Love Addiction – Signs, Causes & Treatment
In This Article
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.
Related Reading: What Is Love?
What is love addiction?
Love addiction is also called pathological love, where pathological stands for uncontrollable, repetitive strong feelings.
Love addiction is a behavioral pattern that deals with excessive interest and infatuation towards the partner. It means a compulsion in love to take care of the partner and showing intense interest in them due to lack of control.
A love addict seeks excitement and rush in the relationship but is incapable of maintaining a long-term relationship. Such people have a high level of impulsiveness.
Is love addiction a disorder?
We all are naturally drawn towards love. As social animals, we seek a constant exchange of love. When it comes to romantic relationships, we aim at doing the utmost for our partners, placing them on a pedestal, and ensuring enough love, care, and attention.
So, is love an addiction? Can you be addicted to a person?
Often, such behavior can turn into a disorder when it splurges out of control, and we begin to addictively work towards the relationship as if it’s the end of the world. Love seeks balance, and when that is lost, it comes out as a disorder.
Love addiction is a kind of attachment disorder. Here, the person becomes highly dependent on the partner and tends to desert their other interests.
According to research, such a disorder can also fall under “obsessive-compulsive disorder, a mood disorder, or—although rare—part of a psychotic disorder that causes erotomania.”
Related Reading: Can You Be Addicted to a Person?
Types of love addiction dynamics
There are various categories of love addiction depending on the person’s nature, behavior, and repetition patterns. This is often argued to have a high level of addiction potential.
Below are some types of love addicts:
1. Narcissistic love addicts
Narcissism is a type of self-obsession. And such types of love addicts utilize their partner to feel good, important and boost their own ego.
Their partner acts as a source of attention and love. They need to feel powerful.
Also Try:Is My Partner A Narcissist Quiz
2. Codependent love addicts
Codependent love addicts are people pleasers, and they find ways to keep their partners happy only to have validation from them. Their self-worth depends on their partner’s approval.
If their partner is codependent, the relationship makes a solid start but eventually tumbles because of increased resentment over a period of time.
Related Reading: Steps to Fix a Codependent Relationship
3. Ambivalent love addicts
Ambivalent love addicts, also known as avoidant love addicts, live in the illusionary world of love and do not pay attention to their current relationships.
They avoid intimacy and often live in the past or future. This deters them from committing fully to the relationship, causing it to break.
Related Reading: What Is Love Avoidant Behavior
4. Obsessive love addicts
Such types of love addicts are addicted to their partner, and despite the fact that the relationship is not working or the partner has become emotionally distant, they have a hard time severing ties with their partner and cannot stand the distance.
Related Reading: Obsessive Love Disorder: Symptoms, What It is, Causes, Treatment
Love addiction causes
Love addiction can occur for a variety of reasons. Check these reasons to figure out the root cause of the problem.
1. Substance abuse
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 in their passions and hobbies.
2. Psychological built of the brain
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, which inevitably leads to the addiction and addictive relationship 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 oftentimes entitled limerence, which represents the psychological word that denotes the early developing stages of a relationship between two individuals.
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.
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.
4. Childhood trauma
It could also be possible that during childhood, the addict must have faced something severely negative that may have left an impression on the mind. Such trauma can play a role in stopping the person from moving forward in life.
Such incidents keep revising the mind and keep the victim in fear.
5. Lack of self-esteem
A lack of self-esteem will always cause disbalance in the relationship and keep the victim in fear. In the case of a love-addict, the same happens. Low self-esteem will cause difficulties and the victim will feel their lover can abandon them anytime.
Related Reading: Difference Between Codependency and Love Addiction
What are the signs of love addiction?
Is it love, or is it an addiction?
Well, 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
- Excessive dependence on the partner
- People-pleasing attitude
- Neglecting friends and personal interests
We have to note that this is not an absolute standard and that people who sometimes exhibit some of the above symptoms may not necessarily be suffering from the addiction. These signs can also correlate to the risk factors of relationship addiction.
To confirm that an individual is suffering from love addiction, a sad person who is constantly expressing feelings of unhappiness in all of their relationships has a bigger chance of being afflicted by the condition than someone who already had a few joyful relationships, just one unhappy one.
Related Reading: Sex and Love Addiction Is the Brainchild of Compulsivity
Risk factors of love addiction
Addictive love is a complex condition, and there are various risks associated with it. Addiction in any form is a challenge, and when it involves someone you are in a relationship with, it affects their life too, as they are facing love addiction.
Here are a few risks associated with the problem:
- Emotional and psychological problems
- Relationship breakdown
- Anxiety and depression
- Compulsive behaviors
- Involvement in toxic and abusive relationships
7 Tips for overcoming love addiction
If you are experiencing signs and symptoms of love addiction, here are a few things you can do to get over love addiction:
The first step of such a problem is to acknowledge and accept that you have the problem.
If you live in a denial mode that nothing is wrong and the problem does not need any attention or treatment, this will only worsen.
Related Reading: Developing Acceptance Skills in a Relationship
2. Don’t avoid the feelings
Feel your feelings. You might feel lonely and need to grieve. It’s okay and normal human emotions.
Don’t run away from these feelings and hence, yourself. This is you, and this is perfectly normal.
3. Know your strengths
People with love and relationship addiction often tend to give away their power to their partner which erodes their self-worth and self-esteem.
You must know your power and own it at all cost without any fear.
4. Check your triggers
What causes your emotions to erupt uncontrollably? Is it any past trauma or an insecure attachment style?
Identify them and work on removing them from your sight or mind.
Indulge in taking care of yourself. This is a mark of high self-esteem. The more you work towards yourself, accept yourself and love yourself, the more you will attract better people into your life.
Related Reading: The 5 Pillars of Self-Care
6. Learn about healthy relationships
Considering you are suffering from love addiction and haven’t really been in good relationships, it’s important to first theoretically grasp some idea so that you know what it is like to be with the right person.
Once you know, take deliberate steps towards finding such a person.
Related Reading: Characteristics of a Healthy Relationship
7. Try positive affirmations
Affirmations go a long way in changing our attitude towards life or a particular situation we are practicing affirmations for. They will help you become highly positive and drive away negative thoughts.
In the video below, Alan Robarge sheds more light on how to overcome love addiction:
Therapies for love addiction: Can it be cured?
Although if someone is addicted to falling in love, it must be brought to light that it is very similar to drug addiction, the treatment and methods used to cure the two differ entirely from one another.
A psychologist can help people who are struggling with addiction with the use of cognitive-behavioral therapy.
The love addiction treatment comprises therapy sessions with addicted patients, the psychologist conversing with them and trying to discover the source of their feelings and beliefs, and institute new behavioral patterns.
Next, there can also be lifestyle changes recommended by the therapists for overcoming love addiction and to speed up the love addiction recovery process. These love addiction recovery steps could include:
- Focusing on personal strengths and capabilities
- Reading self-help books
- Being a part of support groups
- Avoiding getting into a relationship
- Setting short-term goals
Related Reading: How to Overcome Relationship Addiction and Emotional Dependency
Love addiction can take a toll on a person’s well-being, both mentally and physically, and like any other addict, 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. 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.
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