Understanding dysfunctional relationship patterns
If you’ve experienced toxic relationships, feel either dependent on your relationship or suffocated by it, have friends and family who have raised concerns about your relationships, or find yourself unable to maintain a relationship you may recognise many of the dynamics of Love Addiction and Love Avoidance.
People experiencing patterns of addiction or avoidance can often find themselves drawn to those displaying the opposite pattern, leading to complex, dysfunctional relationships of codependency.
While neither Love Addiction nor Avoidance is an official clinical diagnosis, they are useful concepts to understand when we approach these often complex and self-destructive patterns of behaviour that can be intertwined with other addictions, depression and/or anxiety.
At South Pacific Private, we specialise in understanding the dynamics of codependence and the complex relationships they may have with past emotional trauma that is still unresolved. Whenever healthy and appropriate, we’re committed to repairing relationships, healing families and equipping clients with the tools and strategies they need to break out of dysfunctional relationship dynamics and sustain rewarding, healthy relationships into the future.
Indicators of Love Addiction and Love Avoidance
Love Addiction is similar to other addictions in that you can experience feelings of obsession, dependence and emotional withdrawal. While you may consciously want intimacy, you may unconsciously be drawn to partners who cannot be intimate with you in a healthy way. Indicators may include:
- Your life, activities and social patterns have changed significantly to accommodate your partner and your relationship
- Your partner seemed perfect or unusually charming, thoughtful and in sync when you first met
- You feel your partner has gone from romantic to cold and distant over the course of your relationship
- You have blamed yourself or made excuses for poor behaviour from your partner, including potential verbal or physical abuse
- You believe if you hang in and work hard enough, your partner will change
- After a relationship has ended, you felt abandoned and struggled to be single, even if you ended the relationship
- You have experienced relationships of abandonment before, perhaps a parent or caregiver neglecting, ignoring or leaving you, or the death of a loved one
- You recognise characteristics of Love Avoidance in your partner, or past partners
Love Avoidance can lead to you avoiding intimacy out of fear of being drained, engulfed or controlled. You may use relational walls to prevent you feeling overwhelmed in a relationship, but you may subconsciously be drawn to individuals in need of ‘saving’ or who display overwhelming interest and affection. Indicators may include:
- Feeling compelled to care for needy or troubled people, seeing yourself as 'wonder woman' or a 'white knight'
- Avoiding being emotionally vulnerable or fully honest in relationships
- Being overly critical of your partner, viewing them as weak or resenting them for being needy
- Feeling controlled, suffocated, frustrated or trapped by a relationship
- Communicating in either a passive-aggressive or overtly aggressive ways
- Seeing yourself as a victim or rationalising unhealthy behaviours, including overworking, drug use, alcohol use, risk-taking or infidelity
- Returning to relationships out of guilt or fear of abandonment, or seeking to quickly find replacements for relationships once they end
- Past experiences of caring for parents or looking out for them, perhaps due to a weakness, addiction or mental health issue
- You recognise characteristics of Love Addiction in your partner, or past partners
If you’re concerned you may have a problem with love addiction or avoidance, you can use our self-assessment tool here to gain a better understanding of whether key indicators of codependency and relational issues apply to your situation. To schedule a free, confidential, professional phone assessment, call our team seven days a week on 1800 063 332.
Your pathway to recovery
South Pacific Private was established with the support of Pia Mellody and the Arizona-based Meadow’s treatment centre, pioneers of recognising and assisting individuals experiencing Love Addiction and Avoidant behaviour.
Our program includes specially-designed pathways for treating those trapped in a love addiction/avoidant cycle, with a focus on addressing underlying triggers and trauma, and on equipping you with the skills and strategies necessary to move toward happy, healthy, balanced and loving relationships.
South Pacific Private is also one of the only treatment centres to have a dedicated Family Program, focused on allowing our clients to address and resolve long-term issues with parents, children or partners in a safe, guided, supported environment.
If you’re ready to work on developing healthier approaches to relationships, we’re ready to work with you every step of the way. Call us on 1800 063 332 or contact us here to see which of our programs are right for you.