He canceled dates, neglected to return phone calls, saw other women, became very domineering and for the most part seemed aloof and detached. Still, six months later Nancy married James because she was in love with him and secretly hoped that he would change.

After Nancy and James were married the pattern of neglect continued, especially his affairs with other women. When Nancy objected James bullied her until she stopped nagging him about it. This went on for years. Nancy tried to save her marriage by placating James in every way she could think of, but he continued to do what he wanted. Eventually Nancy stopped loving James and thought about leaving him, but she just couldn't bring herself to face the loneliness of being single again.

This was better than nothing she thought. So she continued her codependent behavior - always trying to keep James happy and comfortable even if it meant sacrificing her own happiness in the process. Eventually Nancy sought counseling and within a year she felt strong enough to leave James. He had other ideas. The first time Nancy brought up the subject of divorce he laughed at her. Then he threatened her verbally. The day she presented him with divorce papers he beat her so badly she had to go to the hospital. It seems that despite his lack of love and respect for Nancy, James was addicted to her and the relationship they shared. He also felt that if he couldn't have her nobody else could.

When Nancy finally left, James stalked her for months and threatened to kill her if she didn't come back. The roles were now reversed. James was running hot and Nancy was running cold. In the case of James and Nancy, James eventually let go and stopped harassing Nancy. However, you only have to read the newspapers to realize that such a lethal combination of codependency and narcissism can lead to homicide. From the narcissist's point of view a codependent has no right to change and start caring about his or her own well-being. And narcissists will go to almost any length to keep from feeling their own sense of abandonment when their partner has had enough. This is the one thing codependent love addicts and narcissistic love addicts have in common. Separation anxiety must be avoided at all cost. The pain of an unhappy relationship is better than the feeling of emptiness which creeps in when there is no one to love or be with.

Both hot and cold love addicts need to face their addiction and the underlying personality disorders that go with it. Recovery means facing the truth, implementing changes in behavior, seeking counseling to deal with issues left over from childhood and in the case of the codependent love addict making a concerted effort to raise self-esteem.

Author's Bio: 

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. For more about Susan see her website http://brightertomorrow.net/index.html