We can all agree on the fact that genuinely being in love is a special and positive experience. But, the very act of falling in love with a person is a much more complex process than we could imagine. It involves a complicated network of pathways, which is composed of neurotransmitters and hormones that our brain shoots in the body’s bloodstream when we interact with a person we like and sympathize with. Chemicals such as oxytocin and dopamine play a key role in determining the complex physiological act of falling in love with someone.
What causes love addiction?
Studies in recent years have pointed to theories that postulate very close similarities between substance abuse and love addiction. Love addicts experience the same negative effects as substance abusers, inevitably having to deal with anxiety, losing contact with friends and family, depression, sleeping disorders, and complete lack of interest with their passions and hobbies.
The act of falling in love stimulates the brain’s reward system, acting on the dopamine receptors and triggering feelings of pleasure and excitement.
This propels the individual to constantly seek desire and exhilaration, something which inevitably leads to love addiction and addictive patterns in the person’s character.
The individuals who are addicted to falling in love crave the initial thrill of their first romance and want to relive those moments over and over.
Thus, the addicted person will search for more and more relationships to fulfill their desire. According to Robert Weiss, love addicts do not actually seek love at all.
The rush and high of the first romance is often times entitled limerence, which represents the psychological word that denotes the early developing stages of a relationship between two individuals. Although most of us can say that we’ve also been through this state of limerence in our relationships, we can also say that as we evolved on the road in them alongside our partners, the excitement ultimately faded out over time, and became less exciting but with a more intimate and reliable connection to one another.
With love addicts, the state of limerence must be constantly achieved and always be present in their lives.
They try to avoid stress and other worries by continuously chasing the natural high that falling in love confers to them, to dull the ups and downs that they experience in their daily lives by getting their natural high.
What are the symptoms of love addiction?
The symptoms of falling in love may differ from individual to individual and may also be based on certain environmental factors. Generally speaking, some of the symptoms from which a person can tell if their friends or current spouse are addicted to love are:
- Regularly searching for new partners
- Confusing lust with love
- Low self-esteem
- Selecting abusive partners
- Returning to former abusive partners
- Feelings of despair while single
We have to note that this is not an absolute standard and that people who sometimes exhibit some of the above systems may not be necessarily suffering from love addiction. To confirm that an individual is suffering from love addiction, a person who is sad and is constantly expressing feelings of unhappiness in all of their relationships has a bigger chance of being afflicted by the condition, compared to someone who already had a few joyful relationships and just one unhappy one.
Can it be cured?
Although love addiction is very similar to drug addiction, the treatment and methods used to cure the two differ completely from one another.
A psychologist can help people who are struggling with addiction with the use of cognitive behavioral therapy.
The treatment is essentially comprised of therapy sessions with addicted patients, the psychologist conversing with them and trying to discover the source of their feelings and beliefs and to institute new behavioral patterns.
Love addiction can take a toll on a person’s well-being, both mentally and physically, and like any other addicts, they always want their craving to be constantly satisfied. Men and women can get addicted to love just as much as the patients who are prescribed opiates for their pain get later on addicted to their medicine. Love addiction is just like any other addiction, and when people become too preoccupied with it, and start to obsess over the fact that they constantly need to love or be loved by someone, they usually tend to react in the same compulsive manner which is similar to that of drug users, alcoholics or compulsive gamblers.