In the last decade, a lot has changed in the world of love addiction. Not that love addiction itself has changed. It is pretty much the same insidious disorder it always has been. What has changed is how the world looks at it. Twenty years ago, our understanding of love addiction was still emerging out of our understanding of codependency. Therefore, love addiction and codependency seemed to be one in the same. However, today we understand that this is not true. Love addiction stands alone, and codependency is only one of several underlying personality disorders. To make it perfectly clear how one love addict differs from another, here is a list:
Obsessed Love Addicts (OLAs) cannot let go, even if their partners are:
Unavailable emotionally or sexually; afraid to commit; cannot communicate;unloving;distant; abusive; controlling and dictatorial; ego-centric; selfish; or addicted to something outside the relationship (hobbies, drugs, alcohol, sex, someone else, gambling, shopping etc.)
Codependent Love Addicts (CLAs) are the most widely recognized. They fit a pretty standard profile. Most of them suffer from low self-esteem and have a certain predictable way of thinking, feeling and behaving. This means that from a place of insecurity and low self-esteem, they try desperately to hold on to the people they are addicted to using codependent behavior. This includes enabling, rescuing, caretaking, passive-aggressive controlling, and accepting neglect or abuse. In general, CLAs will do anything to “take care” of their partners in the hope that they will not leave-or that someday they will reciprocate.
Relationship Addicts (RAs), unlike other love addicts, are no longer in love with their partners but they cannot let go. Usually, they are so unhappy that the relationship is usually affecting their health, spirit and emotional well being. Even if their partner batters them, and they are in danger, they cannot let go. They are afraid of being alone. They are afraid of change. They do not want to hurt or abandon their partners. This can be described as “I hate you don’t leave me.”
Narcissistic Love Addicts (NLAs) use dominance, seduction and withholding to control their partners. Unlike codependents, who accept a lot of discomfort, narcissists won’t put up with anything that interferes with their happiness. They are self-absorbed and their low self-esteem is masked by their grandiosity. Furthermore, rather than seeming to obsess about the relationship, NLAs appear aloof and unconcerned. They do not appear to be addicted at all. Rarely do you even know that NLAs are hooked until you try to leave them. Then they will no longer be aloof and uncaring. They will panic and use anything at their disposal to hold on to the relationship-including violence. Many professionals have rejected the idea that narcissists can be love addicts. This may be because they rarely come in for treatment. However, if you have ever seen how some narcissists react to perceived or real abandonment, you will see that they are indeed “hooked.”
Ambivalent Love Addicts (ALAs suffer) from avoidant personality disorder-or what SLAA calls emotional anorexia. They don’t have a hard time letting go, they have a hard time moving forward. They desperately crave love, but at the same time they are terrified of intimacy. This combination is agonizing. ALAs come in different forms too. They are listed below.