Beliefnet
The Celebrity Therapist

ambivWe want love, but we are afraid of it. We seek out a relationship and then sabotage it the first chance we get. We want space and when we get it we are lonely. We can’t live without a relationship and we can’t live with it. What is going on here? It is simple. We are ambivalent.

Ambivalence is the number one problem in relationships today. We are no longer bound by a social order that dictates we marry and have children. We are no longer bound by a division of labor where the man has his duties [bread winner] and we have ours [domestic bliss]. We have choices and now we are confused.

I sometimes think that this is the lost generation and that in many respects my generation had it easy. I was told to stroke a man’s ego. I was told to let him make all the decisions. I was told that I should have children. Unfortunately, I was not meant to be a housewife and mother. I was born to write which is what I am doing now. So everyone around me suffered, especially my children, as I tried to find myself. I have thus concluded that even if this generation is confused and unhappy, so was mine.

I recently wrote an article about knowing yourself and it took me a long time to discover my true identify. So my heart goes out to young people today who have so many choices they don’t know what to choose. The media tells they can have it all and they believe this. So they run themselves ragged trying to take all that life has to offer. Then they reach middle age and are unhappy with life and the choices they made. They dream about starting over again and they can’t. They take control the situation, which has always served them in the past, and try to fix everything right now.

Ambivalence is a double-edged sword. It can give you time to think things out before you make a commitment. Love addicts, who fall in love so quickly, would love ambivalence. But in the hands of a commitment phobic or a confused person it can be a nightmare.

There are no easy answers to this dilemma. One can sort through their childhood for the origins of their ambivalence. Were their parental role models ambivalent? Do the chaotic relationships in their family of origin give them an uneasy feeling when the fall in love and fall into a relationship? Do they idealize relationships because their family was so dysfunctional? Do they look for the perfect partner because their family was so imperfect?  At least one of these thing is at work. Perhaps all.

To solve this dilemma, I suggest that you research healthy relationships, get into a recovery program for love addiction and love avoidance, find someone who can love you and cherish you and then stay committed even when you think you are being smothered even when you are not.

This worked for me. I stopped idealizing unavailable men like my father. I found someone who I was attracted to but not obsessed with. I gave the relationship a chance and after a while fell in love. Today I am happily married to someone I would never have chosen for myself twenty years ago. We are a work in progress.

Sherry Gaba, LCSW, Radio Host, Certified Transformation Coach and author of the award winning book, The Law of Sobriety: Attracting Positive Energy for a Powerful Recovery and Ecourse http://trainings.wakeuprecovery.com/www.sherrygaba.com sherry@sgabatherapy.com.  Find out if you are #codependent. Take my quiz: http://sherrygaba.com/co-dependency-quiz/ 30 minute strategy session with Sherry http://sherrygaba.com/product/30-minute-strategy-session-sherry-gaba/ . Check out Sherry’s new book, The Marriage and Relationship Junkie: Kicking your Obsession.    http://amzn.to/2ymfM1p

image summit recovery today 2 image470x394 copy-3 copyJoin the 5th Annual  Recovery Today Series www.recoverytodayseries.com online conference sponsored by Soba Recovery Center.  Sherry Gaba, Editor of Recovery Today Magazine will be interviewing  20 of the greatest transformational leaders and addiction experts of our time.  Addiction does not just mean substance abuse but can mean codependency, love and sex addiction, debting, internet addiction, procrastionation and/or workaholism.  Join Sherry Gaba, LCSW and twenty transformational leaders and addiction experts  for this FREE event.  www.recoverytodayseries.com.

codepBeing addicted to love is not the same as being a sex addict, a drug addict or an alcoholic. Love addicts are drawn to people that initially cause them to feel part of a whole rather than as an isolated individual.

For a love addict being single and alone is a crisis. These are people that rely on others for their sense of identity, where the relationship becomes the focus of their lives. Needless to say, love addicts smother the partner, which only causes the partner to pull away while the love addict clings on and compounds the problem.

