Have you ever noticed that the holidays bring out the worst in people? They exacerbate everyone's obsessions: their obsessions for shopping, gift giving, the overwhelming lines at the stores, sales, spending money, getting the "perfect gift".

They also exacerbate people's obsessions with their spouse, or their new relationship. Both men and women can be addicted to love.

ARE YOU A SLAVE TO LOVE?

How would you know if you were a slave to love? The more common term is called love addiction, or relationship, or romance addiction.

Some signs include:

1. Craving a “buzz” from romance, attention from a partner, or even sex
2. Believing the fantasy that “someday my prince or princess will rescue me”
3. Trying to figure out what your partner is thinking
4. Snooping through your partner’s phone, email, FB, etc. for information
5. Looking to see who your partner will find attractive
6. Neglecting your own needs for the needs and wants of your partner including hobbies, friendships, how you dress, where you work
7. Tolerating the intolerable in relationship for fear of being abandoned (a love addicts worst conscious fear is abandonment)
8. Trying to control your partner
9. Selling out on your wants and needs to ensure your partner is satisfied
10. Saying yes when you want to say no
11. Stalking behaviors
12. Resenting your partner when the fantasy unravels Someone that is addicted to love and relationships tends to go from one relationship to the next in hopes that their fantasy life will be fulfilled, and in an attempt to relieve any pain from their previous relationship. It becomes an escape (unfortunately they learn that they are still trapped in an addiction). Love addicts can also be in a committed relationship with someone where they feel obsessed with the other person. They often notice that they are preoccupied with their partner's every move. If this is you, take a moment and notice how much time, energy, effort you spend on another person. Ask yourself, "Is it worth it?" "What is the pay off I get from this?" You may start to notice that you are not getting the pay off you hoped for.

For folks that want to stop being addicted to a person, there is hope. Going through withdrawals is not attractive; however, as the old AA adage goes, "this too shall pass" and people eventually start to feel some inner peace.

During the withdrawal phase, it is common to experience panic, anxiety, shortness of breath, tiredness, irritability, sleeplessness, nightmares, and anedonia (not caring about anything), among other things. It is important that you get support during this phase in order to successfully free yourself of the chains of your relationship.

Here are some tips to breaking the love addicted chains that bind you:

1. Increase your structure and support: you will feel like you are withdrawing from a drug. Therefore, going to therapy and working through attachment issues, any trauma, other addictions is essential. 2. Ending any destructive friendships and relationships may be part of healing if they add to your obsession. 3. Ceasing destructive behavior that causes you preoccupation, shame, and despair.
4. If you share custody, are still married, or there are religious or other issues related to staying in a toxic relationship, it is important that you and he/her both get help (therapy, couples therapy, SLAA meetings).
5. Educate yourself on love addiction by reading books such as Pia Mellody’s Facing Love Addiction and/or Ready to Heal by Kelly McDaniel (for women).
5.Learn healthy boundaries and practice them
6.Learn tools for self soothing and reality testing when fear arises; keep a solid support network around you!
7.Abstinence from relationships (if single), including having clear boundaries re: relationships for 90-120+ days has been an effective tool as well.

As you begin to free yourself from the chains that have kept you in suffering, you will learn new ways to cope with anxiety. You will also begin to feel comfortable in your own skin, and be able to reassure yourself instead of obsessing over whether another person can reassure you.

After all, Recovery is about learning how to deal with uncomfortable feelings without having a person fill the void. Sitting in discomfort and realizing you won't die from it actually creates a sense of comfort and ease. So go for it! Break the chains, starting today! Remember, you are worth it... and so is your recovery!

Namasté,

Candice

Starting in January: We will be offering gender separate 12-step support groups on a bi-weekly basis. Investment is $10 per group, 1 hour each group. A Gentle Path Through the 12 Steps by Patrick Carnes is included. Email Candice at namasteadvice@gmail.com for details on start dates.