From time-to-time, we all rely on our significant other (or someone else with whom we are close) for support, validation… maybe even self-esteem. Turning to others to lift us up (on occasion) is no big deal. We all partake. We still have a solid sense of self-esteem and know that our feelings of self-doubt or inadequacy will shortly pass. The love addict, however, relies entirely on his or her partner for feelings of self-esteem and self-worth. When not involved in a relationship, the love addict will feel lost, helpless, and harshly dejected.
Being actively involved in a romantic relationship is not much better. When romantically involved, the love addict becomes obsessed with the object of his or her affection, spending a disproportionate amount of time focused on the relationship. When in relationships, love addicts completely neglect self-care. They put the needs of their partner before their own, and lose any pre-existing sense of self in the midst of a frantic desire to keep their partner engaged. They put an excessive amount of weight into unrealistic expectations, believing that their partner should always interact with them positively – no arguments, disagreements, or disputes. While it is normal for healthy couples to bicker from time-to-time, the love addict views any conflict as a direct threat to the relationship. And any threat to the relationship – real or imagined – plays into one of the love addict’s greatest fears.