Are You A Relationship Addict?

Chances are if you aren’t one, you know one.

As I struggle to find one partner, a girlfriend of mine has had six in the last four years. While I’d like to say I’m not picky, I am. I believe in true love and I won’t settle for anything less. My friend on the other hand, chooses to settle at every opportune moment that presents itself. Aside from a two-year relationship with a man who she loved very dearly, the rest have been a succession of unhealthy fillers that ended quicker than they started.

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What continues to baffle me about said friend is that she’s an incredibly beautiful and self-assured human being, so why does she continue to seek security from a relationship, and how can she move so quickly from attraction to attachment?

According to an article by psychologist Alexander Katehakis on Psych Central, love addicts desire to have happy and healthy relationships, however they’re often plagued by a covert struggle with intimacy, meaning, “there is always a hidden agenda to get needs met that are based in feelings of insecurity.”

It’s odd, because from a bystander’s perspective she is secure. She has a strong sense of self and comes off as really ambitious in her life pursuits. But on the other hand, she tends to remain in emotionally destructive and controlling relationships because I can only assume they validate her worth as a person.

A case in point was her last boyfriend. He was so dominating and demanding that he went as far as to dictate what she wore when she left the house. Low cut singlets were banned, shorts above the knee were out of the question, as was anything remotely see through or sheer. Don’t even get me started on dresses.

Thankfully, the relationship only lasted 11 months. But in my opinion it was still 11 months too long. Of course, like any relationship addict, she was quick to continue on in her pursuit of love, so within two months of the couple breaking up she had committed herself to yet another partner.

Interestingly, this isn’t uncommon – we see it in the media all the time. While I adore Kaley Cuoco and am compassionate towards the fact she’s going through the heartache of a divorce, splitting from her partner, tennis player Ryan Sweeting after just 21 months, she hasn’t exactly had the best of luck in the dating department.

Just like my beloved friend, Cuoco has had a succession of failed relationships including a two-year affair with Big Bang Theory co-star Johnny Galecki which was promptly followed up with an engagement to addiction specialist Josh Resnik that fell apart 12 months later. And her marital union with Sweeting kicked off after just 12 weeks of dating – hardly enough time to warrant an “I do”.

So, what is it that separates the serial daters from the daters?

”Partners in an addictive relationship have extreme difficulty navigating normal relational difficulties as they arise, whereas partners in healthy relationships frequently navigate difficulties from the beginning,” wrote Katehaki.

“In a love-addicted relationship, honesty is lacking, and the underlying truth regarding the dynamics of the relationship are not safe to talk about openly. This is a relationship that lacks true intimacy.”

Katehaki also goes on to point out love addicts aren’t in touch with reality, rather, they live through intense fantasies, such as “this person can make me happy,” when the actual reality of the situation is that they don’t know the person well enough to determine that. Their relationships are also based on creating ‘highs’ when pairing, which consequently leads to fizzle, unlike a non-addictive relationship which grows with time.

While I’m absolutely not condemning a high boyfriend turnover, I’m curious to know how someone can fall in love so many times and endure so many breakups. It took me a long time to get over my ex, and the thought of being intimate with someone while I was still hurting wasn’t an idea I entertained lightly.

Perhaps, for some of us though, the prospect of being alone is a much more challenging one than being in a relationship, even one we’re not emotionally ready for. I mean, I get it – being alone frightens me, too. But the thought of being in a mediocre relationship frightens me even more.