Relationship Addiction

Non-Traditional Addictions: People Pleasing

Non-Traditional Addictions: People Pleasing

Most of us have an innate need inside us to please other people. Individuals who don't care what anyone else thinks or feels typically don't have very positive relationships. But what we are talking about here is a need that drives someone to please others…

More Things to Remove From Your Life Part 3

More Things to Remove From Your Life Part 3

Do you know the definition of insanity? We see it a lot in couples and individuals. It's what many of them need to remove from their life: Doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results! We are constantly amazed at how couples, and individuals for that matter, continually do the same things and are surprised when they don't get a different outcome. Particularly with couples, they will come in and insist on fighting, the same way they do at home, only in front of an audience that they are paying. I will persistently try over and over to teach them to have conflict in a different, more healthy

Addictions- Relationships

Addictions- Relationships

As we continue to discuss Addictions this week, it is important to identify Relationship Addictions. We see this a lot at Imagine Hope. Again, it is one of the Addictions that is hard to recognize if you don't understand what it is. It is "acceptable". You've heard people say, and there was even a song written about it, "They are just addicted to love". This can actually happen. 

What Does It Mean to "Let Go"? Part 5

What Does It Mean to "Let Go"? Part 5

 "Letting Go" is a popular topic in recovery from many things-- childhood issues, addictions, codependency, and unhealthy relationships, just to name a few.  Today we will finish with this week's blog series on what it means to "let go":

What Does it Mean When You Have Abandonment Issues? Part 5

What Does it Mean When You Have Abandonment Issues? Part 5

Imagine Hope Counseling Group has been discussing abandonment issues this week. If you haven’t gotten a chance to read the earlier posts in this series, we encourage you to read

What Does it Mean When You Have Abandonment Issues? Part 3

What Does it Mean When You Have Abandonment Issues? Part 3

Abandonment, as we have discussed in part 1  and part 2 of this weeks blog series so far, is similar to grief.

With both, you experience a loss. However with grief, the more time that elapses, the intensity of the loss decreases. With abandonment, the difference is that the loss feels personal. The intensity of the loss does not decrease because it feels personal.

Why Enmeshment is Unhealthy - Part 5

Why Enmeshment is Unhealthy - Part 5

By now, you are aware of what "enmeshment" is and how to know if you are in an enmeshed relationship (see earlier blog posts this week). What are the dangers of being in an enmeshed relationship?

Loss of self.  When you are in an enmeshed relationship, you lose your identity.  You ultimately lose the parts of your "self" that made the other person fall in love with you to begin with! 

Are You an Enabler? 4

Enabling is a way that we knowingly or unknowingly protect an addict-- which actually helps the addiction get worse, instead of helping the individual learn to become healthier.  Today we will finish discussing different ways we enable another person:

