Love is something everyone longs for. It’s normal for one to want — even crave — a close, loving relationship. However, some people with an insecure attachment style are prone to wanting to be in a dating relationship, even if it is unhealthy, abusive, or toxic. Although relationship addiction isn’t recognized as an official diagnosis, mental health experts and researchers generally agree on a few key signs that suggest cause for concern in a dating relationship.
Here are some signs of relationship addiction to be watching out for.
1. Base self-worth on being in a relationship.
Someone who is insecure may constantly look for another person to affirm and validate them. They think a dating relationship will give reassurance but being so desperate to be in a relationship may lead them to a toxic person. Real worth and identity are found in knowing Christ and God’s Word.
2. Have no life outside of the relationship.
Someone with a relationship addiction spends less time on their own personal interests, hobbies, goals, social life, work, etc. When the focus is only on the relationship and there’s no life outside of it, the relationship is not balanced. A balanced relationship involves both partners having interests outside the relationship.
3. Lie or conceal the extent of their partner’s toxic behavior from others.
Why would anyone want to hide unhealthy behavior—such as disrespect, abuse, betrayal, etc.—about their partner from others? For the most part, it may be that they have shame. But to heal and end this cycle of relationship addiction, expose the truth to the light.
“We stuff shame down deep rather than bring it into the light. Thus, we sow seeds of self-loathing – seeds that will eventually give birth to the pain that launches the whole cycle all over again.”—Steve Arterburn
4. Disregard advice from family, friends, or others who point out problems with the relationship.
When others say the relationship is unhealthy or needs to end, and they don’t consider the advice, this may indicate a relationship addiction. When it comes to dating, it’s essential to get input from others—if they are worried about the relationship, listen, and consider what they have to say. God’s Word says, “…there is safety in having many advisers” (Proverbs 11:14b, NLT).
5. Continue in the relationship despite the negative impact on their mental, physical, or spiritual health.
Has the relationship had a positive effect on mental health, or has it had negative effect? If it has been negative, communicate concerns, set boundaries, and break off the relationship if it continues. But what if they have difficulty breaking off the relationship because they continue to obsess over the person or become fixated on them? Then this could be a sign of relationship addiction.
6. Mistake intensity in a relationship with intimacy.
The highs and lows of a relationship may draw a person to get hooked on relationship addiction. It can be easy to mistake intensity for intimacy, but they are very different. True emotional intimacy takes time. But intensity is different because it often happens when individuals get caught up in fantasy, whirlwind romance, drama, or physical attraction. One example is having an affair.
“If you’re having an affair, it’s easy for you to mistake intensity with intimacy.”—Milan Yerkovich
7. Remain in a toxic relationship because they think it’s better to be in an unhealthy relationship than to be alone.
At the root of relationship addiction is unhealed childhood needs. Being abandoned, neglected, or abused in childhood often leads to an insecure attachment style. Don’t allow a fear of being alone or abandoned to be the reason to stay in an unsafe relationship. End the cycle by seeking help from a New Life Counselor or Coach.
“Be strong enough to say ‘no more.”—Dr. Sheri Keffer
To learn more about relationship addiction, please call us at 800-639-5433 to find a counselor or coach. It’s not too late to form healthy relationships. Call us today.
by Kimberlee Bousman