The Lovely Addict, now “Girl Rebuilt” was started at the tail end of 2008. It was supposed to be my personal online “diary” about the woes of my dating life and a few of the harsh lessons I learned along the way. And it definitely was that. If you read back to some of the 2008 entries, believe me, I was at the bottom of the barrel. I was a wreck. But what eventually happened was that I grew up, and decided to share my experiences on how to get out of a bad relationship, build self-esteem, recognize personal values and rebuild a stronger me.
There are technically three categories here. There’s Girl Rebuilt, which posts features on love, dating, relationships, love addiction and how to rebuild yourself so that messy, yucky relationships are a thing of the past. There’s The Break Up Journal, my personal, once-private, real-life diary of the daily unfolding of the most gut-wrenching, yet life-changing break-up of my life. And there’s Dear Lovely, letters to me that I have posted and answered and share with my readers.
Here’s my disclaimer: I am not a therapist or a counselor. But, I do have one thing a lot of pros don’t. At least 10,000 hours devoted to really bad relationships that I somehow learned to stop having.
Blogger, author, activist, giver of relationship advice, Tracy Shields has written extensively on the topic of love addiction and recovery since 2008, appeared in the documentary Love Addict, by Pernille Rose Grønkjær and is the author of, Girl Rebuilt: advice on how to ditch Mr. Unavailable and become the girl of your dreams. She has been featured in Salon, The Fix, HuffPost Live, and elephant journal. This blog is her story about a few bad relationships (and one super good one), and their transformative power to heal and rebuild. She’s also the creator of Girl Rebuilt.
33 thoughts on “About the blog”
hello i just wanted you to know that its 3;47 in the morning and i cant stop thinking about him….so i went on the net to get strength…you give such great advice…..im so glad your here…i believe that you are literally saving my life…….its been 20 days no nc i’m glad to regain my power….i cant thank you enuff for helping me thru this
Thanks for your blog.
Its been 3 months of relatively NC with my past partner. The three month mark is generally where I get anxious and panicky. And here I am. Insomnia, anxiety, wanting to look at personals…somatic symtoms. Im an anxious mess and am also overeating and eating junk food. I hope i can get through this without turning to another lover. I cant go to another lover. I dont have it in me. But I am also freaked out about just being with me. Im turning to my old addictions (personals, junk food, crazy anxiety and panic.) I am trying to read everything I can. I also am willing to resort to medication to help me with sleep and anxiety. I need to function and work and get through this. thanks for your strength and your story.
Hey, get a hold of me. I’m a strong advocate of recovery, as well. I would love to chat recovery. Not2bforgot10@yahoo.com
Hi there. I’m a recovering love addict who is very moved and inspired by your blog. I don’t see your email listed on here but would really love to chat with you. If that sounds good, please email me at: firstname.lastname@example.org
It is easy for you to talk about “recovery” when you had some things to rely on, like you knew you already were married and had children and then you met your attorney which was a sweep of luck. Now you can talk all you want about your recovery as you got lucky.
If you were uterly alone in the world, it would be interesting to see how you would go about your recovery.
I was utterly alone. Do you think having kids makes it easier to find someone? It doesn’t. It makes it harder. Not many single men exist when you’re 40, let alone ones that are interested in dating a woman with two kids. Was I lucky? Most definitely. But after the luck of having met him then what? If I were unhealthy, I would have lost him. Wouldn’t I? Things may start as luck, but if you lack confidence, self-esteem, health, and all the things that go into attracting someone equally as healthy and maintaining a long relationship with that person, you are doomed. Water seeks its own level. NO matter how lucky I was to meet him, he would never have stayed with me if I were who I was ten years ago. Keep working at recovery, so that when your “lucky guy” strolls by you will recognize him and he will recognize you! 🙂
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I have known this woman for years and she has suffered as much as any other love addict. She didn’t get a good man because of luck. She got in because she worked hard on her recovery.
Your new book is amazing. It’s the best book about relationships on the market today. Is well written and organized. There is so much new information about recovery and healthy relationships. It has been an honor to know you and be in your life. Bravo.
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This is what you wrote:
I have found that the more that time goes by and my old, unhealthy habits are replaced by my new ones, I am a new person. I’ve kinda shed my old skin. Every once in awhile one of my old LA thoughts or triggers will pop up but they become rarer and rarer as I become closer to the woman I was meant to be. It’s a good feeling and I assure you someday, you too will know what I am talking about. T”
So, are you with your man attorney or are you with the woman or both? Are you bi-sexual? Who are you? And is this your recovery?
