Love Addiction

Addiction is a substitution of love

We are all looking for love. And when we start a relationship, develop strong feelings, we are sure that we love that person. If that relationship hurt us, we get an idea that love can cause suffering, and maybe even sickness.


Indeed, your relationship might be sick. But probably, it's more correct to call it not "love", but "addiction".


The signs of addiction in a relationship


Addiction in a relationship is a permanent concentration of thoughts on a "beloved" person and addiction with them. The addiction relationship to a considerable extent determines the emotional and the physical condition, their capacity for work and relationships with other people. So as a matter of fact, the whole life of an addicted person is determined by these relationships. And the influence from that relationship is not always the best. It makes a person more unhappy than happy.

But when a person isn’t happy in solitude, they have the hope to find happiness in these relationships! They hoped that all their emotional suffering, lack of self-confidence, all complexes will be cured by that love. And perhaps for the first time they thought so. But that feeling didn't last long. Showed up fights, misunderstandings, discontent of "object of affections" and yourself. The person, without not even noticing, suffers even more than they did in singleness. And in the future is unavoidable parting and a new great pain…


Why does it happen with everyone? And does repeat again and again in a new relationship?


It happens, because that person, at this stage of their life is addicted. 

They met at school, were dreaming to get married. After school they began to live together. He was everything to her. She was quite good at drawing and dreamt of being a designer. But she didn’t apply to any university, because one might study a lot, focus on subjects, but it would take her attention from him. And he is the most important in her life. He is her goal and meaning of life. She lives for him. She started to work to support both of them. He applied to prestigious university. Like this they lived for 7 years. She worked, he studied at university, and after somewhere else. She took care of him, gave him maximum comfort in life and it was the meaning of her life. He graduated, got a highly paid job and a month after left her. It was like a bolt from the blue for her - everything was so good! Later she tried to kill herself. Doctors saved her. After hospital, her life was grey, useless, purposeless - because she didn’t have him anymore. In the end everything returned to normal. But it didn’t happen straight away. It was a long road. But when she lost him, she got faith and self-confidence...


The essence of an addicted relationship is that an addicted person feels defective. They need to occupy themselves with the other person. It’s almost a matter of life and death. These kind of people are ready to endure any attitude, rather than being rejected, just not to be alone. Love in an addicted relationship is a way of compensating self-appraisal. And a partner is an object, which intended to supplement this deficiency to the complete "I am".


"I don’t feel that I really live if I am not in relationship with him/her ".

"I don’t feel as a full-fledged person without him/her ".


These statements belong to addicted people.

But this way will never reach the goal, because it’s impossible. Addicted relationships do notable for non saturability. The mission of the filling yourself with another person is impracticable. Because the inner integrity can be reached only as a result of development of internal personal resources, as a result of development of personal connection with God. By replacing God with another person and service to him/her to the point of forgetting everything else, doesn’t deliver from the self-insufficiency. Not without a reason we find in the Bible: "Thou shalt not make thee any graven image". Addiction is a renunciation of yourself and God.

In that relationship psychological space of one person is absorbed by the psychological space of another one, loses his/her sovereignty. A person lives not their life but the life of a "beloved " one. Moreover there is almost no space for self-development.

But the continuous and compulsory personal development is a duty of everyone. God gives to everyone unique capabilities, that tell one from the other, and with correct development makes a "symphony": whole-hearted, high society of mutually complementary people. Everyone should self develop themselves and correct these capabilities – talents – a duty of a human in front of God, ourselves and family.

Addicted people often say: "I live only for him/her", "I did everything just for him/her". At the same time they don’t understand, that their partner doesn’t need that kind of sacrifice. It doesn’t satisfy his/her spiritual needs. Because it’s called not by love, but by the wish to be loved.

In the addicted relationship there is no a real closeness and trust. At the same time the relationship can be very emotional and that’s what is taken as love: "jealousy means love".  In addicted relationship people use each other for satisfaction each other’s unconscious needs, for winning back defects of their souls. But these needs will always be dissatisfied. As a rule, addicted relationships evolve with several scenarios.

Rejection of one's own sovereignity and dissolution her/his psychological space in the space of a partner. Often the person lives with the interests of their partner: "I live to follow his/her wishes". They transfer whole responsibility for their life. Within that the one refuses of wishes, goals, aspirations. In this case "partner" acts as a parent.

Absorption of psychological space of a partner is a deprivation of their sovereignty. In this case, the role of parent belongs to that one who is looking for love (addicted one). Person leads and controls their partner, like parents do with a kid. In the foundation it is "good" intention: "He/she won’t survive without me. I know how it should be.

