Beyond Blue

How do you know when you are in an addictive relationship (or an unhealthy, emotional affair)? Here are more excerpts from Halpern that will help you determine that.

There is probably an addictive element in every love relationship, and that, in itself, need not be bad.
What makes a particular relationships an addiction is when these little addictive “I need you” elements expand to become the controlling force in your attachment. This creates an inner coercion that deprives you of several essential freedoms: the freedom to be your best self in a relationship, the freedom to love the other person through choice and caring commitment rather than being compelled by your own dependence, and the freedom to choose whether to stay with the other person or to leave.
If you are deeply unhappy in a love relationship, and yet you remain in it, how can you determine whether your decision is based on preference and commitment or if you are addicted? There are several signs of addiction that you can look for in yourself:
1. Even though your objective judgment (and perhaps the judgment of others) tells you that the relationship is bad for you and you cannot expect any improvement, you take not effective steps to break it.
2. You give yourself reasons for staying in it that do not hold water or that are not really strong enough to balance the negatives in the relationship.
3. When you think about ending the relationship, you feel dread, even terror, and you cling to it even harder.

4. When you take steps to end it, you suffer acute withdrawal symptoms, including physical distress, that can only be relieved by reestablishing contact.
5. When the relationship is really over (or you fantasize that it has ended), you feel the lostness, aloneness, and emptiness of a personal eternally exiled–often followed or even accompanied by a feeling of liberation.
If most of these signs are there, you can be quite certain that you are in a relationship where the addictive elements have become so large and so controlling that they destroy your capacity to direct your own life. And, in the same way an alcoholic must begin the journey to sobriety by admitting “I am an alcoholic,” you must begin with the recognition that you are indeed hooked. That is the essential first step in understanding the basis of your addiction, in seeing how it works, and in becoming free enough of it so that you can decide whether you wish to work to improve the relationship, to accept it as it is, or, if you can neither improve it nor accept it, to leave it.

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