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Is Her Partner A Love Addict?

I’ve been dating someone for a month and half—we met via Instagram and have mutual IRL friends so it felt a little safer and more organic than online dating. I’m 39, he’s 46. So far everything has been great...good communication, honesty, vulnerability. He likes to make plans for the future—he’s taking me on a birthday weekend trip next month. Today he revealed that an old therapist advised him to go to a love addicts meeting after a bad breakup. He said he went a few times and it was fine, but not really his thing. This makes me worried he has some deeper issues and is just attracted to the “high” of the beginning (though he’s had some LTRs). I’ve dated a few guys who I felt like lost interest when they got to know the “real me” after the fantasy wore off, so this brings up some stuff for me around my historic inability to make good choices. I have spent the last year in therapy working on it, but I’m spooked. Too much of a red flag? Or worth bringing up? If so, how?

The issue here for me isn’t that his old therapist suggested he go to a love addicts anonymous meeting. It’s that he told you his old therapist suggested he attend a love addicts anonymous meeting.

Why would he do that? That’s what I think you should focus on.

Before we get into this, let’s talk about what love addiction entails.

There are four known love addiction dynamics: Obsessive, Codependent, Narcissistic and Avoidant. It’s possible for someone to have co-disorders ie NPD and love addiction, but they are not necessarily interchangeable.

The love addict develops a dependency on their partner or relationships in general. The reason behind the dependency differs with each dynamic. An addict within any of these dynamics can use sex to build or maintain unhealthy bonds with their partner.

According to Psychology Today, there is no consensus as to how love addiction is classified or diagnosed. It’s not currently included in the DSM-5 and it is not to be conflated with sex addiction. However, some sources believe there’s enough information to classify it as a disorder. So, as you can see, there’s very little known about love additiction beyond that it’s very real but also under-researched.

From what you say, it doesn’t sound like your boyfriend is exhibiting signs of extreme behavior. Since the therapist made the request after he’d recently split from an ex she may have been making a simple suggestion for him to attend a love addicts meeting to help him detach. Just understand that someone can have difficulty letting go of a relationship and not be a love addict.

But back to my original point…

I’m not sure what the context was of the conversation where he told you about his therapist’s recommendation. If this was something he offered unprompted I would return to the conversation with him and ask why he told you and what he thought was the reason his therapist suggested he attend those meetings. You have a right to know this. As they say on Law & Order, “He opened the door.” He opened the door to that conversation. He can’t close it now.

I’ve dated a few guys who I felt like lost interest when they got to know the “real me” after the fantasy wore off,

If they lost interest once the honeymoon phase ended, that’s not necessarily about you at all. Some people are just addicted (either literally or figuratively) to the intense rush one feels in the beginning of a relationship. That’s when the oxytocin is really flowing. It’s not that they lost interest in you so much as their oxytocin levels dropped. Unless you’ve been given similar reasons related to your behavior from each previous partner for not wanting to continue the relationship, don’t assume you’re the problem.

Also remember: just because relationships didn’t go long-term doesn’t mean you have a “historic inability to make good choices.” Again, unless your partners show a pattern of maladaptive or toxic behavior, it very likely could be things just didn’t work out. 🤷‍♀️🤷

For this conversation, wait until you’re with him in person (or Facetime) so you can see his facial expressions and body-language. Then simply tell him you were curious about his admission about his therapist suggesting a love addicts meeting. The fact that he went to them is not to be ignored here. He was obviously struggling internally with something that compelled him to attend those meetings. That’s why you need to approach this with sensitivity and compassion.

If he gets nervous or shuts down, take the lead and make yourself vulnerable. Don’t throw yourself down on the sword completely or anything. You don’t have to get into your relationship history. You just need to tell him that you like him and are concerned that you’re going to invest yourself emotionally and be blindsided. This is the kind of communication that builds intimacy. Let him know he has a safe space with you to discuss this stuff. That’s what you would want, right?

Before you do anything, understand that you’re going to have to take him at his word that you have nothing to worry about. If you think you’re going to be tempted to push for honesty you need to address that urge so it doesn’t impair your ability to have an open dialogue with him.

The thing is, most of us have deeper issues. The idea that people come to relationships free of them is a fallacy that leads many of us to walk away from other-wise functional relationships. I think you’re overlooking something huge: he goes to therapy. I don’t know a lot of men that do that, let alone that would admit it. The fact he told you tells me he trusts you. That’s a good thing!

This sounds like it could be a healthy situation. Like any relationship, you have to stay as objective as possible and remove the rose-colored glasses. Take it as it comes, as they say.

Let me know how things work out.

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