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PostPosted: Fri Oct 07, 2011 2:48 am 
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Hats off to you FT, had to take a couple of days off work to read it all but was worth it :s:

Seriously though, really useful and insightful post.

Quote:
I recognized the addiction for what it was…an emotional core that my identity was attached to that manifested itself as a series of thoughts which reinforced the emotions

Can see that challenging these thoughts and getting to their source will be key - and how our vision and boundaries are an essential part of navigating our way towards healthy relationships and protecting us from bad decisions.

This was obviously swimming around my head last night as I dreamt that I met an attractive girl who liked me and I thought might be 'the one'. I was in the middle of trying to impress her when I became aware of what I was thinking and doing and that deep down I was wanting her to fill a gap that she never could. Ruined the whole thing!


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PostPosted: Sun Oct 09, 2011 3:38 pm 
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Thanks newme. :g:

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This was obviously swimming around my head last night as I dreamt that I met an attractive girl who liked me and I thought might be 'the one'. I was in the middle of trying to impress her when I became aware of what I was thinking and doing and that deep down I was wanting her to fill a gap that she never could.


I'm no master of interpreting dreams...but I'd definitely say this is your mind telling you something. Maybe that you are "in between." That you have built awareness and have an understanding of your problem, but haven't resolved the core issue yet? That's how I experienced it. I'd say it's probably been a couple months now where I've actually thought of someone as "the one." While I've still been dealing with some of the more subtle thoughts, that's one that I waved goodbye to a while back. Anyways, just something to think about.

FT

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PostPosted: Mon Oct 10, 2011 2:57 am 
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Quote:
That you have built awareness and have an understanding of your problem, but haven't resolved the core issue yet?

Yes, I've gained a much better understanding and awareness of my love addiction rituals over the last few months but I think there is something still unresolved at the core. I'm going to reflect on this some more and post any thoughts in my recovery thread. Thanks.


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PostPosted: Mon Oct 10, 2011 6:00 am 
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Hi FT

A helpful and thought-provoking thread. I do have some questions and confusions. The central one is this: where exactly does sex addiction end and love addiction begin? I am thinking especially of the line you draw between internal and external behaviours. I am not a love addict, at least I dont think so, but I am not entirely sure that, scratch the surface, and my sex addiction is very different from the descriptions you offer here.

Nor am I convinced that the response is mainly concerned with changing behaviours. That is certainly the first stage - stopping using porn, sex, masturbation etc. But - and I have learned this to my cost - that is when the real work begins, to wit, facing and altering the emotional and intellectual root causes of that behaviour.

Quote:
For example, it is fairly easy for a person with a porn addiction to identify when they're using pornography. It is easy for a person with a sex addiction to know when they're engaging in a compulsive affair (even if they don’t realize it’s compulsive). And even if they've ingrained that behaviour as part of their life, because it is overt, it can be easily identified and isolated once in recovery, even if it takes them a while to understand the "why" of their addiction. Boundaries around sexuality have been destroyed, but those can be rebuilt. The subtle behaviours like objectification and scanning take a while to go...but in general, the overt behaviours can be dealt with fairly quickly by someone with the right motivation.


I know what you are saying, but I think you need to tread carefully here – especially for newly arrived sex addicts reading the post. I am not sure it is always easy for a porn addict to identify when they are using pornography - because of the self-delusionary thoughts you describe so clearly. More to the point, I am not sure that this entirely covers porn addiction.

I relapsed earlier this year - I used pornography, I masturbated in a compulsive fashion. But the roots of that relapse happened weeks before in the unhealthy, obsessive thought processes, the unstable emotions, and compulsive fixations you describe. Or perhaps every sex addict who stops acting out becomes a love addict? Caught in their compulsive thoughts?

My own acting out certainly has its physical and overt rituals, but it was also deeply emotional and - I slightly hesitate to use this word – romantic. I suspect, to misquote Dorothy Parker, that the romantic attachment was mainly with myself - there were images of women ,but I filled them with my own fantasies. It didnt only manifest itself sexually, but informed all areas of my life. Because the root cause was at the root of my emotional life. My rituals soothed because I used pleasure to conteract negativity. But it wasnt just pleasure, I think. My fantasies were illusions of real engagement, of feeling attractive, of being adventurous - whatever. All addressed my own core insecurities.

It was about objectification but also idealisation of women - something I could control in fantasy because I had not learned to control it in life. My sexual addiction and rituals came to address many issues - in negative fashion - but they began from a fundamental insecurity around love, romance and women. This seems to be something that love and sexual addiction often share - a mixture of control, objectification and idealisation. We transpose our self and emotions onto the object of the desire in ritualised form rather than engage with them.

For me, the external sex/porn behaviours are only the tip of an iceberg. As the lessons concerning sexual rituals covered, the ritual begins a long time before the external behaviours. This sounds very like the throught processes you describe - at least in my case. I am not sure that these are necessarily less subtle - it is why self-delusion is such an easy trap.

