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Old 11-27-2013, 07:34 PM
LoveBunny LoveBunny is offline
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Default Love Addiction

I'm currently sorting out some behaviors that point toward "love addiction," namely fear of setting boundaries with my lovers, falling obsessively in love with emotionally unavailable people, and feeling personally rejected when my partner isn't in the mood for sex.

One of the stumbling blocks I'm running into when reading about recovery from love addiction is a party line that "recovery is synonymous with monogamy." My predilection for more than one partner seems to be considered a symptom of the addiction rather than a valid and potentially healthy lifestyle choice. Hmmmm....

I, and I'm sure others here, have certainly encountered people using polyamory as a cover for their own emotional unavailability, using the label to indulge their love addict/love avoidant behaviors. However, I also feel that polyamory can be deeply healing to the psyche when successful. I don't want to feel ashamed for wanting more love, passion, sex, intimacy and companionship than the average monogamous marriage can hold. I just stumble a little in figuring out how to get it without hurting myself or anyone else.

So, I wonder if anyone wants to add their 2 cents as to whether polyamory is any more of a breeding ground for dysfunctional romantic entanglements than monogamy. I am interested to hear if anyone else has been able to get a grip on their love-addict behaviors and subsequently achieved successful multiple relationships.
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Old 11-27-2013, 08:03 PM
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LovingRadiance LovingRadiance is offline
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In ANY "uncommon" lifestyle, there will be those who are abusing it for their own "gain" (usually destruction).

I DEFINITELY know people who use polyamory as an excuse to continue self-destructive behaviors. In fact, I was told I wasn't poly because I'm not "addicted to falling in love".

But-just because people use it that way, doesn't mean it has to be that way.

The thing with emotional connection issues, is that they are almost always driven by underlying fears. The solution (imo) is deep, personal honesty and personal inventory.

Much like in AA, it's highly advised not to start any new relationships for the first year or two; it would make sense that if you are trying to resolve major emotional issues such as you describe, that it might be best to not begin new relationships while you work through that.
But that doesn't mean you can't make progress towards having healthy relationships.

I don't think mono or poly has anything to do with it. But-if you find yourself not making deeper connections, maybe you need to work on really opening up to yourself and then opening up to others more deeply before engaging in romantic relationships?
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Old 11-29-2013, 12:37 PM
LoveBunny LoveBunny is offline
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LR I agree. I've been arguing that monogamy is a place rife with potential harm for a love addict wired for multiple partners, as love addicts who will never feel like their partners are enough. I'm getting crap on the love addiction boards about how can I do this to my mono husband, I should just divorce him and find someone into polyamory instead of working things out with my man of 16 years etc., and I just don't think that's smart advice.

I do think taking a break from outside relationships for a time is wise, but I'm frustrated because I'm having philosophical arguments with people instead of getting advice on the specific behaviors I want to change.
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Old 11-29-2013, 01:51 PM
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Originally Posted by LoveBunny View Post
I'm currently sorting out some behaviors that point toward "love addiction," namely fear of setting boundaries with my lovers, falling obsessively in love with emotionally unavailable people, and feeling personally rejected when my partner isn't in the mood for sex.
Have you talked to a good therapist? These are very common issues that people have and the causes are generally related to how we were brought up relating to people.

I would avoid giving these common problems interesting and unsolvable titles like "love addiction". Most often the issues we are having are the same ones everyone else is having. Unfortunately the instinct is to want to have a special and difficult diagnosis to help explain why we can't seem to make any progress in getting past the problem.

This is most likely simply a learned behavior and you need to go through the long and painstaking process of re-learning how to relate to people like an adult. Google terms like "codependent" and "fear of abandonment" and do some reading... but really a good counselor will help with the whole process.

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Originally Posted by LoveBunny View Post
I'm frustrated because I'm having philosophical arguments with people instead of getting advice on the specific behaviors I want to change.
It sounds like you are getting advice from them, you just don't like it.
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Old 11-30-2013, 08:39 PM
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Have you talked to a good therapist? These are very common issues that people have and the causes are generally related to how we were brought up relating to people.

I would avoid giving these common problems interesting and unsolvable titles like "love addiction". Most often the issues we are having are the same ones everyone else is having. Unfortunately the instinct is to want to have a special and difficult diagnosis to help explain why we can't seem to make any progress in getting past the problem.

LoveBunny,

I have to generally agree with Marcus. I think terms like love addiction or sex addiction are not useful in healing at all. (Addiction is real. However, applying that term indiscriminately is not helpful.) They are not helpful because they label the behavior without providing a way out. What are you supposed to do? Avoid love for the rest of your life? They can have the effect of hiding to yourself and others what the underlying issues really are for you while you desperately try to treat your 'addiction'. Please understand I am not minimizing the pain and distress you are feeling, or that you may have caused in others. But these broad, indeterminate labels may not help you in the long run.

A therapist can help you sort out underlying issues that are the root of your behavior. Once you have some understanding of why you behave and feel this way, that is a critical step to changing your thoughts and your behavior.

