Can you really be addicted to love? The experts provide answers

13 Apr 2021Updated: 4 hours ago | 52 people are reading

Can you really be addicted to love? The experts provide answers

© Marie Claire Can you really be addicted to love? The experts answer

Can you be addicted to something nice like love? Yes, that's possible. Merel, Dionne and Ingrid had an extremely strong need for love and recognition, which was expressed in one-night stands and intense abandonment fear. According to the expert, the crux is in our learned self-image.

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“You try to fill something you don't have yourself, namely love for yourself "

Merel (38):" I was addicted to love and found out after I broke my relationship after eight years. We had everything and yet I was not I felt that I had to look for who I was and what was missing in my life. Loneliness was particularly difficult for me. To suppress that nasty feeling of fear, I went from one relationship to another. those relationships are never what I hoped.If you are not okay with yourself and you are not really available for that person, another person is not a boomeran effect for you either, so you attract those kind of 'unavailable' men. Having those relationships was definitely wrong for me, it became a kind of addiction, you try to fill something that you yourself don't think you have love for yourself. My body also indicated that I was completely on the wrong track. During a four-day walking tour through Swedish Lapland, I had to be picked up by helicopter, because I simply couldn't walk any further. I had completely crossed my own limit. That was the moment I started body-focused therapy, where you go to your feelings and allow emotions that you have wanted to avoid all this time. I have gone quite deep, but I have also experienced that there is a "bottom" to the feeling of loneliness, and that the fear is greater than the actual pain. I now also know where my fears come from. As a child there have been important periods in which my parents could not have been there emotionally for me. I fully understand that, but it does not alter the fact that for me as a little girl it felt like I was on my own, something that feels life threatening to a child. One day my therapist said that I was ready to stop the therapy. I was quite shocked by that. Could I really do it alone? In retrospect I think it was good. You can stay in therapy for 20 years, but what really matters is that you learn to break certain patterns. Only you can put an end to that addiction and start a new chapter. In October 2018 I published my novel Vlinder, in which I describe how I was confronted with deep-rooted feelings of fear and loneliness during my journey inside and how I found my own freedom again. "


" He first saw my 'possession drift' as a sign that I loved him very much ”

Dionne (28):" As a child I was already quite compelling and possessive. I decided for others with whom they played, who were or were not friends of each other, and I was on top of that. For example, my best friend could only play with me. Otherwise I became furious. In puberty it only got worse. In the end I didn't have any friends left. Because yes, who wants to deal with such a bossy type? At that moment Arnoud came into my life, a very sweet boy who had the necessary problems at home. We got a relationship that was immediately very serious for two 16-year-olds. In fact, we were not without each other for a minute, and he quickly moved into our home. My "possession drift" and everything, but really everything, wanting to do with him, was seen by him in the first years as a sign that I loved him very much and he felt safe and loved by it. The real problems arose when Arnoud got a new job at the age of twenty with many young colleagues who also undertook activities together in their free time, such as drinks or carting. It started to wriggle between us. He wanted more freedom, spread his wings. As a counter-reaction I tried to keep even more grip, which of course did not work and felt oppressive for him. In the end, it went horribly. Arnoud has taken his place and has come to live with a friend. Stormy years followed. I was assigned a house of my own and felt alone. I started drinking more and more alcohol in the evenings and weekends to numb that nasty feeling. Sometimes a bottle of wine went through every evening. It was very confronting for me to see that I had never succeeded in building normal, healthy relationships, releasing people in their choices. I started therapy and learned a lot about myself and about my strange mechanisms. I can't say I'm already 100% there. As soon as a friendship or relationship with someone develops, that need for control starts again, and I look for the confirmation of that person. That is because of small things: ten times appending or very often asking, "What do you think I look like?" What underlies my behavior is my lack of self-worth. I hope I find a way to find that. "


" I don't want all those one night stands with strangers anymore "

