Love is an integral part of any relationship. Unfortunately, for those in a relationship with an addict or narcissist, love itself can feel like an addiction. Individuals in such a relationship need to develop unhealthy coping mechanisms that mimic the behaviors commonly associated with addiction.
There is a special dynamic in a relationship with an addict or narcissist. Addicts and narcissists tend to attract people who have appropriate personalities that tolerate or enable the addict’s and narcissist’s bad behavior. Perhaps a better way to look at this is for people who are not addicted to love and relationships to leave these situations and walk away. This is in contrast to the individual who stays and tries to fix the situation or turn the behavior around.
Leaving the relationship becomes more of a challenge the longer the person invests their time, energy, and feelings in a change. As with addiction, there is often a logical or conceptual understanding of the behavioral dysfunction, but the emotional attachment to the relationship limits the ability to walk away or make a positive change
Recognizing the signs of it
One of the challenges of spotting a relationship addiction is identifying the signs that it is. Although these signs can appear relatively early in the couple’s budding relationship, they are often overlooked or denied, just as addicts can deny their behavior for short or long periods of time.
1. Lack of consistency in the relationship.
People in relationships with addicts and narcissists often have a roller coaster ride in the relationship. This is not just a rough time when the couple has differences, but a constant up and down with their time together.
Also, it’s not uncommon for the times of challenge, disappointment, and anger to far outweigh the positive times in the relationship.
2. You walk on eggshells.
Anyone can have a bad day, but if you are constantly worrying about how your behavior, conversations, or emotional state could trigger the partner, it is likely that you are addicted to being in a relationship.
Partners should be there to support one another, not for one person to receive constant support while the other is only seen as a source of support.
3. Fear of going away.
It’s hard for anyone to end a relationship. If the thought of going away causes extreme anxiety, anxiety, depression, or the feeling of being completely alone when in a relationship, then there is no longer a healthy balance.
4. Loss of self-esteem .
In a relationship with an addict or a narcissist, it’s not uncommon to feel a loss of who you are as a person. This can include questions about your values, identity, and self-worth.
The loss of self is not just internal, and the narcissist or addict contributes to these thoughts by constantly keeping the relationship in turmoil and blaming the other for the dysfunction.
5. Inability to say no.
Losing boundaries and the inability to say no is a slippery slope in relationship addiction. Behaviors and decisions that were clearly viewed as inappropriate or unhealthy prior to the relationship will be normalized during your time together.
6. Hide problems from those you love.
As with addiction, people in destructive relationships hide the true dysfunction from family members and friends. This can include leaving out details, telling false stories about the relationship, or simply avoiding these types of conversations.
As with addiction, the individual must recognize the dysfunction in the relationship in order to make a change. It is also essential to understand that correcting the dysfunction in a relationship cannot be one-sided. Both individuals must be willing to work on their problems and be there for one another in order to develop a healthy, positive, and supportive relationship for the future.