Many relationships have unease, and an underlying tension when one person in the relationship wants more time together and the other partner feels they need more space.
Perhaps you have been in a situation where you wanted more attention – maybe you were feeling particularly hurt and you really needed your partners love and affection but they weren’t there to provide it. This leaves you feeling abandoned, rejected and unloved.
Or perhaps you have been in a situation where you wanted more space – where you felt smothered by your partner, or felt like you just couldn’t live up to your partner’s expectations of a relationship. You feel ashamed and guilty because you can’t provide the love your partner is asking for, and blame yourself for causing your partner emotional pain.
When our insecurities prevail we tend to play out one of these two dynamics known as the Love Addict or the Love Avoidant, and these two dynamics are very likely to attract each other into a love relationship.
Love Addicts tend to idolise love, they believe in ‘perfect love’, ‘totally connected love’ and wish to spend as much time as possible with a partner.
Love Avoidants believe in having space to themselves, not connecting fully to a partner, and retaining their own identity.
When you read on further in this article, you will understand why these opposites attract…
Naturally there are differing levels of Love Addicts and Love Avoidants to the mild and the extreme, but the defining criteria is that Love Addicts and Love Avoidants have fears that jeopardise and sabotage their love relationships.
The Love Addict feels ‘needy’, and when spending time away from the relationship struggles to feel whole and full. The Love Addict, if their partner takes space in the relationship, feels like the bond and the connection will be broken, that the relationship will be at risk, and creates unhealthy expectations in the relationship because of this fear.
The Love Avoidant feels ‘smothered’ in relationships and feels that the ‘neediness’ of others is a threat to their own energy reserves and well-being, and pulls away from their partner and diminishes the relationship as a result.
Why the Love Struggle?
Every human being does want love and connection, it’s a biological desire – yet what can cause people to want ‘too much’ love connection or ‘not enough’?
The Love Addict is likely to come from a family background of neglect, feeling unsupported and unloved.
The Love Avoidant is likely to have originated from a family where he or she felt enmeshed, controlled and was unable to have his or her own space and boundaries.
The Love Addicts primary fear is I’m not lovable and therefore he or she will strive to receive love, because the Love Addict is terrified of not being good enough to be loved, and being abandoned.
The Love Avoidant’s primary fear is I’ll be damaged and therefore he or she will strive to retain their own energy, because the Love Avoidant is terrified of being enmeshed with and violated.
If we look deeper, the truth is the Love Addict and the Love Avoidant actually mirror each other.
Check this out…it’s fascinating….
The Love Addict’s deepest fear is intimacy and connection hence why their neediness drives others away and prevents them being in relationships with people they truly love.
If a Love Addict secures another Love Addict they will lose attraction, lose feelings of love and find all sorts of reasons not to remain in a relationship with this person. The relationship will feel bland, dull, lacking, and will leave them feeling ‘there must be more out there’.
This is why they fall madly in love with less available people, people that won’t really connect.
The Love Avoidant’s deepest fear is being abandoned hence why they don’t full connect in to relationships, which minimises the possibility of being truly in love, and then left and hurt.
If a Love Avoidant meets another Love Avoidant they will very quickly vacate the relationship – luke-warm people don’t interest them.
This is why they enter relationships with people who will strive to create connection and commitment in the relationship. The people that are the least likely to abandon.
Both the Love Addicts and Love Avoidant’s core issue is: I’m not worthy of being loved.
They actually have the same inner dysfunction that simply manifests itself in different ways.
This is why they can actually be a team and heal each other….but let’s look at the most likely unconscious results first.
When Love Addicts and Love Avoidants get together, at first it may seem to be a match made in heaven. Within the honeymoon period the Love Addict gets energy and attention, and the Love Avoidant, because the Love Addict is on his or her best behaviour, feels that they can retain their independence.
But this does not last for long…
Sooner rather than later the Love Avoidant drops their intensity of attention and starts returning to their ‘outside’ life, and the Love Addict will start expressing what he or she is not getting in the relationship. This will be expressed as feelings of rejection, criticism to the Love Avoidant and statements that create feelings of violation to the Love Avoidant.
The Love Avoidant will feel attacked, and will retreat in order to protect themselves, even further away from the connection in the relationship.
This of course makes the Love Addict react even more. The more he or she pushes for connection the less he or she will receive.
The problem is Love Addicts express their needs to receive love, affection, sex and attention inappropriately and Love Avoidants feel guilty about expressing their needs about requiring space and time out of the relationship to energise themselves.
Deep down the Love Addict knows he or she is ‘needy’, feels ashamed about this and feels wrong about speaking up about his or her needs. So, invariably what occurs is the Love Addict bottles, and then blows about their needs in accusatory ways, or becomes passive aggressive regarding their expectations.
Deep down the Love Avoidant knows he or she doesn’t grant as much love as he or she could, feels ashamed about this and feels wrong about disconnected from the partner in order to do his or her own thing. Therefore the Love Avoidant does not set boundaries, is worried about upsetting the Love Addict, does not express his or her need for space away from the relationship, or just takes it without checking in, and then states that he or she feels criticised, smothered and violated.
The Need To Meet In The Middle
Both the Love Addict and the Love Avoidant need to understand and work towards a healthier model of relationship.
The Love Addict may have an idealised version of love filled with constant declarations of love, incredible passion, extreme togetherness and the high of being in love 24 /7. This ideal is clearly not realistic, as it is impossible to depend on another person being a constant source of romance, reciprocating gushing text messages, sex, attention and constant ‘I love you’ affirmations every day.
