Join the Conversation on
50 people
0 stories
4 posts
Explore Our Newsletters
What's New in

How Abusive Relationships Can Become an Addiction

I recently went through a break up. I ended up in the hospital. It turned out that there was a physiological reason for this.

From the outside, the last few months of this relationship looked, from the outside, like two people willingly living in hell. From the inside, it felt like willingly walking into hell, hanging out there for a while and enduring intense torture, and then being catapulted up to the euphoric relief of heaven. For me, it was worth the reward. I lived for the reward, in fact. I couldn't live without it. And I couldn't get the heaven without the hell. 

I did truly love my partner; she was a genuinely amazing person. But she and I had very different conflict resolution styles, and this resulted in some extremely intense arguments that became abusive in both directions. During these arguments I felt lower than I ever had in my life. My insecure attachment style left me feeling hated, rejected, and therefore unable to survive in response to my partner's harsh approach towards conflict. Then, when we would reconnect and she would express love for me, it felt like happiest moment of my life; I felt high.

And it turned out that I was.

Addiction is highly recognized and increasingly understood in certain contexts. Addiction to substances such as alcohol or illicit drugs, and behaviors such as sex or binge eating, are fortunately often acknowledged as a physical process that, over time, becomes disease. When we ingest these substances or engage in these behaviors, the brain is flooded with dopamine- a neurotransmitter that evolved to reinforce behaviors that keep us alive. 

Dopamine teaches our brains that a behavior should be repeated, and is potentially essential for our survival. In addiction, our brains gradually become able to release dopamine only in response to the addicted behavior. Neuroscientist and professor Andrew Huberman defines addiction as "A progressive narrowing of the things that bring you pleasure." Drinking, doing drugs, or binge eating become the only way possible to feel happiness, to get that dopamine fix.

I had learned to get my dopamine fix in a way I had never heard of in the context of addiction. When my partner and I "made up" after a fight, it felt so good that my brain came to release extreme amounts of dopamine, and started to release a decreased amount of dopamine in response to anything else. 

Fighting, and therefore emotional or verbal abuse, became the only way that I could feel true happiness, the only way I could experience a sense of meaning in my life. These fights sometimes happened naturally, as a result of our differing conflict resolution styles. Other times, I would subconsciously find ways to feel affronted or rejected and provoke my partner to act abusively towards me, setting myself up for a huge dopamine release when I felt love and acceptance again. This created a vicious cycle of emotional abuse and manipulation on my part, leading to emotional and verbal abuse on her part, and ultimately resulting in extreme bliss when this subsided. I was the picture of an addict- begging on my knees at my partner's door after a fight for my drug of choice, love and forgiveness. 

If fully recognized and accepted for what it is, this cycle in relationships can be disrupted with committed effort and time. An addictive cycle of abuse in a relationship does not mean that the relationship is inherently bad, or that it isn't based on true love. 

I unfortunately learned this too late. I was used to, relied on, the extreme low of a fight, and the extreme high of conciliation shortly after. One day the low went too low. My partner left and wasn't coming back. The relief wasn't coming. The dopamine wouldn't hit. My brain didn't think I could survive, and I almost didn't. 

After recovering physically from a suicide attempt, I had to begin detox from my relationship. My body had to adjust to the lack of dopamine, which was a long process that involved a month of feeling literally no joy whatsoever. I had to work to bring my base dopamine levels back up to normal, while having no dopamine to reinforce the behaviors necessary to do so. 

I did it, though. After what I can now see was probably a lifetime of this addiction, I can now maintain my dopamine levels on my own without addictive behavior, can feel joy in response to simple things, and am looking forward to this being the base for a healthy relationship someday.

#Addiction #SuicideSurvivor #abusiverelationships #relationshipaddiction

3 reactions 1 comment

It wasn't for love, was it all for money?

It wasn't for love. No that is not love.
Love is a feeling endless with no bounds, not something that can be measured in dollars or pounds!

Yet when I look back I see, it wasn't for love or for me..
it was attachment for a fee!

My father sold me to the highest bidders, groomed to mimic affection for abusers,
Face drawn pale by blood thirsty users.

Tiny body housing broken bones, the pain of which she leant to mask long ago.
Little body tossed to and through.
Tortured to may sure you never say what you know.
not an environment in which to grow..

