They cannot live without loved ones, they suffer, they literally go crazy. In search of getting rid of these torments, some turn to a specialist. Family psychotherapist Valentina Moskalenko tells about how love addiction develops and how to get rid of it *.
Svetlana came for a consultation to get rid of her addiction. She is 40 years old, she does not drink, does not take drugs, but she feels like a real drug addict: “I cannot imagine a day without Vadim. As soon as he leaves for the weekend to meet the children from his first marriage, and I already cry, I feel useless to anyone … And I constantly call him. I will not wish such passion on anyone. ” Even if the absence of a loved one is difficult to bear, then the thought that he might stop loving is unbearable for the addicted person, and the departure of a partner becomes a disaster. Love turns into a force that cannot be controlled. “I want him to love me to death,” says 34-year-old Olga, “otherwise let him die better.”.
Communion of Tristan and Isolde
“The power of love already attracts you to each other, and never since then have you known joy, without knowing pain … Through my fault, from this cup you drank not only love, but a terrible mixture of love and death!” – the maid lamented about Tristan and Isolde, who, by her mistake, tasted the love potion. American Jungian psychoanalyst Robert A. Johnson, analyzing this legend – one of the most touching and beautiful stories about the beauty and pain of passionate love – draws an analogy between the power of this feeling and the experience of religious ecstasy. “We seek in romantic love not only earthly love and human relationships. We are looking for religious experiences and a passionate desire to comprehend our inner world ”*. According to Johnson, passionate love, like earnest faith, can temporarily free us from contradictions and doubts and, like a beacon, illuminate our life, giving it integrity and certainty, giving us the opportunity to rise above the level of everyday life..
* R. Johnson “We”, Cogito Center, 2005.
* Valentina Moskalenko – specialist in work with addictions, author of the books “When there is too much love” (Psychotherapy, 2006) and “Addiction: a family disease?” (Per Sae, 2006), leader of psychotherapy groups and seminars at the Institute of Psychotherapy and Clinical Psychology.
A suffocating hug
Love addiction, like other addictions, makes a person strive for the object of passion, while forgetting about himself. A person obsessed with love is often unable to take care of himself: he eats poorly, sleeps poorly, does not pay attention to his health. Neglecting himself, he spends all his life energy on a partner … thereby making him suffer. All attention, all thoughts and feelings are focused on him and only on him, everything else seems meaningless and boring. “Dependent people cannot define the boundaries of personality, they seize a loved one, leaving him no free space,” says Valentina Moskalenko. “When love turns into complete control over a partner, it interferes with the development of a full sexual and loving union.” Often there is dependence on a partner who treats the lover himself badly. Contrary to popular belief, everyone is at risk of falling victim to such passion: men and women, young and mature, rich and poor. Another case is when violent emotions generally become the raison d’être. Such a person literally “falls” into love. This jump is often caused by the need to muffle the sense of meaninglessness in life. “Everything that relates to everyday life becomes unbearable,” says Valentina Moskalenko. “A man lives only for this jump.” The two situations have a common denominator – addiction suffering..
Steps to Liberation
Psychotherapy of too strong love applies the principle of the medieval physician and alchemist Paracelsus: everything is poison, everything is medicine, both are determined by the dose. In other words, moderate use is beneficial, but abuse is disastrous. “As paradoxical as it sounds, you shouldn’t love too much,” says Valentina Moskalenko. – Pay attention to love songs: in many of the lyrics the model of addiction is extolled. For example, the classic “White light came together like a wedge on you.” To understand that such a perception of love and such an attitude towards a loved one is destructive for both, to admit their own dependence on a partner is a difficult, but necessary first step to healing. ”The next step is to awaken feelings and establish relationships with oneself. “During therapy, I felt like a refrigerator, which was finally unfrozen,” says 36-year-old Anastasia. – Suddenly she raised her head and saw: people were all around! ” “Psychotherapy helps a person to realize who he is, where he is going in life and who he needs as a companion,” explains Valentina Moskalenko. “After all, an addicted person often lives as if under anesthesia, all his feelings are suppressed, because they are too painful.” Dealing with long-standing experiences and paying attention to today’s situation is the task of the third step. Repressed feelings are often found to be related to childhood experiences: the loving addict strives for some kind of ideal relationship that he lacked in childhood. The child could be afraid that he was abandoned (the parents went to the store), because they did not explain to him that they had left for a while and would definitely return. If parents considered themselves victims of circumstances, they themselves were addicted – from love, alcohol, anything, then they could not teach children to take responsibility for their lives. In other cases, parents simply did not give us enough love and affection, and now we are all strong we spend to make up for this lack of love. “But don’t think that in this case you will suffer all your life,” says Valentina Moskalenko. “An adult is able to cope with his love addiction: think about why the relationship makes him suffer, stop blaming himself and understand that he is worthy of love – the way he is.”.
The opposite of addiction is not absolute freedom or isolation. During psychotherapy, people learn to build relationships that develop gradually – starting with falling in love, through gradual rapprochement and development of trust. It is important that each partner moves towards the other at their own speed, in contrast to the situation of love addiction, when a person instantly closes the distance and “sticks” to his beloved. “The psychological benefit of a dependent person is that he completely entrusts the care of himself to another:“ I had a bad life, and now you will love me, ”comments Valentina Moskalenko. “But no one outside can make us happy. We can find the keys to real happiness only in ourselves “.
Thirst for sacrifice
People get addicted not only from tender, loving relationships. The opposite (and no less frequent) case is dependence on a cruel, rude partner. Before work, Marina covers up the bruises with foundation and thinks: “Of course, with my figure … But in fact, he is good …” Anatoly habitually slouches at the next shout from his wife, sighing to himself: “Of course, with my salary …” To live in an unbearable relationship , to endure humiliation and even beatings, but at the same time blaming oneself – this behavior is typical for those who in childhood suffered from the coldness and severity of their parents. “If a person is driven by a desire to fill that long-standing spiritual emptiness, then no, even cruel treatment, can sober him up,” says Valentina Moskalenko. – His feelings (as if through the lips of his parents) tell him: “You deserve it, you yourself are to blame.” “Those who become dependent on a“ sacrificial ”position unwittingly choose aggressive partners for themselves, simultaneously provoking them into degrading, cruel behavior, adds transactional analyst Vadim Petrovsky. – To get rid of such dependence, first of all, you need to realize your (inherent in childhood) desire for suffering in order to stop communicating with your partner from the position of a victim. “.