Women who struggle with relationships, feeling safe, feeling worthy, and finding themselves acting in uncontrollable ways have wounding rooted in childhood physical, emotional, psychological, or sexual abuse. Coping with overwhelming circumstances leads a child into adulthood with out-of-control behaviors, addictions, and constant compulsivity to make the pain stop. For women, this often becomes an intimacy disorder in which addiction to romance, love, or sex develops. We know why it happens. We also know how to help.
Dating, romance, love, and a culture that tells women conflicting messages about their own sexuality and leads many women into confusion, compulsion, and heartache when true love never seems to last. The constant struggle to find the “just right partner” the “just right” relationship, or the explosive, exciting, and continual sexual high is always compelled by an overwhelming drive to escape emotional discomfort—stress, anxiety, depression, loneliness, shame, boredom, etc. Frequently this sense of emotional longing, loneliness, and despair is rooted not in the here-and-now reality, but in childhood trauma. Most addicts—including love, relationship, and sex addicts—report extensive early-life histories of neglect and various forms of abuse. Unresolved and unhealed wounds from childhood are the foundational issues that underlie and drive addictive behaviors.
Many women today face compulsive and/or addictive behavior causing emotional pain financial hardship, job-related stress, and relationship loss tied to out-of-control behaviors of three similar addictions: love addiction, relationship addiction, and sex addiction.
If you experience the love of a romantic partner with an intensity that is not in either your best interest or that of your partner, you may be facing a love addiction. Love addicts become obsessively preoccupied point of obsession with another person to the point of denying their own needs and the needs of family, friends, and career. Validation and self-esteem are experienced only in the context of the partner’s response to the love addict’s efforts.
Where a love addict focuses on a single long-term relationship, the relationship addict bounces from one relationship after another. The relationship addict expends time, energy, and resources to the point of obsession in the pursuit of romance. They are constantly seeking hookups with partners, looking for a new partner, and escaping their current relationship to pursue the new one. The goal is the intense rush and excitement and intense rush of the new romance. A love addict's obsession is with one partner. The relationship addict’s obsession is with falling in love and they are willing to sacrifice family, friends, financial stability, and career in pursuit of the intense high of falling in love.
Sex addicts have many of the symptoms and acting-out behaviors of both relationship and love addicts. The difference is sex addicts’ obsession is with having sex rather than a person or relationship. The acting-out behaviors of the sex addict objectify and dehumanize partners. The sex addict engages in objectified sexual fantasies and the pursuit of sexual activity dominates and controls the addict’s thinking. The consequences include damaged relationships, failure in school or at work, depression, social and emotional isolation, loss of self-esteem, financial issues, physical ailments, legal trouble, and a devastating life. According to Dr. Stefanie Carnes, Ph.D., CSAT-S, Senior Fellow at The Meadows a major difference between sex addicts and both love and relationship addicts is sex addicts “typically use the lure of romance to attract sexual partners, while love and relationship addicts do the opposite, using the lure of sex to attract and/or keep a romantic partner."
The most important thing to know is you are not alone, and healing is possible! Lovely one, if you are just starting your journey to heal from porn addiction or looking at love, romance, or sex addiction for the first-time Claudia is here to help. Contact Claudia for a free initial consultation. We will discuss treatment options that best fit your needs. Claudia offers individual sessions and groups.
If you are unsure where to start take a look at the resources mentioned in one of my blog posts.