Quote:
Therefore, the first difference I’ve found with my love addiction patterns was the need for instant honesty with yourself. While this is important for sex addiction too, it's even more important here.


Isnt instant honesty equally important for both conditions? Both are driven by subtle, seductive and compulsive thought processes? Again, imagine an addict a few weeks into recovery who has abstained from external sexual behaviours, if only temporarily. Arent they just as prone to the thought processes you describe? Nor am I entirely sure that the lengthy love addiction cycles you describe dont also apply to sexual addiction. My own rituals were decades in the construction. What I have described elsewhere as the emotional pendulum - of despair, delusion, attachment and back to despair. The feelings and thought processes that drive the external behaviour.

Quote:
Compounding this is the fact that the need to feel loved is a FAR more central human need than the need for sex. To give up such thoughts is basically like losing the love of a parent or long-time caregiver, as that truly is the kind of connection developed over time to the addiction to replace the love they felt missing from their life. So, hopefully you can see why so many would cling tightly to these thoughts (again, much like clinging to the love of a parent), even if it's objectively ruining their life and the lives of those around them.


I am not sure that this is the place to get into a philosophical argument about the opening sentence. But again, I am not sure that this separates love and sex addiction. Many of us here with sexual rituals speak about low self-esteem, abandonment issues. The mindset of need - a desperate need for understanding that becomes compulsive and affects almost every relationship in our lives. Including sexual ones. Sex does not exclude love - however much us recoverers might seem to think this. I think we might generally confuse it. But again I dont see this as an either or propostion.

Quote:
Potentially one of the most important parts of love addiction recovery is dealing with the core issues behind the addiction (thanks to lostkid for noting this point). This is particularly true because romantic thoughts and delusions center around unhealthy beliefs about yourself (in my opinion), these core issues need to be identified and changed for true healing to occur. And while this is necessary for long-term sex/porn addiction recovery as well, it is particularly necessary for love addiction, as typically, even after they recognize the love addict thoughts, they’ll still have a hard time determining why they do it,

Again, I am not sure how this really differs from sexual addiction. My own relapse earlier this year was a direct result of not confronting the core issues behind my addiction. I had learned to abstain from the external behaviours, but this fooled me into thinking I had learned how to balance my emotional life. Gradually the pressure built up and the cracks began to show. I had confronted the behaviours, albeit superficially, but I was still vulnerable to the thought processes.

I understand the point you make that love addiction is not only driven by these thought processes, but contained within them. But this is also a realisaton the sex addict will have make eventually - once they have got past their external behaviours and are left only with themselves, their feelings, thoughts and their own past.

Like you, I have realised I have a dependence on what other people think of me - that external validation has filled a void in myself - because of low self-esteem, issues from childhood etc etc. RN teaches autonomy and healthy self-confidence. Like you, this could lead me into seeking explanations for my feeling of otherness when the world disappointed me, or others unnervedf me - to do with sexuality, to do with where I was heading in my life, my place in my family. RN is helping me deal with these peer-related issues - that for me were at the core of my sex addiction.

This post is starting to rival your own, and my hands are tiring. The bottom line is I found the post as helpful for understanding my own situation as a sex addict as the love addicts on the site - the compulsive, often illusionary thought processes that remain now that I am not acting out, once and for all (I hope). Possibly I am a love addict. But I wonder if there isnt a love addict inside most sex addicts?

Shaw


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PostPosted: Mon Oct 10, 2011 6:22 pm 
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Hi Shaw,

Thanks for bringing up some of this points. Allows me to further challenge my own understanding, so I appreciate it.

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The central one is this: where exactly does sex addiction end and love addiction begin?


Really, either of these terms only describe general patterns of behaviour. Is it likely that many sex addicts also display patterns more commonly associated with love addiction? Probably. And vice versa. I think terms like "sex addiction" and "love addiction" are more useful for education as to general themes and patterns associated with these types of behaviour...for example, sex addiction tends to focus more on objectified sexual rituals, while love addiction focuses more on romantic and love-based rituals. For your own practical use, I don't think you need to separate them....all you need to do is recognize what is healthy or unhealthy for you. For example, for me, I dealt with both porn addiction and love addiction patterns...but they all made up the same addiction that functioned as my life management strategy. They definitely crossed over. And while the way I dealt with them was slightly differently, in the end, it really comes down to healthy vs. unhealthy, based on your vision and values. And that's what you should focus on. Not trying to categorize these things by concepts (ie. "Am I a sex addict, a love addict, or both?") In terms of recovery, that matters very little.

Quote:
Nor am I convinced that the response is mainly concerned with changing behaviours. That is certainly the first stage - stopping using porn, sex, masturbation etc. But - and I have learned this to my cost - that is when the real work begins, to wit, facing and altering the emotional and intellectual root causes of that behaviour.


