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Addicted to Love

Ep #38

Addicted to Love

How often do you find yourself replaying old flings in your head, romanticizing the pain they caused? I used to do this all the time. There was nothing healthy about one of my relationships in particular, but it preoccupied my mind for years. Reflecting on this got me thinking, what is it about love that has so many of us feeling pain instead?

We find ourselves in relationships feeling trapped and longing for something else until it’s over, and then longing for what was. We attach ourselves to people who aren’t available, holding out hope because they are the one and we can’t control who we love.  We spend years in anguish over love. How is this possible? What is going on that in the name of love we feel so horrible?

Renegades, if any of this resonates with you, you need to hear today’s episode. I’m talking about the chemical of desire, the one that has us reeling in anguish over romances mistaken for true love. It’s one thing to love the chase and the build-up, but it’s a whole other thing to love what you have in the present. I’m sharing how you can enjoy the juicy, intoxicating feeling of chemistry without throwing yourself into a heartbroken dead-end role. You may be addicted to love, but I’ll show you how to ditch and delete the thoughts that are keeping you addicted.

What You Will Discover:

  • My story of romanticizing a toxic past relationship.
  • Why we get hooked on the experience of love. 
  • Why dopamine has you constantly wanting things that are out of reach.
  • How the desire to want is part of our human design.
  • How to watch your impulses instead of responding to them.
  • Why you need to be firm on your priorities, values, and boundaries.

Resources Mentioned:

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When I was 18 and freshly out of high school, a boy I had known for years asked me to come visit him in Seattle before I headed off to college. I’d known him since I was 14 even now as I write this I can’t help but shake my head- you see. This love story was fueled with emotional drama. This relationship was the catalyst for my move to hawaii. This relationship was with me for years and years after. I’d think about this person - wonder if we’d ever end up back together- after all he promised me one drunken night while hiding in his house with several roommates. Hiding because we had broken up and he had a new girlfriend.

We are too young to figure one another out but when we are 40 he said, after we live out our lives have kids with other people we will be together. I will come for you, he said. I held on to this, especially when I felt trapped in a loveless marriage - that one day we would be together and I would know true love. I’d have relationship that I’d never want to leave. The longing was real. Intense. I kept tiny reminders of our time together and hid them in secrecy with guilt, afraid that someone would find them the same way I kept my thoughts about us to myself.

It wasn’t until I was in my late 20’s that I began to let go of this fantasy the we would be together one day. I had met someone and started experiencing a relationship like the one I had longed for and suddenly I didn’t think about him the same way. At all. But what I did do, for 15 years was talk about this relationship - the way we have woven in and out of one another’s lives- how I bought him his first guitar and now he’s a semi famous musician. And what struck me this week was that I never failed to leave out stories of emotional chaos- verbal arguments like the one where I jumped out of a slow moving cab in front of the showbox theatre in seattle, and started running down the street. I could hear him screaming my name and I turned around and while people streamed out of the venue into the streets he yelled Ashley kelsch. I love you. And dropped his pants. I stood there with my eyes wide. Horrified and slightly more in love than I had been in the car. The stories were a pg version of Sid and nancy. There was absolutey nothing healthy about them or the relationship and yet, it preoccupied my mind for years and years. And I can assure you it has been a story that comes up 9 out of 10 times when dating stories come up.
And it only just dawned on me, how toxic it sounds. How toxic it was. Why have I been telling this story? Why did I hold onto the idea that he was the one. Was this what I believed was love? Or was I romanticizing my pain?

I listen to my friends and clients talk about relationships, love and dating and Renegades, so often the narrative is one of tragedy.

We have affairs - holding out hope that maybe we will be together- spend time hiding lying and fucking consumed with fear guilt and passion.

We find ourselves in relationships feeling trapped longing for something else anything else until it’s over and then long for what was and getting it back to it.
We attach ourselves to people who aren’t available holding out hope because they are the one and we can’t control who we love.

We find ourselves falling in love and obsessed with where it’s going. Trying to control an outcome.

