Instead, love addicts focus on learning to date in healthy, non-compulsive, life-affirming ways. This is similar to recovery from an eating disorder, where long-term abstinence is not even possible.
When they finally begin the process of healing, they often have little to no idea what constitutes healthy versus unhealthy i. For these individuals, clearly defined goals and a written dating plan can be quite helpful. Creating Healthy Goals for Romance Every love addict is different, arriving in treatment with a unique history and set of circumstances.
Some love addicts are terminally single because of their addiction; others are in a long-term relationship but still acting out romantically — either online or in-person.
As such, the first step in creating a dating plan is to write out a list of goals. I want to have a serious, lasting, monogamous relationship.
It is important to understand that every recovering love addict will create a unique and highly personalized list of goals based on his or her individual circumstances and beliefs. In this way the list can be vetted for bad ideas, and good ideas can be added. Plans for Healthy Dating Once a recovering love addict has developed a workable list of goals for healthy dating, he or she can craft a more detailed dating plan.
Red lights are characteristics that the love addict finds unacceptable in a potential dating partner. Love addicts should not date or should immediately stop dating any person who displays even one red light trait.
Yellow lights indicate that a love addict should proceed with caution. These are not automatic rule-outs for dating a particular person, but they should cause the love addict to be on guard for deeper, more problematic issues.
Green lights are characteristics that are seen by the recovering love addict as healthy and desirable in a potential dating partner. A typical traffic signals dating plan based on the sample goals listed above might read as follows: Yellow Lights I will be cautious when dating a person who seems self-centered, talking and thinking much more about himself or herself than anyone else.
I will be cautious when dating a person who is recently divorced or just out of a long-term relationship. I will be cautious when dating a person who seems more interested in sex than in intimate emotional connection.
I will be cautious when dating someone who does not seem interested in meeting my friends and family, or in introducing me to his or hers. Green Lights I can continue dating someone who seems interested in me as a person, including my thoughts and feelings, and appreciates that I am interested in his or her thoughts and feelings. I can continue dating someone who surprises me with fun dates and romantic gestures. I can continue dating someone who has a life of his or her own, with interests, hobbies, friends, work, etc.
I can continue dating someone who keeps commitments, tells the truth and returns my calls, texts and emails in a reasonable amount of time. I can continue dating someone who is looking for a serious, monogamous, long-term relationship. Having these clearly defined guidelines helps love addicts to not get caught up in the moment when they meet someone new.
For instance, in the beginning a love addict might be focused on dating in ways that are not grounded in sexual intensity. Over time, that individual may progress in his or her recovery to the point where sexual intensity may actually be healthy and desirable — so long as it takes root after emotional intimacy has been established.
However, this should never occur without first consulting a therapist or step sponsor to make sure the change really is a good idea. What ultimately matters is that the goals and plan work for the addict, helping him or her to see and understand which traits are positive and which are negative when it comes to romance. Over time, the addict will hopefully learn to automatically make safer, healthier choices when it comes to dating.
In the interim, however, a good dating plan is an absolute necessity. He is author of Cruise Control: Sex Addiction in the Digital Age. He has also provided clinical multi-addiction training and behavioral health program development for the US military and numerous other treatment centers throughout the United States, Europe and Asia.
For more information you can visit his website, www. Tired of addiction calling the shots? Addiction treatment changes lives. Call for a free benefits check. Understanding Sex Addiction in Gay Men. He is coauthor, with Dr. Jennifer Schneider, of Always Turned On: My hope is to educate not only addicts and their loved ones but also the clinicians who treat them.