co addicted relationships

Co-addicted relationships consist of a rather painful dance of pursuit and avoidance. That dance might feel exhilarating at first, but in the end, robs both the anxiously attached as well as the avoidantly attached of a fair chance to manifest their desperate longing for emotional intimacy. Aleah knows of this cycle because she easily has more than a decade of personal experience with co-addicted relationships. She was able to uncover and understand those dynamics as she was going through her deep feeling therapy back in Los Angeles in 2016. In this post, she will lay out the cycle based on her personal experience and draw from Pia Mellody’s understanding of the co-addicted tango. To make it easy we refer to the love addict (short: TLA) as a woman and the love avoidant (short: LA) as a man.

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The vicious cycle of co-addicted relationships


Attraction co-addicted relationship cycle

Phase 1 in co-addicted relationships: Attraction

When they first meet, both experience a strong mutual initial attraction. The LA (love avoidant) is attracted to the vulnerability, adoration, and subtle neediness of the TLA (typical love addict). He possibly sees potential for his next narcissistic supply. The love addict is delighted by the seemingly strong and charismatic partner and often thinks of the meeting like love at first sight or destiny. She believes that she has never felt like this before and starts hoping for this union to become solid as quickly as possible.



Phase 2 in co-addicted relationships: Courtship

The LA presents himself as the perfect partner only displaying the shiny parts of his otherwise faulty character. He starts actively courting the TLA; he makes compliments, shows plenty of attention and affection, is emotionally available and even vulnerable from time to time. He anticipates the TLA’s needs and seduces with his well-honed strategy of courtship to start gaining admiration, control, and power in the relationship. Subconsciously he also wants to secure his next narcissistic supply and wants to see how far the other is willing to go when it comes to acceptance of his irrational and faulty behavior.

The typical love addict makes up the perfect fantasy and starts idolizing the love avoidant.

She starts to become addicted to the rush of pleasure she experiences from the exquisite cocktail of brain chemicals and intense emotions in this dramatic plot. TLA starts to label the relationship as the ONE and starts to prematurely commit to her partner without taking enough time to evaluate the partner. She enters the relationship too soon and quickly starts to neglect other relationships and life matters. She is overly generous with her signs of affection and tries to push the relationship towards more commitment. Out of insecurity, she wants her premature commitment to be reciprocated by the LA who starts to feel enmeshed and suffocated.

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Phase 3 in co-addicted relationships: Relationship

Once the LA realizes that the TLA is getting more and more dependent on him and the relationship, fear of intimacy kicks in and he starts to perceive the relationship as a duty with his freedom at risk. He grows resentful of their love addict’s neediness & expectations. As a response to feeling like a prisoner, he keeps things casual, does not share too much of himself, leaves things in the open, avoids too much intimacy, is secretive about himself, disrespects his partner’s boundaries, and yet has very strict ones himself. To create more distance, he also starts diminishing and shaming the partner, finding, and pointing out fault in the smallest of things.

He puts up more walls and plays more push/pull games, displaying passive-aggressive behavior and even starts to ghost and ignore his partner to his liking.

TLA starts to successfully ignore or is unable to see red flags and enters the phase of denial about who the other really is. She finds excuses and justifies the LA’s irrational behavior. Out of fear of abandonment she possibly also starts to accept subtle emotional or physical (even sexual) abuse and compromises falsely to avoid loss of love and attention. Due to the LA’s inconsistent demonstration of affection TLA becomes (more) needy and demands (more) attention.

She starts compromising on her truth and slowly starts losing her sense of self.

Days are marked by continuous moments of obsession over the whereabouts of the LA making her incapable of focusing anymore. Emotional release only happens when the LA makes himself heard or seen. She applies various strategies to feel more loved by the LA, but only achieves to push him away further.



