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What Causes Love Addiction?

The routes of love addiction are grounded in childhood experiences

If a child is loved and nurtured fully by their primary caregivers from birth then the child will likely develop a healthy sense of self identity, self esteem and appropritae boundaries.

If such nurture is not received, then the child may develop a shaky sense of self and non-existent or distorted boundaries. A deep need for security from another rather than from within is laid down and the seeds of love addiction are sewn. Love addiction is therefore a close cousin of but not entirely the same as co-dependency.

Love addicts escape at an early age into the realm of fantasy, of a rescuer, a perfect love, in order to escape from an intolerable reality that their primary caregivers have failed to transmit to them through appropriate nurture; the messages that they are important, they matter and they are loved.

To quote Pia Mellody, one of the worlds top authorities on this subject

“I have come to believe that people fall into love addiction because of the unhealed pain from childhood abandonment, and the feeling that they cannot be safe in the world without having somebody else to hold them up.”

Love addicts primary conscious fear is of abandonment, Tragically Love addicts are almost always most attracted to Love Avoidants whose primary conscious fear is one of commitment and/or engulfment. As such the relationship is going to be at best problematic and at worst doomed to failure and filled with pain and torment.

Why then would a love addict be attracted to a love avoidant?

Whilst the following may sound bizarre, it must be remembered that what follows refers to that which goes on in our minds outside our conscious awareness, deep childlike drives and logic over which we have little or no conscious control.

At an unconscious level, the love addict is attracted to the love avoidant for a very good reason (in child logic). The love avoidant to whom they are attracted, in some way reminds them of there opposite sex primary caregiver from whom they failed to receive proper love and nurture. If they can receive love and nurture from this partner… symbolically it will put right the relationship with the primary caregiver. It is of course a strategy by its very nature, doomed to failure.
The similarities to which I refer can be very subtle and far from immediately obvious.

Drawing on my own experience to demonstrate. I recall some years ago being asked by one of my mentors, in what ways does your ex-wife remind you of your mother? I could see absolutley no similarity between them. However some time later, I realised that although there was no similarity on the face of it, there resulting behaviour was in fact almost identical. My mother had severe Bordeline Personality Disorder and as such could not be reasoned with…. My ex wife had a learning difficulty which meant that she could not be reasoned with.

I was then asked in what was does your current partner remind you of your mother? Again I could intially see no similarity or connection. However, again after some time I realised the link…. Another major charcteristic of Bordeline Personality Disorder, is the principal of come close, go away…. Being pulled in then pushed away….. my partner had major commitment issues and therfore despite the cause being completely different, her behaviour was almost identical.

Individual personal therapy can be invaluable and sometimes essential to gain such insight.