We spend years in anguish over LOVE.

How is this possible? What is going on that in the name of love we feel so horrible?

What is it about love that has so many of us feeling pain instead? It seems like the experience of love is the opposite of what we imagine it will be and yet we are hooked on the chase. Why?

We know that a lot of it has to do with your beliefs systems around love and relationships; How you were loved growing up. That your brain and body has also inherited from your ancestors a dna blue print on how you will respond to love- some of these beliefs are easier to discover than others. The subconscious programming and inherited behaviors a bit more difficult.

But there is also this other thing happening. This thing called Dopamine. I’ve been reading up on it in a book called The molecule of more.

Researchers used to think that dopamine was the chemical that released pleasure but they have found its the chemical of desire. They call it the reward prediction error. You think of something or someone you want and the motivation to go and get is dopamine. Dopamine has you working for things out of reach- goals that you are trying to achieve. You want to buy a house, get a car climb the corporate ladder requires dopamine. You want to feel good? Have sex, drink alcohol eat ice cream watch porn.

Dopamine is the thrill of the unexpected. Dopamine has you turned on by the idea. Dopamine has you wanting. But dopamine doesn’t have you liking. And there is a big difference. Dopamine will send you out on the chase for love, but dopamine won’t be the chemical you need to stay in love. It will motivate you to work your ass off and climb the corporate ladder, but it won’t have you appreciating your new hard earned position. It will have you out of your house in a minute to solve a food craving but it won’t leaving you feeling good about over indulging in it.

Your brain has a disconnect between the two things; the wanting and the having.
Your brain starts downloading new neuro-pathways in your brain to repeat the behavior Regardless of outcome.

As a matter of fact; once the thing you desired becomes attainable, easy and familiar your brain is over it. It loses interest. This is when we have to start choosing the things. Learning to appreciate what you have in the present requires an entirely different set of hormones. These hormones are referred to as the here and nows. These chemicals ground you into moment.

I was listening to my client tell me how they met someone and it was the best time she’d had in months. They spent 5 hours in a park talking all things life and laughing. “She said,
It was amazing. That night when I got home I felt high. The next morning when I woke up, still buzzing. I had to stop and ask myself, wait; am I attracted to this person or is it the fact that human connection has been so limited these days? Does laughing and talking about shared interests usually feel this good? Or is it more? Is it the pandemic? And we are understimulated?

She genuinely felt confused. So she decides to meet up with him and some friends for a socially distanced dinner and she said- When I opened the door I was like, oh…. yah, I’m attracted to this person… Through out the entire dinner while he was talking my brain was exploding. Is this it? Have I met the one? And then she caught herself… because this is where her brain always goes.

The story didn’t end there… she spent 48 hours with him. Truly believed that they had connected more than just casually and that there was potential.
Her work, which I will outline in detail at the end is to watch her brain and body in these moments. Not react or respond to any of it, but instead write it all down.

She said the morning after they had sex she felt like she was floating. “I”m watching myself and it’s insane. I want to talk to him, about him… I feel completely distracted and glazed over. I‘m trying to manage myself. Enjoy the feelings. Not rush anything. But it’s like being on drugs.” And it lasted all day. She could only think of when they would be together again. Her body was light. She couldn’t focus on work at all. There was also a sense of ‘this is it’. She felt alive. This feeling told her that she needed to pursue it. She wanted more. This was dopamine combined with endorphins from sex. Pure and simple.

We chose to marinate in the feelings instead. She would notice her feelings, describe them and see what thought she was having that created the sensations. She then noted what she wanted to do when she thought and felt that way. But didn’t act on it. Just observed it.

The next day she noticed the feeling in her body was not as intense. That she could think about other things.

The third day still having good feelings about him but wasn’t feeling out of control or the impulse to chase.

She logically knows this is her brain on dopamine. She wants more…she also knows that That when they were intimate oxytocin and other endorphins were released that sent her into bonding…
She also knows she likes the way it feels and has genuine interest.

