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This material is based on notes taken at the 2/01 Meadows lecture at the Lovers Lane United Methodist Church, Dallas, Texas.
Neither the love avoidant nor the love addict learned adult relationship skills from their parents, and so they still act like children in relationship.
The love avoidant was smothered or abused in the past, typically as a child. The love avoidant's story is, "I'm going to get hurt. I don't want to be with somebody I have to take care of." The love avoidant has low self esteem and needs someone to admire them. The love avoidant has a thick suit of armor which makes healthy relationships impossible for lack of intimacy. In the place of imtimacy is the thrill of power and seduction. Unfortunately, the people who show interest are generally needy love addicts.
The love addict was loved and then abandoned in the past, typically as a child, and wants to get that love back. The love addict's story is, "Am I lovable, or not?" The love addict has low self esteem and needs someone to take care of them. Unfortunately the powerful, seemingly invincible people who the love addict is attracted to are generally love avoidants who will ultimately abandon them.
At first they are like magnets. The love addict gets a great fantasy going about exactly how this strong person is going to love them and make their world perfect. The love avoidant gets the attention and feels the high of power.
But then, the love addict starts making demands to fulfill the fantasy. A love addict will suck you dry. In response, instead of responding with maturity, the love avoidant puts the armor on, which triggers the love addict's terror of abandonment. The love addict shows more and more neediness, and nags, complains and blames, becoming controlling and critical, as the love avoidant distances, feeling smothered -- a vicious cycle. The love avoidant thinks, "If everything I do is wrong, why try?" Love avoidants often compensate for their fear of being smothered by getting a high somewhere else, such as cheating or substance addiction. The love addict is blind to it.
Finally, the love avoidant abandons the love addict, who crumples, hysterical and panicked, and also withdraws, heavy with fear, shame and pain. To compensate, the love addict will act out obsessively, with behaviors such as overeating and compulsive buying.
Afterwards, the love avoidant often feels guilt and fear, as the withdrawl of the love addict signals a loss of power and the possibility that someone has gotten hurt. The love avoidant will sometimes return to seduce again out of guilt. When that happens, the love addict brightens up and reengages, only to scare off the love avoidant again.
Neither the love avoidant nor the love addict face their own problems. The failed relationship is always the other person's fault. Neither of them know how to stop sucking the other one dry or how to put the armor down.
Two love addicts are nearly as bad. And, sometimes, people will switch from one to the other, between relationships or in the middle of a relationship.
Getting healthy is very, very painful for both parties, as it involves facing core symptoms of the emotional disease of codependency, such as: self denial; unhealthy boundaries (love addicts have no physical boundaries and can't say "no" and see criticism everywhere, while love avoidants have fortresslike emotional boundaries and can't let people in); illusions and fantasy substituting for reality; unhealthy needs and wants; and, immoderate behavior.
If you are a love addict, the first thing you will do after reading this is go home and show it to your lover and try to get them to admit they are a love avoidant. A love avoidant won't see themselves in this description at all. Don't take this home. Take it to a professional relationship therapist who specializes in codependency.
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