Sometimes women wonder if they are addicted to their partner. Claire described her feelings in this way.
I don’t know what is wrong with me. I can’t seem to stop thinking about him. I know he has hurt me but I just keep thinking about how good things were in the beginning. Part of me wants to stay away from him but part of me just wants to pick up the phone and call him. My friends think I am nuts. One friend said I was “addicted” to him. She said that I am always trying to get back to that “high” that I had with him when we first got together. Is that what is happening?
We do not think you are addicted to your partner. We think you are having the normal thoughts and feelings that women have as they try to leave an abusive relationship. Remind yourself about the Cycle of Abuse. When you first met your partner, he showed you a lot of Honeymoon behaviour. This is what attracted you to him. Maybe he presented himself as thoughtful, considerate, interested in you… Whatever it was that he presented at that time, it looked good – it would have looked good to anyone. Furthermore, this seemingly more positive behaviour kept coming back around leaving you with the impression that the Honeymoon behaviour was the “real man”.
But at this point, you have not just experienced this Honeymoon behaviour you have also experienced Tension Building and Explosions. All of which leave a woman spinning and confused. How can one person appear to be both so loving and so hurtful?
Of course, you look back on the early days of your relationship with fondness and want to be able to go back to that time. You want to be treated well; the way he seemed to treat you in the beginning. There is nothing wrong with that. The problem is not you, it is him. The problem is that his pattern of Honeymoon, Tension Building and Explosion is abusive, controlling and ultimately devastating for you.
It might help you to reflect on how the Honeymoon is also abusive because it is also about power and control. He behaves in seemingly positive ways because he wants to draw you in and control you. It is really painful to consider that maybe the “good” behaviour he showed you at the beginning of the relationship might have only been Honeymoon, designed to entrap you. He misrepresented himself in the beginning. He did not tell you at the start of the relationship that he was an abusive and controlling man. If he had, you would have run the other way. Instead he presented himself in the beginning as a kind and compassionate man. It is heartbreaking to consider that the person you love or loved deceived you from the start. Perhaps even now he is trying to Honeymoon you with apologies or promises to change. Of course this Honeymoon behaviour looks and sounds good but you can ask yourself, “Is it real? Will it last? Is he really concerned about me or about himself?”
All of this is very hard to process both emotionally and mentally. It takes time. Added to this is that most women, at the end of an abusive relationship, are devastated by the abuse in many ways. Maybe your self-esteem feels shattered. Maybe your partner told you that no one else would want you. Maybe you have lost some of your friends or family because of the relationship. You probably feel very alone and vulnerable. It is normal to want those feelings of loneliness and vulnerability to go away and so of course your thoughts go back to the beginning of the relationship when everything felt so good. This is perhaps why you think about calling him. You are feeling alone and vulnerable and you are remembering the positive ways he sometimes treated you.
But you deserve to be treated well all the time.
This is a gut wrenchingly difficult time in your life. This is a time to be as kind to yourself as you can be. Try to think of ways you can be good to yourself. What could you do to maybe feel less lonely? Is there someone you could reach out to for support? Many women have told us that when they feel like calling their ex, they phone a friend instead. Having a plan to do this might help you the next time you find yourself being pulled back in by his Honeymoon behavior.
In conclusion, we do not think you are addicted to your partner. We think your partner has been acting out the Cycle of Abuse. This pattern of Honeymoon, Tension Building and Explosion leaves you hurt and confused. His abuse has had a devastating impact on your life. It takes time to recover and rebuild from this abuse. You will not always feel as emotionally raw as you do right now. With some time, space and good support, you will start to feel better.