  • Protecting them from negative consequences.  It's difficult to see a loved one suffering consequences, even if they are obviously the direct consequences of their addictive behavior.  Sometimes it's the most difficult to see how we might protect someone from negative consequences when it doesn't seem to be related to addictive behavior.  Either way, protecting someone from negative consequences means that they never have to feel the impact of their unhealthy choices.  For example, if your drug addicted son or daughter can't afford to pay their cell phone bill, so it gets shut off and you pay to get it turned back on.  This might not seem to be directly related to their use, but if they are using their money for drugs and not paying their bills, you are protecting them and enabling.  Another example would be if your spouse is too hung over to go to work or a family function and you call his work or smooth things over so no one is angry with him/her.  Or maybe your wife or husband hits a car while driving drunk, and you get the car fixed on the side and lie to the police so they don't get in trouble with the law.  Natural consequences are how we learn to change.  If an addict doesn't feel the uncomfortable feelings as a result of their choices, they will most likely stay exactly like they are.
  • Avoiding social functions.  When you make excuses to avoid social situations because you are embarrassed by your loved one's addictive behavior, you are enabling them to keep their behavior a secret.  This causes you to become the one in the relationship carrying the weight of shame that belongs to the addict.  It also isolates you and decreases your support system, keeping you even more dependent on your relationship with the addict (even though you aren't getting your needs met).
  • Offer the addict a job.  This is a way that rescues the addict from once again facing the necessary consequences to their actions.  Maybe they have lost their job for addiction related reasons (poor attendance, viewing pornography at the workplace, coming to work while still under the influence, etc.).  Providing them a job is like handing them money to go use, which is enabling.  It doesn't allow the addict to take full responsibility for finding their way in life and being an adult, which only feeds their addictive behavior.
  • Pay for school.  Many times, it's easy to become so hopeful that if an addict only gets what they need, they will be happier and stop using.  This can make a parent or loved one step in and offer to pay for things, such as school, that seem like providing them the "tools" to succeed.  However, when an addict is still using, they will most always pick their drug of choice over the day to day responsibilities of adulthood.  Doing this takes away the addicts sense of ownership for the decisions to get better, and can prevent them from feeling the pride of accomplishment for going through something difficult to make a better life for themselves.  It can then leave the enabler angry and bitter when the addict isn't following through with investing in classes, homework, or attendance.
  • Pay for alcohol or other drug use.  Sometimes the fear of what a person might do (or how they might feel) when they are without a substance can cause an enabler to actually provide the very thing they hate the most.  Maybe you are afraid your child will start selling their body for drugs or fear they will harm you in anger, threaten you or steal from you, so instead of setting boundaries with them and being firm, it's "easier" to give in and buy them what they are addicted to.  It might also be the only way you know how to feel close to them-- since drugs or alcohol are the most important thing to them, you "join" them to feel as though you are a part of their life.  However this manifests, it only shows the addict that you aren't willing to set the boundaries necessary to take care of yourself and that you don't really believe in them or their ability to get clean.  It also can create a great amount of shame for the enabler, knowing you are helping their addiction thrive.

Did you recognize any of the enabling behaviors this week?  Loving an addict can be a very difficult thing, and it's something that most of us can't do without a healthy support system and the help of others to hold us accountable.  If you are struggling with addiction in your family or with a loved one, we encourage you to seek out the help of a professional to work on your enabling behaviors and learning healthy boundaries.  The positive changes of one person in a family system can have a dramatic impact on the rest of a family system.  Even if the addict continues using, you will feel healthier, happier and more whole because you are taking care of yourself-- and letting them take responsibility for their own life. 

Joleen Watson, MS, LMFT, NCC, is a therapist at Imagine Hope Counseling Group. She enjoys doing marriage counseling, relationship counseling, couples counseling, and individual counseling.  Imagine Hope also specializes in family, child and adolescent counseling and serves Indianapolis area including the surrounding areas of Carmel, Noblesville, Zionsville, Westfield, and Fishers.

What To Do if You Are Loving Too Much Part 4

What To Do if You Are Loving Too Much Part 4

Whether it's a friendship or a romantic relationship, each person in that relationship must be capable to have healthy intimacy for it to work out.  Sometimes, we try to change other people to get our own needs met, so realizing that someone else might not be capable of what you are asking for, is important.  This can help you let go of changing them and work on changing yourself and your expectations instead.  Remember, you are worthy of the best that life has to offer!

Serenity Prayer: Wisdom

Serenity Prayer: Wisdom

This week, Imagine Hope is discussing the Serenity Prayer and it's meaning.  So far, we have gone through serenity, courage and change.  Today we will discuss wisdom. The serenity prayer states "God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change;  courage to change the things I can;  and the wisdom to know the difference." 

H.A.L.T.- Lonely

H.A.L.T. is such a great acronym to use for recovery. We have been talking about recovery of addictions but we also use this for our clients who struggle with Depression and Anxiety. This is a MUST for their recovery: to not ever let themselves get too hungry, angry, lonely, or tired. 

30 Questions To Ask About Your Relationship 19-24

If you haven't read questions 1-18 yet, please go back and read them. These are excellent questions this week. 19. Would you ever consider having an affair? If either of you answered yes to this, get help immediately! That is a slippery slope to be considering that. Many people lie to themselves, justify affairs and believe they will actually HELP the relationship. This is a myth! If you really feel so confident that an affair will help, talk to your spouse about it. Get his/her permission first! And if by chance they give you the go ahead, get help immediately! Definitely something is wrong in the relationship that needs tended to.