I am with the same guy. We will be celebrating our 1.8 year anniversary on Tuesday. Not sure where it says I was with a woman. I said: “as I become closer to the woman I was meant to be,” which means I am talking about understanding myself better. 🙂
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Hi, thank you for continuing to post updates on your lovely blog. Your encouragement/advice/hard truths are so helpful in my life.
There is one topic I havent seen (forgive me if I’m wrong) on a real in depth focus addressing how to not eliminate but learn to cut back and set boundaries for yourself when our “giver” nature just wants to keep giving and our justification is that it’s “good.”
To give a little context, I would like to hear your thoughts on this during the point of recovery when IN a *healthy* relationship. I also got very lucky, and my partner is an *amazing* man who has helped me become the great woman I am today. However, I am still a “giver.” I do at times think I spend too much money on him, and its hard right now because he had to walk out on a job that was treating him really poorly, so I am supporting him financially more than usual. Still, normally I tend to spend a lot of time and money on him and doing things together not just him but as a family (I have one child, he has two).
So my question is in a normal case where we’re both working and contributing to all things, including extras, what are some tools you might have to limit either $ amounts or figure out what is “reasonable?” Of course I wouldnt expect you to give a certain dollar amount and I do have a good idea of how much $ I have to spend extra on him, but more like how to get over feeling like I HAVE to do so much for him in order to feel like I’m a really great girlfriend. Which I know I am anyway. And it’s not even an issue of “if I spend so much on him he won’t leave me” at all either. More just setting reasonable boundaries that more closely match what he is giving back. Last part of my context is: I almost never give expecting anything in return. But the rare times when I state to my bf “this is what I need” (usually some kind of physical need, like affection or sex), I tend to do more things for him. Then when he does not put the extra effort to meet my stated need, I feel disappointed. From the expectation I had. I’m sure you’re fully familiar with this 🙂
I dont even let it bother me too much, I know when to let go. I used to let it affect me, but now I am mature enough to know how meet my own needs by not dwelling on it or holding any expectations on my bf or anyone else. Still, how do you deal with needs that can only be met by others? Or should there eventually be NO needs that require anyone but yourself to meet?
I forgot to add, my bf is not avoidant although he does like his space, which I am used to almost and think it’s really good/gives me time to myself too. He is VERY affectionate and I have no complaints about how that.
I guess its just difficult because he lives 20 minutes (one way) away, and right now doesnt have gas money (I’m actually giving him gas $), and has kids he can’t always leave to come to me. I do drive to him but he doesnt have a private space where he lives. **it seems to me there are SO many reasons/excuses for not getting enough “alone” time together. But I really make it so easy for him, and yet its not enough…? I’m not a sex addict, and I know he wants me just as bad. So what’s the holdup. Is this something I have to just have patience/delayed gratification on? Am I asking too much? I dont want to confront him about it because when I have, he sees it as “complaining” and I understand why. How can I calm down my desire to be with him that way?
Sorry if I am being too specific or descript… And is there a particular LAA forum thread you’ve seen you can direct me to, if you are not sure how to answer my questions? Thank you for reading this
Second, it’s good that he’s not avoidant but needs his space. Sounds like me. However, I see a big red flag here. When someone has “so many reasons/excuses for not getting enough alone time” with you, they are basically avoidant. They are denying you one of your basic human needs and they are “neglecting” to invest in the relationship. Whether it be because they can’t or they won’t doesn’t matter. What matters is that this situation is not healthy for YOU. This is basic dysfunction. And wHen you confront or complain about it, he of course becomes defensive because he has no inclination to change. And he probably can’t. And that’s OK. Becuase you CAN CHANGE.
Here’s the ugly truth, pandar. This is NOT something you have to have patience about, unless it is a temporary situation (he was once financially strong, he was once very supportive of you, etc. and he returns to that healthy state in a few months). But how long have you experienced living like this? If it’s not temporary, but rather built in to the fabric of who he is, I say you are settling and you deserve better. Far better.
You should reasonably expect that this man, 9x out of 10 never relies on you for money, that he makes more of an effort to see you than you see him, and that his life is open and available to alone time with you. And while kids are part of his life and yours, I’m sure you still love your child AND make time for him. He should be expected to do the same.
The ugliness comes in when you realize that you probably won’t get those needs met from this particular man. So…what are your choices? Either bury your needs or move on. I’d hope you’d choose the latter because you are worth so much more than you seem to be getting.
