love turns to hate

When Love Turns to Hate: Sexual Obsession and Violence in Relationships

I’ve been in love and I’ve been obsessed with love. I wrote the book, Looking for Love in All The Wrong Places: Overcoming Romantic and Sexual Addictions and shared my own experiences as a therapist and recovering sex addict. “Many of us are addicts, only we don’t know it,” says Dr. Stanton Peele, an authority on addictions. “We turn to each other out of the same needs that drive some people to drink and others to heroin. Interpersonal addiction—love addiction—is just about the most common, yet least recognized, form of addiction we know.” If you’d like to get a copy of the “21 Differences Between Love and Love Addiction” email and put “Love addiction in the subject line.

Many of us have had the experience of falling in love and over time seeing love turn from warm desire to cold hostility and sometimes to full out violence. The story is all too familiar these days. The headline in my local newspaper reads, “Man Kills Estranged Wife, Self.” The story is both shocking and strangely familiar.

“Upset about the end of his 27-year marriage, a Santa Rosa man ambushed and killed his wife Monday morning as she sat in her SUV in a Coddingtown Mall parking lot, then drove away and killed himself outside his apartment, police said.”

The story goes on to expand on the tragedy and tells us that the couple, who had four children, had recently split up and were living separately. The man, age 52, wanted to reunite, but his wife, age 43, wanted to divorce. After he killed his wife, he drove home, parked his Jeep and shot himself in the head. Officers found him dead inside the car, with a semi-automatic handgun in his lap.

The story goes on to talk about the tragedy of domestic violence. The issues are complex, and it starts with asking questions that often don’t get asked, including the following:

  • What went wrong in this long-term marriage?
  • Why did he want to get back together, while she wanted a divorce?
  • How much involvement did he have with the children?
  • Where did he get the gun?
  • Depression is common, but often under-diagnosed and treated in men. Were there symptoms of depression and aggression?
  • The suicide rate for men increases with age. Did the man have anyone he could talk to about how he was feeling?
  • Did the woman know she was at risk and had she taken precautions to protect herself?

As a therapist, I deal with these issues in my practice. I often read professional articles and books that can help and sometimes even a novel offers insights. I’ve been reading the book, Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn, a book about love, obsession, and what happens when love goes wrong. The book asks “Who are you? What have we done to each other?” It begins with a look at the husband, as the obvious perpetrator and his wife as the victim. But as we learn in the book, life is not that simple. As we learn more about the wife, we see how wounded and crazy she is and how she is much more devious and violent than the man. Yet, both are caught up in a web of pain and suffering.

What really goes on behind closed doors, in our bedrooms, in our hearts and souls? We live in difficult times and the difficulties often have roots in the secret trauma that so many of us have growing up in families that may look nice on the surface, but underneath is abuse, neglect, abandonment, shame, and blame.

We must address these issues if we are going to prevent the tragedies related to sex and love addiction. I look forward to your comments.

Photo by Ian Schneider on Unsplash

This article first appeared on Jed’s blog.

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