Artwork: Tess Emily Rodriguez
She’s made all the mistakes, so you don’t have to… Ask Erin is a weekly advice column, in which Erin answers your burning questions about anything at all.
I think I have an addiction to my boyfriend.
I don’t know what happened to me. I m not at all able to live without seeing him or being without him. I feel totally alone when I’m not with him.
I have forsaken all my friends and mates, though he never told me to do so. It’s been seven or eight months.
He loves me, but sometimes he just treats me like an option when I’m around him. He seems to care about me less. He seems too busy and in his own world. I have done a lot for him, and I’m trying my best to do all it takes to make this relationship work. But it feels like it’s all in vain. I’m just tired of having this same feeling time and again.
I want to move on, but like a drug, I’m not able to live without him.
As a matter of fact, I have expressed my feelings and how it kills me when he ignores me. He apologizes, but he repeats the same mistake again and again.
I’m so f*cked up. Please help me.
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The good news is that you are aware that there is a problem. That’s a huge first step. And you’re correct in your assessment.
We can become addicted to people, and those relationships are always unhealthy.
I know because I have been in them, on both sides.
What you’re feeling is not love; it’s an obsession. In popular culture, there is a proliferation of messaging that makes us think that love makes us sick, and it's normalized. But is being lovesick akin to true love? I don’t think it is. The relationships I had when I felt lovesick were invariably toxic, and to be clear I was usually the toxic one.
I want you to hear this: Love can’t live in this type of relationship.
A relationship that is making you this miserable is not sustainable. And regardless of what happens with this relationship, you’ll need to address the issues here, because it’s a pattern that is likely to repeat.
My old pattern was passion, followed by fear, followed by sabotage. And self-sabotaging behavior can take many forms, like what you’re doing now. You’ve admittedly isolated yourself, you are in a pattern of not getting what you want from your boyfriend (putting aside that what you want may not be reasonable; I don’t know), and you recognize that you need help.
You must get some help. So where do you begin? First, seeking the help of a therapist would be ideal. It took a lot for me to undo years of my own destructive behaviors.
I am certain that the underlying problem did not begin in this relationship; this relationship reactivated something for you.
In addition to or in place of therapy, there are two 12-step programs I think would help. The first is Sex and Love Addicts Anonymous. This program has helped SO MANY people I know. They have meetings around the world, it’s free, and you’ll find a support network of peers who are struggling with similar issues. Another program worth looking into is CoDA (Co-Dependents Anonymous) which, like S.L.A.A., is also a 12-step program that has meetings worldwide.
As I said, that you recognize you need help is enormous. Now it’s time to do something about this. You don’t have to continue on in this relationship feeling this way. You can take actions to help yourself. Because this has little to do with your boyfriend individually, and everything to do with what’s going on with you emotionally.
The information within Ask Erin should in no way be interpreted as medical advice because I’m not a medical professional. But I am here to help — to share with you the wisdom I’ve gained after years of making mistakes. If you have a question for me about relationships, addiction, dating, friendships, depression, parenting, sex, consent, what I’m watching, what I’m reading, Amazonite, or anything at all, use the contact form below or email me: email@example.com. As always, your anonymity is golden. Lastly, I’m so excited to share with you my Ask Erin Self-Care Guide, free when you sign up for my weekly newsletter. xoxo