John Allan Lee’s Intimate Relationships offers six basis love styles viz. Passionate love (Eros), Game playing love (Ludus), Friendship love (Storge), Logical love (Pragma), Possessive love (Mania), and Selfless love (Agape). In passionate love, lovers get attracted to each other as soon as they meet, and they become emotionally involved thereafter. Game playing love involves lovers who are intimate with several lovers at a time, and do not commit to relationships easily.
In friendship love, the partners in play grow their love out of a prior deep friendship. Logical love, on the other hand, involves two partners who choose each other based on shared social and professional similarities, and the ensuing relationship is based on a viable marriage.
The fifth type of love – possession love – is characterized by the need to control the other partner, and a high degree of jealousy. Lastly, selfless love involves the recognition of the other partner’s interests. Such love is exemplified by the willingness to forgo and sacrifice some matters for the sake of the other partner.
In John D. Moore’s book, Confusing Love with Obsession, the predominant love style for most of the characters is possession love (mania). Possession love style entails a need for irrational constant and undivided attention from one’s partner. The possessive lover in this love style easily gets jealous when his or her lover converses with another person; however needful and necessary the circumstance and context of such a conversation.
Many of the characters in the book, Confusing Love with Obsession, fit into the stated description. Given that, the book focuses primarily on raising awareness on when love crosses into the realm of obsession, the characters in the book exhibit an intense and obsessive attraction for their partners, to the detriment of the particular relationship.
The character that I personally identified with is Nancy. I can relate to her situation because it easily relates to that of my sister, and her character might as well be my sister herself – their actions and analysis of situations is very similar. When my sister met her current husband, she was intensely in love with him and soon, within one month, began to forgo her interests for the sake of their ‘relationship’.
Even though, her future husband was fond of her, it was easy to see that she was the one that was willing to ‘go the extra mile’ in the relationship. Within six months, she was talking about her desire to marry her boyfriend, and before anyone in the family could even digest the news, she announced that she was pregnant.
The consistent expression that I remember in her husband is one of passive shock – as if he were a person watching his life proceed before him, with no control whatsoever. They did eventually marry, and do have two more children, but it is a common perception within our larger family that my sister is the ‘husband’ to him – such is her proclivity to monitor and ascertain her husband’s whereabouts.
There are four phases/characteristics of the Obsessive Love Wheel, as enunciated by Moore. These phases analyze the behavior of persons who exhibit a Relational Dependency (RD) characteristic – an inordinately high tendency for love addiction and codependency in a relationship.
The fist phase is the attraction phase. Here, the person develops an immediate liking for the potential lover/partner, and has an instant desire to develop a relationship with the love interest without properly knowing this person. In this phase, the person focuses on the potential lover’s physical appearance at the expense of other characteristics and qualities (Moore, 2006, p.14).
The person also begins to visualize a future with his or her love interest in total disregard for the need of properly anchoring the relationship on friendship first. The second phase is known as the anxious phase. After both partners agree to a relationship, the relational dependent partner begins to exhibit certain characteristics born of anxiety.
The person irrationally starts to think his/her partner is cheating on him or her. Such unsubstantiated claims fester and the person begins to demand ‘accountability’ in their partner, such as asking the partner to state their daily itinerary. The relational dependent partner in this phase also exhibits an unfounded fear of the partner walking away from the relationship, to the extent of having dreams and fantasies of the same.
The partner also begins to develop a close communication contact with his/her romantic partner, constantly calling him/her on the phone, sending emails and text messages, to have an idea of their partner’s almost hourly activities. Based on unfounded feelings of mistrust, tension builds in the relationship. The relational dependent partner now begins to exhibit controlling behavior such as trying to limit his or her partner’s social contact with other people. The partner may turn violent at this stage.
The third phase of the Obsessive Love Wheel is the obsessive phase. In this phase, the relational dependent person intensifies his or her controlling behaviors, and in the end, the partner walks out of the unhealthy relationship. The relational dependent partner’s compulsive behaviors lead him/her to act immaturely; for instance, s/he might go the partner’s work place or home unannounced, with the sole aim of ascertaining the partner’s fidelity.
The obsessive partner may also begin to spy on his or her love interest by physically trailing him/her throughout the day. The last phase of the Obsessive Love Wheel, phase four, is the destructive phase. This phase signifies the end of the relationship. At this point, the partner of the relational dependent person has left due to the behaviors and acts stated in the first three phases.
The relational dependent person sinks into depression given that the relationship fails. The person blames her/himself for the collapse of the relationship, and may seek revenge on the partner by physically harming him/her. Due to low-self esteem arising from abandonment, the relational dependent person engages in self-destructive behaviors such as substance abuse, inebriation, and binge eating. In this final phase, the relational dependent person is considered to be at risk of suicide.
In reading Moore’s Confusing Love with Obsession, I have gained insightful knowledge on love addiction in relationships. Firstly, I have learnt that what I have always considered a normal part of a relationship – jealousy, can have negative effects on an otherwise healthy nascent relationship or friendship. I have always believed that to be jealous of a partner’s otherwise normal interest in other persons is not a problem, but reading Moore’s book has enabled me to acknowledge that jealousy can have devastating effects on a relationship.
Primarily, obsession as described in the four phases of The Obsessive Love Wheel stems from jealousy, borne of low self-esteem. I have thus resolved to develop a more selfless love to all relationships that I may ever commit to, such as the one envisioned in Lee’s Intimate Relationships: selfless love. Jealousy is indeed the biggest influence on, and determinant of, love addiction.
Furthermore, I have learnt the importance of the need to nurse a friendship gradually as it unfolds into a relationship. One of the main problems with love addiction, as I have learnt in Moore’s book, is that the relational dependent person is quick to move from one level of knowing a person and discovering his or her interest, to another. As a result, the relational dependent person does not get to know his or her romantic interest well, and this damages the prospects of having a successful relationship subsequently.
Finally, I have learnt to look out for the warning signs of love addiction in a partner. Because I have read the book, I can now tell when a relationship is headed towards an inevitable end due to a partner’s obsessive behavior. I am able to tell when a partner is being controlling, jealous, and insecure – the known signs of a relational dependent person.
In conclusion, in a world, that places significance in building and maintaining good relationships with our loved ones, the knowledge and insight gained from Lee’s Intimate Relationships and Moore’s Confusing Love with Obsession will come in handy. The types of love espoused by Lee enable one to choose the best kind of love s/he wishes to give to his/her loved one/partner. Finally, knowing the dangers of love addiction will go a long way in ensuring my emotional and even physical safety, as I engage in more relationships in life.
Moore, D. (2006). Confusing Love With Obsession: When Being in Love Means Being in Control. Minnesota: Hazelden Books.