Love is an emotion we all feel and want others to feel for us, yet, for many, the idea of being addicted to love may seem crazy. However, love addiction is a real thing. Here’s what you need to know about it.
There are many people who struggle with this lesser-known form of addiction. Love addiction can be described as a “maladaptive, pervasive, and excessive interest” towards one or more partners, according to Psychology Today.
A love addict can feel a lack of control, they can lose interest in things they once enjoyed doing, and experience a lot of negative feelings.
Licensed psychologist Erika Martinez shares that up to 10 percent of the general population in the United States “suffers” from love addiction, which is a behavioral or process addiction.
We can compare love addiction with food addiction, because love addicts cannot abstain from giving and receiving love, but they can learn to manage this kind of behavior. If you’re having jut one symptom of a love addiction doesn’t mean that you’re addicted to love, however having a combination of symptoms can be questionable. But a real addiction can only be established by a therapist.
Moreover, if you’re feeling constant dissatisfaction with your love life, take a look at the patterns in your relationship and see if any of these signs apply to you.
Feeling desperate when a partner needs a little space
Do you find it almost intolerable when a partner needs space and puts a little distance between you? Does your level of upset climbed to devastation very quickly? If this situation makes you feel in pain and your anxiety is disproportionate to this situation, you have your first sign of love addiction.
If you experience this devastation, you should talk to a professional about all these intense feelings, says Joyce Houser, a psychotherapist, in her book Someone To Talk To.
In this case, willpower alone is not enough for you to overcome a love addiction, but therapy may play an important part in your recovery, as can other sources of support such as Sex and Love Addicts Anonymous.
Finding it hard to set boundaries
If you constantly go over the line in the real-life, some serious problems might be about to happen. The solution is simple: setting some boundaries.
The word “boundary” may sound like a scary thing for a love addict, it may make you feel like keeping your partner separate from you. The truth is, we all need healthy boundaries. It can bring people closer together because it empowers them to show mutual respect for each other.
Every relationship needs boundaries to feel good. However, if you have a love addiction you may live in a constant fear that your partner will leave you, so you’ll avoid setting boundaries.
Therefore, you choose suffering in silence rather than telling your partner what you like and what you don’t like. Experts explain that a love addict won’t turn down sex even if they don’t want to have it, they do whatever their partner wants.
That’s not healthy at all for the relationship, but most certainly, it isn’t healthy for the love addict who constantly does things they don’t want to do. An important part of overcoming a love addiction may include setting firm and healthy boundaries and sticking up to them.
Cycling in and out of a relationship
If you’re constantly breaking up with your partner and then getting back together, it may feel like you’re in an episode of your favorite soap. Even though these kinds of movies are fun to watch, you probably want a little more stability.
According to Sharea Farmer, a licensed social worker and the owner of RS Counseling & Wellness Center, a love addict may be more invested in what they can do for their partner rather than who they are with their partner.
“This person may be in the cycle of breaking up and getting back together because they see their partner as ‘needing’ them to survive,” she explains.
“To some, this may seem like a normal part of relationships, but usually this person is only focused on improving their partner. What this means for the individual struggling with love addiction is that their identity is wrapped up in another person’s flaws or vices.”
When that happens, a love addict feels obligated to help reinforce those flaws, either consciously or subconsciously.
“Therefore, breaking up and getting back together is just one method of this unhealthy pattern continuing,” adds Farmer.
“This creates a cycle in love addiction that looks an awful lot like codependence.”
Idealizing love and believing it can overcome anything
A love addict it the person who just can’t let go of a relationship, n matter how bad it is, just because they think it will somehow work out in their favor. This kind of thinking may lead to trouble.
“People experiencing love addition generally subscribe to a belief that their love can overcome anything,” says psychotherapist Judi Cinéas, PhD.
“They believe in the power of love to a degree that would allow the person to also believe that they can have their desired results with the other person. The person also experiences some joy in the process itself; they get a sense of pleasure in the contemplation of what could be. Thinking about the other person is pleasing, although these emotional highs can lead to negative feelings or actions when they are reminded that the other person is not interested in taking that emotional journey with them.”
Showing an interest in something just to impress a partner
It’s normal to show interest in something your partner likes, but there’s a fine line between opening your mind to a new interest and faking a passion just because you want to impress someone.
If you’re willing to spend a lot of time on something that bores you, think about why you started doing it in the first place. If you’re doing it just to win over a potential partner, love addiction may be at play.
