As infants we become attached to our primary caretaker. We call it bonding. As we begin to form our own identity, we begin to detach. We call this individuation. If we do not do this, then we never grow up and become our own person—the individual we were meant to be. We end up with an attachment disorder.

Unexpected detachment is life-changing. If detachment happens gradually in a loving environment, it is hardly noticed. If it happens too quickly or prematurely, it has consequences for our future lives. If it happens over and over again you develop attachment dysregulation.

Many people with attachment issues become love addicts. They dream about growing up and living happily ever after and they become obsessed with making this happen. Unfortunately, because of their attachment dysregulation, they attract the wrong type of person. They choose the wrong type of person.

When a relationship does not work out love addicts go into withdrawal. To avoid the pain of withdrawal, they may  turn to other things that they can become attached to and end up with multiple addictions

Withdrawal is a mental, physical, and spiritual crisis. The mental crisis is denial. When we break through our denial, we often lack the willingness to move on. If we win this battle we move on to a physical tearing apart of our body which is often agonizing. Once we get past this, we find ourselves feeling like we did when we were torn apart from the love we needed as children.

All of this is called the “dark night of the soul.” It is a curse and a blessing. It is very painful, but it is also an opportunity to grow into a healthy adult capable of finding and loving another healthy adult. As it turns out,  we were looking for the right thing, we were just doing it with the wrong people and before we had matured enough to know what we were doing.

To treat withdrawal here are some guidelines . . .

  1. Reach out for help. Withdrawal is worse when you try to do it alone. Most people will never get through withdrawal without help.
  2. Help includes treatment facilities, 12-Step support groups, and individual therapy. Make sure you reach out to people who understand addiction and the underlying issues.
  3. Find a healthy distraction like activities and hobbies. Do not isolate at home.
  4. Begin to deal with the underlying issues like depression, anxiety and loneliness.
  5. Stay optimistic despite the inclination to be cynical about the whole thing.
  6. Avoid self-pity and instead show yourself a healthy amount of sympathy and self-concern.
  7. Stay the course no matter how long it takes.
  8. Avoid experiences and substances that might turn into another addiction.
  9. Pamper yourself.
  10. Make note of your progress and celebrate.

Sherry Gaba helps singles navigate the dating process to find the love of their lives. Take her quiz to find out if you’re a love addict, sign up for a 30-minute strategy session, or learn more about how to get over a break up. She maintains a private practice in Westlake Village, and is a sought after online dating and relationship coach. For more information visit www.sherrygaba.com or sign up today for Sherry’s online group coaching program. Buy her books The Marriage and Relationship or Infinite Recovery

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