Wanting to be loved — and be in love — is normal human desire. But for some people, the euphoric feeling of being in love can be intoxicating and addictive.
Falling in love is a powerful and exciting feeling. True, genuine love is something that’s meant to be primarily positive, although every relationship has its share of difficult times.
Some people thrive only on the high of being in love and may even find themselves dependent on a volatile relationship simply for the rush that comes with its intensity — a telltale sign of a love addict. Another common scenario for a love addict is searching for a new love once the initial high of their current relationship wanes.
As with addiction to alcohol or drugs, love addiction has underlying causes that lead to the condition as well as consequences that come with it.
About Love Addiction
People who are addicted to love spend an inordinate amount of time thinking about the person they love. They want to be with that person as much as possible, go out of their way to do things for that person, and often value their love above even themselves. When the focus becomes obsessive or a person is devoting more and more of themselves to their love, the interest is likely to have become an addiction.
If you find that you’re neglecting yourself in some way or giving up things that are important to you in order to show affection for your love, you may be facing a problem. If the connection to your love interest becomes more necessary than meeting your own needs, this is a major indication of love addiction.
Causes of Love Addiction
As with any addiction, there are underlying causes of a dependence on love. A common thread in people who are dealing with this issue is low self-esteem. They look to their love interest to provide them with a sense of self and to make them feel they’re worthy or good enough.
Closely related to lack of self-worth is a fear of abandonment or some unmet need. Often when someone has been let down in their lives by a person they loved and depended on, they develop an intense desire to hold onto something — anything. The new love interest becomes that thing, and the love addict looks to this person as a source of what they’re missing, which could be unconditional love, attention or simply caring.
No matter what the underlying reason, the expectation of finding what they’re missing in their new love remains a constant theme in a love addict. What they end up with is codependency and not love at all.
Who’s Susceptible to Love Addiction?
Although love addiction affects both men and women, it’s far more commonly in women. One reason for this may be that women tend to be more relationship-oriented and invest themselves heavily in all of their relationships as a rule. A love addict may be someone who hasn’t fully developed their own sense of self and instead is reliant on another to feel complete. They make meaning of their own world through the closeness of that significant other and depend on them in order to be happy.
Frequently people with an addiction to love may have dealt with childhood trauma such as abuse, neglect or abandonment. They now have a fear of rejection and a need to obtain the kinds of nurturing and attention they once lacked. Because they didn’t have a model of what a healthy relationship is, they have no idea how to find one now.
Signs of Love Addiction
Although each case varies, there are common signs of love addiction. These include
- Fears being alone
- Confuses sexual attraction with love
- Feels a strong need for romance
- Has a pattern of serial dating
- Has trust issues
- Falls in love easily and often
- Uses relationships to avoid pain
- May appear “together” but isn’t
- Goes out of their way to avoid rejection
As with other forms of addiction, there’s help for a love addict. It’s wise to seek out a counselor or recovery program specialized in love and sexual addictions.