By Robert Weiss, LCSW, CSAT-S
Living in a chaotic, desperate internal world of need and emotional despair, romance addicts fear both being alone and rejected, and trapped and stuck in an unhappy relationship. They live in fear of never finding “the one” or worse, that when they finally do meet, they themselves will be found unworthy of love.
No matter how clever, how smart, how physically attractive or successful, the love addict feels incomplete and haunted by a desire for a fantasy partnership that if fulfilled, would make them complete. In order to achieve their goal, relationship addicts will use seduction, control, guilt and manipulation to attract and hold onto a romantic or sexual partner, even when unsure whether it is a good match.
Janis, a 27-year-old film student had this to say about her desperate search for love:
Eventually I began to hide my dates. I didn’t want friends to know that I met someone new because so many past times I had said, “He’s the one,” and had it not work out that I thought they would laugh at me if I brought yet another guy to the table. In my desperation I tried dating clubs, speed dating, Internet dating and church dances. Just like the dating books say, I asked everyone I knew to introduce me to someone they could see me dating. And then there were the hobby and recreation groups I joined, ones I didn’t even like, desperately hoping to find him making ceramics, hiking, welding or playing tennis.
When I found someone who felt right I would either have sex right away hoping that would bond us more deeply or avoid sex until we knew each other better thinking that would keep them around. For a while I thought maybe I wasn’t cute or smart enough, later I just blamed the men I dated for being too screwed up. Ultimately, it seemed no matter how hard I tried or where I put the blame, I ended up alone. Over time, my life became more and more about looking for the right guy and less and less about enjoying myself and doing things to make me happy.