True, but I might just not be articulating myself clearly enough here. I didn't mean that ending porn addiction stopped at changing the behaviours -- not at all. What I meant is that, at least in my experience, ending porn addiction started with the behaviours, then progressed onto understanding my thoughts regarding this and changing them. Ending my love addiction patterns began with changing my thoughts....and some of the behaviours were ONLY in my thoughts (ie. romantic fantasy) and unhealthy beliefs. However, any overt behaviours, I was completely unaware of.

Solely looking at my own behaviour, looking at porn was obvious. That was unhealthy, and it was blatantly obvious to me when I was engaged in an unhealthy ritual. But for me, my love addict patterns were so subtle and ingrained that they were not obviously unhealthy at all. And, I had no idea that they actually WERE changing how I acted towards people.

I guess the distinction I would make (maybe didn't make it clearly enough) is that I think the core of love addiction patterns are much more like the subtle sexual behaviours left over after you have taken care of your overt rituals....in the sense that they have become so naturalized for you in your consciousness that you can be completely unaware that they're even unhealthy. That's the distinction I wanted to make. With the exception of sexual fantasy and scanning behaviours, sexually compulsive behaviours (masturbation, pornography, etc.) tend to be overt. Even if you're delusional, you know pretty clearly when you're engaging in them. I'm talking about awareness of the behaviour, even if you're not aware that it's ritualized. Not always the case for love addiction.

Quote:
I am not sure it is always easy for a porn addict to identify when they are using pornography - because of the self-delusionary thoughts you describe so clearly. More to the point, I am not sure that this entirely covers porn addiction.


True, and there are self-delusions in porn addiction as well. All right, I guess I will clarify and say that almost always people with porn addiction know when they're using outright pornography, even if they may be unaware when they're using other pictures in a pornographic fashion...hence the secrecy and lying. I guess what I am trying to articulate is: since love addiction patterns can occur solely in the mind and FEEL like normal feelings of love and passion, the overt rituals can themselves be much more subtle...and the person is usually completely unaware that they are doing anything abnormal. For example, while I think I always knew that when I was engaged in pornography, what I was doing was wrong, I truly thought that everyone saw relationships and romance the same way as me. I think this is also affected by the time scale of the behaviours. A sexual ritual usually takes place over the course of minutes, hours, or days. Love addict rituals can go for weeks, months, or years, so it's harder to see the thoughts occurring in a cyclical fashion. Hmm...not sure if I'm articulating it better, but I'm trying. I guess the point is, having recovered from both, I do see distinctions in how the rituals present...and for me, identifying the unhealthy love addiction patterns were much harder. For others, the opposite might be true. But I think that'd be rare, due to the nature of the behaviour.

Also, everyone is ultimately responsible for their own behaviour. If any newly arrived addicts seeking recovery use a post like this to justify acting out under the guise of "it's harder to recognize pornographic images that he thinks!" or "Maybe I don't know when I'm looking at pornography...better get on Google Image search", they're both deluding themselves and responsible for what they're doing. In any case, it will be their fault.

Again, I'm not minimizing sexual addiction recovery here. Clearly, it is very difficult. All I'm saying is that in my experience, the overt rituals for pornography addiction were far easier to recognize than the overt rituals for my love addiction patterns.

Quote:
I relapsed earlier this year - I used pornography, I masturbated in a compulsive fashion. But the roots of that relapse happened weeks before in the unhealthy, obsessive thought processes, the unstable emotions, and compulsive fixations you describe. Or perhaps every sex addict who stops acting out becomes a love addict? Caught in their compulsive thoughts?


Again, I hope I didn't convey that sex addict behaviours weren't in your thoughts as well, or that there weren't also delusions that occur in the mind of the sex addict. Of course there are. Basically, all I'm trying to convey is that, at least from my own experiences, such behaviours were easier to recognize when I was engaging in them. For love addiction, the entire emotional ritual can play itself out completely in your mind (like imagining an entire relationship with someone). In comparison, recognizing when I felt a compulsion to masturbate was fairly straightforward.

Quote:
My sexual addiction and rituals came to address many issues - in negative fashion - but they began from a fundamental insecurity around love, romance and women. This seems to be something that love and sexual addiction often share - a mixture of control, objectification and idealisation.


Completely agree. It's really how the patterns progress for that individual that determine how their rituals develop.

Quote:
Isnt instant honesty equally important for both conditions? Both are driven by subtle, seductive and compulsive thought processes?


Absolutely. And, I think in order to completely beat sexual addiction, an equal instant honesty is needed with the subtle thought processes of the sexual rituals. I guess a better way to describe it might be "the need to be instantly objective with oneself, and recognize immediately when you're slipping into a delusion." I think objectivity and honesty are related though slightly different.

The only difference is that romantic delusions cannot be dealt with via the same urge control processes used here, because of the delusional aspect. To take a page from Jon's writing on this, with delusions, you don't have the ability to be objective. It is tougher to separate yourself objectively from the delusion.

