This information came from a site called Relationship Addiction. I’ll blog and write more about this soon. For now, I think it’s important to put this out here, in case it resonates with you.
Modeling has been shown to be the most powerful form of teaching. Many people who have been brought up in dysfunctional households learn to have only dysfunctional relationships in their adult life.
They don’t know what normal is. If you have seen your parents engage in violence, exist in a loveless relationship, and not know how to get their needs and wants met, it may be difficult for you to do so in an adult relationship. You never saw it done properly.
Relationship addiction generally involves two partners with different agendas. On the one hand, is a very dependent person who believes that ‘any relationship is better than none at all’ and is terrified of being alone in life. Their job is to be as close as possible, enmeshed, lost in the other partner and reflect how wonderful the self-centered person is. This person has an overwhelming fear and perhaps history of abandonment. Underlying that is a fear of intimacy and the belief that if they do not hold on for dear life they will be abandoned. They often reflect the lessons in childhood. Ironically there is both a tremendous need for, and fear of intimacy.
On the other hand, is an extremely independent and self serving person who has a strong sense of entitlement and believes he deserves adulation. The independent, self-centered person is looking for a partner who agrees with their point of view and will reflect back to him how wonderful they are. This person will believe they do not ‘need’ anyone as they walk through life but are constantly looking over their shoulder to make sure someone is paying enough attention to them. This person is fearful of being smothered or controlled, but strangely enough also has a fear of abandonment. They will run if they feel somebody is getting ‘too close’, yet always seem to need more.
There are certain things one can look for in assessing whether they involved are involved in relationship addiction:
1. Is there any balance of power? Is one partner always giving, giving, giving, and the other taking taking taking? A healthy relationship can be viewed as roughly a 50-50 proposition addictive relationships are more like 90-10.
2. Is each person seeking esteem or self value through the other? Relationship addiction is characterized by the concept of the other partner holds the key to one’s own happiness. A partner can only feel worthwhile if they are ‘taking care’ of another, or if they are being catered to because they ’deserve it’.
3. Inordinate control and lack of trust. In addictive relationship there is control almost to the point of compulsion. Abandonment is used as a threat against the dependent person, and the dependent person feels an overwhelming urge to ensure security by making sure every need of the independent partner is looked after. At some level, each partner knows the relationship is not healthy but each feels compelled to continue it.
4. Instant gratification over delayed gratification. Relationship addiction is characterized by everything being in the ‘now’, I want what I want, when I want it, now. Independent person believes that the dependent persons sole function is to take care of their immediate needs even if it is that the cost of the future.
5. Emotional pain and lack of trust. There is little trust on either side of an addictive relationship on the one hand a partner feels the other is not doing enough for them, and on the other side, a partner is living in constant fear of abandonment. The pleasure is intense, and the pain is intense, it does not seem to be a happy medium. The addictive cycle is like a wheel spinning downhill each partner reinforcing the needs and fears of the other without truly satisfying cycle onward until one partner eventually cracks under pressure.