"I live for him/her". The responsibility for life of "beloved one" assumes.

The absolute possession and destruction of psychological space of love object. By assuming power over the partner like over a thing, lets feel power and important. The responsibility of partner’s life proclaims, but doesn’t put into effect – they only use the partner. The partner is possible to test own possibility to rule over, control and manage not only actions but also feelings.

Reflection is in a partner.  Addicted people usually choose the partners whose will always show that they are an extraordinary person. He/she should admire me, express love, long for satisfying all wishes, every day try to curry me. He/she should prove, that I am better than anyone and deserve love. If partner stops to be a "mirror" – they are searching for a new one.  In all these models there is no place for true closeness, responsibility, love.


The causes of emotional dependence


Now let' look into the causes of emotional dependence.


They are deeply rooted in childhood. When a baby is born, the newborn depends on the mother. Nature has provided a symbiotic relationship between mother and child, in which they don't feel any separation from each other. This is the gift from the nature that guarantees the baby care they need the most, the sense of security and trust.

This stage lasts around 9 months, until the child begins to crawl and stands on their feet. The major task on this stage - is to establish an emotional connection between mother and child that serves as a foundation of trust to the world and baby's development. The kids, which fully passed those stage, that had a good emotional connection with their parents, received plenty of love and care, won't be afraid to explore the world, will easier make friends and open to learning.

If something has happened in this stage, for example, the mother was not close with a baby, or it was strained in domestic surroundings, or was expecting a boy, but parents got a girl etc. And there wasn’t a close emotional connection between mother and child, the kid will never feel secure enough. Those kids are afraid of the world and changes. They are shy and careful in any relationship with people around. What is making it difficult to explore the "unknown". These kids are "tied" to their parents. Lack of love, attention and care make them vulnerable and  "bound" to their parents, and in the future to other people.

The more a child connects to the mother and father during first days and months of life, the easier is the process of separation between parents and kids. And that process is necessary for the development of a full-fledged personality. This is the next stage of the development of the child.

During the next stage, the peak fits on the age of 18-36 months the major task of development is separating. The child has an incentive to explore the world and to separate ("I want to do it by myself"). On this stage the child must twice more hear "yes", than "no". The environment should be available to explore and be safe. The parent must be near, they should be physically and emotionally be near, provide security, but not to limit impulse of researching. A child needs to feel that he/she can do something by her-/himself that they are very important to their parents and results of their activity are important and valuable as well. The child needs to feel that even if parents are not near for a moment, they still love them and they will come back. All those conditions are necessary in order to later, in adulthood, the person can feel full-fledged, respect themselves and people around, be able to have a deep emotional connection with other people, be active and responsible in life.

If the development went in a wrong way, the psychological birth of kid won’t happen. He/she will stick to a dependent relationship with parents (usually with the mother), will have high level of anxiety, world will scare him/her, the impulse of research will be lower. They will have hard time to build warm relationship with others everything will be poisoned with fear and distrust. In adulthood they will get stronger thoughts that something is wrong with them. He/she will not feel him-/herself as a individual person, that is able to take care of him-/herself, responsible for acting. Those people will have relationships that will be more or less dependent, with the other words constrained. They will be compulsory, necessary to survive, motivated by fear of life.

At this stage, the development doesn’t come to the end. And while one is growing up, there are other stages they have, during those it is possible to correct some mistakes. But if there were no correction, then an adult will have dependent relationship with other people. If person didn’t get enough love and care in childhood, it means the psychological separation didn’t happen between kids and parents. The relationship with parents can be negative, can be cold (without any emotions), or over dependent – these all are signs of no separation. That kind of person with not satisfied need in love, will "stick" with other people.

The foundation of a dependent relationship is fear in life, lack of self-confidence, inferiority complex, high level of anxiety. Searching for love will be an obsessive need for survival. The anxiety and instability, which one will have because of continuous conflict between a need in love and certainty about that they don’t deserve a real love, make their yearning for getting love from other person and filling by him/her their own self comes the major and obsessive goal (purpose?) in life.


Comparison of addiction and love


And here is the story about real love.


After five years after Epiphany, God has given me a gift - I've met my soul mate, my man from God. It's impossible to compare with anything. In that relationship there were almost no passion, but there were warmth, light and freedom. In that relationship I've become more free than being single. I've lost my fears, that I had so many before the world has become much brighter. People with whom I was in touch on that moment, said that I radiate warmth. And more than that I've felt the stream of divine stream serpentine on me. He felt the same.

