1. Is it really possible to get “addicted” to relationships in
the same way that you’d get addicted to a substance? Why/why
Absolutely yes. While most people associate addiction with cigarettes and caffeine, relationship addiction is real. A person may obsessively think about their partner more than they do to themselves. They get unhappy or incomplete without the partner. Addiction is seen when you cannot function normally without them or looking up to your partner for a sense of fulfilment.
2. How is this kind of dependency similar/different to a
drug addiction from a brain chemistry standpoint? In other
words, what might be happening in your brain when you feel
“addicted” to relationships?
Addiction, especially substance and drugs generally overwhelm the brain leading to the production of dopamine. Similar to relationship addiction, the major high is falling in love, causing wishful thinking and hope that cause dopamine production. Oxytocin is also produced when touching and cuddling, keeping partners connected. In both, the addiction may be used by the individuals in managing depression, stress, of filling a void, perhaps from past trauma.
3. What are some common signs that
you might be “addicted” to relationships?
- Relying on the relationship for identity
- Feeling undesired or unloved
- Lack of time with friends and loved ones
- Justifying relationship abuse
- Feeling obsessed in a relationship
- Breaking up and making up quickly
4. If you suspect that
you have this problem what should you do about it? Please
provide at least 2 tips. How can a therapist help?
Take a break
If you are dissatisfied in a relationship, it means things do not go as you want. Perhaps because you do not understand your needs. Or you may be searching for a thing that cannot be gotten. But I recommend stepping back and finding out where the problem is. Get an answer to why many problems continue arising in the relationship by taking a break from it.
Start being realistic with your relationship. While a partner can be supportive and helps offer a sense of belonging and connection, not every need can be met in a relationship regardless of how committed they are. It is why you should develop your self-identity and never lose it. Again, you can strive to meet your unmet needs and understand when it is right to ask your partner for support.