I spent about $10K on one of the guys I dated a while back and looking back, it’s an embarrassment that I didn’t recognize I was with such a “needy” man. When I started to date D (an attorney with his own money) I still bought him things and spent money on him, but it was never because he was in “need’ and that is the difference. When you start to support someone else (temporarily is an exception) and start towing the line for someone else who is perfectly capable of taking care of themselves, this act is not kindness on your part, it is co-dependence. You put your needs aside (don’t you need your money to better care for yourself and your child?) for his and the relationship becomes unbalanced.
As far as boundaries are concerned, I would place them around you right now. No more giving gas money. No more towing his line. If he can’t make it over to see you, then he can’t make it over. Unfortunately, this means the relationship might not be what you want it to be. But from what you’re telling me, you are buying him. You are paying to see him. And when that happens, you start expecting that he give back something too (“I tend to do more things for him. Then when he does not put the extra effort to meet my stated need, I feel disappointed.”). The truth is, he is incapable of matching your gifts. And probably always will be.
I did this ALL the time with my PoA and looking back, I see that it was co-dependence. It had nothing to do with me being a loving, caring, giving person. But simply holding on to the man and doing so by buying his love. Of course, I never saw it that way. I thought I was just being “kind.” Read “Co-Dependent No More” by Melody Beattie. It changed my life.
I think you need to re-evaluate how “healthy” this relationship is. A HUGE part of a healthy relationship is 1.) balance and fairness between partners 2.) that both partners can financially support themselves, 3.) and availability of partner (if he cannot get to you on his own and you have to pay for his gas money to see you, this is a problem).
Don’t pay so much attention to his words. Pay attention to his ACTIONS. Love and kindness is an action. When someone loves you they want to remove burdens from you, not place more on you.
As I read your story I could not believe how it sounds just like mine. I also started smoking again after 10yrs, was and sorta still am a food addict. The guy I am seeing goes by G but not the same G as yours was. It amazes me how I am lead to things I need in my journey of healing myself. Thanks so much for sharing your story.
Funny isn’t it. And we thought we were so unique! 🙂
Today I just got back from a four day trip. It was with the man I am in a love addition relationship.with. We can back to our hometown together. HE IS A MARRIED MAN. I. BEEN SEEING HIM FOR ALMOST NINE YEARS. AT FIRST HE WASN’T HE HAD A GIRLFRIEND. BUT HE DIDN’T TELL ME UNTIL A YEAR LATER.HOWEVER I CONTINUE. ON.AND IT HAVE BEEN HAD IT UPS AND DOWNS.BUT NOW ITS AFFECTING ME MENTALLY.I KNOW NOW I AM READY FOR A CHANGE. I KNOW THIS ISN’T RIGHT
BUT IT’S HARD TO LET GO
HOW SHOULD I START. I NEED HELP BAD
I LOVE HIM
BUT I. READY TO LET GO NOW
focus on the fact that you need to let go. Focus on the fact that the relationship is affecting you mentally and hurting. Do NOT focus on the love aspect. I would love to sky dive without a parachute, but if I did that, it would kill me. That’s what you’re doing. It’s time to switch your brain to thinking about the negative aspects of the relationship and why you want to leave, so that you PROTECT YOURSELF. You can only do this if you believe you’re worthy.
I NEED SUPPORT
So happy to have found this site. Almost everything I’ve read speaks to me. It makes me cry, smile wryly and see the path before me.
I’m a Love Addict coming out of another (yet another) addictive relationship, where I kept going for 6 months in great pain at the end. The relationship ended 2 weeks ago and it’s really painful still for me.
Today I saw that both my ex and I were invited to help my best friends decorate a new house. It was like a lance through my heart to see her name, to imagine meeting her, seeing her. Not only that but to imagine what she might say about me if I don’ go, the humiliation I feel from breaking up with her … or basically how to control the spread of information amongst our close friends. The shame of it all! I obviously have to avoid this meeting, I’m not sure how I would react, I guess I’d end up venting like I tend to do and embarassing myself even more!! Any hints on how to deal wit this?
Also do you have any suggestions of Fourms wher I can discus issues I’m going to be facing as I move from this relationship, continue through the withdrawl that I am experiencing, and come out the other end of the tunnel?
