Societal gender stereotyping has been receiving a lot of recent press attention, what with the controversy surrounding transgendered individuals, horrific hate crimes, and potential for the first female president of the United States. But even with all of the media attention, the issue persists on an excessive scale. When it comes to the addiction treatment world, societal gender stereotypes consistently prove to be a major issue. Take, for example, love addiction. One insidious, gender-related myth that has somehow made its way to the world of addiction treatment (and popular culture) is that men suffer from sex addiction, and women suffer from love addiction. Because of the pervasiveness of this misconception, many men who suffer from love addiction are left untreated. The truth is – love addiction and sex addiction often go hand-in-hand, regardless of gender. And men can be love addicts – in fact, many men are.
Men and Love Addiction
Psychologists and therapists frequently find that the deep-seated roots of addictive disorders originally sprouted from childhood attachment issues. An attachment disorder, in turn, stems from a harsh lack of nurturing throughout infancy – relationships with early caregivers were insecure, resulting in an array of developmental and interpersonal issues later on in life. Addicted individuals may begin reaching for things like sex, love, and chemical substances in order to fill a void that was created during infancy or early adolescence. Unresolved emotional distresses are known to play a major role in the development of all kinds of addictive disorders, as are genetic predisposition and environmental circumstance. Of course, both women and men are highly susceptible to the environmental and genetic conditions of their families of origin, and both genders are liable to be emotionally and cognitively shaped by harsh dysfunction early on in life. However, society places different expectations on men and women, and men are exceedingly less likely to receive the therapeutic support they need in order to overcome such early patterns of dysfunction and emotional neglect.
Breaking Through Gender Stereotypes
In general, in our current society, men are taught from an early age to withhold their feelings – to appear unaffected, strong, and stoic. (Of course, this is not always the case – these specific societal expectations are a commonly occurring standard.) This specific message of emotional fortitude is at odds with the realistic needs and desires of adult males, who generally crave love and affection just as much as women do. We’re all human, after all. As human beings, we require a certain level of emotional intimacy – we all do. When men become love addicted, they are subconsciously attempting to have these needs met – these needs that likely did not exclusively spring from dysfunction in childhood, but also from restrictive social conditioning. Addictive disorders such as love addiction tend to develop from a combination of related issues. For this reason, seeking professional therapeutic care is absolutely essential.
Treating Male Love Addiction
It is healthy for men to express emotion, and it is normal for men to desire emotional intimacy – and it is just as common for men to develop love addiction as it is for women. We at Next Chapter work with many men who grapple with love addiction issues, and we strongly promote the healthy emotional expression of males. Through intensive therapy, we work to break through restrictive gender stereotypes, and heal our clients on a deep emotional level. For more information on love addiction in men, please read our blog on Common Indicators of Male Love Addiction, or feel free to contact us today.