Quote:
Nor am I entirely sure that the lengthy love addiction cycles you describe dont also apply to sexual addiction. My own rituals were decades in the construction.


Here, I don't mean the process of the ritual progressing and adding elements and new behaviours. I mean the actual time that an individual ritual takes to play itself out. I doubt your porn rituals each took months or years each. :w: Most porn rituals are at the most hours long. For love addiction, the actual ritual, with all the various steps, can be engaged in for months or even years in some cases.

Quote:
I am not sure that this is the place to get into a philosophical argument about the opening sentence.


That's cool :w: but I still stand by that statement. While sex is a fundamental human drive, you ultimately don't need it to survive. Many people have lived a content life being completely sexually celibate (though debates could also be gotten into over whether that is healthy either). In comparison, I think everyone needs the experience the feeling of love from somewhere (even from the feeling of a higher power, if they don't feel that love from any family or friends in their life)...or they will develop ways to artificially feel that. I am sure that many sexual addicts do try to experience love from their sexual rituals.

Quote:
Many of us here with sexual rituals speak about low self-esteem, abandonment issues.


For sure...it's not an either-or situation. I'm sure almost ALL people here recovering have issues with self-esteem, neglect, abandonment, etc. Whether they developed sex or love addiction-type patterns really only depends on the individual. I just know from Jon's lesson on this that abandonment and emotional neglect seem to be more common for love addicts. But of course, these are complex issues, without a "one size fits all" answer for anyone.

Quote:
Sex does not exclude love - however much us recoverers might seem to think this. I think we might generally confuse it.


We absolutely do, and this is where my patterns crossed over a lot. It has just been something I've come to terms with recently, that I had completely mixed up sex with love. I figured that if I loved someone (whether familial, friendly, or romantically), that must mean that I want to engage with them romantically/sexually. Obviously, this created significant emotional turmoil for me for many years. It has only been recently that I've realized that love itself has little to do with sex, and that in a healthy way, sex is really just one component of healthy romantic love.

Quote:
Again, I am not sure how this really differs from sexual addiction. My own relapse earlier this year was a direct result of not confronting the core issues behind my addiction. I had learned to abstain from the external behaviours, but this fooled me into thinking I had learned how to balance my emotional life. Gradually the pressure built up and the cracks began to show. I had confronted the behaviours, albeit superficially, but I was still vulnerable to the thought processes.

I understand the point you make that love addiction is not only driven by these thought processes, but contained within them.


That last line basically nailed on the point I was trying to make. And yes, sexual addicts will have to make that recognition too to completely transition to health. Many of the points I made in that post could completely relate to sexual addiction as well. I was not saying that these points had no relation to recovery from sexually based patterns...there are obviously many similarities, I was only trying to isolate what I specifically focused on for love addiction patterns and trying to make some distinctions in my approach.

Anyways, good post Shaw. Hopefully I clarified some things. Romantic delusions are a tricky thing to explain...as they are different from other compulsive rituals, though it's tough to articulate exactly how. But anyways, if it was useful to you, that's a plus. To go back to my point at the beginning, don't think of "sex addiction vs. love addiction". Think of "healthy vs. unhealthy."

:g:

FT

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PostPosted: Sun Oct 16, 2011 5:42 pm 
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I know this thread is pretty much done, but I just read something online today that I think is highly relevant to both love, and love addiction, and wanted to share it. It's a piece called Love versus Fear by Sarah Nean Bruce, and I think it illustrates perfectly how the "love" in love addiction is not love at all; it is fear dressed up as love. Fear of never finding anyone. Fear of being alone. Fear masquerading as love, that goes on to hurt others. As you can see here from this piece, almost every single aspect of fear exists in love addiction. It really made me think about how much fear really does drive this addiction.

It also reminded me of Jon's excellent post, "What Love Isn't": http://www.recoverynation.com/recovery/ ... nglove.htm

Real love is so much more and so much better (as I'm slowly realizing). Anyways, I hope people enjoy it.

"Love vs. Fear."

LOVE IS UNCONDITIONAL (fear is conditional)

LOVE IS STRONG (fear is weak)

LOVE RELEASES (fear obligates)

LOVE SURRENDERS (fear binds)

LOVE IS HONEST (fear is deceitful)

LOVE TRUSTS (fear suspects)

LOVE ALLOWS (fear dictates)

LOVE GIVES (fear resists)

LOVE FORGIVES (fear blames)

LOVE IS COMPASSIONATE (fear pities)

LOVE CHOOSES (fear avoids)

LOVE IS KIND (fear is angry)

LOVE IGNITES (fear incites)

LOVE EMBRACES (fear repudiates)

LOVE CREATES (fear negates)

LOVE HEALS (fear hurts)

LOVE IS MAGIC (fear is superstitious)

LOVE ENERGIZES (fear saps)

LOVE IS AN ELIXIR (fear is a poison)

LOVE INSPIRES (fear worries)

LOVE DESIRES (fear Joneses)

