One of the biggest characteristics of Love Addicts (or any addict for that matter) is that we do not know who we are. Sure, we may know what we look like, what foods we like, what TV shows we like, where we live, etc. But I am talking about knowing oneself on a much deeper, well-rounded level. One of the reasons we don’t know ourselves so well is because we have been avoiding ourselves. We use our addiction as a way to escape the inevitability of growing up and knowing ourselves deeply.
Another reason is that we simply see ourselves wrongly. We “imagine” being one way when in reality we are something else. This is a very normal state if you’re a teenager. When you’re a teen, you’re supposed to be dreaming up the person you want to be. But the inevitable next step is to try to become the person you want to be. This is where I think many people get stuck.
Here’s a story.
When I was a kid, it was evident that I loved to write. So, my mother told me, “you are a writer.” I also saw that my father was an artist and a music, as was my mother and many other family members. So, when I grew up, I took on their definition of me. I loved being an artist, I loved the artist’s life and most of the men I went after had some unique, artistic twist to their personality. Thing is, I was always frustrated within the lifestyle. Artists tend to be impulsive, unstable people. Many are immature and narcissistic, putting their art and music first. Some are addicts. The older I got the less I liked the idea of dating an artist. But I was one, wasn’t I? And this was the pool that I needed to draw from, wasn’t it? But the answer to those questions was no. More than an artist, I was a woman who loved family, stability and a place where I could go where there were no drugs or avoidance of growing up. I had two small children and I wanted to be around responsible, financially stable people! As boring as that sounded to me, that’s who I was. I was, after all, not like my parents. And while I still had within me the artist’s soul, that did not mean I had to live and breath in that world.
I also used to think of myself has highly unstable, until one day, a close friend of mine said, “you’re one of the most stable people I know!” And she listed my qualities. I tend to like to stay home at nights, I am always on time, I never miss events that I have promised to attend, etc. Here, I thought I was incapable of all those things, but I was not.
These realizations came to me late in life. And so, I’ve tried to put together a list of traits that you can use to ask yourself if you know these areas of yourself. The more you know about YOU the clearer you know what you want (and who you want) closest to you!
- Level of tolerance: What is your level of tolerance for certain things like drugs, drinking, immaturity, avoidance of responsibility, mistake making. Take a look at the people around you. Is it very difficult of easy to put up with certain characteristics?
- Are you serious or not so serious? I found that I was a very serious person on the inside, and that I felt most comfortable when I was with people who “lightened” me up and were playful.
- What class are you? It would be nice if you could turn a blind eye to class. In a perfect world this may be possible, but not now. How did you grow up? Rich? Poor? Middle class? Blue collar? White collar? Silver spoon? Sometimes (like the fantasy story of the Prince and the Pauper) we date outside our class. But this may cause problems and uncomfortable situations. I dated a guy who came from a much more privileged home than I and I felt hugely uncomfortable and insecure. I also dated a man who had no class and was very poor. As much as I loved him, I found myself unable to tolerate some of his habits. I overlooked it for so long because I didn’t want to be superficial. But now I see it differently. We tend to be most comfortable within our own class. That’s NOT to say you can’t have a healthy relationship outside your own class. But it is something to consider. What is your level of tolerance for class-related issues?
- Do you like stability or instability? I always thought I preferred a more unstable life. But when I looked at how stable I designed my own world, I realized that safety, security, reliability and simplicity were the stronger qualities in myself. This is not surprising. My life as a child was very chaotic. We moved 14 times in 20 years. SO, although I was attracted to people who were living wild, dramatic, chaotic lives (because they reminded me of my childhood), I didn’t like that lifestyle one bit!
- Are you a control freak or can you go with the flow? So often I would date men that were non-commital. They’d make plans vaguely. Maybe we would get together on this date. And when they wouldn’t call or show up, I was insanely upset. Everyone told me to lighten up. “Go with the flow” they said. But I soon learned, that wasn’t me. I needed to find someone who was as much a planner as I was. Someone who valued reliability and a more controlled atmosphere (but not so controlling that we couldn’t be spontaneous every once in a while). Know what makes you feel more comfortable and stick with like-minded people.
- Level of education. Obviously you know your level of education. But how important is it that you surround yourself with people who share your same level of education?
- Religious views/beliefs. People are usually passionate about their religious views, whether they passionately belief in one religion or passionately believe they want nothing to do with any religion. Some people don’t care. Where do you fall on the scale and how important to you is it that others share your same beliefs?
- What is your financial health. Can you take care of yourself? Are you looking for someone to take care of you? Or do you like to be independent? When I was younger, I was very dependent upon my husband to take care of me. Because I was so dependent, I had to put up with things I didn’t particularly like. And let’s face, when you’re dependent, you’re trapped. After I went back to school and began working, I realized I despised being dependent upon another person for my security, and so I eventually came to know that being financially stable and earning my own money was mandatory to my personality.
- Are you a caretaker because you like taking care of people or do you secretly want to control other, or be taken care of yourself. Are you a Mother Theresa or a full-fledged co-dependent?
- What is your comfort level when it concerns intimacy? How close do you like to be to people? How much space or “alone time” do you need? We can be very attracted to certain people because we inherently know they will give us lots of emotional space (because we cannot handle too much). But the drawback is that sometimes they give us too much space. Know your level of intimacy and what you are most comfortable with.
- Get to know other smaller but significant things about yourself: are you a morning person, a night person, are you generally positive or negative, do you like healthy food, or junk food, where do you see yourself in 5, 10 years, what are 10 things you can’t live without, with whom are happiest (not including the PoA and sentences that resemble “I would be happiest with _____ IF ONLY HE/SHE WOULD (fill in the blanks)” )