Almost every adult has been involved in at least one romantic relationship in their life. Nonetheless, very few have ever wondered what codependent romantic relationships are and what characteristics do the person has who tends to codependency. The issue under discussion is a complex emotion that results in many undesired qualities, while relationship closeness refers to the extent of interdependence between individuals in a close relationship. In this regard, Redlick (2016) explains that it is natural for partners to feel jealous in relationships which degrees can be the manifestation of codependency. Codependency or love addiction (pathological love) is a behavior which is characterized by the repeating and uncontrollable romantic manifestation of care and attention to the partner. Similar relationships, as a rule, arise between two addicts having different psychological portraits. The most indicative co addictive relations are developed at the love addict with the addict of avoiding. At such relations, the intensity of emotions and their extremeness both in positive and in the negative relation acts into the forefront. Notably, the codependent relations can arise between parent and child, husband and wife, friends, some specialists and their clients. However, this research will focus on the love addiction within the context of non-married couples and the psychological portrait of the codependent person. Consequently, the hypothesis of this study consists in the statement that the love-addicted individual is the egocentric person, possessing martyr complex.
In the broadest sense, codependency is an emotional dependence of one person on significant Another. In the relations which are called codependent, the space for the free development of the personality practically vanishes. Human life is completely absorbed by significant Another. In this cases, the codependent person lives their partner’s life. According to Sussman et al., the codependent person ceases to distinguish own requirements and the purposes from the purposes and needs of their partner (Sussman et al., 2014).
Psychologists note that the egocentrism (“obsession with oneself”), the aspiration to transfer responsibility for important decisions and the destiny to other people, tendency to choose the dominating partners leading his life will be characteristic features of codependent personality. … writes: “The person with a complex of self-abasement builds the relations with significant people by the principle of love through the refusal of own autonomy and dissolution of the psychological territory in the territory of the partner. He calms the uneasiness and as much as possible, avoids the fear of failure and fear of success if transfers responsibility for the life to significant Another” (Freimuth et al., 2008). However, according to psychologists, the self-humiliated person seldom makes the wrong choice of the partner: they feel the inclination to the dominating people, and those see in such type of people the fertile field for the satisfaction of the needs for the power and control. Such psychological type can appear as the dependent partner in the unregistered matrimonial union.
For the egocentric personality, marriage is a big test, including it concerns also legally issued marriage. Often the egocentrism inherent in both partners leads to cancellation of the marital relations. However it appears, chances when egocentric persons can “feed” each other in joint life and, let it is disharmonious, but to satisfy the requirements. It can occur when the partners inclined to the creation of the codependent relations meet each other. The disharmonious unions which are characterized by the violation of balance in the relations of partners become a subject of special consideration in work of MacLaren and Best (2010). They consider that at such unions usually there is the “leading” partner on whom depends whether the relations will remain, and “subordinate” who is more emotionally involved in these relations and “holds” them more. The “leading” partner is less keen on this communication. Therefore, they are more self-assured, and it turns out that they kind of allows to love themselves. “Subordinate” agrees to any conditions if only to keep communication with “leader” therefore they are constantly worried, they are not self-confident, they are anxious with the thought how to please the partner (MacLaren & Best, 2010). Though the American psychotherapists note that the role of the dependent is more often falls to the women, but it does not mean at all that men cannot appear in this situation.
Data on the prevalence of love addictions in the population are very small. D. Cook (1987) in the research of 604 students of the American colleges has reported that the love addiction is the most widespread addiction and meets more than at ¼ selections. Similar data have been obtained on the selection of the Canadian students (Alexander & Schweighofer, 1989). Later on, selection of 948 students of colleges V. McLaren and D. Best (2010) have found a love addiction in avoiding addiction option in 11,9% of cases. The figure of 34,3% is given in one of the last researches: displays of a love addiction at the American senior school students during the previous life are so estimated (Sussman et al., 2014). Possibly, such high rates are connected with features of selections – young people, students. Meanwhile, most researchers estimate the prevalence of love and sexual addiction at populations of adults from 3% to 6% (Sussman et al., 2011). Certain neurobiological correlates of love addiction are revealed. In this regard, Freimuth et al. claims that neurophysiological models of all dependencies can also be applied to love addiction: an object of dependence is overestimated (Freimuth et al., 2008). Award level at the realization of addiction and the memory of it provokes motivation: simple desire has become a necessity, and cortical control of behavior became insufficient.