Clinical psychologist Carla Marie Manly, PhD, cautions, “It’s normal and natural to show genuine interest in a partner’s hobbies, work, and other life interests. However, if this interest is over-amplified or a sheer pretense to draw in a partner, genuine love is generally not at work. When addictive tendencies lead an individual to pretend to be who they are not—which includes feigning interests—the relationship is not being built on truth and authenticity.”
Abandoning commitments to seek a romantic relationship
Love addicts are willing to back out of important commitments like family reunions or a wedding to pursue someone they like.
Licensed marriage and family therapist Shirin Peykar explains, “Love addiction is a compulsive and chronic pattern of behavior to soothe uncomfortable feelings and to feel worthiness through the love of another, which is unattainable. The belief that true love will save them is what gets love addicts into constant trouble because they often find themselves in toxic, unhealthy relationships. Only when they acknowledge their dysfunctional patterns of relating can there be healthy love on the horizon.”
Mistaking a great night of sex for a love match
A nightstand doesn’t mean that you can inspire someone to love you. It’s very common for sex addicts to mistaken sex for love. In fact, mistaking a nightstand for a love match is a symptom of love addiction, according to sex and relationship expert Kryss Shane.
“This occurs when the individual cannot differentiate between the physical and biological reactions of sexual intimacy and the bond created for an emotional love match. In some cases, the individual may complain of feeling as if each sexual partner has promised them the world, then ripped it away. In reality, one person saw the experience as physical, whereas the other (the love addict) felt it to be an instant forever bond.”
Having irrational fears of being alone forever
If you always have irrational fears of being alone, or not being loved, it’s important to find what causes it.
“A fear of being left, abandoned, or being ‘alone forever’ oftentimes hinders my love-addicted clients from rationally evaluating their relationship,” shares therapist Lynn Zakeri. “Instead of assessing whether a partner makes them happy or is good for them, someone with a love addiction will experience a paralyzing fear of being alone. It’s more like the love addict will fight hard to make their partner love them, rather than fighting hard because they’ll miss the partner. It skews the entire premise of the relationship.”
Do you find yourself obsessing over finding a new love, up to the point where you just can’t think of something else? Don’t get me wrong, it is absolutely normal to think about your crush often, but a love addict focuses on something up to the point where they miss deadlines at work and stop seeing friends.
This definitely crosses the line between a crush and an obsession, and it will negatively impact your life.
“Falling in love quickly and thinking someone is perfect without giving the relationship an opportunity to grow is like boarding a plane not knowing where it is going,” explains therapist April Kirkwood.
“Tracking their every move on social media, becoming friends with their friends, and going to great lengths to change yourself based on their comments are all excessive, unhealthy, and self-defeating. Balance is lost, and it’s an exhausting way to live and a disastrous way to love.”
Staying in an unhealthy relationship
If you know that you’re relationship is unhealthy, but you still want to stay, it can be a sign of love addiction. An unhealthy relationship feels toxic and it will affect your well-being. A love addict might stay in an abusive relationship because of a very strong need for their partner and because they don’t wanna lose love.
Christian counselor and relationship expert Kevon Owen explains it this way: “Think about literally any other kind of addiction out there. It would be difficult to quantify the kinds of abuse or harm that a person would go through to get to a substance they were addicted to or to a habit they’re addicted to. Additionally, think about how common it is to hear that an addict has been abused or taken advantage of in their desperation for what they pursue.”
This vision can cause a love addict an immense amount of suffering.
Needing emotional intensity to feel good
Another sign of love addiction is feeling a consistent need to seek out in order to feel good about themselves. Emotional intensity can be anything from drama to an extreme feeling of pleasure or pain.
According to Ann Russo of AMR Mental Health Therapy, the source of this problem might go back to childhood issues or young-adult relationships.
“In these cases, the individual will typically have had experiences of abandonment or lack of expressive love in previous significant relationships,” she explains.
“This can cause a need for emotional intensity. The intensity can signify the idea of being loved and also give the person a sense of security in the relationship. Emotional intensity does not ultimately equal positive love or security; rather, it is a symbol of past trauma that could be addressed healthily in individual or couples therapy.”
Finding happiness only in a partner
If you only feel happy when you’re with your partner, that’s a red flag. Psychotherapist John Sovec points out that there is neurobiology to falling in love.
“When a person starts to fall in love with someone, their body and brain get stimulated and start to release huge amounts of oxytocin and dopamine. These chemicals, known as the feel-good chemicals, make us see a partner as perfect and the source of personal happiness. These chemicals can overwhelm our common sense and make the person of fascination a stimulus for chemical response and, thus, addiction energy.”
Psychology Today reports that being separated from your loved one can decrease the dopamine levels in the brain. The thing that causes a person to have an obsessive personality also makes them vulnerable to reacting strongly to these feelings.