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Are you addicted to your partner?

No, we aren’t talking about that phase where people are head-over-heels in love and obsessed with each other in a very positive way. That is normal and healthy. Instead, we are here to talk about a very unhealthy relationship dynamic that makes it impossible to leave the relationship even though it might be destroying you inside because you are addicted to your partner.

Have you fallen prey to it?

Intermittent reinforcement in relationships

This dynamic was described in depth by Teal Swan in one of her Ask Teal videos titled “Why you can’t leave the relationship“.

In short, intermittent reinforcement is when you are rewarded for a behavior in a random, unpredictable way. Imagine how confusing it would be if you got a very positive reaction from your partner (let’s assume it’s a he) when you gave him a box of chocolates and a negative reaction after giving him the very same box of chocolates weeks later. How can someone come to hate something so quickly?

But how do you get addicted to another person? It isn’t that simple, I must admit. Imagine a guy used to treat you like a princess. That made you feel so special and connected to him.

However, things changed and he makes you feel crappy instead. It’s so bad you want to break up. You tell him so. Suddenly, he goes back to acting like in the past and that fills you with joy and expectation because you crave the way he used to make you feel.

That’s how you get addicted. By adopting a behavior that makes you feel good, your partner can easily manipulate you. And by doing it in an unpredictable fashion, he can get you addicted to him. After all, you know he isn’t all bad and that things are gonna go back to feeling good eventually. Except that your partner might be using that to keep you trapped in the relationship.

What are you trying to avoid?

At the root of every addiction lies something you are trying to avoid. That something is likely to be exactly what you feel when things are going bad between the two of you. Is it loneliness? Is it lack of belonging? Is it feeling undeserving of love?

If you are addicted to someone and being manipulated by this person into staying with them, you are in an abusive relationship. As hard as it might sound, you’d be better off without them. Surround yourself with friends that can offer exactly what you are trying to gain indirectly through this relationship and cut the cord.

You will thank me and yourself later.

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