When we talk about love addiction and love avoidance, we may be inclined to assume that the female is the addict and the male is the avoidant. And, truth be told, this is usually the case. Love addicts and love avoidance share the same underlying fear – the fear of being abandoned. However, in the case of the love addict, this fear is conscious. In the case of both afflictions, early childhood trauma plays a significant role. Childhood trauma results from falsely empowering abuse or disempowering abuse; the child is either assigned superfluous responsibilities, or the child is essentially shamed into passive silence. Society has a lot to do with the type of trauma that each respective gender undergoes. Young girls are raised to believe that men hold the power; men are providers and protectors, and women need men in order to survive. Young boys are raised to believe that women are subservient; women were made to be dominated, and it is their purpose to serve the needs of the men in their lives.
Disempowerment and False Empowerment
Because of this, women are more prone to disempowering abuse, and men are more prone to false empowerment. An because of THIS, women are more likely to become love addicted, and men are more likely to fall into the pattern of love avoidance. However, this is not always the case. Sometimes, women are raised to believe that it is their job to fill the roll of caretaker. Perhaps a young woman is raised by a single, alcoholic father. She is forced to care for him, and develops the core belief that woman must take care of men – that men are weak and incapable. When a child fulfills the role of caretaker, enmeshment is liable to occur. Emotional intimacy is viewed as a job or a chore, and the love avoidant is born.
Sometimes, men are raised to believe that they are unworthy and inadequate. Perhaps a young man is raised by an emotionally manipulative mother and a stoic, non-emotive father. His mother manipulates him into believing that without her constant assistance, he will be entirely incapacitated. He deeply desires her constant affection – he believes that he needs it in order to survive. Thus, the love addict is born. When he searches for a mate later on in life, he will unwittingly attract women who are incapable of authentic intimate expression. In other words, he will attract love avoidant women. And in turn, love avoidant women will attract love addicted men.
And the addicted-avoidant cycle of obsession and repulsion begins.
Men and Love Addiction
The pervasive myth that love addiction is limited to women and sex addiction is limited to men prevents many men from acknowledging their true, underlying issues. Men can be love addicted, just as women can be sex addicted. Unfortunately, because social and psychological stigmas have limited research on male love addiction, it can be quite difficult for men afflicted with this specific disorder to acquire the help they need. Social stereotypes pertaining to masculinity and emotional vulnerability have tainted the perspectives of many mental health communities, leading male love addiction in the dark. Of course, men are just as susceptible to insecure attachment during childhood than women. When the emotional needs of a male are not met during infancy or early adolescence, he will likely undergo insecure attachment with his parents or primary caregivers. Later on in life, this insecure attachment will translate to significant issues within interpersonal functioning (the development and maintenance of healthy relationships). Yet, while women are encouraged to undergo healing through emotional openness, men are encouraged to keep quiet about their early trauma – stifle emotional pain, and carry on as expected. This leads to unresolved, underlying issues… issues that will often translate into addictive disorders, such as love addiction.
Fortunately, more research is being conducted on men and love addiction, and more treatment options are becoming available as a direct result. We at Next Chapter treat love addiction as a primary disorder. We understand that addictive disorders do not discriminate, despite societal conditioning pertaining to stereotyped gender roles. Our male-excusive program of trauma and addiction recovery focuses on the lasting imprints of early insecure attachment, and the impacts that early traumas have on current relationships. For more information, please contact us today.