Archive for April, 2012

love addiction v. love avoidance

April 26th, 2012

Love addiction isn’t about love–it’s about fantasy. And both love addiction and love avoidance are about relational patterns—not about love.  Here is the primary difference:

  • Love addicts are obsessed with fantasy and/or wanting to be rescued.
  • Love avoidants use relational walls to prevent feeling overwhelmed by the other.

And here are some typical traits of love avoidance and love addiction:

Love avoidance:

  • based in enmeshment
  • compulsion to take care of the other
  • resentment for taking care of the other
  • associates love with duty or work
  • mistakes caregiving for love
  • feels responsible to caretake a needy person
  • systematic use of walls
  • appears relational (i.e. behavior of love, but no feeling of love)
  • not about cherishing partner
  • “allergic” to being intimate or relational in a vulnerable way
  • often becomes risktaking to feel alive
  • intensity cycle: feels like spontaneity and true self
  • conscious fear of death from suffocation
  • unconscious fear of abandonment

Love addiction:

  • based in abandonment & neglect
  • obsessed with a fantasy about another person
  • objectifies the other person through fantasy
  • consciously fears death from abandonment
  • attracted to walled-in person who appears powerful
  • in love with the fantasy of another–seeing what they want to see
  • when something shatters the denial, then emotional withdrawal
  • unconscious fear of intimacy

I view both love addiction and love avoidance (often referred to as the pursuer and the distancer) as attachment issues that require a long-term healing process usually found through a combination of psychotherapy and 12 step work.  Although the terms can be rather misleading and often misunderstood, it’s a profoundly lonely affliction that heals through the re-building of trust and intimacy gradually and safely.

safe harbor

April 13th, 2012

Last Friday I had the pleasure of visiting Safe Harbor Treatment Center for Women down in Costa Mesa, and it is truly a recovery oasis for women of all ages.  I’ve known Velvet Mangan, the founder of Safe Harbor for several years but never quite made it down there to see the program in person, but it was well worth it.

I’ve visited numerous treatment centers in the last 20 years and there are many reputable ones out there, but Safe Harbor had a particular quality of professionalism, warmth and core belief in their approach that was palpable throughout the day.  Their three separate programs (recommended stay of 90 days minimum)  include:  1) women ages 18-25 2) eating disorders and dual diagnosis and 3) trauma & addiction.

If you’re ever in the Orange County area, don’t miss the opportunity to visit a gender-specific program that truly walks the walk.