Love, Sex, and Codependence
There are differences between love, sex, and codependence. Love is an emotional state of mind often difficult to describe yet many people experience this emotion. Love can be felt toward people, animals, art, music, and a number of other experiences. Sex is personal intimacy between two people for which a strong emotional bond exists. Codependency is psychological dependence on another person. When love and sex become an addiction, healthy love and intimate relationships cease to exist.
An addiction to love and sex are disorders of intimacy. An addiction to love is an unhealthy attachment to the idea of love including the passion that one often feels at the onset of a relationship. A “love” addict may start a relationship simply to feel that passion and will quickly end a relationship when that passion has disappeared. Sex addiction involves compulsive engagement in sexual activity despite negative consequences. A sex addiction can occur with others unknown to the individual or can occur with the self, such as excessive masturbation.
Codependency is the unhealthy attachment to another person and can occur in any relationship but it is most common among partners. A codependent person may not realize they are dependent on another and perceive their relationship as normal.
Codependency is a way for one partner to depend on the other for positive emotions.
Love, sex, and codependency can lead to addiction and share similar characteristics.
One characteristic is they all may start in childhood where abandonment, neglect, rejection, or sexual abuse occurred. As adults, love addiction, sex addiction, and codependency can be seen as a way to escape reality and a way to remedy emotional dysfunction. Healthy relationships simply do not provide what the love or sex addict or codependent needs.
Love and sex addiction and codependency problems occur on a continuum. There are degrees of unhealthy partnerships ranging from self-destructive to minimally invasive. On occasion, the invisible line is crossed and love, sex, and codependency become addictions. An addiction is started when the individual is unable to stop the behavior despite negative consequences of engaging in the behavior.
These addictions are not different from other addictions in that there is treatment available. There are even 12-step groups for codependency, sexual addiction, and love addiction. There is even a 12-step group for sex and love addicts called S.L.A.A., Sex and Love Addicts Anonymous. All of these groups are centered on the tenets of Alcoholics Anonymous and can be quite helpful in treating these addictions.