The other type of partner that is drawn to a love addict is a person who is completely self-centered. They may have narcissistic tendencies or have another type of personality disorder. These are often the “bad boys” of the world, seeming to do nothing but take in a relationship. Finding a partner that wants nothing to do but to give creates the perfect destructive relationship for both.

Breaking Free

Being codependent in a relationship with a partner that is abusive, that is cold, or that is constantly cheating is not a positive place to be. For the codependent love addict, they cannot break those ties if they continue to have the same thoughts about the need to be in a relationship.

By tapping into the Law of Attraction and changing how you see yourself in a relationship, it is possible to find comfort in learning to be with yourself. This is an important step before looking for a more positive partner, and it is a step that many love addicts fail to take.

Working with a therapist or counselor can help you to learn how to change your thoughts about who and what you are as well as what you deserve. Once this positive energy is flowing out into the universe, you will find codependency will disappear, allowing you to be a strong, independent person without the need to be in a relationship that is harmful just to feel a part of something.

 

Sherry Gaba, LCSW, Radio Host, Certified Transformation Coach and author of  the award winning book, The Law of Sobriety:Attracting Positive Energy for a Powerful Recovery and Ecourse http://trainings.wakeuprecovery.com/. www.sherrygaba.com sherry@sgabatherapy.com.  Find out if you are #codependent. Take my quiz.  http://sherrygaba.com/co-dependency-quiz/ 30 minute strategy session with Sherry http://sherrygaba.com/product/30-minute-strategy-session-sherry-gaba/

imagoAccording to Harville Hendrix we are attracted to our Imago–what he calls our dream partner– an image of which we carry around in our brain.

The Imago is like a puzzle. As we are growing up, every time someone significant in our lives stimulates us it becomes a piece of the puzzle–a memory. Even with our parents this can be a sensual imprint, but not always.

The most common Imago is a composite of our parents’ traits. Unfortunately our parents often lacked a healthy personality so this is what we look for when we grow up. Sometimes the Imago is based on an ideal person who is just the opposite of our dysfunctional parents, but because he  is just perfect we go looking for the perfect partner and never find him.

At the end of adolescence, we are not really sure, the last piece of the puzzle is in place and we have a picture of out Imago.

Most love addicts go searching for the Imago with a vengeance. Normal people just wait for the Imago to come along, and build a successful happy life, including high self-esteem, in the meantime.

When normal people meet their Imago they are attracted and, sometimes,  fall in love. Love Addicts go nuts. Everything is magnified.

Normal people eventually discover that their Imago needs a little bit to be desired, and seek out compatible people, assuming their Imago is not compatible.

One the other hand, love addicts get addicted to their Imago and pass up on others who might fulfill them in other ways besides the magic of l passion.

In recovery, we must do an inventory of our Imago. Put the negative things we can’t have on one side of the page, and the positive things we can keep on the other.

We must reconstruct out Imago.

The hard part is becoming attracted to our new Imago. This is difficult. It is like being told by the doctor that we can no longer eat sugar (give something up) and start eating our vegetables (adding something healthy) In time, we really do learn to love our veggies and we live happily ever after.

Attraction, which love addicts call love at first sight is not enough. Be patient and let the love grow.

I used to have a list of what I was looking for in a partner. It was all Imago stuff. I left out compatible and, most of all for me, AVAILABLE. I don’t have a list anymore. It is in God’s hands.

Sherry Gaba, LCSW, Radio Host, Certified Transformation Coach and author of  the award winning book, The Law of Sobriety:Attracting Positive Energy for a Powerful Recovery and Ecourse www.wakeuprecovery.com. www.sherrygaba.com sherry@sgabatherapy.com.  Find out if you are #codependent. Take my quiz.  http://sherrygaba.com/co-dependency-quiz/ 30 minute strategy session with Sherry http://sherrygaba.com/product/30-minute-strategy-session-sherry-gaba/