LOVE IS PATIENT (fear is nervous)

LOVE IS BRAVE (fear is afraid)

LOVE IS RELAXED (fear is pressured)

LOVE IS BLIND (fear is judgmental)

LOVE RESPECTS (fear disregards)

LOVE ACCEPTS (fear rejects)

LOVE DREAMS (fear schemes)

LOVE WANTS TO PLAY (fear needs to control)

LOVE ENJOYS (fear suffers)

LOVE FREES (fear imprisons)

LOVE BELIEVES (fear deceives)

LOVE “WANTS” (fear “needs”)

LOVE versus fear: what do you feel?

http://tinybuddha.com/blog/love-versus-fear/

FT

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PostPosted: Tue Oct 18, 2011 3:48 am 
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HI FT

I think Coach Mel makes a good point here. If one of the central issues with Love Addiction is a kind of dangerous idealisation and objectification of a possible partner, it seems dangerous to define Love and Fear so clearly, and as such clear opposites.
The poem feels a little like it is romanticising love - and fear.

At the end of the day, love and fear exist in the muddiness of the real world, and both live up to definitions but constantly defy them too - sometimes within the space of the same conversation. My definition of love is probably different on any given day - and from my wife's definition on any given day. Our love is a constant negotiation, a conversation. Sadly, thanks to my appaling conduct, it has been pretty one-sided. But learning to listen, and learning to express myself is one way through.

I think addicts, whether SA or LA, stuggle with these emotions in the real world - we love the general, the certain, the easy, the quick - mostly to our cost. Which is why we prefer fantasy and escapism - where these ideas can be ideal. Sadly, that is not where we live.

Shaw


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PostPosted: Sun Nov 18, 2012 2:15 pm 
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Bumping this as there have been a number of people recently who've mentioned love addiction patterns and it's annoying to have to keep looking back and grabbing this thread. :w:

Funny to read my own writing from a year ago...how far I've come even since then. Still looking for attention and validation at the time. But I think everything I wrote (while borrowing liberally from Jon's post on love addiction) is still valid and hopefully helpful. :g:

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PostPosted: Tue Dec 11, 2012 4:07 pm 
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Hi Mel,

Quote:
Anyhow, thanks FT, for this thread.


You're welcome. :w: Glad you found it helpful, and I think it's an issue that requires more writing. While society is still coming to terms with sex addiction, love addiction is still one that isn't talked about (probably because it is, admittedly, difficult to define where the line is between healthy, unhealthy, and compulsive behaviours).

This thread is really an amalgamation of some of Jon's writings on love addiction and my own experiences. And I think the information included still stands up, even a year later and with more understanding of myself since (for example, I can tell now there was still an aspect of attention-seeking in my writing that I think I've eliminated now).

Anyways, I've got some thoughts on your thoughts. :g:

Quote:
I wanted to point out that the supposed “non-objectified real” person in the love addiction scenario is no less objectified than the “objects” in the sex (porn, sex) addiction scenarios. I’d like to point out that this real/non-real line also gets crossed with sex addictions, where the partner is used as a stand-in for the pornographic fantasies that the person with SA has. I suspect, in the cases where the pwSA experiences lowered libido or impotence, it is because they are not objectifying their partner, or because they are not able to compartmentalize


Absolutely, in terms of objectification, the person is objectified in both cases. However, I think you may have missed what Jon and I mean here (and it is difficult to articulate, but I'll try). Basically, while the person is objectified in both cases...and I'm speaking generally here....people who are using sex compulsively tend to get involved in encounters where the objectified people don't have any kind of extended connection with them (for example, prostitutes, strip clubs, etc.) Therefore, if they want to stop their behaviour and recover, because there's no bond there, they are unlikely to experience any resistance from the people they used in their rituals (except for instance, if more extended relationships had occurred, for example in a long-term relationship with an individual prostitute).

In comparison, for those with love addiction, the rituals tend to involve "real" people...still objectified in the addict's world, but what I mean by this is, they're either: healthy people who don't initially recognize how the addict perceives them and the relationship (potentially because love addicts tend to come on very strong and overwhelm them with romanticism, seeming "perfect")....ie. they think they're getting into a relationship with an incredibly passionate but sincere individual; OR unhealthy people, who use the love addict's neediness and romantic overtures to cope with their own issues.

Because of how long love addiction rituals can take to play out (weeks or months, as opposed to minutes, hours, or days for most sex addiction rituals), the source of the fantasies can end up developing a connection with the addict in a way that, if the addict decides they want to recover, this connection (ie. the dynamics of the relationship) can make this more complex, particularly in the case where they're involved with an unhealthy person, as if this person is manipulative themselves, they can selfishly continue to coax the addict into maintaining a connection with the relationship. This is the difference: rather than exisiting solely as fantasies for the addict, there can actually be a "real" second party actively attempting to sabotage their recovery....which doesn't seem like it's typically the case for sex addiction (again, speaking generally).

