What Is Love Addiction?
People develop addictions to shield themselves from intolerably painful feelings. An addiction always creates harmful, often ignored consequences. Only when the addiction becomes unmanageable will people do something about it.
Love addiction is a form of compulsive and chronic craving behavior. A person affected by it is in desperate pursuit of engaging oneself into love as depicted in romantic literature, movies, and fictions. This pursuit of love in patients is a desperate effort to achieve a sense of security, and to feel worthwhile for another person. Typically, love addicts survived on the drug of romantic illusion where the eternal fantasy presents that another person can and will sue their agony by loving them unconditionally.
Anyone who has ever been in love knows what one-sided love is, how it feels to get hurt, or how the breaking of the fairytale illusion feels. Imagine going through that pain again and again, and the impact it has on a person. While most of us would become sour towards love at this point, a little cynical, or at the very least a little careful, the love addict dives headfirst into it, believing that love fixes all.
The initial feeling of love eventually wears off and is replaced by a sense of security, comfort, and familiarity. The love addict, however, craves the high feeling of initial attraction and spark; once this high feeling dies down, the love addict, like any other addict, would go in search of these feelings elsewhere. Love addicts continue to move from relationship to relationship, crush to crush, just for the sake of getting that feeling. Love addicts are unaware of their addiction to this unhealthy behavior or obsession, which makes it all the more serious. Peele and Brodsky (1992) proposed that when unhealthy childhood needs carry over into adult relationships, disastrous and unhealthy dependency occurs.
Traits of a Love Addict
Mellody (2003) described three characteristics that sum up the major behavioral symptoms :
1. Love addicts assign a disproportionate amount of time, attention, and “value above themselves” to the person to whom they are addicted, and this focus often has an obsessive quality about it.
2. Love addicts have unrealistic expectations for unconditional positive regard from the other person in the relationship.
3. Love addicts neglect to care for or value themselves when they are in a relationship.
Identifying a love addict is tricky but not impossible. While you might originally perceive a love addict as someone just searching for the right partner, you need to look out for these signs to avoid getting into a relationship with someone who might walk away from you at any time. If your partner has most of these signs, then he or she is probably a love addict and you need to get them help now. If you are a love addict then it is better to get therapy immediately to find that fulfillment and happiness you are looking for.
- Feeling worthlessness or emptiness when all alone
- Mistaking sexual attraction for love
- Looking at love and romance as a need rather than a want
- Falling in love frequently and easily
- Going to great lengths to avoid rejection and abandonment
- Undergoing periods of depression and sadness
- Leaning towards other addictions and compulsions
- Needing a relationship to be happy and perfect all the time
- Having a pattern of serial dating or a string on relationships
- Obsessing over finding true love
- Having dramatic and all-consuming relationships only for them to end quickly
- Denying there is a problem when there is one
- Being very compulsive when it comes to romantic attachments and relationships
- Being extremely controlling
- Taking the end of a relationship very badly and slipping into depression
- Using relationships and partners to take mind off of feelings of emotional pain and personal problems
- Believing in a Utopian love, where love conquers and fixes all
- Having trouble trusting partners in relationships
- Being over pleasing towards others, especially one’s partner
- Having trouble coping with not being in a relationship even for a short while
- Lacking sense of self identity and self-fulfillment
- Worrying unnecessarily about being alone
How Can Love Addiction Be Treated?
Mellody (2004) recommends three distinct areas to be addressed for treatment:
- specifically addressing love addiction
- recovery from codependents to accompany recovery from love addiction
- learning to apply information about the nature of healthy relationships to one’s life
Addicts typically live with an early history of emotional neglect or abuse, where they live in distress/hurt, and fantasize about an ideal rescuer, rather than being in a genuine relationship. So, most relationships have nothing to do with having love in one’s present but has everything to do with lacking love in one’s past.
Treatment involves individual psychotherapy, group psychotherapy, and intensive outpatient treatment.
Make your life more worthwhile, happy and fulfilled by getting the necessary help to overcome your love addiction. Call (805) 308-9800.