Then I look back at the men I thought loved me, a clear game with each one I now see.. they were always chasing money!

They took pleasure in my pain, thought I hadn't repeated the cycle.. yet I did it again and again!
No wonder I always grew so weak or felt I was going insane!
I was picking men from the wrong lane..

Now I have my barriers up, I want to know what's in your cup, glinting eyes it's not upon my soul you'll sup, not now I know whatsup!

I'm left wondering what safety is?
I've been abused as an adult and a kid.
Some people would do Anything for a few quid!
The situation is dangerous even if I don't lift the lid..

For now it's show and tell of my trauma,
I feel cold as the situation grows warmer..
How do I fight a war So big alone?
How many times must I flee to make it home?
How do I find my way out the danger zone? ..

#MightyPoets #mightypoety #Flashbacks #Childhoodtrauma #childhoodabusesurvivor #Depression #Fear #lonely #CPTSD #CPTSDinrelationships #RapeSurvivors #abusiverelationships


I finally opened up....

I finally told someone close to me what ive been going through. I told my mom...... I told her about my first relationship when i was underage and how he was grooming me to be his bondage pet. I told her how my second relationship stole my virginity from me. And contunued to rape me for he next year we were together. How hed take me to busy places (like disney) and abandon me to punish me for being so dumb. I have severe anxiety before this so it was traumatic. I told her about the guy i worked at a haunted house with and how he made me think wed work on a zombie movie but then he ended up being 20 years older than he said and tried to rape me. Thank god someone called me for an emergency. Hed already done it to 3 other girls i knew i found out. We were all under 16 and he was in his 40s. And i told her how my most recent relationship has evolved from one of sexual and physical abuse to one of emotional and mental abuse. Because we all live together (me him and my whole family) he has to be more discreet. I want to say hes kinder and not as bad as he used to be but i think im realizing that thats just me saying that the emotional abuse is ol because at least hes not touching me anymore..... And its not ok. And i wish more than anything he could just be the good side of him and never treat me that way again but i know that to him im like an accessory. Women are a piece to complete him a goal in a set of rewards that mark real adulthood and success.
Ive had so many wrongs against me in my life and I dont extract myself from them... Trust me i blame myaelf hard for all the trauma ive let myaelf be in.
But i honestly just dont know what healthy is or hlw to move on.
Im scared to lose the guy im with and be alone. But if i wasnt with him would i be alone? Or qould i finally get to spread my wings and be social amd free.....

Im only just now going to be 27 and i feel like ive never lived like a 20 year old. Ive always wanted to go with friends to a club drink and dance.. Have fun... Feel free and young.....

I even find myself realizing that my chronic pain started hard after a particularly bad ... Physically related.... Fight between he and i....
I feel like im being abusjve blaming him or talking about what hes done and how its negatively affected me..... But in reality him and this abusjve relationahip have really taken a lot from me... And done a lot to me...

I have so many stories to tell and I think id like tonstart chronicaling them here one at a time.
Is sharing my stories complaining? Is it going to be a bother? Is this not the right place to do it?
Id just love to be able to anonymously get it out and hear how others see itm so i can dig out of this gaslight hole im in and see whats real....

I just dont know anymore and i dont know how to move forward....

#shouldistay #shouldigo #Abuse #abusiverelationships #mentalabuse #SexualAbuse #EmotionalAbuse #Broken #fighting #lost #grieving #venting #exposing #MyTruth #seekingsupport


I Just got of of a verbally abusive relationship.

things weren't always so bad but I wish I noticed the tall tale signs that he may have a narcissistic personality. since my fibromyalgia diagnosis things only got worse as he would blame me for getting this illness saying I should have been more active and eating healthier. the last thing he said before we ended the toxic relationship was that he thought I was a joke. My medications are a joke. My doctors are a joke. Even though I know it's good to be finally out of this relationship, it still hurts. Luckily, my family offered to let me move in and stay with them until I find a job and apartment to live due to me not being able to pay current bills i have alone. Unfortunately, I will have to find homes for some of of my pets which breaks my heart all over again. I just have to keep reminding myself that I'm doing all this for my mental and physical health. #Fibromyalgia #Anxiety #Depression #abusiverelationships