Relationship Addiction

Low self-esteem and past trauma can lead to harmful behaviors

Defining Relationship Addiction

Relationship addiction, or love addiction, is described as one person “loving” another person with an obsessive intensity that is not in the best interest of either party. Relationship addicts tend to become involved in brief, intense romantic relationships. If they are involved in a long-term relationship, it is usually characterized by many highs and lows. In some cases, love addicts completely withdraw from romantic or sexual relationships to avoid feelings of vulnerability.

When Relationships Become Harmful

Relationship addiction is a painful, compulsive, and addictive disorder that negatively impacts not only the addict but the object of their obsession. Relationship addicts tend to focus a tremendous amount of energy on romantic relationships — whether they are involved in one, looking for the next one, or avoiding one altogether. The causes of relationship addiction are usually rooted in childhood trauma. Individuals lacking self-esteem or who had less-than-nurturing childhoods may grow up looking for constant reassurance from others. Relationship addicts also tend to enjoy the feeling of excitement that being “in love” brings.

Common qualities of someone with relationship addiction:

  • An exaggerated sense of responsibility for others’ actions
  • A tendency to do more than necessary on a regular basis
  • A tendency to become hurt when people don’t recognize their efforts
  • An unhealthy dependence on relationships
  • An extreme need for approval and recognition
  • Feeling guilty when being assertive
  • A compelling need for control
  • A lack of trust in self and/or others
  • Fear of being abandoned or alone
  • Difficulty identifying feelings
  • Problems with intimacy/boundaries
  • Difficulty making decisions

Our Approach to Relationship Addiction

Men who are addicted to relationships tend to have low self-esteem and require an outside source to feel better. They don’t know how to “be themselves,” and some use compulsive behavior like indiscriminate sexual activity as a way to feel better. Relationship addiction is often rooted in a person’s childhood. That’s why treatment at Gentle Path involves not just addressing current harmful behaviors but also looking at the past. Exploration into early childhood issues and their relationship to current destructive behavior patterns help uncover root issues so patients can begin to take steps toward experiencing healthy, fulfilling relationships.

What Does a Healthy Relationship Really Look Like? - Gentle Path at The Meadows

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What Does a Healthy Relationship Really Look Like?

If you’ve had a troubled relationship history, you may start to wonder if a good relationship is possible for you. You might think that there are no “good ones” out there anymore, or you may sink into self-doubt, wondering what is wrong with you. But running down the rabbit trail of blame and despair is unproductive, and it can be harmful to you — especially if you’re in recovery.

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Recovery is Possible

Gentle Path is a safe, nurturing community composed of peers where your journey of recovery will include not just dealing with outward behaviors but examining the underlying causes. The goal is to gain the courage to face difficult issues (including grief and loss), heal from emotional trauma, and become accountable for your feelings, behaviors, and recovery.


Taking that first step is hard, but there’s a new life of health and hope just waiting for you. The next chapter of your life can begin now, but only you can change your story.

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