My fear of abandonment is exceeded only by my terror of intimacy.  

Ethlie Ann Vare

When I got sober in 1999 – I put down the alcohol and picked up another addiction – Men!

I was a serial dater. I don’t know how many men I dated nor do I remember many of their names. I would spot a man, beeline to him, flirt up a storm, and if he gave me even the slightest bit of attention I was hooked. The shelf lives of these relationships were one to three months. One day I’d be saying, “I love you,” and the next day, out of the blue, I was saying goodbye. I was going from man to man with an empty, bottomless cup, begging for love and attention. It was never enough because I didn’t feel enough.

What makes me cringe the most is how my serial dating affected my children. They witnessed the revolving door. I’d spend hours on the phone with the man of the moment. My five-year-old son would try to pull me away from the phone, and I’d tell him to watch TV. He needed me. Although I was physically present at home, I was emotionally checked out. I chose time on the phone over being present with my children. At times I picked dates over my kids’ sporting events. I chose men over my children more times than I care to admit. Just as I had formerly used alcohol, I was now using men to escape from the pressures of parenting, work, and running a household. My plate was full, and I was scared, exhausted, and overwhelmed. Not for the first time, I thought a man could rescue me. I thought the problem with my marriage was I’d chosen the wrong man. In my serial dating, I was trying to find the right man so I could put together the perfect little family and my happy-ever-after fantasy.

Of course, it is normal to want love and romance in our lives. But when the pursuit of love and romance becomes compulsive and turns to obsession then it is another form of addiction, known as a love addiction. Love addicts need someone to tell them they are okay and are lovable, desirable, and worthy because they don’t believe it about themselves. Love addiction can be an escape from reality, loneliness, and stress and a way to avoid real intimacy.


·      attraction to emotionally unavailable or abusive partners

·      moving quickly from one relationship to another

·      feeling incomplete without a partner

·      neglecting to care for self

·      sexually or emotionally involved without knowing the other person

·      wanting to be rescued to avoid taking responsibility for ourselves

·      compulsively fantasizing about, or focusing on, one person

I started my journey in recovery from love addiction when I admitted I had all the signs of a love addict.  The women in the recovery held my hand, guided me on an inward spiritual journey, and taught me how to be present for my children.

I’ve learned again that my addiction is not about the drink, the drug, or the guy; recovery is about healing the core belief that tells me I’m not enough. This feeling of I’m not enough is a lie that haunts many women with addictions. It drives us to continually seek more, more, more love, confirmation of our worth, and approval from others. Instead of finding the man of my dreams, I found a beautiful woman who was hiding deep inside; I found me, the real me! I learned to love and respect myself. I discovered a deep feeling and knowing that I am lovable and I am enough. Warts and all!

Sober Mom’s Tools 
for Overcoming Love Addiction

1. Find a recovery meeting for love addiction.  If you can’t find a meeting in your town, they have them online.

2.Find a therapist or a treatment center that specializes in love addiction and commit to working on this issue. 

3.Take a year off from dating, flirting, and dressing sexy.  (This is not about you becoming a nun. It’s about learning to value you instead of getting “hits” from someone else.) 

4.Read Facing Love Addiction by Pia Mellody. (Try not to throw the book across the room like I did when I first realized I was a love addict but didn’t want to admit it.)

5.Spend quality time with your children!

An excerpt from my book “A Sober Mom’s Guide to Recovery” (Hazelden Publishing, 2015)

With over eighteen years of personal and professional experience, Rosemary O'Connor has helped thousands of people recover from addiction via her speaking engagements, workshops, private coaching sessions, and media interviews.  In response to the unaddressed needs mothers have in recovery, Rosemary wrote A Sober Mom's Guide to Recovery - Taking Care of Yourself to Take Care of Your Kids (Hazelden 2015) and founded








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