According to Aaron et al., for addictive love, as well as for other addictions, the level of dopamine determines pleasure extent (Aaron et al., 2005). The love and surfactant are powerful modulators of the level of dopamine transmission, so, and pleasure degrees. Oxytocin is involved in the formation of love addiction, and its role can also help to understand mechanisms of its formation.
Respectively, proceeding from the logic of the codependent relationships, it is worth noticing that the people who are more inclined to such type of relationships can be characterized as egocentric individuals. In addition, such personalities are inclined to partners possessing all qualities allowing them to take the dominating position (Freimuth et al., 2008). That among other types of the people creating the codependent relations is the person with a martyrdom complex differing in persuasive aspiration to love and simultaneous aspiration to domination, superiority, wishing to see near the people helpless to feel the importance and indispensability. The love of the martyr, in essence, is an urgent need for dissolution of for Another and at the same time in the absorption of Another (Freimuth et al., 2008). Therefore to hope that the martyr is capable of the adult relations and can reach harmony in the marital union is not necessary. Moreover, it is unlikely such person is capable of finding satisfaction in them due to the martyrdom complex. Therefore, their marital relations and the partner will be mutually additional to martyr and their problems.
The proposed study will be aimed at confirming the hypothesis that the love-addicted individual is the egocentric person, possessing martyr complex. It will be especially useful to reveal the tendency to martyr complex and codependency at young people in romantic relationships. Only participants who are eighteen years and older will be selected. A convenience sample of one hundred couples from an introductory psychology course will be recruited in the proposed study. Only those individuals who are involved in a romantic relationship will be included in the research. Additionally, all the eligible participants will be required to recruit a married couple, such as their parents or friends. People unable to meet this requirement will be excluded from the research.
The research will include at least five hundred couples, which is thousands hundred participants. The undergraduates will receive extra credit in their psychology courses. The procedural aspects of the study will be first presented to the institutional review board, as well as the psychology department in the institution for approval. After the authorization is sought, all the participants will be required to sign an informed consent form, which will be uploaded on the school website. They will provide the researcher with details of the selected couples, and the link to the document will be sent to these emails.
The participants will be required to have been in a relationship for at least six months with their current partner. Qualitative research methods, for example, questionnaires and interviews, will be used for data collection. Some scales will be used to measure the level of codependency in romantic relationships and the level of martyr complex. The subscales of relationship closeness inventory will further assess relationship closeness in the participants. In the data analysis stage, transcriptions of the data collected and recorded using audio-visual devices will be sought to obtain precise information.
Alexander B.K., Schweighofer A.R.F. (1989). The prevalence of addiction among university students. Psychology of Addictive Behaviors, vol. 2, pp. 116–123.
Aron A., Fisher H., Mashek D.J., Strong G., Li H., Brown L.L. (2005). Reward, motivation, and emotion systems associated with early‐stage intense romantic love. Journal of Neurophysiology, vol. 94, pp. 327–337.
Cook D. R. (1987). Self‐identified addictions and emotional disturbances in a sample of college students. Psychology of Addictive Behaviors, vol. 1, pp. 55–61.
Freimuth M., Waddell M., Stannard J., Kelley S., Kipper A., Richardson A. (2008). Expanding the scope of dual diagnosis and co‐addictions: Behavioral addictions. Journal of Groups in Addiction & Recovery, vol. 3, pp. 137–160
MacLaren V.V., Best L.A. (2010). Multiple addictive behaviors in young adults: Student norms for the Shorter PROMIS Questionnaire. Addictive Behaviors, vol. 35, pp. 252–255.
Redlick, M. (2016). The green-eyed monster: Mate value, relational uncertainty, and jealousy in romantic relationships. Personal Relationships, 23(3), 505-516. Retrieved from https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/pere.12140
Sussman S., Arpawong T.E., Sun P., Tsai J., Rohrbach L.A., Spruijt‐Metz D. (2014). Prevalence and co‐occurrence of addictive behaviors among former alternative high school youth. Journal of Behavioral Addictions, vol. 3, no. 1, pp. 33–40.
Sussman S., Lisha N., Griffiths M.D. (2011). Prevalence of the addictions: A problem of the majority or the minority? Evaluation and the Health Professions, vol. 34, pp. 3–56.