I’m in Love With Mr. Wrong

July 9th, 2010 by Nina Atwood

Dear Nina: I have fallen in love with someone who thinks he’s in love with someone else. I still want to hang on. I’ve let myself fall in love with him, and I feel desperate to keep him in my life in some way even though I know it’s unhealthy. How can I break this hold?  – Julie

Julie: The key words in your question are “desperate” and “unhealthy,” both of which indicate that you are crossing the line into what is referred to as love addiction*. This is basically a relationship in which you cannot get your needs met and you feel unable to move on to a better relationship or to change the dynamics of the current one. The price for love addiction, if not intervened in quickly, is quite steep, and may lead to:

  • A repetitive cycle of feeling hopeful, struggling to get what you want, pain, anger and desperation when you don’t, and resignation or hopelessness
  • The escalation of this cycle, so that your highs and lows are more and more dramatic, leading to feelings of being out of control of your own life
  • Medicating the pain of the relationship through alcohol, drugs, spending, promiscuity with other partners, or working too much
  • Plummeting self-esteem and feelings of low self-worth
  • Depression and anxiety which worsen over time
  • Loss of self, such that your happiness hinges on how well the relationship is going

You are vulnerable to love addiction if:

  • You have a history of low self-esteem
  • You have a history of substance abuse or other addictions
  • You believe that your current partner is your one and only chance for true love
  • You believe that you can change a non-committal person’s mind by just “hanging on” or loving them more
  • You have a tendency to center your life around another person

Addictive relationships almost always begin with one person wanting it significantly more than the other. There’s an imbalance of emotional energy: You are putting in more than you’re receiving, and your partner is getting a free ride. Remember that the person who loves the least has the most power in a romantic relationship. This is a no-win situation for you. You can begin with a simple affirmation of the truth: “I’m in love with someone who’s not in love with me” and “I am powerless to change him or his feelings.”

The path to recovery from love addiction begins with a commitment: To yourself, to be your own best friend, to treat yourself with kindness and respect, to expect nothing less from the people you are close to, and to be willing to end a relationship if it is unhealthy for you, no matter how strong the attraction. Once you make this commitment to yourself, seek any and all support that you can find. Join a counseling group, attend SLA (Sex & Love Addicts Anonymous) meetings, read every book on love addiction that you can get your hands on, and practice taking care of yourself first.

*See Chapter Fourteen in “Be Your Own Dating Service: A Step-by-Step Guide to Finding and Maintaining Healthy Relationships” for more information on love addiction, its origins and the path to recovery.

Entry Filed under: Advice for Women,Ask the Singlescoach®,Dating,Personal Growth,Relationships

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