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The Addictive Nature of Relationship

When people think of addictions or compulsions they often think of overt things like alcohol, drugs, smoking, food, sex/porn, gambling, or various phobias. In fact, when I first began training to be a Living Inquiries facilitator, I didn’t consider myself to have any addictions, or compulsions. With a little looking, however, I uncovered what seemed like some subtle/insignificant compulsions. With a little more looking, I found that those subtle/insignificant compulsions were actually taking up quite a bit of my attention! I then coined a joke; I was actually too controlling of a person to even have those “big” addictions like alcohol or smoking, and that instead perhaps my life was made up of a series of compulsions- all designed to give me the illusion that I was in control of my life. One compulsion I’ve been studying for nearly 6 months is the compulsion to be in intimate sexual relationship. My study began right as my husband and I decided to separate, and a new relationship started to form. In telling a wise friend and life mentor   about this new relationship, he said to me, “Please Stop.” Huh?!?!? I didn’t get it. “More please?” I replied. “It’s a drug,” he replied. “I really want you to get to know the you way beneath this.” Phew. I didn’t really know what he meant, but I could feel that he was onto something. That was when the study began, and when I started to realize that I was addicted to being in sexual relationship. There was a familial feel to it. Safety. As the new relationship shifted back to friendship, I experienced a new sense of spaciousness that came from not having a partner to focus on as I had done for the previous 17 years. In this newly opened space came both immense pleasure, and pain. Debilitating thoughts and intense sensations arose that I labeled fear, and sadness. Using inquiry and embodied rest I journeyed through rotating stories and beliefs, many of them tied to childhood experiences that I had not yet unwound. Feeling utterly alone as a child was one of my biggest sources of trauma, around which I had built a lot of conditioning to protect myself from feeling. There was layer after of layer of feeling unsafe, unloved and simply unable to live without being in relationship for fear of being alone. The various awakenings experienced were no match for the conditioning and trauma that lived in the space of my body. IMG_3645 I was raised believing that I needed a man to take care of me, and on subconscious levels I believed this, even though rationally speaking I would swear it’s absurd. All the studying of feminism, philosophy, and psychology in the world couldn’t have saved me from subconscious belief systems and biological programming which helped form various stories: needing relationship to prove sense of worth, to feel special, to be important, to be loved, to be safe. Being in a relationship distracted me from coming face to face with my various deficiency stories, and the life I created through intimate relationships kept me from fully diving into my ultimate fear of being alone. Nothing could have prepared me for the intense feelings of wanting to be held and touched, that almost seemed to command me to be in relationship or have sex. Over the last six months I’ve learned to hug myself, and love myself, and be with myself in deeper ways than I had ever imagined. I have been sharing my journey over the last several months with many people, and have been met with much love and gratitude. It turns out that fear of being alone keeps many people’s compulsions and addictions quite alive! I’ve known this from the work I’ve done with clients. But I see even more how prevalent it is, in very subtle and often unnoticeable ways. I see how debilitating this fear is for people- keeping them from their dreams, and from living their lives fully. Some people I’ve talked to have never allowed themselves to admit their fears, even to themselves. In hearing my own story, they feel safe to be honest with their own stories[1], and in doing so open up to their buried hopes and dreams.[2] IMG_2904 Thank goodness I have great friends who support my new monogamous, celibate, and committed relationship with myself. Thank goodness I have people to keep pointing out my subtle and overt patterning. Lastly, thank goodness for inquiry and embodied rest which has provided me with the space and tools to safety explore the depths of my emotions, beliefs/stories, and intense bodily sensations. My journey of being committed to myself continues. Who knows how long it will last. For now, I am not pulled to enter into relationship, or commanded to not engage in relationship, which to me feels like a new level of freedom. Thank goodness for my friend’s words: “I really want you to get to know you way beneath this.” My journey continues as I’m still exploring and getting to know all the various aspects of me.[3]   [1] Everyone has their own journey. Safely inquiring into old trauma and conditioning can happen regardless of the circumstances, or content. Feel free to contact me to learn more about embodied rest or inquiry. [2] Interestingly enough, fear of intimacy/fear of rejection issues can be on the other side of the same coin, particularly with people who have been single and never think they’ll find a partner. You might even hear them say, “Oh, I like being alone!”, as they’d rather be alone than face rejection/be vulnerable. But, that’s an issue for another blog post. [3] If you’re interested in exploring your own addiction or compulsion, please contact me at  

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