Tell me about the person you know who is never NOT in a relationship. Is this person often in multiple relationships, starting one before the previous has been finished? How about the friend who talks up a new love interest as if they hung the moon and stars, only to meet the significant other in question and realize your friend is floating in a haze of unreality. There truly is such a thing as being addicted to love, it is as harmful as any other form of self-destruction. It affects Black women in innumerable ways and most Black women suffer from it in silence.
Co-dependence is a term traditionally associated with alcoholism and drug addiction where a family member enables another by making excuses for their dysfunctional behavior or otherwise hampers their recovery. When applied to relationships, it really gets down to “unhealthy emotional dependencies,” says Carol Cannon, MA, a counselor and program director at The Bridge to Recovery in Bowling Green, KY.
Fear of being alone, being unloved or a family background where as a child or young adult a person finds themselves as a primary caretaker to others, are common traits for someone who often finds themselves in co-dependent relationships and situations. The symptoms are super clear. In her 1992 book Facing Love Addiction, author Pia Mellody describes the “Love Addict” pattern as involving two key people, the addict and the avoidant.
On the one hand, the addict drives the relationship, they provide enough enthusiasm and excitement about the relationship for both people involved, where as the avoidant is typically weak, unable to say no, and most likely feels they will not enter a relationship otherwise. This goes on for a while, until the avoidant loses interest and no longer plays into the façade the love addict is creating.
A lot of women would rather be in a bad relationship than no relationship at all. Sadly, love addiction is most common in women who are suffering abuse at the hands of their lover.
Co-dependency is an ill that is far less discussed than some other major issues surrounding our dating and love lives. Society places a lot of pressure on women to be with someone else. A lot of women would rather be in a bad relationship than no relationship at all. Sadly, love addiction is most common in women who are suffering abuse at the hands of their lover. A lot of sick people recognize or seek out this trait in women and are quick to exploit it for their own use.
Co-dependent women will stay no matter what because in their mind they can’t be without this person, and the fear of being alone is far more crippling than the idea of being used and abused. Rhianna seems like a clear and recent example of this.
The silence surrounding co-dependence is deafening and unacceptable, but it’s not an easy topic to broach, when the friend in question “seems” generally happy. Folks in a co-dependent relationship are fabulous at pretending to be just fine. From their limited point of view they are. The love addict will never accept it is them keeping the relationship going, while the avoidant merely lingers in the background. They idealize this person often speaking of them in a language of constant hype.
How to broach the subject is a tricky question, because as a third party, you never really know what two people in relationship have. But a red flag is a red flag; if we realize a close friend is exhibiting any kind of behavior left of normal, we aren’t being a friend by keeping our mouths shut. Long term friendships are in many cases permanently altered or destroyed by calling attention to the dysfunction nature of the relationship of someone we know or love. Yet, the romantic relationship ultimately fails since it was disingenuous from its beginning. Your scorned friend will eventually be back looking for someone else to latch on to. For a time it may be you, at least until the next potential partner arrives.
This is a cycle that can’t end with prayer and best wishes alone, co-dependent women must seek psychological guidance to deal with the larger issues in their life and past that keep them involved with lovers who are an instant liability to their livelihood.