Wholeness Healing Today

What Do You Mean? There is No Prince Charming?

As children, we look at the magic of people getting together, making a life, complementing each other, or “saving” their loved ones. As we look realistically at relationships however, we find that there are many other “addictions” in relationships, often substituted for other addictive behaviors, and often a reflection of the cycle in our families of origin.

Addictive behavior can show signs of some obsession, some compulsion in the behaviors, some inability to manage one’s life, and some depression. The addiction can be from fantasizing about sex to the co-addicts, who get their thrill from the sex addict’s behavior. Others can include a relationship addiction or a romance addiction, which is what I want to address in this article. One obsesses about a relationship (dreaming, talking, even planning) while the other may even pursue the object of his/her intention. And through it, the fantasy about the white knight charging in and saving the princess may be the driving force behind the relationship, with no connection to the reality of the relationship.

Relationship addictions , according to Anne Wilson Schaef (Escape from Intimacy, 1989) can be broken down into 4 levels. Level I is when a person is obsessed with a relationship but avoids them. Level II is the fantasy stage, while Level III features acting out the addiction in the relationship. Level IV can include violence and death. According to Diane Zimberoff of the Wellness Institute, relationship addicts actually get their “high” from believing they are in a relationship, which may be real or imagined. They may stay in a destructive relationship, experiencing denial and delusion as morals may be compromised. Many have low self-esteem and use the relationships to get their needs met. Many actually avoid intimacy, all while claiming that is their goal. Most have trouble establishing clear and appropriate boundaries.

The relationship addict may experience feelings of unworthiness, but when he/ she is in the relationship, the impaired delusional thinking keeps them in it. Many act out of low self-esteem, thinking they have to always “have someone”, and when they are in a relationship, they work hard to convince themselves the relationship is perfect, or that they need to stay in it after it has become compromising to them.

Romance addicts live in the world of fantasy, often imagining things better than they are, rationalizing inappropriate or unacceptable behaviors, and becoming pre-occupied with finding the right mate. The impaired thinking leads to grandiosity and embellishment, which then leads to a pre-occupation, finding the “soap-opera” romance. After that, phone calls, texts and increased contact leads to more compulsive behaviors, which ultimately leads to guilt and shame.

Addictions to relationships or romance are different than being involved in healthy relationships, which begins with self-love. If a person is incapable of loving himself/herself, he/she will struggle forming healthy relationships with others. The pattern will be repeated, and the cycle of the addiction will continue until each person changes the core belief and learns to love himself/herself.

If you find yourself intrigued by the excitement and thrill of a new relationship but then become obsessed with the person, or if you only feel lovable while in a relationship, it might be a red flag that you have an addiction. If you are more drawn to the romance or stay in a relationship when it is no longer fun, you might have an addiction. If you continually feel as if you want to be taken care of or find yourself doing anything and going anywhere to look for a relationship, you might have an addiction. There are many clues and when we find ourselves not being genuine and honest, we need to seek help and step back and look at our motivations for being in relationships, our relationship with ourselves, and what we need to do to reclaim our personal integrity.

 Works Cited

Schaef, Anne Wilson, Escape From Intimacy. Harper Collins, 1989.

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  • Licensed Independent Mental Health Practitioner
    Licensed Professional Counselor
    Advanced Clinical HypnoTherapist

  • Deb England began working part-time for Wholeness Healing Center in September 2004 and began full-time in May 2005. Deb practices primarily in the Broken Bow office and one day a week in the Grand Island office. Previously she had completed her practicum and internship at Morning Star Alliance, working in the Broken Bow and Grand Island offices.


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