Thursday, December 13, 2012

In Octoboer, I had the opportunity to present at a psychology congress in Santiago, Chile.  While there, I was interviewed by "El Mercurio", their largest paper. To view, click here and then select "El Mecurio" (note - article is in Spanish).

Also, here I am with a few of my colleagues that invited me to attend and present at the event.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Love and Limerence: The Nature of Being in Love

What is limerence?

An involuntary state in which a person feels intense romantic desire for another person.  A word coined by the late psychologist, Dorothy Tennov in 1977.

What are some of the signs of early romance that can become addictive?

1.  obsessive thinking
2.  craving or longing for reciprocation
3.  fantasies of romance object reciprocating
4.  moods shift from bliss to despair
5.  shyness in presence of love object
6.  thrives on hope and uncertainty
7.  intensity of focus
8.  amazing ability to show our virtues and see theirs
9.  heart palpitations, trembling, general weakness
10. looking for positive reinforcements and exaggerating the negative

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

The Love Avoidant

The Love Addict seeks enmeshment with the love object but the Love Avoidant avoids being vulnerable to the love object.  They are flip sides of the same coin and highly attracted to each other.  The love avoidant has many unmet needs and does not recognize needs until the love object moves away.  They then feel desperate and do things to get the love addict back.

Characteristics of the Love Avoidant

  • Find needy people
  • Are excited and seductive on the front side
  • Get high from being adored or needed
  • Feel overwhelmed and controlled by the neediness 
  • Begin to move away
  • Feel guilt
  • Unconsciously feel needy
  • Go back or find a new exciting relationship or activity
  • Anger
  • putting up a wall
  • silence or not responding
  • false maturity
  • looking for faults of others
  • control and power play tactics


  • Keep things pleasant
  • Not have needs
  • Not say what upsets them
  • Keeping busy when partner is present
  • Keeping conversations light or minimal
  • Avoid situations that might be conducive to emotional intimacy


  • Addictions
  • Power
  • Money
  • Work
  • Over-involvement in activities/hobbies
  • Drama



Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Mature and Immature Love Relationsips

Mature and Immature Love Relationships
Love and relationship are not one and the same.  Sometimes a love relationship feels loving and other times it feels bad and we do not understand why.  Though there are many reasons behind love feeling bad, it is helpful to start by noting differences between mature and immature love relationships of all kinds.  Here are some common signs of each.
Immature love
1.       Gives to get
2.       Fights  to be right
3.       Attempts to control
4.       Is judgmental and self righteous
5.       Is  mean or withholding
6.       Tries to change or fix others
7.       Competes for one up position
8.       Defends bad behaviors
9.       Growth is stunted
10.   Is insecure
Mature Love
1.       Gives without conditions
2.       Appreciative and kind
3.       Shares power
4.       Is flexible and open
5.       Supports individuality
6.       Resolves conflict sanely
7.       Safe to express feelings and needs
8.       Owns hurtful behaviors and makes amends
9.       Is green and growing
10.   Has a high level of trust

Friday, June 22, 2012

What "Love" means in Iceland.....

I recently returned from Iceland where I did a workshop on Love Addiction.  The people were gracious and very eager to learn more on the subject.  As always, I learn too.   When I encouraged the workshop participants  to say “I love you” to all of the important people in their life—children, parents, siblings, friends, etc., I learned that in Iceland the word love has a heavy meaning and is reserved for a few.  When “I love you” is expressed it means a person is ready for a commitment.  “I care about you” is the phrase used for others.
Thinking about the above, I realize that in our culture many people are stingy when it comes to saying “I love you” for fear it obligates them or makes them vulnerable.   We must not confuse the power of love with sentimentality or physical love.  It is far greater. Like food, it nourishes us and others.  In fact it is the most cost-effective medical insurance there is and there is no end to its supply.  It has been proven to strengthen the immune system, increase life expectancy, produce zestful children, and induce feelings of calm.  And there is increasing evidence that what we often pass off as love—Addictive Love—is bad for our health.
Is It Love or Is It Addiction?  How do you know the difference?

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Love Addiction

by Brenda Schaefer

Real love is not addiction nor is addiction love. Yet, because of the human condition, these two experiences seem to come together and result in the incredible pain and suffering we are witness to or experience directly. We are drawn to the chemical highs love, sex and romance produce. The neurochemistry of love can become a drug as difficult to give up as alcohol or cocaine. Words we often associate with addiction include obsessive, excessive, destructive, compulsive, habitual, attached, and dependent. And when you think about it, some of these words are also used to talk about love. And the similarities do not stop there.

The love addict may understand intellectually that their behavior is self destructive, but physically and emotionally they are drawn into it over and over again. The number and variety of out of control behaviors when love is withdrawn are becoming legion in the daily news: “Young woman ends abusive love relationship and is brutally murdered.” “CEO charged with sexual harassment.” “Coach sued for child support by a former lover.” “Domestic abuse charges filed by wife of a professional sports star.” “Public official caught in scandalous affair.” How is it that we are simultaneously seeking wellness and love but descending into a well of violence and obsession?

What is Love?

Love. Of all the mysteries that enchant us, love may be the one most sought after. On earth we have elevated love in art and song and at other times used the word love in such a sloppy manner that it has come to mean almost everything and nothing at all. The word we use for the enormous power has been known to shape wars and history, create national scandals, justify crimes of passion, turn strong men and women into weaklings, and make fools out of kings. And perhaps because of these same things we are embarrassed by love. We blush when we talk about love, we feel weakened when in it, ashamed we have fallen, and reluctant to admit to it.

But what is love, really? And what does it have to do with stress free living? Everything! Most of the issues I encounter daily as a psychotherapist can be downsized to the most over discussed, under experienced and misunderstood word in the human language, love. Clients ask me: "How can I love myself more?" "How can we have a more loving relationship?" "How can I heal from this failed love affair?" "If he loves me, why does he betray me with endless sexual affairs?" “Why am I afraid to love?” "Am I in love or am I in an addiction?” When I ask outright, “What is love?” clients stop dead in their tracks. Though desperate in their search for it, they have trouble defining that which they are looking for. The search for love too often results in loneliness, anxiety, depression, low self esteem, physical and emotional distress of all kinds.

Saturday, February 4, 2012


Here are four questionnaires to test whether it is love or addiction.
Love Addiction Questionnaire
Romance Addiction Questionnaire
Sexual Addiction Questionnaire
Relationship Assessment – Test Yourself

Among the questions asked are:

  • Has your personal growth stopped? Love-addiction concentrates so much energy on a relationship, sex or romance, that there's little left for individual growth. 
  • Is there a lot of "poor me" or "let me do it for you" going on? Addictive lovers play psychological games, becoming the victim, rescuer, or persecutor. 
  • Have you fallen into the "if only" syndrome? "If only he would stay home"; "if only he were more sensitive"; "if only she weren't frigid". Addictive lovers have a never-ending list of "if onlys" in a never-ending attempt to find solutions outside of themselves.
  • Do you feel abandoned when your lover is away? Addictive lovers have a hard time with routine separations.
  • Do you say "yes" when you want to say "no"? 
  • Are you into power plays? Do you try to "get even"? Are you better at giving advice than accepting it? Addictive lovers are into power and control often feeling that being "one-up" is better than being "one-down".
If you answer "yes" to any of the above questions you may have a problem. Is there a way out? Yes, and it takes time, commitment, support and hard work. And, it can also be fun! To focus on oneself through a guided program of self discovery like the one in my book, is incredibly exciting. The rewards? An awareness of what healthy love is and how to achieve it.