Love & Relationship Addiction: How can the The Life Process Program© support?

Stanton Peele By: Dr. Stanton Peele

Posted on September 3rd, 2018 - Last updated: October 2nd, 2023
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The Life Process Program addresses addiction, and yet it deals with love and relationships.
How do those fit with addiction?

Love & Relationship addictions exist when a person devotes themselves so much to one type of experience or involvement at the cost of all others that they risk being incapacitated, so that they become increasingly dependent on the one, addictive involvement.

Why do they do make this overcommitment? Out of a need for gratifications that they find lacking in other parts of their lives, they seek the certainty of emotional satisfaction through a guaranteed involvement.

With drugs and alcohol, you know what experience to expect after a sufficient dose. In a love relationship, the person can seek the same degree of certainty. Only such certainty comes at a cost, a cost of being completely dominated (or dominating), possibly to the extremes of becoming a victim of abuse, the worst example of an addictive love relationship.

The team at Life Process Program also focus on the building blocks of life, rather than overfocusing on the single, addictive thing, or object—which after all could be one among many. The person undergoing an addictive relationship is susceptible to the addiction for the time being. But this is not their fundamental nature, as AA might have you believe.

Following is a case from an LPP client who gave permission to use her story to benefit others:

“I have been in 12-step recovery for 11 years, both in AA and CODA (Codependents Anonymous). But I found something was missing. I wanted to discover more about relationships in the scientific, behavior-oriented approach to addiction, as opposed to the disease model approach in 12-step recovery.
In my search to expand my recovery experience, and to specifically learn more about relationships, I happened upon the Life Process Program (LPP) after reading and listening to Stanton Peele’s books and YouTube entries.

I formed my own 12-step recovery journey early on in my CODA work, leaning about the effort to control and low self-esteem. I read literature that supported my personal recovery journey. Stanton Peele’s Love and Addiction is a great read that I found very useful. It gave me a whole new way of understanding how a behavior could be an addiction, even though you aren’t taking a drug or substance.

Gaining the scientific knowledge that addiction is a continuum—that not every addict or alcoholic is all-out and completely decimated by their addiction, but they are nonetheless suffering negative consequences, was a fascinating revelation for me. When you don’t see addiction as one, big all-or-nothing thing, you realize that you can make changes in your life, in your view of yourself, in your way of doing things that will impact your addictive behavior. It’s not just about quitting—which, after all, is impossible when it comes to quitting relationships altogether, especially in the prime of your life.

My LPP coach, Dee , was familiar with the kinds of experiences I had had, and she was kind an empathetic. Her feedback on completion of modules was great, and Dee’s use of open questioning prompted me to reflect in my progress using rational behavioral techniques such as the three R’s, etc.
Dee helped me to see that changing behaviors and experiencing new rewards can change your whole view of yourself, along with how you behave in love and other relationships. Doing the LPP opened new discourses for me, new ways of seeing myself, of life trajectories that I could pursue. I saw that I could continue to develop, which opened up entirely new life goals for me.”

* * *
Janice was in a long-term relationship with a former alcoholic, who decided that he wanted to drink again, but only beer, and not spirits, which was his former habit.

Of course, Janice was concerned, having been told time and again that resuming drinking moderately was impossible.

And, sure enough, Johnny, in his early experimentation with drinking again, came home drunk one night, after having six or so beers. Janice was near panic; were all of her worst fears coming true?

LPP is a place where a coach can discuss such issues reasonable and, more importantly, devise strategies and steps for assisting someone to resume drinking, or who is in a relationship with such a person, a choice that after all it is a person’s right to make. And, in the ultimate case that this return to drinking or use is not workable, LPP assists the person to recognize where their own best interests lay, either in terms of separation from a partner, or in terms of curtailing contact until, and if, the person is able to right their behavior.

But LPP is not an all-or-none model. LPP and its coaches work with every type of situation, recognizing that human behavior is never perfect, but can often be managed and that it is productive and possible to work to bring about people’s greatest satisfaction in their given situation.

* * *

The concept of overly close, potentially destructive relationships goes beyond intimate adult ties.

Many people are concerned about their relationship with their children, where they are driven to protect and guard a child, but where they wonder if they go too far.

Roy and Grace had struggled together many years to overcome her own childhood burdens of abuse. They had a good marriage and worked collaboratively to build a wonderful home and successful joint careers. They enjoyed each other’s company.
When they had a daughter in their late thirties, their main idea was to prevent her from experiencing the difficulties that they had undergone as children. As a result, the treated their child almost like a papoose, rarely letting her walk when they went out together as a trio.

But as their daughter, Florence, became a preteen, the couple noticed how poorly she interacted with other children, and at the same time how she didn’t seem able to be her own person.

Belatedly, Grace wanted to know whether she had gone wrong, and how to help Flo to be an independent, sharing person.

While I don’t have time to review all that Grace’s LPP coach did with her, it is important to note this: there is no room or reason for self-recrimination.

There is ALWAYS ample opportunity for moving forward. However, I will say, in good part Grace and Roy had to recognize that they were working to serve their own needs through their daughter, rather than recognizing her as a real, separate, developing person.

* * *

LPP avoids the kind of irrational perfectionism that pervades the addiction field—the idea that people will now and forever solve their problems, quit using all substances, and yet will always remain vulnerable to addiction and addictive relationships. The coaches themselves have come to their own life resolutions.

Here one coach speaks about her own history of addictive relationships:

From childhood, there was a tape in her head that said, “You need someone to take care of you,” even though she was educated, enlightened, strong, liberal, generally competent, and usually the primary wage earner. When she was finally (again) conquering substance abuse issues, she did not have the wherewithal to try to manage her partner’s addiction AND her own recovery at the same time. She didn’t want to leave him until her head was clearer, and so she worked hard to separate herself from him mentally, so that she could give coping with her substance issues primacy and fight that particular battle fully.

Her normal race to focus attention and energy on her partner’s troubles and being and the relationship took a back seat, which stirred a number of changes.
There was a turning point, when she was taking a walk and thinking through did she have to kick him out, how could she fix the relationship, how could she get him to do the things she knew were good for him and be the person she knew he could be, SO HE COULD TAKE CARE OF HER. And that stopped her in her tracks. She did not need him to take care of her. In fact, she did not need anyone for that. She was doing that. She was not only capable of taking care of herself, but she was the best person possible to do that. She KNEW what she wanted. Other people did not. She lived in her own mind. Others didn’t. She SHOULD be a priority for herself. She was never going to be in that role for someone else, nor should she be. And the reverse as well. She was not the best person to take care of her boyfriend. HE was. She could not do that for him. She could not intuit what he wanted, needed, was thinking, no matter how tuned in she was.

It was a great big Uncle Ozzie moment (you can learn about Stanton Peele’s Uncle Ozzie is in LPP). It was affirmation that she needed to take care of herself and what she was trying to do for herself. And there was a huge sense of freedom in realizing that she SHOULD be the person to take care of herself. That it would be much easier and more appropriate to nurture that than to try to force someone else to do it for her perfectly.

And LPP believes that there is no more important remedy for addiction of any kind than this recognition of your own power, your own duty to yourself to be in charge of your own life.

If you feel that you could benefit for similar love & relationship addition treatment, then click here to learn more about our custom designed Life Process Program
as we like to say, with our money back guarantee, you have nothing to loose but your addiction!

Stanton Peele

Dr. Stanton Peele, recognized as one of the world's leading addiction experts, developed the Life Process Program after decades of research, writing, and treatment about and for people with addictions. Dr. Peele is the author of 14 books. His work has been published in leading professional journals and popular publications around the globe.

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