I felt God in my soul, I didn't just believe, I felt Him, I felt his presence. I felt that I am in God's will and this is a real happiness. It is surprisingly quiet happiness without passions. It is some kind of power, confidence and knowledge that this is by God's will. Felt like I don't need anything else.

The relationship with husband was wonderful: there were no explanations: he understood everything without words. It was a feeling of resonance inside, so absolute acceptance. And here in full measure it was implemented the concept - the family is like a church. It was exactly like that. We both felt God between us.

True, I don’t know why I have got this gift. What have I done to deserve it.. But later my husband passed away. And what was wonderful – there was no emptiness, there was gratitude for this meeting. I didn’t feel devastation after this. I still felt the feeling of God inside. The feeling of presence God and Holy energy were still here.


What is the difference between addiction (dependent relationship) and love?


To have a deep emotional connection with the other person is possible only after acquiring psychological autonomy. That relationship distinguished with the feeling of joy, that comes from couple, and freedom. The motivation of getting that relationship is always love. The deep sensation of partner, collaboration and trust distinguish that kind of relationship.

Respect to your own and somebody else's boundaries and needs - peculiarity of those relationship. The mature love says: "I will do everything that I can to help you optimally realize your aptitudes, even if it means that you should be far from me and do something without me". In mature relationship there is always a big space for a gratification your own needs, achievement your own goals and personal growth. In that relationship there is always a place for God.

True love isn’t acquisitive love. True love respects and admires partner. True love doesn’t use partner for satisfaction of your own needs. In dependent relationship the partner treats takes as ownership.

True love gives the feeling of fulfillment and harmony in life. There is to little anxiety and hostility. In a (dependent relationship there is no feeling of contentment and harmony. There are much of discontent frustration and suppressed anger, many complaints to each other.

Truly loving partners are independent from each other, autonomous, are not jealous, but at the same time they try to help one to another to get self-actualization, proud of his/her victories, they are generous and caring. Mature love says: "I can live without you, but I love you and I want to be close. Dependant people are "solid" with each other, none of them has own psychological area. They are jealous, acquisitive, they can't live without each other - their connection is compulsory.

For true love the ability to give without expecting anything back, - it is an expression of strength and abundance. By giving, the mature person gets pleasure, and by itself it is a compensation for emotional, physical and pecuniary costs. The person who inclined to make a dependent relationship, orientated on love – transaction, love – service. They don’t want to give without expecting anything in return, and when they give they feel like they were used, devastated, deceived.

Mature, adult person knows his/her partner and realistically appraises their personality. Moreover he/she appreciate them they way they are, and helps them to grow their personality and reveal, and not for the partner serves him/her. Addicted person cannot accept the partner the way they are. And one always tries to teach and remake them suitable for him/her.

Mature person respects their partner, their psychological space and borders. Love is born from freedom and can’t exist in captivity. With the offence against the liberty of a person, the love is disappeared. In a dependent relationship the psychological borders violate, there is no respect to a partner and their psychological borders. The "sprouts " of love (if they were there) fade.

The personal responsibility is an integral part of mature love. In dependent relationship own responsibility passes to a partner, or there is a hyperbolical responsibility.


•.                   Spiritual mature person is ready to understand and accept another person the way he/she is, with all their strengths and weaknesses.

•.                   Spiritual mature person wants to have a partner that can be trusted and who will trust, by sharing thoughts and feelings, needs and likings for something. They want to be with someone, who can be that one you can rely on and they can support as well.  

•.                   Mature person strives for that kind of relationship where both partners have the opportunity of complete disclosure of individuality and live in love with each other. Spiritually mature person refers to personal growth and development as seriously as to their own. They are ready and able to agree with their partner, become support without losing own individuality and without letting do a harm to it.

•.                   Spiritually mature person is ready to have a responsibility for his own and partner's life.

•.                   Spiritually mature person knows, that nothing in this world lasts forever, and this is not going to affect on their responsibility and love, and they are grateful for every day of life.


Appears from the above, the love is relationship between mature, spiritually ripe and independent people. Every person (no matter what kind of childhood they had) can overcome their inclination to dependence and learn how to love truly.


Translated by Angelika Drigo & Samantha Chivers



( 2 voices: 4.5 of 5 )

Psychologist Natalia Domkina

Psychologist Natalia Domkina

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See also
About Love Addiction. The 4 Practical Steps to Overcome Love Addiction (Michael Hasminsky, crisis psychology)
Dependence on love (Psychologist Natalia Domkina)

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