Affective addiction, when too much love hurts

P.make Banksy’s best-known graphite (on display in Turin): the girl with her arm is facing a distant red balloon, in flight. Or we take Esther, the protagonist of Esther’s cards by Cécile Pivot (Rizzoli), who sent a question to the five anonymous members of her correspondence lab: what are you defending? But can a balloon and a question be enough to talk about emotional addiction? Maybe not. But it could be a good start if this is true there is no precise definition of this disorder.

Brooke Shields and Martin Hewit Endlessly in Love with Franco Zeffirelli, 1981 (IPA)

A pathological addiction?

Scientific studies are insufficient and dependence on the other it is not yet a true research pathology. In the latest update of the mental illness statistics manual, behavioral addictions, or new addictions such as gambling, work, sex, and shopping addiction, have found their place. Some scholars have also included the addiction to love in this classification. There is a lot to investigate. But those who suffer from it are all clear. Anxiety, possessiveness, loss of attention, morbid condition. The ground where all this is rooted is the story of our childhood, that phase in which we learn the ABC of love.

Stuck in a wrong love

“It simply came to our notice then. I was arguing with my partner, insulting me because I had dared to confess his betrayal to someone. He only cared that our image of the perfect partner was not broken in the eyes of others. At that moment I realized that our relationship was wrongthat forgiving betrayal and moving on only for fear of a breakup would be nonsense. I left him that afternoon and from that moment on I looked at the past clearly and I understood that mine was pure emotional dependence that I had not noticed for years. Chiara S. works in an advertising agency, is 42 years old and lives in Bergamo. “In those days I hated it, because in general we always tend to blame the daffodil, but in the end I hated myself. I had deceived myself and maybe I had deceived him too. I knew from the beginning that it was a bad relationship, but I kept stubborn. I got away with it myself. Or rather, with the help of friends and also of some suitors who have increased my self-esteem “, he continues.

Change modes

I went from being a good “wife” model to a more active life in which I rediscovered my passions.. Today I have a satisfying relationship but the mechanism of emotional dependence is subtle and always maintained. I often find myself suffering from exaggerated jealousy, a craze for control. But I’m working on it. When I am about to give up something nice to me, to spend more time with him, I stop and change my mind. Because you don’t have to do everything in pairs. When that story ended I met a girl by chance, she became my friend, she is a psychotherapist. It helped me realize where all this was coming from. I grew up with an absent father and a distracted mother. Focused on how she was managing her depression problems, she hugged me little, laughed little with me. I fell asleep in the evening looking for one of her last hugs that never came. Growing his attention has been criticism, censorship, coldness. I recently realized what that hunger for love at the time was like today. I have lived convinced that if I give so much love I have the right to demand it of myself, to feel worthy of love. I’m working on it. When anxiety strikes me, I breathe and ask myself, “What makes you really happy? Who makes you happy?”. And I try to give priority to that “, he concludes.

Narcissist in love: how to recognize it and avoid it

Narcissist in love: how to recognize it and avoid it

Affective dependence is widespread

Questions come back and slide from one end to the other: growing up with little love or growing up with too much love. Too much love (Sperling & Kupfer) is the title of a new essay as well as the name of the author’s Facebook page Ameya Gabriella Canovi, psychologist and doctor, as well as co-authoring a podcast on the subject with Selvaggia Lucarelli (signing the preface to the essay). The podcast was downloaded by more than 1.5 million listeners for one reason only: Emotional dependence is a widespread pathology. Not only women suffer from it, on the contrary. The problem is the diversity of educational styles for which women grow up with a low self-image on an emotional level and are therefore much more likely to become emotionally dependent. The goal achieved is autonomy in work and in practical life. The emotional stumbling block remains.

“My patients are mostly well-educated women in the profession, in their 30s and 40s. Contrary to many people’s beliefs, Emotional dependence does not correlate with low education or social status. It is a distorted relationship that involves many people. The void is the number one enemy of my patients. My job with them is to make friends with this fear, it’s an invitation to liveto learn to stay in fallow, like a fallow field. In my face-to-face courses I use different techniques of awareness, including meditation. This helps. Do you know why? People are basically afraid of meeting themselves, “he said. The fear of becoming an adult when you were not loved as a child is compounded by the fear of becoming too loving a father.: intrusive, unable to support their children by keeping their distance even when they are wrong, unable to practice a healthy emotional education.

Don’t merge, be different

What are the limits to keep in mind in love? “Borders are invisible and permanent. If we are not aware of who I am and who you are, we will have big problems. There is the space of the self, the space of the you and the space of the us. They are different, they have to work and breathe clearly. It is very clear to me that fusion is not healthy. The fusion is typical of mother-son day. In lovecontrary to what is praised in the poems, they are both supposed to be adults and able to recognize themselves and the other not in an indistinct drop.. The perception of one’s own limits and those of others in a relationship is not only necessary, it is essential if we want it to work. Call at all hours, wait for the other person to do, for example, be the way I want them, wait for them to share everything. I could make an endless list. Let’s see if we are invading or sharing “, explains Canovi, a former emotional employee.

It is important to focus on self-esteem

And if anyone thinks that isolation in the pandemic has accelerated the spread of the disorder, the answer is no: it has nothing to do with it. Addiction doesn’t come, or someone else doesn’t. “It is a mode of affection that derives from an experience in the early stages of childhood. There are situations or people that trigger the emergence of an emotional dependency that can remain dormant for years. Until an encounter that takes us back to that old wound. I think of the story of my patient Inari, which I told in the book. She is a Finnish woman, so devoted and dependent that she accompanied her husband in the rituals of betrayal.. According to him. And she was waiting for him in the car, or in the hotel lobby, suffering and swallowing tears of pain and humiliation. He did it to control him and to deceive himself that he was maintaining the bond. Everything, I do everything for you. But don’t leave me alone, “he said.

Don’t make me feel like a worthless person, basically. Thus, as long as we ask for the presence of the other to feel complete, as we cultivate romantic illusions convinced that our relationship is the only possible source of happiness, other questions await answer. “How do you relate to your creativity?”we read in Canovi’s essay. Most patients remain silent. Not being encouraged as a child to dare and trust your creative source makes you run out of self-esteem, overwhelmed with guilt, unable to make a decision for our own good and give up on who deserves it.

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Elizabeth Strout in her latest book Ai Guillem! (Einaudi) speaks of certain pains with these words: “A pain that makes you feel so alone; that’s what makes it terrible, in my opinion. It’s like sliding down the facade of a very long glass building while no one sees you. While we think that a red balloon will save us, from the vacuum ».

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