Most often, addictions are like knots that are held tightly together. Somewhere along the way, unmet needs and unrecognized emotions have become linked together with the behavior that you’re trying to overcome. Sex and love addictions are no exception to this rule. Whether it be the need for intimacy or the fear of intimacy, the need to prove your worthiness to yourself or others, or the need to reconcile something from your past, an addictive behavior is how this can be played out in your adult life.
Many times, these needs are so covered up by layers of chaos, shame, and external risks that they go unnoticed. Serial dating, multiple affairs, compulsive porn use, and obsessive romantic infatuation all become reactive ways of avoiding the painful realizations that come from recognizing these unmet needs. This takes bravery and personal responsibility of the problems in your life. It also takes acceptance of what you are and are not currently able to engage in. For example, having been part of a relationships that seemed to be missing something doesn’t necessarily mean that you should seek out another relationship. It means taking the time to reassess what works for you, what doesn’t, and understanding both sides of this.
These links take time to untangle. Some are readily on the surface, waiting to be examined. Others, such as past familial relationships and buried emotions can take some time to pull out. These deeper knots should not be rushed to untie, and are best handled with the help of a professional. They can be quite painful to open up, and it’s best to have support when doing so.
It’s seldom that an any addictive behavior is only about the behavior itself. Sex and love addiction are no exception to this. They really aren’t about sex and love at all. Instead, they are more about old emotional wounds, a lack of acceptance of how you feel, and unmet, interpersonal needs. Thus, managing the behavior and avoiding relapse are often contingent on identifying and understanding these tightly bound knots in your life.