Recently, I had the privilege of interviewing Sherry Gaba, a renowned expert on relationship addiction and codependency. In our conversation, she shared her insights and personal experiences, shedding light on these often overlooked issues.
Together we cover:
- What is love addiction?
- What are signs and symptoms?
- What is codependency?
- What does trauma have to do with codependency and/or love addiction?
- What is anxious attachment and secure attachment?
- How common is it for a love addict to fall into toxic relationships?
- For someone recognizing the signs of love addiction, what can they do to turn things around?
A Deep Dive into Relationship Addiction and Codependency
During our conversation, Sherry explained the complexities of relationship addiction and codependency. She described relationship addiction as a form of codependency where individuals become addicted to the attachment and pleasurable feelings associated with a relationship. This addiction often stems from a deep-seated fear of abandonment and a desperate need for validation and attention.
Unearthing the Root Causes of Addiction
Sherry suggested that early trauma might be a root cause of addiction. She explained how neglect, abuse, or emotionally/physically unavailable parents can impact a child’s emotional growth, leading to feelings of emptiness and loneliness. These feelings can manifest in adulthood as co-dependency or love addiction, where individuals seek validation and a sense of belonging from their relationships.
The Journey of Healing
Sherry shared her personal journey of healing from addiction, which involved finding a therapist and undergoing a form of trauma therapy called somatic experiencing. This therapy focuses on releasing toxic energy stuck in the body, helping individuals connect with themselves and release energy from past traumas. Sherry emphasized the importance of addressing trauma and seeking therapy or coaching to aid in the healing process.
The Dance between Co-dependents and Narcissists
An interesting dynamic that Sherry highlighted during our conversation was the interaction between co-dependents and narcissists. Co-dependents, with their intense need for validation and attention, often become vulnerable to narcissists who thrive on receiving attention. This creates a toxic dance between the two, where the co-dependent love addict becomes prey to the narcissist who exploits their vulnerability.
The Crucial Role of Self-awareness
“Addiction is really a disconnection from Self.” – Sherry Gaba
Sherry emphasized the need for self-awareness and the willingness to confront uncomfortable emotions in order to move forward in relationships and in life. She acknowledged the human desire for companionship, but underscored the importance of being comfortable with being alone. This self-awareness and comfort with solitude can serve as a protective barrier against falling into the trap of relationship addiction and codependency.
Addressing Trauma: A Key Step
Addressing trauma is a crucial step in the healing process. Sherry suggested that true healing requires stepping away from distractions and being comfortable with oneself. She recommended finding support through therapy, support groups, and 12-step programs, but cautioned that early trauma work should come first.
Sherry discussed the concept of secure attachment in relationships, where individuals are able to attune to each other and be present with one another. This contrasts with anxious attachment, where individuals struggle to be present due to their anxiety and attachment issues. Understanding these different attachment styles can help individuals navigate their relationships more effectively.
Steering Clear of Toxic Relationships
Sherry warned against settling for toxic relationships, which can be exhausting and frustrating. Love addicts may be prone to entering these types of relationships due to early trauma and a lack of self-esteem. It is important to identify healthier strategies for managing emotions and stress, such as setting boundaries, increasing self-esteem, and learning assertiveness skills.
“Relationship addiction is not about love; it is a desperate search to attach, to belong, and to be connected. It comes from a crippling fear of being alone and abandoned, of not belonging.” – Love Smacked book, Sherry Gaba
The Power of Support
Finally, Sherry discussed the importance of finding a supportive community when exploring personal healing. She suggested that shame and fear of judgment can prevent individuals from seeking help, but joining a community or group can create a safe space for exploration and growth.
In conclusion, my conversation with Sherry Gaba provided a comprehensive understanding of relationship addiction and codependency. Her personal experiences and professional expertise offer valuable guidance for those struggling with these issues. By understanding the root causes, recognizing the signs, and seeking appropriate support, individuals can embark on a journey of healing and recovery.
Relationship Addiction Free Resource from Sherry
Receive Sherry’s free eBook, “Filling Your Empty Heart” and access her free “Are You a Love Addict” quiz with the link below:
About Sherry Gaba
Sherry Gaba, LCSW, is a licensed psychotherapist and life coach who helps people cope with codependency, love addiction, toxic relationships, and mental health issues. Sherry is a single mother and once her daughter was old enough, Sherry returned to school to receive her Master of Social Work from the University of Southern California.
As a leading expert on addiction and recovery, Sherry’s TV appearances include: Vh1’s Celebrity Rehab, CNN, Inside Edition, the Robert Irvine Show and Access Live, E! News, among others. She has been featured in Cosmopolitan, Women’s World, the LA Times, Thrive Global, the New York Post, Marriage.com Psychology Today, Zoosk and other leading publications. She has also been a guest on many SiriusXM radio shows and now hosts her own podcast, The Love Fix.
Sherry is the author of Love Smacked, in which Sherry addresses relationship addiction and codependency, and is a contributing writer to the book Chicken Soup for the Soul: Tough Times Tough People.
Sherry maintains a private practice and founder of Wake-Up Recovery an online group coaching program that applies the principals of positive psychology, law of attraction, and mindfulness for codependents, love addicts, and toxic