I also find there may be a gender assignment thing going on - women are more likely to label themselves or be labeled as having a love or relationship addiction while men are more likely to be labeled or label themselves as having a sex addiction. David J. Ley has a fascinating book called 'The Myth of Sex Addiction' which argues that sex addiction is not a real clinical term at all but one created in the popular culture. He also argues that while people have serious problems, labeling it as sex addiction ends up not helping them and reinforcing gender stereotypes - men can't truly control themselves, women don't really like sex, or, women who love sex are uncontrollable. I suggest giving it a read.

Best of luck to you. I hope you find the support and resources you need.
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Old 11-30-2013, 09:18 PM
LoveBunny LoveBunny is offline
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Funny, people in the love addiction forum don't believe in polyamory, people in the polyamory forum don't believe in love addiction!

Yes, I already know the root causes from childhood, and I'm not about to 12-step-away my sexuality. I'm just trying to change some behaviors/thought patterns that do not serve me well in my relationships. Reading stuff on "love addiction" has been helpful in dealing with certain harmful behaviors. I don't care what anyone calls it, to be honest, just interested in fixing it. Along with my reading about love addiction has been lots about polyamory, dating, having a healthy marriage, healing from narcissistic abuse, neuroplasticity, changing thought patterns, midlife crisis, etc. etc. etc., all of it helpful in bits and pieces while I'm trying to transform from caterpillar to gorgeous lunar moth.
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Old 12-01-2013, 12:54 AM
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Funny, people in the love addiction forum don't believe in polyamory, people in the polyamory forum don't believe in love addiction!
To be clear, opal and I have simply expressed doubt that "love addiction" is the best way to address the very real issues you are having (if I'm taking you out of context please correct me opal). You may well have this mysterious "love addiction", but what you are describing are standard, run of the mill codependency/self-worth issues. At least that's what it sounds like. These issues can be quite a trick to deal with and grow past but they are the bread and butter of modern psychotherapy and don't need to be made worse by giving them super-classifications.

Honestly, "love addiction" sounds like a made up idea created with the singular purpose of making people feel bad about not being monogamous. I am not surprised to learn that they don't "believe" in anything but traditional monogamy. It would seem that recognizing the reality that not everyone approaches romantic relationships in the same way would be a serious blow to their stance.

In defense of "love recovery" groups, this is the first time I've ever heard anyone use the phrase "love addiction".

I am not of the opinion that life is something we need to recover from and am therefor not a big supporter of the idea of these addiction recovery groups. If there are actual behavioral issues then they need to be worked on, and it sounds like that's what you're trying to do. The idea that we should externalize our problems "I can't help it, I'm an addict, that's just the way I am" would seem to be the opposite of a good idea.
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Old 12-01-2013, 02:48 AM
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SchrodingersCat SchrodingersCat is offline
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Originally Posted by LoveBunny View Post
I'm currently sorting out some behaviors that point toward "love addiction," namely fear of setting boundaries with my lovers, falling obsessively in love with emotionally unavailable people, and feeling personally rejected when my partner isn't in the mood for sex.
I believe that behaviours can be changed without resorting to labels.

Whether or not you're diagnosed as having "love addiction," it doesn't really change the actions you would take to overcome these challenges and learn new behaviours and new ways of relating to people. However, using a label like that often becomes a barricade rather than a bridge towards growth.

Addiction or not, you would still like to learn to set boundaries, to focus your attention on people who are available, and to find ways to meet your need for acceptance when your partner is not in the mood for sex. And if you start to do all those things anyway, then what benefit does the label "love addiction" introduce?

Quote:
I don't want to feel ashamed for wanting more love, passion, sex, intimacy and companionship than the average monogamous marriage can hold. I just stumble a little in figuring out how to get it without hurting myself or anyone else.
So you have a need for love and intimacy, and you have some strategies for meeting that need, and you are afraid that meeting this need will hurt other people. Does that sound about right?

It's impossible to perfectly predict what's going to hurt people, including yourself. Sometimes we aren't aware of our needs until something tramples them, and feelings can get hurt. But by listening to your own feelings and needs, and the feelings and needs of your spouse and other partners, you can give yourself the best chance to find strategies that meet everyone's needs.

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Originally Posted by opalescent View Post
I think terms like love addiction or sex addiction are not useful in healing at all. (Addiction is real. However, applying that term indiscriminately is not helpful.) They are not helpful because they label the behavior without providing a way out.
Worse than that, they label the person more than the behaviour. They cause the exact same behaviour, in the exact same situation, to have different moral judgement based solely on the person doing the behaviour.

In medicine, diagnoses like "cancer" or "diabetes" are useful because there are treatments for those illnesses. The diagnosis provides clear choices for actions to overcome them. But if your behaviours are causing your needs to go unmet, whatever those needs may be, then simply labelling yourself as a "love addict" doesn't tell you what actions you might take to change your life.

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Originally Posted by LoveBunny View Post
Funny, people in the love addiction forum don't believe in polyamory, people in the polyamory forum don't believe in love addiction!
From some quick reading, even health professionals are not in agreement about whether or not love addiction exists. It's not in the DSM.

At the risk of appearing arrogant, I wouldn't recommend looking to a group of people who identify as romantically dysfunctional as the best source of relationship advice. If you want to learn how to become healthy, whole, and happy, then it's helpful to speak with other people who are healthy, whole, and happy.

We certainly have our share of problems (who doesn't?) but by and large, the advice-givers on this forum are functional, healthy, happy adults living lives we enjoy with people we love.
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