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Doc@DrIrene.com

Recovery From Love Addiction

 Recovery From Love Addiction

by Irene Matiatos, Ph.D.

Pia Mellody has written a wonderful book called Facing Love Addiction. The main premise is that we look to another to give us what emotional "stuff" we need and do not have. The problem is that the love addict's solution doesn't work very well for very long. Idealized infatuation may feel like love, but it is little more than an empty promise of what the future will bring. (see love vs. infatuation)

We are unable to participate in a mature love relationship before we develop the ability to provide ourselves with the right emotional "stuff." (Call it "self-respect", "self-love", whatever...) Love addicts spend more energy manipulating the environment -- in order to get others to give them what they need -- than they do in noticing and meeting their own needs. Trying to control events and other people drives them. Unfortunately, an obsession with things outside the self does little in meeting one's own needs. It does however provide a distraction from dealing with the inner self. It can be very difficult to get off this merry-go-round. Think of a farmer who must till his soil, fertilize, weed, and water his crop so it may thrive. Instead of getting on with the day-to-day work of farming, he becomes focused on how good he will feel driving the new car he will buy with his earnings. Spending most of his time test driving different models and negotiating prices, the farmer's crop fails. Resigned to a miserable car-less winter, the farmer becomes lost in his new dream: he'll get an even nicer car next fall!

I've never seen a case of love addiction where the love addict was relatively happy with his or her life. Susceptible individuals usually have a goal or a dream and feel they are "on hold" until someone comes into their lives to help them materialize it. Maybe the dream is a prettier, more comfortable home; children; a good social life; moving to the city; moving to the country; a partner to open a store with; a divorce from a partner you opened a store with; and on and on.

The bottom line is that if you are not happy with your Right Now, you are likely to be dreaming of a future that is different from your Here and Now. You are likely to vacillate between a sense of purposeless, mindless floating, depression, and an obsession with Getting There -- rather than on Living Your Life! If you don't know how to live in the Here and Now now, what makes you think you could miraculously do it if you got what you wanted? Where do you think the phrase, "Be careful of what you wish for...you might get it" comes from?

The solution is to put yourself closer to where you want to be and do it without the partner you are waiting for. If you want a prettier home, dress your house up. If you want a better social life, start socializing. If you want to live in San Diego, move. Half the battle in taking care of yourself is figuring out what you want. The other half is engaging in the process that will eventually get you there. As you get to know yourself better and begin to take action, you invest more energy in yourself and less energy in manipulating others. You are learning to control yourself, the only person you have any real control over. You empower yourself to meet more of your needs and, as you do, your contentment increases. You are more inclined to stay in the Here and Now because There is Here Now!

Bonus: As you live in the Here and Now, you are much more likely to attract the person you wanted in the first place! When you meet your emotional needs, you are more likely to make a love relationship work.

So, if you are seriously interested in recovering from love addiction, the best prescription is: Get A Life! What have you got to lose but your misery?