Addiction to a Person
Having an addiction to a person is like any other addiction. All addictions inherently involve relationship. And you can have a relationship with a substance, or group of substances, or a host of other things including sex, money, power, etc.. Some people, places, and things can be powerful sources of pleasure and/or tension relief. And it’s easy to become addicted to such things.
Understanding the Dynamics of Addiction
All addictions develop in the same way. At first, our relationship with the “object” of choice is immensely satisfying. You get something you really value and want to access again. But it isn’t long before you need more of what you got before to feel the same degree of satisfaction. And before you know it, you become dependent. And despite not feeling as good, you get enough of what you crave to keep coming back.
The same dynamics apply when you’re talking about addiction to a person. And the dependency that develops is an emotional dependency. Moreover, once you succumb to emotional dependency, it’s easy to allow your relationship partner to exploit or abuse you. That’s especially true you’re still getting something out of the relationship you crave. And much like happens with a slot machine, intermittent rewards you might experience hook you. (See: In Sheep’s Clothing, pp. 92-93.) So, you stay involved despite knowing at some level that you’re subjecting yourself to abuse.
Breaking Your Addiction to a Person
The first step to overcoming any addiction is to acknowledge it. So, if your addiction is to a person you must first acknowledge the true nature of the relationship. That also means honestly reckoning with any emotional dependency. This is perhaps the hardest thing to do. Dependencies don’t develop overnight. And they’re inherently hard to shake. But the payoffs can be dramatic.
As anyone having experience with them knows, walking away from a slot machine is hard. It’s not that you simply love being fleeced. And it’s not that it’s particularly enjoyable watching your resources go down the drain. But you’ve already made an investment. And you’d like to recoup at least some of your losses. Better yet, it would be nice get just a little reward for all you’ve sacrificed. So, you stay. And you hope. But in the end, you get taken. Being beaten isn’t fun. But admitting it happened and how it happened is even less fun.
To break your addiction to a person you have to admit to yourself what hooked you. You have to know what meant so much to you that you stayed involved even when part of you was begging that you leave. You have to reckon with any emotional dependency you may have, too. And you have to appreciate that looking externally – to any person, place, or thing – to do what only you can actually do for yourself – is always a recipe for both depression and eventual heartache.
People, places, and things can’t possibly make us happy. But we can keep happy company with them. Finding our own happiness first is the key.
Here’s the link to the latest Character Matters podcast.