One of the things that always confused me about the “love addict” label was that, despite the fact that I could be considered “addicted to love”, that label never really addressed the gazillion other issues had. It was limited. For example, even without a guy around I was insecure, slightly paranoid, impatient, a bit controlling, and, if I’m to be completely honest, probably too chatty. To add to that list, I had virtually no interests outside of boys (except writing), I could be lazy, egocentric, pessimistic, needy, immature, prone to living in a fantasy world, oversensitive, wimpy, and I had zero work ethic. According to those fabulous traits, I could also be labeled ADHD, Borderline, Bipolar; maybe even narcissistic or depressed. Who knows.
I was definitely not what you would call a great catch, that’s for sure.
So where’s the surprise when I went out into the world to look for my “second half,” only to find avoidant, neglectful, pessimistic, egocentric, immature types who didn’t have much to offer? In my mind, I was this perfect goddess who needed no changing, but whose only problem was that there were no decent guys out there. And so, I settled, and dated a slew of rather grim suspects.
So often, when I give support to people in the comments section or when they email me, I say things like: You deserve better than that jerk, or You’re worth more than someone who ignores you and treats you badly. And, it’s true. No one deserves to be treated badly. But, we need to clean up too, before we begin to attract better quality people. We need to lose the labels we have created for of ourselves and simply learn better ways to behave.
Trouble with love addicts is, we don’t want to work on ourselves. And if we do, we want to do it within the safe confines of some bad relationship to keep us warm and comfy. So, basically here’s the absurdity of what we really want: we want to keep a neglectful, immature, avoidant, unloving guy around (for sex, friendship and love) while we become mature, optimistic, loving, self-sufficient, confident individuals.
Make sense? Heck, no.
We want the impossible; we want the absurd. And that doesn’t happen in real life. One of the hardest things to accept in recovery, one of the things we are most in denial about is that “like attracts like.” That we may be–gasp– as messed up as the neglectful, immature, avoidant bad boy we’re dating. That’s horrifying. But it’s one of the most important reason I constantly advise people to stop analyzing your partner and turn inward. It’s so much easier to analyze the faults and idiosyncrasies of others. Worse, it keeps you perpetually trapped in your own disease of avoiding yourself.
Here’s my unsolicited advice today: Love addiction is the avoidance of the Self. And when you avoid yourself and lose yourself in fantasy over the imagined love of “someone,” you are unable to recognize that YOU are the one that needs changing; you are the one that needs work. Take a good look at you and determine what changes need to be made to make you a better person. Start doing the work of changing today! And like it or not, you probably need to do this work alone. Recovery is a direction that takes you up and out of the hole you are in currently. Ditch the toxic relationship(s) and start climbing. Your life depends upon it.