Borderline Personality tendencies, codependency, and love addition are self-destructive behavioral patterns. Each personality seeks approval from others through painful, compulsive, dependent patterns of behavior. A sense of self is lost and idealization of others is manifested while they look for safety, self-worth, and identity. This articles embraces the characteristics of all three and relates it to the cycle of addiction.
Everyone embraces some type of cycle of addition, whether it be the way you towel-off after a shower or grocery shop. Regardless of the activity, the ritual involves a pattern of thoughts, habits, set of behaviors, use, and guilt and shame that repeats over time.
There are four parts to the cycle of addiction. The first stage is preoccupation, the second is ritual, the third is acting out, and the fourth phase is guilt and shame.
For the purposes of relationships, codependency and love addiction will be discussed. During the first stage thoughts begin to preoccupy themselves with a lover. Too much time, attention, and attraction is generated toward their imago. The imago is the image we place on our partner who mirrors our original caretakers. The psychological term for this is transference. The image feels good because it is familiar; like eating macaroni and cheese. The person is like comfort food that warms your insides and makes you feel so good.
The intense attraction is due to an unconscious drive to heal and resolve childhood wounds. This overwhelming state of infatuation is part of the first stage of addiction; preoccupation. During this phase, the love addict feels high as parental fantasies are triggered and thoughts of loneliness, emptiness, and not mattering diminish. Thoughts, time, and energy are preoccupied with their partner. The majority of the day is thinking of ways to hold onto them, bring them closer, and love them unconditionally. Power and presence beyond oneself is given to their partner. Any sense of spiritually becomes impaired as a grandiose persona is transferred to their image.
One’s relation to family, friends, and personal care begin to change during the second phase of addiction. This stage is called ritual. Thoughts, feelings, and behavior around the partner become compulsive as one loses all sense of self. Control is given solely to the spouse. The love addict is dependent on them for their self-worth. Neediness and helplessness is enacted as trust and insight are placed within their partner and out-weighed by their own. The love addict is incapable of making decisions on their own due to their loss of their own identity. Over time, career, other relationships, and personal livelihood are diminished.
The love addict is in denial and refuses to open their eyes to the reality of their false, fantasy love. The codependent is unable to acknowledge their partner’s defensive wall, inability to deeply connect, and love their true being. The codependent relationship creates cohesiveness and enmeshment as the love addict takes on their partner’s morals and values and blurs the lines of healthy boundaries. The relationship is viewed through a filtered willfulness of fantasy. It continues between tremendous cycles of intense passion and extreme anger. The sense of excitement in the extremes of emotions deepens attachment to the point of obsessiveness. This is mistaken for true love.
The third period is acting out physically and mentally. Negative consequences of lost identity, irresponsible behavior, and diminishing life conditions are overlooked. Symptoms of loneliness, despair, and self-hatred continue in a downward spiral of intolerable circumstances. All self-worth is lost and major depression sets-in.
This fourth stage is guilt and shame. Feelings of being stuck as if the love addict cannot cope on their own. They feel as if they must rely on their partner to move forward. The guilt, shame, internalized anger and resentment builds until the pain is so great that a small glimpse of awareness begins to develop. Denial is slowly lifted as light is shed upon their partner’s defenses, emotional unavailability, controlling, and manipulating behavior. Further consciousness is observed in their struggle at work, isolation from family and friends, and diminishing life.
In this stage, the love addict feels like a failure, is hopeless, and cannot bare the reality of their new found consciousness. Consequently they fall deeper into depression. Denial sets in again to lighten the load of pain. Denial of their own feelings, thoughts, and of their partner’s emotional unavailability, distance, and prevailing defenses.
The pain is too great to bare so the cycle begins again. The borderline obsesses again about their partner as if they will save them from their misery. The codependent is even more dependent as they stay in the relationship, prolonging the cycle of addiction.
Usually the borderline personality, codependent, love addict develops from an alcoholic family who are narcissistic, self-centered, and emotionally distant. They yearn to have connections and intimate relationships yet continue to replay the cat and mouse chase.
Childhood longings and rage at abandonment, neglect, and emotional abuse from parents lead to internalizing thoughts of being bad. The child splits the image of his desire internalizing it as bad and places a good internal object-image onto their caretakers.
If a child’s needs aren’t met they continually split parts of themselves onto their parents. As adults, they have an internalized image they are bad, worthless, and inadequate. They gravitate toward partner’s who replicate their parents and place the externalized fantasy image of good parts onto their partner; ultimately giving them too much power and control.
The more we become aware of our internal drives, the more power and control we have of our thoughts, feelings, actions, and choices. Understanding how one’s personal cycle of addiction originated can then begin to find ways of healing. The goal is to feel whole while having the capacity to give and take, be alone, and individualized.