From Addiction to Connection: The Value of Learning “How We Love”

“How We Love has the capacity to change not only your marriage but every relationship that’s important in your life” – Josh McDowell

            As a therapist who specializes in the treatment of sexual addiction, the perspective that guides my work in attachment theory. From this viewpoint, sexual addiction is an attachment or intimacy disorder. In the Healing through Connection workbook used in our LifeSTAR program, I wrote about this concept, explaining:

When a secure attachment to a caregiver is not developed, a person is more susceptible to addiction. Flores (2004), states it this way: “No one ever escapes their need for satisfying relationships, and the degree to which we are unable to form healthy interpersonal intimacy determines the degree to which we are vulnerable to substitute [addiction] for human closeness” (p. 53).

In families or other relational situations where there is abuse, trauma, emotional neglect, or disapproval of the sharing of feelings, this can teach children that people are unsafe as sources of care, connection, and comfort in times of pain. Early life experiences such as these often create attachment styles that are considered “insecure”. These styles are described in various terms such as Avoidant, Ambivalent, Disorganized, Anxious, Vacillator, Pleaser, Controller, and Victim. Knowing your personal attachment style will provide valuable insight into how you relate to others. Combine this lack of relational trust with the opportunity for a mood-altering experience, such as using pornography, and it is a formula for creating a powerful connection with a non-relational entity. Over time, this can become a person’s primary method of relieving stress, soothing sadness, calming anger, and managing other moods.

Looking at addiction through this attachment lens, one of the primary sources of healing is choosing to disconnect from addiction while simultaneously learning to connect in safe relationships. One of the best resources I have encountered for recognizing the specific ways a person disconnects from others and learning how to connect deeply with others is the book How We Love by Milan & Kay Yerkovich (2008).



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