What Is Relationship Addiction and How Does It Affect Women?
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Most women love romance—the hearts, flowers, and romantic walks on the beach appeal to our emotions. However, when it comes to relationships, too many women feel a compulsive need to be with someone, even if that relationship is unhealthy. Others are simply addicted to the high of falling in love, even if those relationships are also harmful. What is relationship addiction, and how does it affect women?

Why Women Need Somebody to Love

Whereas most men are initially attracted to physical connection and chemistry, women typically seek an emotional connection. Yet most women carry around a lot of emotional baggage from trauma or other experiences that affect their self-worth. These things can be uncomfortable, so they look to outside sources to make them happy. Being alone is simply too painful.

Having someone to love is not a negative desire; in fact, human beings inherently want to love and be loved. For many women, though, being unhealthy emotionally means that their desire for relationships comes from an unhealthy place. This mindset can even become compulsive, leaving a woman to feel like she needs someone to love to be complete.

The Need for Love and the Need for Self-Esteem

A woman’s need for love is directly related to lower self-esteem. There are many reasons that a woman could have low self-esteem, including:

  • Male-dominated gender bias in culture
  • Being abused verbally, physically, sexually, or otherwise
  • Suffering trauma, including childhood trauma
  • Being bullied online or in-person
  • Body and self-image issues, especially from the media
  • A higher prevalence of depression amongst women
  • Chronic health issues
  • Emotional neglect or abandonment by parents or caregivers

Many women experience multiple factors that lead to poor self-esteem, making it difficult to overcome and causing long-term emotional damage. Because so many of the causes of low self-esteem are related to human interaction, their self-esteem issues become a compulsion for love or relationships.

The Codependency Factor

Women are innately loving and nurturing as a gender. They long to care for others and offer emotional and physical support. While these are notable traits and necessary to the human condition, a woman may become codependent with low self-esteem. Her need for approval creates relationships in which she enables someone with unhealthy behaviors.

Codependent women will seek out partners who are dominant, controlling, abusive, or have an addiction. Her relationship with a partner like this is dependent upon being subject to control or abuse. Many women will want to “fix” their “broken” partner, take care of them, or help hide their partner’s negative behaviors for them. A codependent woman may also enable a partner by giving them money, sex, or purchasing their substances for them, even if these things go against her morals. She needs her relationship so badly that she is willing to do whatever it takes to keep it.

Addicted to Love, Addicted to Substances

Falling in love creates higher than average dopamine levels in the brain. The phrase “love is a drug” is not very far off because the chemical reaction of falling in love can affect the reward pathways in the brain in similar ways as substances do. Women who feel addicted to love may find relationships and then break them off just to find a new relationship and get that “high” of falling in love again. Again, this hides her feelings of worthiness, as her seeking love covers up her desire to have a healthy, lasting relationship.

Whether a woman is addicted to love or relationships because of low self-esteem, codependency, or the feeling of falling in love, there is a direct correlation between relationship addiction and substance abuse. Women use substances to cope with their low self-esteem or the negative consequences of their love and relationship choices and can develop an addiction to drugs or alcohol as well. Another example is a woman with drug or alcohol addiction who uses love or relationships as a replacement addiction. Despite appearing to be sober from substances, having another addiction puts you in danger of a drug or alcohol relapse.

Standing on My Own: Self-Love in Healing

As you heal from substance abuse, your self-esteem will also heal, and you will learn to love yourself. Self-love can be a powerful influence throughout your life, but one of the ways it can be particularly helpful to you is to help you feel comfortable in your own skin. Being at peace with yourself allows you to be happy on your own, not dependent upon a relationship for your happiness.

What is relationship addiction, and how does it affect women? Women naturally want to nurture others but are highly susceptible to losing self-esteem due to trauma and other experiences. This dynamic can lead to relationship addiction and substance abuse. Finding self-love allows you to heal and be confident on your own. At The Ho Tai Way – Recovery For Women, rebuilding your self-esteem is at the heart of our programs. We create a serene, peaceful sanctuary for your healing from both relationship and substance addictions at our residential treatment facility. We use education to help you develop self-awareness and motivation to heal your mind, body, and spirit. We are located in beautiful, sunny Southern California, between the balmy breezes of the ocean and the beautiful nearby mountains. We want you to have peace with yourself and be still on your own. Please contact us today at (714) 581-3974 to begin your treatment for addiction.