How You Know When You’re Addicted to Your Ex

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You know the relationship was toxic, but for some reason, you can’t help but miss them, pine over them, and hope for them to change. Or, you might stay in a dead-end relationship because it hurts too much to leave.

First, to clarify, when I say dead-end relationship, I mean a relationship that involves an attachment to someone who is painfully unattainable (perhaps they are emotionally unavailable, they don’t want a committed relationship, or they are already married). This doesn’t necessarily mean that this person is evil or has bad intentions, but it means you and your partner are on two completely different wavelengths and this is a chronic pattern, not a blip.

If you logically know you’re in a dead-end relationship, then why the hell is it so hard to let go of them? If this resonates, you might be addicted your ex. Here are some ways to find out.

You have a compulsive drive to remain connected to a particular person. Whether this is your ex that you were with for years, or the person you just went on a few dates with. You feel a drive to connect even if you know it’s bad for you, but can’t seem to control the urge and reaction to that urge.

You feel overwhelming panic if you sense that the connection might be threatened or if you can’t get your beloved’s attention or affection. This might cause you to react in ways that violate your own values and boundaries. You might call/text the person even though they have disrespected you or are not responding. You feel humiliated and ashamed, but you can’t seem to help but keep trying different things to make the person react and give you attention.

You feel intense withdrawal symptoms. While it’s natural to feel sad after a separation and to miss the person and the relationship, you suffer a degree of agony where you feel like you’ve completely fallen apart and the only way to feel better is to get a ‘fix’ by going back to the person. The craving overrides all sense of sensibility and rational thought. In an almost unconscious state, you’ll do whatever it takes to satiate the craving.

Beneath all these different hallmarks of addiction is a sense of incompleteness and not feeling whole, and the only way to fill that hole is to fill it with the validation of someone else. This person becomes the center of your universe in which you orbit around, and you’ll do whatever it takes, despite the negative consequences to maintain the connection.

If this describes your attachment to an ex or someone you’re dating, it may be an indicator that there are in a relationship where the addictive elements have become so intense that it’s controlling your ability to make healthy choices. The overwhelming compulsion to stay connected is coming at a cost for your longterm happiness and emotional well being. The first step is recognizing that this is an issue. The next step is learning the tools to shift your patterns.

Remember, it takes two people with unresolved issues to make a dysfunctional relationship function. Our relationship patterns follow us wherever we go. Your patterns do not change unless you do the work to change them.⁣

Photo by Dainis Graveris

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