Phase 4 in co-addicted relationships: Break-up

The TLA’s expectations and needs for constant affection and reassurance gets too much for the LA so he starts telling himself that he does not need the person or relationship anymore. He feels confirmed that love is not safe, and it is better to distance to not get too enmeshed and suffocated. Eventually he coldly dumps the by then desperate and hopeless TLA and convinces himself of the pleasure of his newfound freedom. He becomes unavailable and goes cold turkey ignoring any attempts of contact from the TLA.

Due to the sudden absence and lack of any sign of connection from the love avoidant, the typical love addict starts to experience emotional and even physical pain because of withdrawal. Click To Tweet


The TLA gets extremely triggered in her biggest fear of abandonment. She feels hopeless and helpless and doesn’t know how to emotionally survive the sudden break-up/heartbreak. She continues obsessing over the love avoidant and might start hysterical and extreme attempts to bring the LA back into her life. At some point she gives up and keeps suffering in silence bathing in the hope for the love avoidant to change his mind.

If you want more on getting the best out of your life and relationships, check out our new brand The Royal Path where you find everything about personal growth, deep healing and emotional liberation.


Phase 5 in co-addicted relationships: Reconciliation

After some time and until the love avoidant was able to distance himself enough to regain a feeling of independence, he starts to miss the narcissistic supply. On his terms he will start making contact again, already knowing that the love addict is only waiting for him to do so.

TLA’s suffering disappears in a heartbeat as soon as the LA connects again. She tiptoes around the LA and loses more of herself to ensure that the LA won’t leave again and she won’t be abandoned another time.

*Romantic Intermezzo restarting the dysfunctional cycle all over again*



Phase 6 in co-addicted relationships: Awareness

The love addict at some point in time will grow tired and exhausted with the LA games of pursuit and avoidance. She then either starts a journey of healing and growth or will turn to someone else to fall helplessly love addicted to.

As long as she is not aware of the fact that she is the common denominator of her failed relationships, she will continue to chase after someone who will fill the emptiness and regulate the painful sense of inadequacy.

In any case, she distances herself from the LA.

If you want more on getting the best out of your life and relationships, check out our new brand The Royal Path where you find everything about personal growth, deep healing and emotional liberation.

co-addicted relationship cycle

Phase 7 in co-addicted relationships: Relapse

The LA starts to feel fearful and nervous as his sense of superiority starts to fade. The pain and feelings of unworthiness due to no longer being needed and admired starts kicking in – triggering his unconscious fear of abandonment. He starts his recovery program and tries to hoover the TLA back in with the most romantic of gestures and a promise of “having changed” and “things will be different this time around”.

There is a temporary inversion of the roles.

The TLA – despite her well-intended commitment – gets tempted by “just one more rush of pleasure” and opens herself up to the LA’s manipulative attempts to get her back. She feels flattered, wanted, and desired which soothes her painful sense of shameful unworthiness. It is usually only a question of time and she will give in to enjoy another romantic intermezzo to start the cycle all over again where roles immediately shift back to the original dynamic.

*Romantic Intermezzo restarting the dysfunctional cycle all over again*


healing awakening

Phase 8 in co-addicted relationships: Healing & Awakening

After a couple of repetitions of this painful cycle the TLA will no longer be able to endure the suffering and will search for ways to heal the lost parts within herself. If she keeps walking the path of healing, she will have a real awakening. She will start taking off the pink glasses and start seeing things for how they really are.

If she goes on the path of true healing and commits to herself, she will eventually let go of dysfunctional relationships after all and find healthy love with a securely attached person. Click To Tweet


I know of this cycle truly because it is my story and I have been in it for most of my life. Let me tell you a little bit more about it. In this way, you might see that being in a co-addicted relationship does not just happen to you. In reality it happens to many people.

Like we always say: Burn your childhood trauma and rise like Phoenix from the ashes of your old self! That is how powerful you are. Let us show you how.
Because healing is no longer optional.

I´ll see you soon.
Bye, Aleah.


If you want more on getting the best out of your life and relationships, check out our new brand The Royal Path where you find everything about personal growth, deep healing and emotional liberation.



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