Ingrid (32):" I had it all : cottage, tree, animal. Until one evening my now-ex-husband told me that he had fallen in love with a colleague and wanted to continue with her. My world was upside down. Instead of making room for my sadness or anger, I went to look for the fault of our break in myself. During my pregnancy I had gained quite a few pounds, which had not gone off after the birth. Was that it? Was I not attractive anymore? It's weird, but I had to prove that attractiveness for myself again. I started exercising extremely much and ate little to look good again. On the weekends that our daughter was with my ex, I went to the pub in sexy outfits just to get men's attention. I took them home, had one night stand after the other, and afterwards felt so empty that I had to fill the gap with even more attention and even more superficial sex. It was actually a bottomless pit in which I found myself. But that insight came later. In the end I became exhausted by myself, by constantly having to look for ways to just feel okay. At the suggestion of a friend, I went on a week-long retreat a month ago. Every morning there was meditation and walking. They also only ate healthy food. No work, no men, no phone. No wine. No chocolate. All the tricks I had invented to avoid pain were not present here. I only cried for a whole week, even yelled! Because of the break between my husband and me I lost my identity. As if without a partner and family life I suddenly no longer know who I really am and needed someone else to feel that I am proposing something at all. The brain works to avoid pain, looks for alternatives, but I no longer want all those short, so-called happy moments with strangers. That also causes pain. I have decided not to have any contact with men for the time being and to take very good care of myself. I think that is a first step forward for me. "

The expert

Jan Geurtz is a meditation trainer and author of, among others, the bestseller Addicted to love. This is his vision.

Us self-image

"In fact, all people depend on love and recognition from others, from family, friends and colleagues and especially from a love partner. That is completely normal and part of our acquired self-image, our psychic system. But that need for love can sometimes also take on extreme forms, in which someone feels completely dependent on a love partner and feels a serious fear of abandonment when the relationship threatens to fall apart. In that case you speak of a love addiction, in which someone consciously and unconsciously does everything in a refined way to repeatedly extract that confirmation from outside. "


" We all learn in our youth that 'feeling good' comes from outside, through the confirmation of other people, because if you are left alone for too long, you start to feel yourself more and more miserable. Even as adults we experience being alone for too long, often as being nasty, crushing and as a form of failure. That is our fundamental self-rejection, the core of our acquired self-image, the ego. Self-rejection, which I tell a lot about in my book, is that deep and lonely feeling of failure, failure, feeling yourself weak, stupid or bad, not belonging, never finding yourself good enough. And if we are not aware of these feelings, it is often accompanied by destructive behavior: overeating, using alcohol or drugs, working hard or chasing superficial sex. And that invariably results in new misery, which we have to walk away from in new addictions or depression. Buddhists call this state of his "Samsara," which literally means "turning around." But even if, for example, a partner says he would rather go out for an evening with his friends than sit on the couch with you, you can end up in this deep self-rejection. And usually we immediately blame the partner for these nasty feelings. He then feels rejected and blames the other for these feelings. Because usually both partners do not realize that the misery is in their own acquired self-image, they continue to reject each other and the relationship fails. By always wanting to cover those nasty self-rejecting feelings or by running away from them, we maintain the illusion that we cannot be happy without the love of the other person. "

Fear of abandonment

" I speak a lot with couples these kinds of ego patterns. Certain dependent partners also attract each other. The more afraid your partner is to be abandoned, the safer you feel with that partner. After all, it looks like it will never let you down! The fear of abandonment of one is the reassurance of the other and vice versa. In this type of relationship it seems to go well for a while, until one of the two becomes slightly more independent than the other. That can be through therapy or training or through more success in the social field. But even if one partner gets an extra-marital love and can thus divide his dependence into two relationships, the balance is seriously disturbed. Then there is often a relationship crisis, because one partner no longer wants to fill up the bottomless pit of the other, and all those sucking apps along the lines of "do you still love me?" No longer experiences as a sign of love but of weakness. "


" The misery experienced when a relationship breaks down has one important advantage: it has a conscious effect. You eventually realize that something is not working in your strategy to pursue happiness. That is the start of a psychological and spiritual development in which you can get to know and transcend all those learned and painful ego patterns. That does not mean that you can no longer attach yourself to a love partner, as you sometimes hear some spiritual people claim. I find that fear of attachment with a spiritual sauce. What I think is the point is that you can attach yourself best to someone and also be in pain if you lose someone, but that you can learn to see that that says nothing about your self-worth. You recognize that you have painful thoughts and feelings, but that you are not. You can experience them without self-rejection. If you can stand in your relationship that way and also look at your own patterns in that way, it brings air and freedom into a relationship. It keeps the love in your relationship as fresh and alive as in the beginning. "

Text: Natasja Bijl | Image: Nothing Hill