March 21st, 2008 by Nina Atwood
Barbara writes: It appears that I’m a “limerant” after reading some descriptions – problem is, I’m involved in this type of “state” for over 8 years. Also I’m married and so is he. I’ve tried to break it off at least 20 times but we both can’t seem to let it go. And you’re right – the highs are incredible but the lows are awful. To intensify the problem we are also best friends for 40 years and so are our spouses. I feel disaster coming if I can’t control my emotions over this man and I can’t seem to. What can I do?
Barbara: The first thing you must understand is that the last thing I will do is tell you what to do. Why? Because you already know the answer to that question. Deep down, you know that the best thing for you, your husband, and your children (if you have them) is for you to end this relationship and restore your integrity.
You would have already done so if it weren’t for one thing: right now, the pleasure of being with this man is more important to you than anything else in your life, including your own sense of self-worth. It is no different than the cocaine addict choosing the pleasure of the drug over relationships and other vital areas of life. That is how powerful addiction can be, and you, Barbara, are definitely addicted.
The steps to recovery from addiction always begin with the first one: admitting that you are powerless over the addiction. That means that you acknowledge that you alone cannot conquer the addiction. You need help, from a higher power and probably from a professional.
Most addicts don’t make a real commitment to change until they have destroyed their relationships or jobs or health. Hitting “bottom,” the addict realizes that nothing in her life will change until she changes.
I wonder what your “bottom” will be? Will it be your husband discovering your affair and leaving you? Will it be you losing your health from the stress or other forms of self-destructive behavior?
You can spare yourself the suffering of hitting bottom by imagining it today, Barbara. Let your mind move forward and imagine the worst outcomes; feel the pain as if it were already happening. Then, ask yourself if the pleasure you’re feeling is really worth those future losses.
Then, imagine a new future – one in which you act with integrity in all of your relationships; one in which you feel good about yourself because you are living true to your own values and principles; one in which the people who love you are rightfully proud of you. Imagine the difference you might make if the energy you have spent on this destructive relationship was put into contributing to others in healthy ways.
When you realize that the cost is too high for this relationship and you’re ready to change, seek help. SLAA (Sex and Love Addicts Anonymous: www.slaafws.org) is a good resource for relationship addiction, and, of course, therapy with a professional who has experience in this area.