The truth is the Love Addict needs to come to terms with loving themselves enough that they can be solid and whole enough to endure times and days when their partner is not supplying them with ‘I love you’ reminders, and be happy to co-exist in harmony knowing their partner loves them without having to be supplied constant proof.
The Love Addict needs to honour the value of gaining passion and self-fulfilling goals outside of the relationship, in order to not be a constant source of pressure on their partner.
After all, every Love Addict who has partnered with an even more demanding Love Addict knows how taxing that is.
The Love Avoidant may have a minimalised view of what a relationship requires in order for it to be fulfilling. The Love Avoidant may believe co-habitating, minimal sex and just ‘getting along’ is enough. This clearly is not a realistic view of a love relationship and is more like a business arrangement. It is impossible to expect another partner will endure such a relationship without adequate contribution.
The truth is the Love Avoidant needs to trust themselves and a love partner enough to express and grant love. They need to work on expressions of connection, giving affection and granting supplies of love to their partner.
The Love Avoidant needs to honour the value of granting passion and energy to the relationship, in order to create a bond of love and connection. As every Love Avoidant knows when they get with an even more disconnected Love Avoidant how unfulfilling it is to be with someone who doesn’t.
Be very aware most relationships that last past the initial chemical rush, will be comprised of a Love Addict and a Love Avoidant combination somewhere on the scale – regardless of how independent or connected you think this person is within the first few days, weeks or months.
So it’s important to be honest – very honest, so that you can set up a dynamic where both people own what they need to work on, and meet healthily in the middle.
If you really get this right, you will also be able to understand and support each other.
Better still you will both be able to teach and heal each other.
If you don’t– the cracks may burst open, and the relationship can become irreparable and explode – totally.
STEP 1 – Confront yourself
Establish whether you are the Love Addict or the Love Avoidant
STEP 2 – Understand and embrace what a healthy relationship REALLY is.
It’s important to get very clear on what a healthy relationship is. Healthy relationships are inter-dependent they are not co-dependent or solely independent.
Healthy relationships are expressed in this beautiful proverb from The Prophet by Kahlil Gibran
You were born together, and together you shall be forevermore.
You shall be together when the white wings of death scatter your days.
Ay, you shall be together even in the silent memory of God.
But let there be spaces in your togetherness,
And let the winds of the heavens dance between you.
Interdependent relationships have the ability to shift from dependence to independence.
Therefore time spent together and time spent apart is the healthiest combination.
STEP 3 – Establish the boundaries that honour time spent apart.
The Love Addict needs to gain an interest, mission or pursuit that energies their soul. Something that they can call their own.
The Love Avoidant probably already has this.
Then when the Love Avoidant is getting energy outside of the relationship, the Love Addict can also do so.
Then both partners can share their interests and be happy that the other person is experiencing personal fulfilment. We bring our best, happiest and most generous selves to our relationship when we are doing the things that nurture and inspire us individually.
This reduces the risk of feeling unfulfilled personally and putting pressure on your partner to fix that for you.
STEP 4 – Establish the boundaries that honour time spent together.
The Love Avoidant needs to commit to date nights, intimate dinners and romantic time with his or her partner.
The Love Addict will relish this.
During these times the Love Avoidant needs to ignore other distractions and be fully present for his or her partner.
Then both partners can connect, feel into and be present for each other in an intimate, loving sense.
STEP 5 – Confront your anxieties.
If you are the Love Addict you will be nervous about granting space, and you will feel like your partner will disconnect, leave you, lose interest in you or pull away even further.
This is not true if you are in a loving relationship that can grow. What is more likely to occur is that by granting your partner space and not being threatened or envious of his or her interests, he or she will naturally want to share and connect with you more.
If you are the Love Avoidant you will be naturally nervous about connecting, even more so if you have felt criticised, smothered or had your personal passions criticised. By granting specialised attention to your partner you will find that he or she will support you more, and allow you to be yourself, which will grant you even more confidence to love and connect.
It’s important to grant your partner feedback about these experiences, and to both be honest about your opposing roles that when blended together can work beautifully.
You can understand and support each other, which can only be done with self-honesty first, otherwise the anxieties will be projected on to the other partner, and rather than asking for help and support – and the cry for help could become a damaging attack.
The healthy model is accepting and honouring each other’s love needs, which in essence is healthy interdependency.
Both of you can create loving independence and dependence and share both experiences joyously. Together you have much to teach, share and enjoy with each other by expanding out of your previous comfort zones.
The Love Addict will enjoy the relief of becoming more self-fulfilled and independent, as well as enjoy receiving love, affection and attention.
The Love Avoidant will enjoy the warmth, safety and connection of becoming more dependent, as well as enjoying being able to retain his or her own energy and interests.
The Love Addict will then believe he or she is lovable and will accept real love.
The Love Avoidant will then believe he or she can love fully without being abandoned.
Now that is a match made in heaven.
STEP 6 – If this doesn’t work
Seek therapy singularly or together with someone who really understands the dynamics of what is taking place. If extreme issues are occurring, you may be in relationship with a personality disordered person who is not capable of taking responsibility for their own wounds or dynamics, and therefore can’t engage in the relationship as a team player.
If you are with a partner who has the capacity to pathologically lie, and / or act maliciously with intent to harm without conscience, then this is not the person to commit to working on a relationship with.
I felt really good about this article when I was writing it. I hope it provides you with some help toward manifesting and growing a fulfilling love relationship.
After healing from narcissistic abuse, I realised I had developed fears of connecting and was afraid that if I did become enmeshed in a relationship that went bad I may not be able to get myself out again. This can compromise relationships if you are not able to fully commit, love, give and contribute.
Are you a Love Addict or a Love Avoidant? Or have you been both? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.
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