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Authentic Intimacy: A Solution for Love Addiction

April 11, 2019

The desire for a relationship to work out is discouraging when it starts to unravel due to barriers in communication, sexual intimacy, and varying idiosyncrasies. There are solutions, and it isn’t a foregone conclusion that you live life in an unfulfilled relationship, having to end a current relationship, or without a partner at all. The solution may be the lens from which you are viewing the relationship. In the Love Addiction/ Love Avoidance Workshop designed by Pia Mellody, Senior Fellow at The Meadows, participants have an in-depth opportunity to learn about the dynamics that perpetuate problematic relations and how to take corrective action.

The question to ask is: What are YOU willing to do? While the other person you are tethered to in a relationship may not choose to change, you, of course, have this option. Some may say, “Why bother trying if the other person is not willing to change?” or better yet, “I’ve been in this relationship for decades, and it’s still the same.”


Not so fast. Our human brain has specific types of brain cells called mirror neurons. When people watch other people doing something like laughing, our mirror neuron brain cells get triggered, and we will laugh too. In other words, we imitate what others are doing, and they imitate us. There have been many studies on mirror neurons that highlight this concept. According to research on mirror neurons in the brain by V.S. Ramachandran, “the emergence of a sophisticated mirror neuron system set the stage for the emergence of … the ability to adopt another’s point of view.”

Similarly, in prior decades, the behavioral psychologist, Albert Bandura, conducted research, well known as the Bobo Doll experiment. He concluded that “children are able to learn through the observation of adult behavior.” The impact of what we know from research has profound implications for those wanting to change the dynamics of a relationship. In the Love Addiction/ Love Avoidance Workshop, participants peel back the layers of their lives to get a thorough understanding of how they behave as adults and may lead partners to react unfavorably. In the beginning, the participants are not fully aware of how they are perceived by another. By the end of the workshop, they are confident they know what to do when they return home. This is why working with a professional in this niche and in a group environment is advantageous to healing parts of ourselves that may not be evident in other formats.

The Love Addiction/Love Avoidance Workshop at Rio Retreat Center at The Meadows uses specific methodologies  to alter the destructive relational patterns so that it is possible to show up in our relationship aware, authentic, and loving without manipulating others to change.

As a therapist, I work with people who feel stuck in long-term relationships, new relationships, and at times in no relationship at all. Workshop participants show up willing to try something new because they are tired of living a life repeating the same patterns and having the same discussions with their partners with disappointing outcomes.

In a therapeutic environment, participants learn about the toxic love addiction/love avoidance dance they co-create. They become aware of and identify with a particular role, learn about their dysfunctional patterns, and take action to change. The mirror neuron system that was wired as a child in the family and then played out in adult relationships is examined and re-narrated. Blaming partners is no longer a viable option when participants gain traction with being intrinsically authentic and confident. At the end of the workshop participants often say that the work was “life-changing” and “I came in thinking I knew a lot and wouldn’t learn much, and was I wrong.”

Intimacy is possible with others but more importantly with oneself. Feeling the changes from within and seeing others evolve is empowering and makes room in the mind for hope and love. If you would like more information about this workshop and at the Rio Retreat Center, please visit our website at

Maia Pellegrini

LMSW, PIT, CSAT-Candidate

The Meadows Therapist