20. Are you excited about your future together? Hopefully you share dreams together. It's important to live in the present but hope for the future. What do you plan to do when you grow old? What do you want to do for vacation this summer? Get excited and dream together!

21. Do you feel your relationship is a true partnership? If not, it's time to talk! Relationships should definitely be partnerships. Each partner needs to give and take, understanding each other's strengths and weaknesses. Try to utilize one partners strength where the other is weak. If a relationship feels like a parent/child relationship, there is a problem and some outside help might be needed. This can create various issues that we can save for another blog.

22. When was your last romantic outing? It is very important for couples to continue dating. Part of what you enjoyed about each other was the time you spent together...alone. Make it a priority to go out on a date at least once a month (more if you don't have kids!) and have "at home dates" after the kids go to bed. Turn off the tv, computers, phones and play a game, have a quiet dinner, or anything you do to relax ;)

23. Does it bother you if your partner has friends of the opposite sex and why? This question is tricky. It is so important to have good boundaries with friends of the opposite sex. If you don't, emotional affairs can start and sometimes even sexual affairs. It's important for you and spouse to decide on the boundaries. And it's even more important to talk about them if one of the boundaries is broken. This isn't being possessive. It's being accountable.

24. Do you accept each other's belief systems? People are much more flexible with people's belief systems before they get married. Usually it's because they think they can change it. It's important to not only respect other's beliefs but also to try to understand them and how it relates to your partner.

Hopefully these questions will get some conversations started with your partner. Thank you for reading. Check back tomorrow for the rest of the questions.

Source: "30 Questions to Help If You Have Doubts About Your Relationship" by Terez Williamson on

Written by Natalie Chandler

Natalie Chandler, MA, LMHC is a therapist at Imagine Hope Counseling Group. Natalie enjoys doing marriage counseling, individual counseling, and couples counseling. We also specialize in family counseling, child, and adolescent counseling. Imagine Hope serves the Indianapolis area including the surrounding areas of Carmel, Fishers, Noblesville, Westfield, and Zionsville

Relationships: Intimate vs Addictive- 3

In an intimate relationship you know that you begin your feelings with yourself.  You know your feelings come from within.  In an addictive relationship, your feelings are due to someone else’s choices or behaviors. In healthy relationships, we own our feelings.  We know that no one else can make us feel any way.  In healthy relationships we communicate our needs and wants with “I feel…” and “I need…”  In healthy relationships we have our own sense of self and independence to feel our feelings regardless of what our partner does.  In addictive relationships, we blame our partner for our feelings.  We use phrases that begin with, “you make me feel…” or “if you would not ____, then I would not be sad all the time”.    Being in an addictive relationship only gives room for you to respond to your partner’s feelings and behaviors.  There is no room for you to have your own independent feelings.

In an intimate relationship you can take care of yourself.  Both partners understand you are solely responsible for figuring out what you need and communicate those needs to others.  In addictive relationships, you assume your partner will know what is right for you and fix the problem.

In healthy relationships we know we are responsible for our own happiness and we want happiness for our partners.  We support our partner’s journey to achieve happiness and join in the journey when we both want the same thing.  When healthy lovers communicate well, they can achieve support and receive support.  Healthy lovers can ask for help or communicate wants and desires as well as dislikes.  Addictive relationships create double binds where no one can win.  A partner may believe that if they tell you what they want, and you do it, it does not count because they had to ask for them.  If they do not tell you what they want and you don’t do it or if you don’t do it the way they ask, it does not count.  In the end they feel unloved. In addictive relationships, we demand the partner take care of our needs.

In intimate relationships, partners deal with reality.  Addictive relationships are based on delusions.

Lovers who are in intimate relationship live in the real world.  They are able to be together while meeting the needs and overcoming the challenges of daily life.  They are able to make time for each other and come back to each other and reconnect when they have been separated by life’s events.  Addictive relationships are usually based on fantasy.  Many affairs are this way.  In this situation, perhaps a couple is only having rendezvous and not dealing with the day to day tasks of family life.  This relationship is an escape, or a high.  It is not based in reality.