And from what I've seen, love addicts can have a very hard time ending such relationships. They have someone who appears to want them, who will give them attention and "love"...the exact thing that gives people with love addiction patterns intense emotional stimulation. The idea of leaving a relationship with such people to "recover"...which at that point is like staring into a void of nothingness"...is overwhelming. So, this isn't to say that love addiction patterns are any easier or harder than sex addiction patterns to overcome...just that they have different factors in play.

For what you said about the partner playing this role....true, the partner could potentially factor into both roles for a time, but I don't think I've seen anyone here who has been solely addicted to their long-term partner in the same way they would get "swept up" in a love addiction-based relationship. I'm not even sure if this would be possible, as the addict's hunt for novelty and tolerance would eventually cause them to seek other sources of stimulation. True, the person involved is objectified in both cases, but pretty much everyone in the addict's world is objectified. So likely what would happen is that eventually, the person involved with the addict would likely (in the addict's mind) switch roles...from that of novelty and excitement, to one of stability. A long-term relationship that had started out as a ritual for a love addict would most likely eventually move to the "normal" side of their identity, even if they continued to objectify that person...the addict would then move on to new targets to give them the compulsive stimulation they need to manage their life.

Regarding romantic delusions...I would say this is the key:

Quote:
So, I am going to respectfully disagree with Jon, that urge control methods are not useful for romantic delusions. I would say that they are very useful, but one must first work to generate awareness around the delusional thoughts. Then, when you become adept at noticing and identifying them, then you can go to work, using the same techniques as one would use to manage other kinds of urges--relabel the thoughts, choose new healthy thoughts that are in alignment with one’s vision and values.


Actually, this is exactly what Jon wrote about this: that the typical urge control methods are only useful in dealing with delusions once you become aware of the delusion itself. And I would agree.

I have always had a difficult time writing about delusions, and it is almost because of the opposite of what we recommend here: I understand how they function practically for me, yet have a very difficult time articulating intellectually how exactly they function differently than compulsive rituals. I almost just want to say, "They're just different!" :s: but that doesn't really help anyone. But here's how I conceive of delusions (both for those who have never experienced them and those who have but have yet to understand them).

Rather than seeing them as normal urges like how you would for a typical compulsive ritual, I think it's more useful to think of them as perceptual filters. As you said, they can be triggered by both internal and external stimuli...and when they are, the filter goes up and their entire perception is filtered through that....yet they are completely unaware of this. So it's like if, in response to a trigger, a red filter is held up in front of your eyes, so that technically, everything you are seeing is red...yet the person affected still sees everything as normal. They are unaware that anything has changed. They do not realize that how they are perceiving the world is not typical.

Going back to romantic delusions, someone whose delusional "filter", for example, was "every woman I see is perfect for me"...this is a filter for their whole perception. So while they get stimulation from it, it doesn't necessarily follow any kind of ritualistic pattern, but rather can provide them with many avenues of stimulation. This could get really complicated...as delusions and rituals could mix...but I don't think understanding that would be necessary for anyone's recovery.

The trouble in dealing with these is, as opposed to say a typical porn-viewing ritual, the source of stimulation is entirely transparent to their perception. Even though someone with porn rituals can self-deceive and convince themselves that "it's not that bad," or "it's not really porn," even they are aware that they're viewing porn when they're doing it. In contrast, with romantic delusions, the person is completely unaware. The person completely believes in the truth of the delusion at the time they're experiencing it. Because they're totally unaware, they can't objectively realize that the delusion is taking place. You can't make changes to a problem until you're aware that there actually is a problem. And since this thinking tends to be primarily only through internal fantasy and addicts have learned to disguise their rituals to look normal, it's likely that no one else recognizes that they're having these delusions. So combining the fact of no possible external feedback from anyone and the fact that internally, you're looking at the world through reality-distortion glasses...this makes them trickier to handle (but not impossible).

For me, the most important part in dealing with delusions was hyperawareness, complete self-honesty, and trying to objectively check my own thinking from time to time. As you said, once you become aware of the delusional thinking, you can then deal with it through typical urge control methods. Eliminating the delusion permanently then tends to involve resolving whatever underlying pattern the delusion was running on. And I've found that this doesn't even necessarily require re-labelling thoughts...for me, simply becoming consciously aware of the core belief of the delusion was enough to resolve it. When that happens, it's like an immediate experience of seeing clearer.

So I think we agree, even if I may have stated it differently. :g: I don't see delusions as the same as compulsive urges, at least initially, even though emotional urges are involved with both. I think one of the key differences is that delusions, being more like a filter, tend to lack a pattern (at least this is how I experienced it) but rather can provide stimulation through many sources.

