Obsessing over an abuser is an all-consuming and compulsive preoccupation. The emotion is often accompanied by symptoms of anxiety and a resistance to alternative viewpoints. The abusers hook is usually a whirlwind courtship where excitement is in the air as romance moves swiftly. The thrill of the unexpected is mood altering. It’s fast, it’s stimulating, and it feels alive. When sexual intimacy is added the speed and intensity of the emotions become greater. The relationship passion provides a false intimacy which is then mistaken for genuine closeness. The swift and strong emotions overwhelm an intended victims perceptions. Anything that interferes with the picture of the new love as “ideal” is denied. The relationship focus is on how the other person is making one feel and not on who the other person really is. The thinking goes: “Since he makes me feel wonderful, he must be wonderful.” The partner’s pleasing characteristics are amplified and overemphasized. Any hint of trouble gets ignored. When the person makes you feel terrific it’s easy not to see the red flags about someone’s past relationships, emotional problems, or character.
The codependent personality is the perfect match for an abuser. Codependent people tend to have an anxious attachment style due to emotionally unavailable, dismissing, and rejecting caregivers growing up. The need for a love attachment can be so extreme that the person believes they can’t live without an abusive partner. This opens the door to being treated poorly and excessive dependency. Attachment style with our parent serves as a model for adult experiences in intimate relationships. Children that are rejected by a caregiver fear abandonment more than others. When unmet dependency needs arise the person can become extremely clingy and unable to contain anxiety. This anxiety becomes the foundation for people pleasing to get attention from others and to quiet the excessive worry about rejection. Rejected adult children often experience pervasive feelings of sadness. Some therapists call it the “Smiling depression.” Generally unsatisfied with their intimate relationships, they feel constantly unappreciated, and become preoccupied with their abusive partners. This way of intimate relating becomes the backdrop for attracting a sick partner.
Where the person with an anxious attachment style cares obsessively, the abusive person doesn’t seem to care as much. This behavior triggers fear of abandonment for the codependent. The rejecting partner wavers between being distant and cut-off emotionally, to being critical and controlling. They are reluctant to disclose, have a negative view of others, and are mistrustful of their partners. They are less invested in partnerships and feel less grief or distress when a relationship ends. They just don’t seem to care as much and tend to get tired of being nice shortly into a courtship. Suddenly the end of the honeymoon begins usually over an insignificant incident. Charm turns to rage and the partner is subjected to an unreasonable attack on his or her character. Withdrawal symptoms begin when getting the “fix” or desired relationship satisfaction is denied. The anxious and abusive match find each other to complete unresolved dependency needs from childhood. Each is attracted to the other because of familiar painful traits.
Dealing with feelings from the past can stir up anger over old hurts and grief for the child that had to endure them. Acknowledging and dealing with these feelings is essential to diminishing their control over your love life and resolving abusive relationship addiction. When we don’t feel worthy of love we look to relationships to “fix” us and the addictive cycle of looking for relief in others begins. With self-compassion we choose to be happy and learn to build healthy relationships. Seeing your happiness as dependent upon another person is where many enter the world of relationship addiction. Long-term happy partnerships begin with people who are already happy before they meet.
Tips for Resolving Abusive Relationship Addiction
- Invest in your well-being by learning about attachment styles in addictive codependent relationships.
- Give yourself a break from intimate relationships until you are comfortable being alone.
- Commit on deep levels to practice loving actions towards yourself. Trust that the change taking place is good.
- Give yourself permission to seek help with a therapist when you are ready to change.
- Build endurance to fully grieve your lost childhood, so you can feel joy and happiness.
- Show up for yourself. Repeat over and over: “I am worthy,” “Sad feelings won’t last forever,” “I will make it out of this,” “I’m doing the best I can do.”
- Stop blaming yourself for family problems over which you do not have control.
- Take responsibility for your relationship history. Accept the lessons and learn from relationship pain so you don’t repeat it. Ask yourself, “What is the gift” from this relationship?
- Spend time each morning focused on forgiving your partners/parents for not being able to love you. Let go of resentments so you can be free from the desire to hurt them. Move on to a new freedom and happiness.
Thank you for reading this post. I’ve dedicated my personal and professional life to the importance of non-violence and self-compassion by teaching from my experience. As a result, I’ve learned a lot about what it takes to create a decent relationship. And, as I learn and grow, I teach self-compassion and give advice I use myself, in the hopes that it helps you to improve your own life.