How To Break Your Addiction To A Person

How To Break Your Addiction To A Person by Howard M Halpern PHD. One of Healing Hub's Healing Resources filed under Howard M Halpern Books.
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By Howard M Halpern PHD.

 Are you in love – or addicted? How to know when to call it quits… and how to find the courage to call it quits. Are you unable to leave a love relationship even though it gives you more pain than joy? Your judgment and self-respect tell you to end it, but still, to your dismay, you hang on. You are addicted – to a person. Now there is an insightful, step-by-step guide to breaking that addiction – and surviving the split. Drawing on dozens of provocative case histories, psychotherapist Howard Halpern explains to you:

Why you can get addicted to a person.

Why and how you may try to deceive yourself. (“He really loves me, he just doesn’t know how to show it.”)

How you can recognise the symptoms of a bad relationship.

How to deal with the power moves and guilt trips your partner uses to hold you.

Why strong feelings of jealousy do not mean you are “in love.”

How to get through the agonising breakup period – without going back.

How not to get caught in such a painful relationship again.”

What it offers.

Struggling with so-called ‘Love Addiction?’ Dr Howard Halpern’s detached, psychological approach to the problem may help to give you back some hope.

Addicts suffer from diminishing returns. That means that every ‘hit’ creates larger tolerance and a shorter high. Of course, if your vice of choice is loving sexual relationships, that model suggests you can never have a partner again. And who wants to live like that?

Rather than looking at addictive attachment as an actual ‘addiction’ in the classic sense, Halpern sees it as the triggering of unresolved childhood patterns.

In How To Break Your Addiction To A Person he coins the phrase “Attachment Hunger” to explain what an ‘addictively’ attached person is experiencing during breakups and conflict. When you feel the overwhelming  compulsion to return to a bad relationship, or and uncontrollable urge to connect intimately with a particular person, that’s “Attachment Hunger.”

What that means.

In simple terms, Halpern suggests we subconsciously pick partners who remind us of at least one of our parents. In theory, that lets us fix the problems with our partner that we couldn’t with our childhood caregiver. Which means we can finally heal wounds we’ve carried around since infancy.

Unfortunately, it’s a faulty strategy. All too often the same familiar pattern plays out again. This happens with greater degrees of pain as the emotional scar tissue is ripped back open every time. (That’s the ‘addiction’ response: an increasingly intense, extreme reaction as time goes on).

Halpern gives several intriguing case studies that show this playing out. Two examples are:

  • The woman with the often-absent scientist father picking distant, bookish men in adulthood who can’t meet her need for affection and warmth.
  • Or the man from an abusive background where he felt invalidated who picks a cold, ice queen partner and craves an intimacy that never comes.

And yet when either of these people consider leaving, just the prospect of detaching creates an almost unscalable wall of abandonment pain which keeps them rooted in an unhappy union.

In turn, that keeps them away from a potentially more fulfilling bond, with a more well-matched partner who might bring them the happiness they seek.

Why you should read it.

Relationships, love and sex bring some of the biggest joys in life. By demystifying the ‘addiction’ side of addictive relating, and explaining the pain as childhood trauma, Halpern gives a roadmap for how you can recover.

According to Halpern, if you work on your childhood trauma in therapy, you’ll start to see the intense, compulsive relating drop off. And in turn, you’ll start attracting (and attracting to) people who can actually meet your needs.

In short, then, Halpern’s learned, scholarly take on the ‘Love Addiction’ field suggests that ‘Love Addicts’ aren’t really ‘addicts’ as we know them. And that, with a bit of work, and some good informed choices, you can end up in a happy, healthy relationship after all.

Sounds pretty good to me!

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About Howard M. Halpern.

Howard M Halpern
Howard M Halpern. Top beard.

Born in 1929, Howard Marvin Halpern was a renowned psychotherapist who was President of The American Academy of Psychotherapists between 1970-72. An early innovator in the fields of Love Addiction and healthy relating, Halpern’s 31 year writing career started in 1963 with the publication of his first book A Parent’s Guide to Child Psychotherapy. He went on to publish seven more titles designed to help adults understand and improve relationships with the important people in their lives. This included his most famous work, How To Break Your Addiction To A Person. His authorial career culminated in 1994 when he released his final book, Finally Getting It Right: From Addictive Love to the Real Thing. He passed away in 2011 at the age of 82, leaving behind a legacy of insight and understanding that to this day informs therapists, life coaches and recovery work the world over.

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