I think I might be addicted to my best friend. We have been friends for 10 years, since we started high school together. We graduated 5 years ago, and since then we have become even closer. We used to see each other every week and talk online every night and day. But in the last year, I have been engaged to my fiancé, and so things have been wound back to once every 2-3 weeks and chatting about once per week.
If I don’t get my regular dose of my best friend, I suffer from severe withdrawal. I tried to stay away for a month once, and after a month I was OK, but the second I heard from him I went back to my old ways. Often I can’t start the day without a text message or some form of contact with him. My fiancé says he understands that the friendship is important, and he has described it as beautiful. But I’m scared that when I’m married and move away, things are going to be different between me and my best friend. Am I addicted to my friend? Is this behavior harmful?
A while back, Howard Halpern wrote a book on How to Break Your Addiction to a Person [Amazon-US | Amazon-UK]. Although it was primarily geared to helping folks who had become enmeshed in destructive and abusive relationships and still couldn’t find the strength to get out of those relationships, there are some good guidelines in the book about how to recognize whether the relationship you have with someone is wholesome or is rooted in an unhealthy need or possibly even an “addiction.”
Halpern notes that the essential commonality among addicts, whether their addiction is to a substance or to a person, is the fact that they experience a sense of incompleteness, emptiness, despair, sadness, and being lost unless they are connected to something or someone outside of themselves. This something or someone then becomes the center of their existence, and they go through “withdrawal” without it. On top of that, they’re often willing to endure a great deal of emotional pain and harm to keep the connection intact.
So, if these descriptions accurately describe your relationship with your friend, you might indeed have an unhealthy addiction to that person. But there are several other possibilities potentially at play here, so it may be best to get an assessment of the situation directly with a professional. It’s important to learn just what might be going on with respect to your relationship not only with your best friend or fiancé, but also with others in general.
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All clinical material on this site is peer reviewed by one or more clinical psychologists or other qualified mental health professionals. Originally published by Dr Greg Mulhauser, Managing Editor on .on and last reviewed or updated by