You see, my client is addicted to love. She loves falling in love. Her friends even tell her when its happening they love to see it because she - well, she loses her mind over it. She doesn’t just go all in- she morphs and materializes into this state of being with the one in love. And it happens every time.

She doesn’t notice other men. As a matter of fact, her usual feeling of being a “bottomless tank of need and attention” is full.

The world and herself suddenly make so much sense. The whole, they complete me and make me want to be a better person is more of a dna blueprint than hallmark sentiment.

But it’s a false sense of pleasure. There is always a negative consequence for her.
And when it’s over - the emotional response is devastation. Every time. She gets just as consumed in the over as she does the beginning.

She tells me “I just want to be desired by a man. It’s been so long and I miss it.”

She has a history of going all in before she knows the other person and repeatedly falls for fast and furious. She gets swept up in the rush of feelings from texting, having someone get her and believes because of their actions and her feelings, that it must be real and true. She was familiar with the roller coaster of back and forth- the insane highs and lows from making up and breaking up. Wanting something I couldn’t have- being chased only to be left.

Again, Dopamine is the predication reward circuit. It’s all about what happens before the outcome.

Re wiring her thinking about love and relationships has required her attention daily. Especially because she’s realized how disillusioned she is by the idea of finding the one. She believed that this would satisfy her. That being desired by someone would fulfill her. She is also very clear on her pattern to find herself devoted and reminiscing about her past and failed relationships. Pursuing people that aren’t available- her pattern to repeat feelings of pain.

Recognizing this, combined with an understanding of what is happening from the release of dopamine has empowered her to make decisions from a place of presence. She has decided ahead of time how she wants to be in a relationship and practices being this person ahead of time.

She can now see herself when she starts talking to someone and watch how she starts to think. How she starts to behave. It’s not new anymore. She can also see How her thinking about finding the one has actually been a false sense of reward with a net negative. That the desire to want is a human design, not a sign of finding her soulmate.

Acknowledging what is happening in your mind and body- watching your impulses rather than responding to them starts the rewiring process.

She’s observing her reaction then choosing her response.

So what do we do?
We know we want to date. But we don’t want to keep re writing the same love story. How do we enjoy the juicy, intoxicating feelings of chemistry and connection but not throw ourselves into the same heartbroken dead end role?

I want you to ask yourself What do I look like in love? What happens? How do I feel? What am I creating in my romantic relationships? How long has it been this way? Can you look back to the beginning and see how you show up?

Know your terms of engagement; your boundaries values and priorities. This is the architecture of who you are. Don’t compromise who you are and what you want, Renegades. I’m not just talking about if you want marriage kids or an open relationship but also your boundaries around your body, mind and time. Know all of it.

Take your time. We get so caught up in where the relationship is going, trying to control and mange the outcome that we miss out on the process and the opportunity to learn about ourselves. What we want and don’t want.

Journal it. Get it out of your head on and paper. See the thoughts you are experiencing as well as the feelings so you can create awareness.
The key to doing thought work is knowing that you have on average to 60000 thoughts a day. Half of those thoughts are going to be negative- maybe even more. Here’s the thing though Renegades; You don’t have to subscribe. Just because you are thinking a thought doesn’t mean its true. The thoughts you have about yourself , your past - how you dated- are not facts. When you start observing your thinking, keep an open mind and remain as non judgmental as possible. If the belief doesn’t serve you- ditch and delete.

Design and Align. New thoughts. New Feelings. New Behaviors Decide ahead of time how you want to be in a relationship and start practicing being this person. In your perfect relationship how do you talk? What is the feeling you want? What thoughts would you need to create to feel that way? How do you behave in a happy loving relationship?

This process doesn’t guaranty you end up with the one- well, let me clarify that. You end up with you. You learn what love is and you start practicing it with yourself. So in that sense, you do. What it does is guaranty a new way of dating consciously. Suddenly relationships aren’t happening to you and you have authority over yourself.

Next week we are going to talk about dopamines drive to send people on endless pursuit of hook ups and how to channel that energy to more productive things.
Sexy, I know.

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