Anyways, good discussion...I like being able to think about these issues as it deepens my own understanding. Personally, I have always found love addiction and romantic delusions trickier to write about than sex addiction (even though as you said, sex addicts can have delusional fantasies of their own). It's still hard for me to articulate exactly why this is...perhaps because it's more difficult to see the line where healthy, unhealthy, and compulsive love addict patterns exist. But, I enjoy the brain workout! :s:

Boundless

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"If you cannot find the truth right where you are, where do you expect to find it?" - Dogen

"Be a lamp unto yourself." - Buddha

"The obstacle is the path."


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PostPosted: Wed Apr 10, 2013 1:35 am 
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Hitting a frustrating obstacle here. It is mentioned multiple times that the love addict must remove themselves from all relationships in which this is affecting. What does one do with a spouse or when separation is literally not possible, at least in my case unaffordable and potentially harmful to my daughter?

Thanks

Fav


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PostPosted: Wed Apr 10, 2013 2:05 am 
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Hi Favorish,

When we're talking about separating ourselves from relationships, we're talking about abstaining from/ending unhealthy romantic relationships (ie. affairs). That doesn't include partners that you're in a healthy relationship with (or someone you want to develop a healthy relationship with, if what you've had so far wasn't entirely healthy). Even though a sex or love addiction can (and often does) include partners, that is someone you want to develop a healthy relationship with...so you wouldn't need to separate yourself but rather work on the boundaries and shared values of the relationship. Perhaps obviously though, all other extraneous romantic relationships would need to be ended.

This isn't always as obvious for people who aren't in a long-term relationship who are dealing with love addiction rituals involving other people though, as it can be confusing for those recovering as to when they're "ready" to jump back into the dating world. But any time people think this...it usually means they're not ready. Which is why we recommend (for those without partners) abstaining from romantic relationships for at least the time they're doing the workshop, after which they'll be a better place to re-evaluate whether they're solid enough in their new, healthy identity to start trying to find a partner. For those in relationships, there will be additional different considerations and issues to deal with than those who are single...not necessarily easier or harder, just different.

Does that help?

Boundless

_________________
"If you cannot find the truth right where you are, where do you expect to find it?" - Dogen

"Be a lamp unto yourself." - Buddha

"The obstacle is the path."


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PostPosted: Thu Sep 08, 2016 2:55 pm 
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BUMPING

Some truly brilliant thoughts on love addiction here. I bow to forwardthinker!

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"Today I commit to deepen and strengthen my Values and fully engage my Action Plans to uphold the Boundaries that keep my Values sacred."


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PostPosted: Sun Dec 18, 2016 3:45 pm 
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FT, thanks a million for this post. I read it once, and am going to come back to it again after giving it some thought. My recent relapse centered around a romantic delusion, and I believe I fall squarely into the category of "serial monogamist" (though I've always struggled with monogamy). Anyway, I appreciate your thoughts and am going to give myself a close look through this lens. Where before I was primarily focused on my sex addiction, I think this time I need to focus much more aggressively on my compulsive romantic thoughts.

Thanks again,
Achilles


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PostPosted: Thu Jul 05, 2018 2:18 pm 
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I know it's been years since this conversation, but I wanted to bump this thread and also add my thoughts. Coach Kenzo recently recommended I look through the support forum for Love Addiction posts and I'm so glad he did. This post really resonated with me and hopefully my additions are not too redundant and perhaps helpful to other Love Addicts.

First, I think it's important to note that love addiction often comes with co-morbidity. This can include one's attachment style, emotional abuse/neglect, and in particular personality disorders such as Borderline or Narcissistic, mood disorders like bipolar, or other mental health issues such as OCD. Obviously we're not here on RN to diagnose, but through light research you'll see how the thought patterns of LAs show many similar traits to those co-occurring issues. We could get into a chicken and the egg discussion here--which came first, the disordered thinking, the diagnosis, ill prioritized values, or the trauma... but regardless, I think understanding the deep routed pains is my point. Through professional and medical help (or spiritual for some), understanding one's conditioning can be key to healing the wounds where the love addiction may simply be a symptom.

Some excellent discussions on the thread regarding the differences between sex addicts and love addicts. There are definitely some overlaps, but also some key differences. FT and Coach Jon's essays help clarify, but IMO, primary differences are the types of fantasies, the presence of delusions, and compulsive thought BEHIND the compulsive behaviors.

Fantasy
Fantasy of love addicts can be extremely intense and similar to dissociation. A main difference between the fantasies of love addicts and sex addicts is the content; it is not always sexual in nature. In addition to sexual images, a love addict's fantasy could involve situations, martyrdom and idolization of self or target. On rare occasions, LA fantasies could be so intense that they include visible or audible hallucinations. For those LAs in a committed relationship, emotional affairs are common via fantasy. The fantasy doesn't end with the thought, however, as a love addict often makes actual changes to their behaviors and even identity traits to match the needs of their fantasy targets. Even if it conflicts with their true selves, they commonly emulate character traits they perceive as desirable to others (learned from media, culture, society, or perceived needs of an target individual). The goal here of an LA is to match themselves to what is desirable as to promote acceptance and avoid rejection. This leads to moral and internal confusion and occasional identity dissociation.

