Do you want someone or do you need them? A question not commonly asked, but rather a statement most often made.

“I need you.” When hearing this, it is a common initial response to feel you are that individual’s highest priority or they have the deepest amount of love for you. Same concept with another popular phrase, “I need you like I need air to breathe.” These are highly romanticized notions. But have you ever taken the time to really understand what it would mean to need someone to that extent? It is one thing to romanticize this need, it is another to experience it.

If you need someone to this extent, that is a representation of dependence, a sign of codependency. If you need someone like you need air, then without them you will suffocate. Imagine, the same person attached to you like an oxygen tank, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Still feel like it is a sign of love and devotion to need someone?

Humans have basic needs. According to Maslow’s hierarchy there are 5 levels of need, beginning with food, water, etc…and ending with self actualization. You will notice, the first word is SELF. To be self actualized means to be self fulfilled and to know your own potential.

Wanting is entirely different. To want someone means you do not need them. You have met your basic human needs, as well as your emotional needs as an individual. At this stage, a partner is a choice; a decision one makes for the betterment of life. The goal is to have a partner that enhances the day to day and can be enjoyed for who they are.

This is not to say, because you want someone, life will be perfect every day. There will continue to be challenges, but it will remain a choice to continue the relationship or not. If the choice is to stay, then you know this person sees you for who you are and accepts you fully. If the choice is to terminate the relationship, there will eventually be peace in knowing you will overcome the loss.

Whereas, in a needed relationship, there is a constant fear to be alone. For if you are alone, your air supply will be non-existent. This shows up as entering into a new relationship immediately after one ends. Or staying within a relationship when you know it is not right for you. Both scenarios never allow you to know your own strength or potential. Instead, this constant state of need teaches people lessons or core beliefs such as feeling unlovable, unworthy, undeserving, etc.

Reflect back on your dating history and ask yourself again, do you want someone? Or do you need them? If you have a pattern of needing, but want to learn how to want, the Counseling Center for Sexual Health can aid you in that process. Thankfully, the brain is plastic and can be rewired and reprogrammed. Call us to learn how (805)308-9800.

-Darilyn Shano, M.S., MFTI

Treatment of Love Addiction


Last week we discussed the etiology of Love Addiction and how it involves brain neurotransmission processes similar to the effects of drug misuse. This week, we would like to discuss potential treatment option for love addiction.

Self-help books 

  • Gaining awareness and cognitive restructuring of love addiction-related disturbances.
  • Means of insight include learning to be aware of and discriminate between current love relationships and childhood love relationship inadequacies.
  • Discerning between passion, tenderness (caring), and commitment aspects of love may be essential to understanding the degree of health in one’s love relationships one may have.

Sex Love Addicts Anonymous (SLAA)

  • 12-Step group that most closely pertains to the romantic/emotional aspects, though other groups include Codependents of Sex Addicts (COSA), Sex Addicts Anonymous (SAA), and Sexaholics Anonymous.
  • In SLAA, members learn to surrender, one day at a time, their whole life strategy of, and their obsession with, the pursuit of romantic and sexual intrigue and emotional dependency; they learn to take care of their own needs before involvement with others; become willing to ask for help, be vulnerable, and learn to trust and accept others; work through the pain of low self-esteem and fears of abandonment and responsibility; and learn to feel comfortable in solitude.

Individual Therapy

  • Various individual-level therapy options might be considered. Motivational interviewing may help love addicts understand maladaptive functions of love objects. For example, one may learn through motivational interviewing techniques that their romantic relationships involve an ongoing pattern of issues surrounding trust and intimacy. One may then try to reduce the discrepant feelings by deciding to enter relationships more slowly.
  • Through therapy, one may learn that it may be most prudent to avoid all contact with the objects of the love addiction, particularly rejecting partners, and for one to become exposed to novel environments to facilitate new more healthy experiences.
  • The love addict should learn how to construct a self-support system through the use of guided healthy selftalk.This self-talk might guide one toward getting used to less intense, more constructive feelings toward self and others.
  • Self-management training should be considered to help one redirect one’s behavior. The therapist may establish short-term goals with a love addict that could include signing up for community courses (e.g., photography), participation in meditation or exercise, and making same sex non-sexual, non-romantic friends.

Group therapy

  • Group therapy techniques (e.g., use of psychodrama) may help one decrease illusions toward romantic partners, and help one understand one’s feelings toward long-term significant others such as one’s nuclear family. One may also learn through group interaction how to better participate in healthy romantic relationships, which may be less exciting but more rewarding in the long run.

-Katie McGrath, M.S.

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