In any case this blog has given me renewed hope,
Thank you for doing this blog. I was in so much denial and your story and articles have enlightened me. I was in a really dark place from this last break up. My usual, I broke up with him because I’m insanely in love with him, but he completely avoids intimacy with me scenario. I was starting to have depressive thoughts and doubting the value of my AA program (so scary). I feel so much better knowing that love addiction is real for me. I was afraid to admit it for so long, because I was afraid that the guys I’m attracted to would abandon me if they found out. Well, that doesn’t matter anymore because I’m tired of abandoning myself. Thank you for giving me hope and guidance.
Glad you found the blog Jessica, and glad it helps. Hang in there. Things DO get better as long as you never, ever, ever give up on yourself. You are your best investment.
Just found your site. I’m 22 with a 4 yr old daughter. I’ve recently discovered I struggle with both sex and love addiction. I’ve struggled with depression since I was 12, but I’ve never been able to even narrow down my triggers till recently. I’m engaged and recently postponed our wedding. I’m terrified of my addiction and what it means for me, my relationship, and my daughter. I’m wanting to get healthy. I want to teach my daughter to be healthy, too.
I’m really glad I stumbled upon you in my research.
Glad to see you found the site. I hope it helps. And my only advice is read, read, read…here and everywhere about love addiction. You’re young but it sounds like you already have a lot on your plate. It’s ok, then, to get straight with YOU first, before making any big decisions. 🙂
I love your site and it has helped me immensely.
I’d appreciate your thoughts on what happened to my relationship.
I was dating a girl for 3 months. She’s 37, has a great career and owns her own place and wants to have her own family/kids. When we first met she told me she had high walls and knew it was a problem and was working on it. She also let me know that she has not had sex in 2 years. She said her walls were high because she’s been burned from bad relationship in the past. In particular a 5 yr relationship (4 yrs ago) where the guy was emotionally abusive and cheated on her. He even proposed to her but she turned it down because she wanted him to change. She actually went to see a therapist following the end of that relationship. I also learned early on that honest/trust were her deal-breakers. I learned all this in the first couple dates.
I was initially dishonest with her about my living situation (I was living at home with my parents b/c i had to take care of them as they were both not in good health). It was just 2 dates in and i wasn’t ready to talk about something so private and uncomfortable for me. I did clarify my living situation with her after 4-5 dates. She was super sweet and supportive the night I told her. She said it wasn’t a deal breaker for her, thought it was amazing what i did for my parents, and said she felt bad that I felt bad about telling her.
We continued dating for another month. One night over dinner with some of her friends, she learned some new things about me relating to my work history. I worked in corporate america after grad school for a while and then started some entrepreneurial ventures. The entrepreneurial ventures were not successful at the end of the day. I put a lot of blood, sweat and tears into it and view them as failures in my life so I don’t get excited to talk about them. I believe she thought I was not open with her about my past because it seemed like she was hearing it for the first time. I believe my not being more open/forthcoming about my work history made her believe I was not an honest person. I can honestly say that I don’t remember if we talked about it in the past and if we did we probably just didn’t go into great detail.
I didn’t think anything was wrong that same night because after dinner she invited me to spend the night at her place. I said yes because it was my first sleepover at her place and we hadn’t had sex yet up to this point. We were not intimate that night. She invited me to get naked but I ended up not taking my clothes off since I was trying to be a gentleman. We basically ended up cuddling the entire night and talked. She let me know that I was the only guy she’s had in her been in over 2 yrs. She asked me if I would ever move back to california to which i replied “only if you’re coming with me”. She also told me in bed that she wanted her own family/kids. I was caressing and stroking her so too I wasn’t just lying there. But I wasn’t more assertive because I tried to respect that she wanted to take things slow and that her walls were really high so i didn’t make a move. I left in the morning and gave her a kiss before I left.
A couple days later we saw each other again. We went to get ice cream and went shopping together. We held hands most of the day. During our conversation she said that she wasn’t clear of my work timeline. She asked me how long I’ve been back from California. I told her end of 2005. We then talked about the jobs i had after business school. Then she pressed me on my entreprenurial ventures but since i don’t like talking about it i started asking her questions to change the topic. She picked up on this but did not say anything that day.
A few days later she called and said she could not start a relationship based on dishonesty and me not being open about my history whether it’s good or bad. She also said that she knew herself well enough that she would always think that I was not telling her everything. She also said if i want to spend the rest of my life proving to her that i’m trustworthy. She also said that she honestly can’t say what I’ve done for work the last 6 yrs and that when she pressed me about it a couple days ago, it seemed like i was leaving things out and that i turned the questioning to her to change the topic (which i did).