Delusion
As FT mentioned, these are difficult to describe to those that have not experienced them before, but I'll give it a shot. A person experiencing a delusion may often believe 2+2= 5 - 1. What does that mean? A love addict's lens' dichotomous thinking, hypersensitivity, and paranoid belief system may interfere with their ability to interpret reality logically. Their perception of reality is skewed to either highlight their attractive or reject-able traits regardless of the facts in front of them.
Basic example: A waitress exchanges eye contact with a smile while taking the Addict's order. The love addict may interpret the situation as, "She looked at me in the eye and smiled, therefore she finds me interesting, therefore she's into me, maybe she's 'the one', I need someone like her to make me happy." True? Maybe. Logical? Not at all. It's the waitress' job to kindly serve food. The love addict exploited the waitress' job as a means for emotional stimulation. This is example delusion is what Coach Jon refers to as a "real person but oblivious" target. The person is unaware that they are the target of a Love Addict's behaviors. A delusion could then lead to further actions, behaviors, and decisions that the LA purely uses as evidence to support and justify this delusion. In the previous example, it might be efforts to make eye contact again, crossing paths and believing it "happened for a reason", transition to fantasies of this random individual, and continuing to exploit all of the target's behaviors as if they are "for the addict." I'm sure many sex addicts can relate to parts of this example, but the difference is the love addicts true conviction that "therefore she's into me, maybe she's 'the one', I need someone like her to make me happy."

Probably one of the most distinct differences in love addiction is the presence of "push/pull" relationship dynamics. The "I hate you/I love you," "Leave me but don't leave me" style of connection. In my experience, LA's have two primary fears: abandonment/being alone and true emotional intimacy which they believe leads to rejection. How can this make sense? How can a love addict be afraid of emotional intimacy yet crave love so badly? Hence the delusion. With healthy committed relationships come intimacy. With intimacy comes the potential for it to be taken away, which is an LA's fear: rejection. So they'll often self-sabotage or find faults in their target that do not exist (delusion) in efforts to push the target away. But they fear being alone and abandoned, so they'll pull the target back in by smoothing things over. The cycle continues within the relationship and often burns out the target.

The "urge to merge" is a common driver behind many love addicts' delusions. The delusion occurs when they adamantly believe the target is the solution to all of their problems. This is especially the case when the target is what Coach Jon refers to as a real person that thrives on dependency. In a co-dependent relationship, love addict and target fuel each other's behavior. The love addict has a dire "need to be needed" and manipulates the target's weaknesses. In this type of relationship, both are often emotionally unavailable, leading to a chaotic exchange. The excitement of a new relationship and the fulfilled feelings of being needed lead the LA to believe they are in love with no actual emotional intimacy--this is the delusion. At one point, care-taking becomes compulsive and the love addict is too close for comfort. They'll begin to feel helpless and out of control as the LA struggles to keep the romantic intensity of what used to be a new relationship alive. Without recognition from the other of their efforts to maintain the relationship, the LA feels betrayal. Out of fear both rejection and intimacy, the LA may end the relationship abruptly and move on to the next target.

Compulsive Thought
Behind many of the behaviors of love addicts exist compulsive and intrusive thoughts. Images, ideas, fears, and desires are broad examples of what enters the mind. The need to act on these thoughts to soothe the emotional imbalance they cause makes addressing compulsive behavior a challenge. For many SA's, behaviors are dictated by perceived wants and achieving balance via emotional stimulation. For LA's, their behaviors are primarily fear based--emotional distress and desperation caused by irrational and compulsive thought. Fears of being alone, rejected, abandoned, of being a failure, or being forgotten, or fears of their compulsive thoughts as a whole. Coupled with delusions and fantasy, LAs display obsessions in an effort to stay alive and functioning. Loss of a relationship is viewed as a consequence instead of a choice or even as a reflection of who they are as a person; ie I am not good enough for so-and-so. Memories that justify their feelings, insecurities, fears or desires are subjects of rumination.
---
I believe the workshop is extremely applicable to many forms of addiction, and I think it's important for fellow LA's (and SA's!) to continue building awareness of root causes of fantasies, delusions, and compulsive thoughts. How? Identifying the underlying messages of the fears that trigger the emotional imbalance. Explore your conditioning from family of origin and environments in which you were raised. Were you raised in families of high expectations, hyper religiousity, experience trauma, emotional neglect, emotional abandonment, or have immediate family history of psychological disorders? In addition, using self inquiry to identify the root cause of my disordered thinking is helpful. FT had some good ones, and I add these as well.

When I'm acting out/in, what part of my un-parented self is asking for attention? How can I nurture this area?
I'm triggered. Where does it hurt?
I'm having thoughts about an individual, ARE THEY TRUE? What can I use to help ground me?
How would life be if I took responsibility for my own happiness?
What am I unwilling to feel? Can I let it wash over?
What within me is standing in the way of me and feeling free?


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