Please continue to check in this week as Natalie talks about more examples of Intimate vs. Addictive Relationships.

Written by Alexa Griffith, LMHC, LCAC, NCC, RPT

Source: Leaving the Enchanted Forest: The Path from Relationship Addiction to Intimacy by Stephanie Covington and Liana Beckett

Alexa Griffith, LMHC, LCAC, NCC, RPT is a licensed therapist and Registered Play Therapist at Imagine Hope Counseling Group. Alexa enjoys doing marriage counseling, individual counseling, couples and relationship counseling. Alexa also does play therapyfamily counseling, child counseling, and adolescent counseling. Imagine Hope serves the Indianapolis area, including the surrounding areas of Carmel, Fishers, Noblesville, Zionsville, and Westfield

Relationships: Intimate vs Addictive - 2

In an intimate relationship you have a sense of freedom vs. in an addictive relationship there is a sense of compulsion. In healthy relationships, there's a sense of emotional and physical freedom that you can say what's on your mind, ask for help, make suggestions and choices that won't result in ridicule or abandonment. In addictive relationships however, a person may feel as though there's certain things they have to do, feel an emotional drive to do, in order to avoid being made fun of, or to avoid arguments. Or, a person may do things to make sure a person feels happy, stays around the house more, or to get approval.

In intimate relationships you feel the desire to share needs and feelings vs in an addictive relationship there are "no talk" rules, especially if things are not working out.

When you're in a healthy relationship, you are encouraged to share your needs and feelings, and are rewarded for sharing (by thank you's and that person sharing with you as well). This is how we get to know each other on a deeper level and create stronger bonds. In addictive relationships, deep conversations are avoided, mainly becuase one or both people are uncomfortable with strong emotion. If things aren't working out, one or both people believe ignoring the situation may make it go away, only to find it blows up later down the road.

Intimate relationships are always changing, vs addictive relationships which always stay the same.

Healthy relationships grow together, mature together and evolve. The couple finds things to do that emotionaly, or mentally stimulate themselves and stretch them beyond their comfort zone. Addictive relationships are like pond-water. Not much changes with them, they don't really have anything to report in terms of updates, and sometimes they report low life-satisfaction when it comes to happiness.

Intimate relationships want to be present vs addictive relationships feel as though they have to be there.

In healthy relationships, the couple feels as though they are choosing to be with their significant other. They want to be in the relationship because of love, validation, respect, and gratitude. If the relationship were to end, each person would know and believe they'd be alright. They know they would grieve the loss, but they know deep down their worth and value is not because of the other person.  In addictive relationships, the individuals believe they have to be there. They worry how their significant other will get along in life if they're not there. Or, they worry about how they will get along in life if they don't have the relationship. They're dependent on the unhealthy relationship to provide them a sense of value and worth.

We hope this week's topic is educational and helping you develop a positive start in your relationships, or change some unhealthy patterns in your current relationships. We have several more to share with you, so please return!

Source: Leaving the Enchanted Forest: The Path from Relationship Addiction to Intimacy by Stephanie Covington and Liana Beckett


Written by: Tamara Wilhelm MA, LMHC, LCAC

*Tamara enjoys doing marriage counseling, individual counseling, & couples counseling  at Imagine Hope. We also specialize in family counseling, child & adolescent counseling. Imagine Hope serves the Indianapolis area, including the surrounding areas of Carmel, Noblesville, Zionsville, Westfield & Fishers.

Relationships: Intimate vs. Addictive- 1

Many clients dance the line in their relationships between achieving emotional intimacy and being addicted to the relationship. The key to an emotionally intimate relationship is that you are an emotionally healthy person to start with, otherwise you may fall into the trap of your relationship becoming addictive. This week Imagine Hope will share the specific differences between these types of relationships as shared by Covington and Beckett in their book "Leaving The Enchanted Forest". In an intimate relationship you are peers vs. In an addictive relationship there is a power differential

When someone is your peer, you feel you can be equal. There is an ability to be friends and feel comfortable having a voice with that person. When the relationship is addictive, you might feel the other person has more of the power in the relationship. This can be intimidating and quiet your voice with them. You might notice you compromise who you are to make the relationship work because of this.

