Addicted to Love: Love Addiction

I chatted in my last post about an addiction to unavailable men. I had no idea in turning a phrase that is normally used to describe substance abuse, that I was referring to a true affliction around which many people (mostly women) have to work a 12-step program to be free. I learned that love addiction is not about true “love” but romance and attraction, that it is often characterized by an aversion to “nice” people, falling “in love” with someone you’ve met online and not in person, longing for someone who has no idea about your feelings or who will never reciprocate them (unrequited love), and other fantasy-type relationships. Basically it’s an escape from reality. I confess I have suffered in all these categories and had no idea it was a disease!

I’ve always longed for the man who will take me away from it all rather than one who will become part of my life. When people say you have to get to know someone on their home turf, meet their families, find out about their hobbies and work, that just sounded so boring. I realize that’s the fantasy aspect of the affliction. I was relieved to discover there is a name for these horrible feelings around my failed love life and a reason why I keep going back to the same types of men. It’s the insanity that Einstein talked about in doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result. Before I had the awareness of what I was doing, I was powerless to stop it. Now I see the reality of the situation and can learn how to change it.

I’ve already picked up new habits, like do not give more than I get hoping he will reciprocate. Actions speak louder than words (pay attention to what he does, not what he says). Stand by your boundaries (I started giving out my landline so he doesn’t have the option to text). I always laughed at the title of the book by Robin Norwood, “Women Who Love Too Much” but now it turns out I am one of them. I have to read this book to discover what is going on with me!

It also turns out that fearfully abstaining from sex as I have is a form of anorexia – withholding from yourself the thing you want out of fear that you will binge if you have even a little bit. It’s an unhealthy form of self-control. That doesn’t change my desire to remain celibate but it does give me something to consider. If you avoid something out of fear, that is markedly different than staying away while you engage in self-reflection and personal growth. I plan to get going on the latter!

Unavailable men and the longing for Daddy

Bella from Dateless in Dallas left a helpful comment on my last post about my unavailable man: it’s best to stay away from him because I deserve better. In my mind I know that, but my heart says something different. I have been working on letting him go (even though I never really had him) and every time I do he writes to me and throws me off kilter once again. This time he pleaded, “come back to me”.

When I’m feeling unsure I wait at least one day and preferably three before taking action. I waited about 36 hours and then I sent him an honest email but I sense my own cowardice in leaving the door open for him and also a dangerous addiction to unavailable men. I am consistently attracted to men who are unable or unwilling to give themselves to me completely and it is something I need to work on if I am going to move forward into the healthy relationship I desire and deserve.

I realize part of my affliction is a fear of commitment on my part. I get to blame him for not being available but in reality it is me ¬†avoiding commitment by choosing these types of men. I confess I find unavailable men more attractive and more of ¬†a “turn on” to me than men who give me the time and attention I say I crave.

Relationship expert Dr. Patricia Allen says a woman’s attraction to unavailable men stems from her “longing for Daddy”. In other words, women who grew up with fathers who were emotionally unavailable are used to that feeling of longing for a man and not really having him. It feels like home even though it doesn’t feel good. That was a lightbulb moment for me, hearing that explanation, but not enough to curb my habit, obviously.

I’m sure there are many books written on the topic of addiction to unavailable men and I think it’s time I dove in. It is a season of self-awareness for me and it’s time to figure out why I choose men who don’t choose me or who only give me a part of themselves.

Published in: on March 8, 2012 at 7:26 pm  Comments (3)  

Are you attracted to unavailable men?

I have been away for a while and am touched to return to many lovely comments on my last post in which I wrote I have met a compatible man: one who has all the qualities I desire and who makes me feel like no one else. I have been working on myself relentlessly over the past year-and-a-half because I know that being your best and most authentic self is the way to attract someone worthwhile (and, hey, it’s the only way to be regardless of your intention).

After all my work, I attracted in a man who is everything I wanted – I dreamed him and he came true.

Although I adore him, I believe this man is unavailable. Do you know what I mean by unavailable? He may be married. He may be a workaholic. He may be a CIA agent. Whatever the reason, he has failed to call me on more than one occasion and then apologized after about an “emergency” that prevented him from connecting at the promised time. The first time was taking a colleague to the hospital and the second was unspecified. I sense red flags and my newly-honed intuition is saying ‘stop’.

I’ve learned over the past year or so that if something unfortunate happens to me I must have had something to do with it. What is my part in this situation? I believe, lovely readers, that I was enjoying the feelings I was experiencing so much that I did not ask the questions I needed to ask and I ignored the red flags that would indicate this man is taken….either by another woman or his high-achieving job (perhaps both).

I’ve also learned (from this experience specifically) that actions speak louder than words. I was in love with the things he was saying to me and the way he made me feel, but in reality, his actions did not back those up. He is still contacting me and I am still remaining open…but I’m also open to other men and know that I must stand by my boundaries and stay true to my new standards: no unavailable men and no secrets.