Q. A friend of mine recently told me she thought I was a relationship addict. I’m not sure I really understand what that is and I certainly don’t think that is me. But now I am curious. What is a relationship addict?

A. Relationship addiction can show up in any number of ways: as an obsession, for example – a constant thinking, ruminating about the person you’re in a relationship with. Or there may be a compulsive quality about the behavior – for instance, making frequent detours just to drive or walk by the partner’s workplace. There may also be signs of tolerance increase. In the relationship addicts case, this translates into needing more and more of the other person’s presence to feel OK.
Jealousy and possessiveness may surface as the need “to protect the supply” occurs. And there is most definitely the symptoms of withdrawal. When a separation from the person is experienced he or she may become anxious, depressed and unable to focus on activities of daily living.
The crucial distinction between relationship addicts and other people who fall in love is that the former expect this fleeting phase of a relationship to become a utopian endless summer that sustains forever the poetry, the ecstasy, and the feelings of merger they experience in their infatuation.
Not only have women been socialized to nurture and take care of men in relationships, but they – in particular – have believed the myth of romance. As women, we have accepted the notion that if only we find the right person, we’ll fall in love and live happily every after – as fairy tales promise.
Given this stage setting, it is not surprising that even women who are not relationship addicts show many signs of dependence. But obsessions, compulsions, and the temporary high of being “in love” are neither love nor proof of love; on the contrary, they are the signposts of falling in love – that tempting ecstatic feeling that can so easily lead to dependence and addiction.
One of the safeguards to avoiding addiction to relationships is to lead a balanced life. Think of the recreational runner you know, for instance. Those least likely to become addicted to their sport are the ones whose lives have variety: they include time for work, for fun, for friends, for family. The people to be concerned about are those who become impatient at anything that interferes with their single-minded pursuit of their “drug.”
If any of this information sounds like your behavior please seek out “Leaving the Enchanted Forest” by Stephanie Covington. It is an eye-opener!!