Is It Love – Or Is It Addiction?

In my last blog I defined love addiction with the promise that I would describe in more detail the six steps to end a love addiction. In this post I’ll talk about the first step, and will cover the subsequent steps in my next posts for Addiction.com. Even if you’re not struggling with love addiction but you want to improve any love relationship, this information can be helpful to you as well.

Step One: Believe That Healthy Love Is Possible.

Of all the mysteries that enchant us, love may be the one most sought-after. But what is love? Don’t assume that because you are in a relationship you are in love. We can be in what we call a love relationship and experience little or no love at all. Anyone who has ever been in a bad relationship understands this. Think of a relationship as a neutral place that provides the opportunity to experience love or to not experience it.

Love is a word we have given an enormous power that’s at our fingertips; all we need do is plug in. Science is now confirming what the mystics and poets have been telling us all along: Love is an energy, has a resonance we can measure and its supply is endless. Love does not care what you look like, what you believe, whether you are married or single, sinner or saint. In fact, you do not need to be in a relationship to experience love. To test that, stop here and think of something you are grateful for and stay with that feeling. You probably felt a warm sensation in your heart. If you did, that is love.

We started out in life being open to love. But most of us, got hurt or felt betrayed in a moment of intimacy. We felt a pain in our heart and our heart, being a muscle, began to recoil. Though we may want to put out or receive love, our hearts may literally be too uptight to do so. We are all a bit love-disabled, veterans of a war we did not know we were in. Too much of life is lost to safeguarding, calculating, planning, searching or waiting for love — all signs of love addiction.

Is It Love – Or Is It Addiction?We must not confuse the power of love with sentimentality or physical love. It is far greater. Whereas addictive love makes us sick, true love nourishes us and others. It improves the immune system, increases life expectancy, reduces depression, produces zestful children and induces feelings of calm. Love is the cheapest medicine there is and there is no end to its supply. Putting love into our love life is a choice. Most relationships have elements of both love and love addiction.

Love is in your relationship when it:

  • is “green and growing”
  • feels safe
  • is free from ego-driven expectations and outcomes
  • shares power
  • brings out the best in self and the other person
  • is vital and alive
  • has abundant, healthy bonding
  • gives from the heart
  • is emotionally honest
  • celebrates the positives in the other
  • settles differences with objectivity and compassion
  • has integrity
  • is congruent — words and actions match

Assess your relationship for the above. Practice more of what is there and work to develop what is not there. And if you need to, “fake it ’til you make it.” Please keep an eye out for steps two through six for ending a love addiction in future blogs.

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4 Responses to Is It Love – Or Is It Addiction?

  1. J.Z. Howard May 20, 2015 at 4:04 pm #

    The thoughts here are poignant, poetic and wise. Several ideas truly moved me, as well as the way they’re expressed. Because we say we’re in a love relationship doesn’t always make it so. Yet, a relationship is a “neutral place that provides the opportunity” (I like that word) to experience love or not. And we’re all “a bit love-disabled (how true), veterans of a war we did not know we were in” (true again!). And, for me, the clincher, “Most relationships have elements of both love and love addiction.”

    Insights like these reflect the up-and-down, hot-and-cold mixture of emotions typical of many intimate relationships. And I was glad to read the ways love is described as more spiritual and soul-to-soul (plus beautiful and generous) rather than physical and skin-to-skin. All in all, healthy indeed.

  2. Toni Christensen May 20, 2015 at 6:28 pm #

    Hi Brenda,

    Thank you for writing this blog! It’s a blessing that you are so willing to share all of your knowledge with the world.
    I’m one of your biggest fans.

  3. mike g. May 23, 2015 at 9:37 am #

    i feel like perhaps the most important message here is the truth that most relationships combine elements of both love and addiction. that knowledge brings with it a lot of comfort. “love” is a loaded word with a million personal definitions. but the word “addiction” carries with it the much greater weight of describing a deadly, heavily-stigmatized illness. (maybe a better word is simply “lovesick.”) as someone who’s struggled with both, the language surrounding these issues matters greatly. or, it could just be my own problem: it hurts to know the great promise of love can be so insidiously full of danger and pain. it’s hopeful to know most of us are usually fighting to balance the suffering of this addiction against the goodness within our hearts.

    thanks, brenda,
    m

  4. Carolyn Balcom June 8, 2015 at 12:56 pm #

    Hi Brenda,

    I’m always amazed at your ability to see the abstract intricasies of a relationship and to put a name to that that others can understand and identify with. It certainly does help us to see our own life…current and past experiences…more clearly. I’ll be referring to those elements you outlined from time to time, and will be looking forward to “Step Two.”

    Best regards,

    Carolyn

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