I felt blindsided by the breakup since everything was great up until the end. She showed a lot of interest and said that no one has ever treated her as well as i’ve treated her. She always texted me after our dates and say that she had a great time and can’t wait to see me again. She bought me small thoughtful gifts as I did for her. She wrote me a hand written thank you card for a bday gift i bought her. She also said over brunch a week before we broke up that things just seemed to work between us. I’m really confused by the abruptness of the breakup and then her not wanting to meet up in person or chat on the phone to talk about what happened.
I really felt like our relationship progressed to the point where we were ready to have that “talk” about being boyfriend/girlfriend and being exclusive.
Further adding to my confusion is what her last text to me stated. She said that she “really hopes we can stay in contact if and when i’m ready. Who knows… maybe our timing will come back around. I know i’m going to look back on this and kick myself at some point. I’m really sorry Joe. Thank you for being understanding.” I feel this last message was very unfair to me.
Appreciate any thoughts you may have 🙂
I know i’ll never truly know the reason why but I’d love to know whether it was trust issues at play here, fear of intimacy or commitment or that she was in a place where she was ready to settle down and start a family and I was not in that same place yet since I was not independent and was in the process of looking for a job back in corporate america.
All my best,
Thanks so much for the compliment about The Lovely Addict. I hope I can help. For starters, My heart goes out to you. Not because you lost this person, but because you don’t yet know yourself and were trying so hard to fit the mold that this person wanted you to be in. She sounds like a very rigid person, with very rigid boundaries. And that’s ok, as long as she meets someone with equally rigid boundaries (about money, work, sex, etc). You seem to me to be a little more free, and Unencumbered by little details about what’s honest and open and what’s private and shouldn’t yet be shared. And that is equally ok! But two “ok” people don’t always make a perfect match. Your values need to be shared and that’s where it seems you both had trouble. (Read my post: What are Values for more info).
Chemistry is one thing. It seems you both had chemistry. But when values are not shared, smart healthy people tend to recognize this and move on, despite the chemistry. AND THAT’s a GOOD THING. Love is not just about “feeling” a connection, sharing a few key components and being attracted to each other. It’s also about feeling safe and comfortable and knowing that your most important needs are going to be met. That being said, it seems that she honestly liked you and had chemistry with you but did not trust you. And whether you are trustworthy or not, is NOT the point. The point is, what is she comfortable with. To her, not disclosing info is a deal breaker. And a very unattractive quality. To someone else though, it’s not! To me, even smoking a little pot is completely unacceptable. To other people, what’s the big deal? I should lighten up. But I can’t. It’s against my nature at this point. So I have to find someone who shares my same “value” for not smoking at all (it’s hard, but not impossible).
And here’s where knowing yourself comes into play: it sounds like you did nothing wrong. You were simply being yourself. She just didn’t recognize your qualities as matching hers. And that’s ok too. She needs different things than you can offer. But so do you. You need someone who is naturally more laid back about your entrepreneurial past. She’s not. She doesn’t seem to fit into your value system either. Someone else will. Trust me.
Until then, your best bet is to mentally separate attraction and chemistry from shared values. People do not only make decisions about staying in a relationship on attraction and chemistry alone. When they do, they run the risk of not being true to their nature and their value system. I hope this makes sense. 🙂
aloha just want to share that I absolutely love and identify with many of your posts. a lot of it really resonates with many past and current (but hopefully not future) relationships. very clear you have learned A LOT from your therapy and i thank you wholeheartedly for caring to share your insights with others. you have a new fan. sincerely axia002
I found your blog searching on-line for supplements helpful for recovery from addiction. The list you provide is very helpful. Thanks.
Hi, thank you so much for your blog, I had heart attack because of my poa, and I was not feeling better by the cardiac medicine, by understanding both, love addict your article,and about the avoidant behaviour.thank you so much.with lots of love.nanda
How do I speak to an la sponsor or group online? Limited meetings in South Africa and I fear that my past will come back to haunt me soon…
Just out of treatment after my coda relationship with an unavailable addict almost cost me everything…
You can send me an email at email@example.com or you can visit the laa recovery boards at http://loveaddictionforum.proboards.com
This comment is to just simply thank you, Tracy. I don’t know what your blog did to my brain, but it shook-off the final remnants of my self-deluded “crazy”. It’s like I can no longer indulge in my fantasy (denial) world any longer. My love addiction has almost completely ruined my life. I literally could not stop thinking about this person even when I truly wanted to. But now I know why, and this blog helped me clarify WTF that is now. So, once again – thank you so much!!
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Aww. That’s wonderful to hear! I’m very happy for you 🙂