Holiday movies and greeting cards show us pictures of seemingly perfect relationships, but that isn’t real life. Family can be difficult to deal with, and some romantic partners aren’t right for us. And if you’re a love addict, these images may be particularly triggering.
Learning what love addiction is, the symptoms, and how to continue your recovery can make the holiday season much more enjoyable.
What Does Being a Love Addict Mean?
A love addict is someone who focuses intently on their partner. They spend a lot of time and effort on the person they’re with, and tend to value their partner above themselves. These feelings result in the addict neglecting to care for themselves. They abandon essential aspects of their lives and forsake their health and well-being to stay connected to their partner.
Mental health professionals also refer to love addiction as “pathological love.” It’s an obsessive feeling of falling in or being in love, even when there isn’t a real connection.
The phrase “love addict” may conjure up images of a romantic type of love. But it can also happen when a person fixates on friends, children, gurus, religious figures, or even a movie star they’ve never met. At the heart of love addiction is the fantasy that the object of affection can solve problems and provide love no one else can.
In general, love addiction happens when parents don’t meet a child’s need for love and connection. This lack of attachment creates a conscious fear of abandonment and a subconscious fear of intimacy. In many cases, a love addict may mistake intensity in a relationship for intimacy.
Common signs of love addiction include:
- Giving too much time and energy to another person
- Focusing on the object of your desire to the point that it harms other areas of your life
- Neglecting to care for yourself in favor of focusing on someone else
- Believing that the person you fixate on will rescue you, remove your pain, and make you feel safe, valued, and worthy
- Continuing to cling to a flawed relationship
- Selecting partners with a fear of intimacy who neglect the relationship
- Overlooking major red flags in your partners
- Fighting with friends and family who encourage you to find a better romantic partner
Being a Love Addict during the Holidays
During the holidays, many people find that their mental health struggles intensify. Many people with love addiction have an intense fear of being alone. The holidays can exacerbate this feeling because of idealized images of family and togetherness.
And that is in addition to the triggers already present in the holiday season. The end-of-the-year deadlines at work, the financial burden of holiday shopping, and the increased number of parties and gatherings to attend can all play a role in compounding the stress someone feels during the holidays.
When you add interacting with family members or visiting a childhood home, people can find themselves swimming in painful memories. And in situations where traveling to see family isn’t possible, not seeing family or the guilt trips from family can be overwhelming.
Even those who have felt in control of their impulses during the year may struggle during the holidays.
Coping Advice for a Love Addict during the Holidays
When dealing with this addiction during the holidays, there are some simple ways to take care of yourself.
Evaluate Every Situation
Some people and events may be triggering. Even if you’re far away from those people, you may still be in contact with them via Zoom. Limit contact with those people as much as possible. Avoid those situations that threaten your sobriety.
Know Your Triggers
What causes you to seek relief and what do you anticipate will be particularly hard this year? Make a list of those things as well as events that may be triggering. From there, you can make a plan to avoid them altogether or healthily cope with them.
Lean on a Support System
Your support system can be your family, friends, or a therapist. If you’re spending the holidays alone, have someone you can check in with for accountability. Talk with people you trust about how you want to cope this holiday season. And check in regularly to report on your progress.
Focus on Self-Care
Getting enough rest and eating right will go a long way during the holidays. Many people neglect their diet and sleep for parties and gatherings. These choices can lead to more stress or just feeling off. But by focusing on maintaining healthy routines, you can stay on track with your recovery goals.
How Begin Again Institute Can Help
Begin Again Institute takes a trauma-informed approach to love addiction. Treatment starts by identifying the root causes of your intimacy disorder. You will learn your triggers and healthy ways to cope rather than choosing harmful behavior that isn’t in line with your goals.
You don’t have to deal with addiction alone this holiday season. Contact us for help on your recovery journey.