Beliefnet
The Celebrity Therapist

phone-1889401_960_720You can’t watch anything on TV these days without seeing an ad for a dating app. The selling point for most of them seems to be that they’re more scientific about making a match or the people who use them are more serious about dating—all leading to some version of, “We’ll make sure you get married and live happily ever after.”

If you’re a marriage or relationship addict, this is wrong for you in so many ways. Dating apps reinforce all the ideas you need to get away from.

The first is that you always need to be dating, with the goal of getting married. These apps stay in business by reinforcing social stereotypes that people need to be paired up to be happy, and that dating and marriage must be everyone’s ultimate goal. In real life, you can be happy alone or miserable in a relationship. Or it could be the other way around. Happiness does not depend on pairing up.

The second problem is the idea of “happily ever after.” That’s a fantasy. And if there’s one thing marriage addicts need to stop fantasizing about, it’s that the perfect partner will sweep them up into the perfect marriage so they can live happily ever after. Real-life couples have happy times and tough times, times when they want to be together every moment and times when a little goes a long way. They know they will never get everything they need in life from just one relationship.

Having unrealistic expectations about a partner is a recipe for disappointment and disaster. No one can save you or turn around your life by being perfect for you. You’re responsible for your own life, and only you can make it great or make it miserable—or somewhere on that wide spectrum in between where most of us live.

That hot but sensitive guy or cute but no-nonsense woman in the dating app commercial does not hold the key to your happiness. You do. But dating apps keep tempting you to believe otherwise.

Since marriage can be addicting, let’s consider an example using a more well-known addiction—gambling. If you fantasize that being rich is the only way to be happy, and that the best way to get rich is to play casino slot machines, you’re going to spend all your free time and all your money playing slot machines, becoming poor and unfulfilled and never actually being happy. That’s time you could have spent actually working to earn some money, and energy you could have invested in figuring out what you’re good at and passionate about to make a successful career for yourself.

Likewise, if you keep playing the dating app slot machine, you’re going to invest all your time and energy chasing a fantasy relationship, rather than figuring out what’s really going to make you happy, and then going about getting it.

Sherry Gaba, LCSW is a 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. You can take her quiz to find out if you are co-dependent or sign up for a 30 minute strategy session with Sherry. Check out Sherry’s new book The Marriage and Relationship Junkie: Kicking Your Obsession.

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lessWe all tend to pick partners who reflect the vision we have of ourselves and our world. Unfortunately, that means marriage junkies end up being attracted to partners who remind them of their dysfunctional family relationships, where they never got what they needed. It’s ironic, in a way, because while they’re searching for someone to be their everything, they end up settling for much, much less.

Here are some of the reasons why relationship addicts settle for relationships that just don’t give them what they need.

  • Denial. Denial of reality (who are partner really is, who we truly are, whether we are actually happy in the relationship) keeps us deluding ourselves about our partner and ourselves. We see only what we want to see, and explain away the rest.
  • Illusions. We believe we can change people into who we want them to be. We assume they will somehow behave differently with us or we can make them behave differently. We might convince ourselves that once we’re married, they will miraculously become the person we long for them to be.
  • Low self-esteem. Good self-esteem is a result of empathic and nurturing parenting, but if we grow up in a family where our needs are not met, validated, or acknowledged, we feel invisible and that our needs don’t count. That can result in feelings of unworthiness and not being good enough because we have been invalidated and misunderstood.
  • Shame. Underneath shame are deep feelings of self-deprecation and inadequacy. We feel unworthy, unlovable, and disconnected from ourselves, therefore, others. When we develop low self-esteem that results from shame, we end up sabotaging our relationships with controlling, rescuing, and/or people-pleasing behaviors.
  • Dependence. This unhealthy attachment to another person is not the same as a healthy connection with someone who is dependable. In essence, we cannot recognize our wholeness and completeness, so instead we enter into relationships as half a person—someone who feels incomplete without a partner.
  • Emptiness. This feeling is a result of growing up in a family where our need for nurturing and empathy is not met. If our basic need for attachment is not met, the resulting feeling of abandonment sets us up for depression, anxiety, chronic loneliness and isolation—all aspects of emptiness or a feeling of nothingness.
  • Fear of abandonment and rejection. Missing out on early bonding with a primary caregiver can cause extreme fear of abandonment leading to a child being parentified—taking on responsibilities way beyond what they are developmentally able to take on. When these children become adults, they continue the abandonment cycle by either having relationships with people who are emotionally unavailable or by avoiding relationships entirely—thereby avoiding the threat of rejection.

When we aren’t honest about what motivates us, we end up settling for less every time. How many women do you know who fantasize about the wedding day versus the actual marriage? If you can see, their priorities are way off. A wedding is just a day, but a marriage should be a lifetime.

Sherry Gaba, LCSW is a 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. You can take her quiz to find out if you are co-dependent or sign up for a 30 minute strategy session with Sherry. Check out Sherry’s new book The Marriage and Relationship Junkie: Kicking Your Obsession.

butterfliesThe way you think and act invites who and what you will bring into your life. We’ve all experienced that. For example, if in your core you truly do not believe you deserve a healthy relationship, but continue to go on dates hoping to meet “the one,” you are subconsciously putting out a message that you are not deserving of what you desire—and you won’t get it. On the other hand, if you believe healthy love is on its way and you project that confidence out in the world, you have a much better chance of making it so.

This is the time to review what messages you received about relationships when you were growing up. Did your parents talk about love, or only about responsibility? Did they do what they should do, or what their hearts told them to do? Were they stifled as a married couple, or did they grow in their relationship?

Our parents’ marriage is often the template for our own relationships. We believe that’s what love and marriage look like. If our parents grew together and deepened their love, that’s a great template to follow. But marriage addicts typically came from families where their parents never truly followed their own hearts. Often, they stayed together because of social conventions. Are you attracting partners who mirror your parents’ relationship because that’s what you believe relationships look like?

What you truly believe is possible, is what you are worthy of, if what your life will give you. Do you block love by the messages you tell yourself? Do you say out loud that you want to find love, but internally tell yourself it will never happen for you? Mixed messages will never get you what you want.

Start living as if you already have love in your life. When you expect things to be different, you will start attracting different energy—and different people. There is always space and time to reinvent yourself. Align yourself with people, places, and things that resonate with love, hopefulness, and joy. You never know who you will meet hanging around good and joyful people.

There is nothing wrong with envisioning what your life might feel like when you find that healthy partner. It is the desperate neediness that you must have someone that creates negative energy. Turn desperation into knowing and certainty that the right partner is just around the corner. Express gratitude that the right kind of love for you—the kind you truly deserve and desire—is on its way.

The greatest place you can start is having deep compassion from where you have been and accepting exactly where you are. What’s important in your life and what is no longer serving you? Get rid of the activities, thoughts and feelings that are filling you with negativity. Be open, believe, and expect to receive. This is how you become the person you wish to attract.

Sherry Gaba, LCSW is a 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. You can take her quiz to find out if you are co-dependent or sign up for a 30 minute strategy session with Sherry. Check out Sherry’s new book The Marriage and Relationship Junkie: Kicking Your Obsession.