In an intimate relationship it feels mutual vs. In an addictive relationship it feels imbalanced

When both people feel the connection and strive to deepen it, intimacy develops. This is when both individuals are open and vulnerable, bring up issues, and make compromises. Both people hold the relationship at the same priority level. When a relationship is addictive, there are clear imbalances. One person may feel stronger about the relationship working out, so they try everything to make it work. You may notice that one person does more initiating of spending time and making contact with the other. This relationship can feel overwhelming and clingy at times.

In an intimate relationship there is choice vs. In an addictive relationship there is a loss of choice

Intimacy does not happen out of the need to be with the other person, but out of the desire to be with the other person. When you need someone, you might feel you don't have a choice to not be with them. Having a choice and say so in the relationship creates more balance and equality. It can deepen the connection because it is not out of neediness, but out of healthy desire of the other person. An addictive relationship can cause someone to feel like a victim by the other person and that they didn't have a say so. Intimate relationships don't have victims because each person sees how their choices allow and teach the other person to treat them.

This is such important information to make sure your relationship is healthy, intimate and fulfilling! Keep checking in all week for more info to see if your relationship is intimate or addictive!

Source: Leaving the Enchanted Forest: The Path from Relationship Addiction to Intimacy by Stephanie Covington and Liana Beckett


Written by Teri Claassen MSW, LCSW, LCAC

Teri Claassen MSW, LCSW, LCAC is a licensed therapist at Imagine Hope Counseling Group. Teri enjoys doing marriage counseling, individual counseling, couples and relationship counseling. Teri also does family counseling, child counseling, and adolescent counseling. Imagine Hope serves the Indianapolis area, including the surrounding areas of Carmel, Fishers, Noblesville, Zionsville, and Westfield.

What To Do If You Are Loving Too Much 3-5

Do Teri and Tamara have you wondering, "Do I love too much"?  As we continue to talk about loving too much, think about when you first began to have romantic love.  Most likely it was a time in adolescence when everything you felt was "big time".  You felt passionately about many things, and love is commonly one of them.  Often times teen aged romance is clingy, larger than life, or desperate. (see any movie from  the Twilight Saga to refresh your memory).  As we grow wiser and more experienced in acknowledging and controlling our emotions we learn to monitor ourselves and our feelings.  As you monitor yours, do you feel like you love too much?  One way to think about it is, does my love feel healthy and fulfilling?  Or does it feel anxious, overwhelming, or exhausting? If you have already looked at steps 1 and 2, please evaluate the next three steps to help you if you love too much:

3.  Be in touch with your feelings and attitudes about every aspect of your life, including your sexuality.  Make sure you are not diving into dramatic relationships to escape any feelings you may have.  While loving relationships do take work and effort to maintain, they do not require forcing.

4.  Cherish every aspect of yourself:  your personality, your appearance, your values and beliefs, your body, your interests, and your accomplishments.  If you can validate yourself, you will not need to search for a relationship to give yourself a sense of self worth.  You will be aware of your own value.  You will not need a partner to tell you how awesome you are.  You will know it in your soul.

5.  Work on developing a high self esteem so you can enjoy being with others, especially others of the opposite sex, who are fine just the way they are.  That means stop looking for others who need "fixing".  We see many relationships begin where one partner is trying to "save" the other from various issues, i.e.: addictions, low self worth, unhealthy family connections.  Do not choose friendships or partners where you need to be needed to feel a sense of self worth.

I am sure you have heard that you cannot be right in a relationship until you are right with yourself.  Please continue to check in tomorrow as Natalie writes more "how to's".  As always, thank you for reading.


Written by Alexa Griffith, LMHC, LCAC, NCC, RPT

Alexa Griffith, LMHC, LCAC, NCC, RPT  is a licensed therapist and Registered Play Therapist at Imagine Hope Counseling Group. Alexa enjoys doing marriage counseling, individual counseling, couples and relationship counseling. Alexa also does play therapyfamily counseling, child counseling, and adolescent counseling. Imagine Hope serves the Indianapolis area, including the surrounding areas of Carmel, Fishers, Noblesville, Zionsville, and Westfield