Understanding why overcoming a separation is so hard for some people

Recovering from a breakup can be like treating an addiction.

Sometimes we are so into our loved ones that we don’t understand how much we are addicted to them. Why can this be dangerous? Like any addiction, there is a level of self-denial and lack of self-awareness. We know that alcohol, drug or gambling addictions are dangerous, but the love addiction is very hard to diagnose and isn’t one that everybody has heard about.  

An addiction to love is intertwined with strong emotions and feelings of desire, care and passion, and even if we suspect there is a problem, we will always deny this, like all addicts do. For you, you need your partner’s love and attention all the time. When you are used to a certain constant ‘dose’ and then don’t receive it, you feel out of sorts, not yourself. The reasons for this are not a secret, but are a discussion for another article.

So can you imagine how heartbroken a person who is addicted to love, feels after a separation? And she or he doesn’t even know that they need to treat and go through the symptoms of addiction withdrawal at the same time as overcoming their separation. 

Many of us have been there. You need your ‘dose’ of interaction, you need contact with them, and it doesn’t matter if it’s a positive interaction or not. Fighting via text messages, midnight calls after too many drinks, blaming, tears, you need a reaction. You are trying to get any form of attention – good or bad.  

I believe that in every kind of relationship there is an element of addiction. But as long as that element doesn’t bring harm to us, it’s like enjoying a glass of Dom Perignon on a sunset cruise – everything in moderation. You don’t drink Dom Perignon from morning ‘til night; there should be some healthy boundaries.

Usually, when a relatively ‘healthy’ relationship ends (one which didn’t contain any strong addiction from either side) there will be feelings of sadness and you will miss the person – their characteristics, the loss of things you had planned to do together, the end of your shared history.  

At the end of a relationship where one person is addicted to the other, there are overwhelming feelings of panic, fear, loss and anxiety that all happiness has disappeared with the distancing of a loved one. Like there is no life without the person. That is the major difference.

There are red flags to spotting this kind of behaviour during an ongoing relationship. They include being overcontrolling, people-pleasing, spending all their free time to make the other person happy, trying to do everything for the other, losing their interests and hobbies and eventually their self-identity as their life starts to spin solely around the loved one. 

Any kind of addiction is not healthy. An addiction to love slowly ruins us, as we keep talking ourselves out of reality and into the illusion that what we are experiencing is ‘true love’. This is self-destructive. Nobody is to blame. But knowing the reasons for those feelings, and recognising it as an addiction, will help you to understand the situation and get through it much easier. And the good news is that this type of addiction can be easier to treat than other addictions. The symptoms of withdrawal will end, once you don’t feed the addiction. Just hold on, it will hurt but eventually you will feel better.

In order to avoid the same pattern in future relationships, it’s crucial that we understand the reasons why we are getting addicted to love. Where does this come from? This is where life and relationship coaching can help. Once the genesis of this behaviour is identified, the pattern will start weakening and then disappear.