Love Addicts and Avoidants

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Couples who experience less-than-acceptable intimacy in their relationship are hardly alone. Sometimes, one partner may lean toward being a “love addict” while the other is a “love avoidant.” Being one or the other is a problem. When Addict lives with Avoidant the stage is set for real trouble.

A couple hugging on the beach

In an article on Psychology Today’s website, Alexandra Katehakis, PhD, says “Fantasy and emotional gratification play a huge role for the love addict, who can be either man or a woman. Notions of finding a soulmate, living happily ever after, being swept off one’s feet, or having one’s breath taken away are common.”

The love addict stands in contrast to the love avoidant. They try “to control and manipulate others by withholding affection, attention, and sex. He or she is not inherently cruel; rather, the love avoidant is terrified of intimacy and cannot tolerate it. He or she may crave love, but when it comes knocking, the love avoidant runs like hell.”

Of course there are gradations of behavior in everyone, and there’s nothing cut and dry about these descriptions. There can be merely tendencies that people recognize in themselves. Couples in particular would benefit by recognizing if one partner fits the general description of one type, and if the other partner seems to lean toward the other type.

To halt the cycle of dysfunction in a relationship, Katehakis says that:

  • Love addicts must learn to self-soothe and stand alone. They must take responsibility for their own happiness, and approach potential partners as companions, rather than saviors.”
  • Love avoidants must learn to express their vulnerability and allow themselves to receive affection without fear of engulfment. Instead of perceiving relationships to be an obligation, the love avoidant can eventually experience relationships as a healthy opportunity to give and receive love.”

See the full discussion of Love Addicts and Avoidants here.