Love addicts seek to maintain a sense of emotional stability and get a "fix", similar to alcoholism and drug addiction. Described by Pia Mellody, a top influence in the subjects of relationships and addiction, love addiction can manifest itself in two ways: love addiction or love avoidance.
Symptoms of Love Addiction
Love addicts and love avoidants are typically attracted to each other, forming a dysfunctional, unhealthy relationship with unbalanced boundaries. The love addict has a fear of abandonment and an underlying fear of intimacy while love avoidance is characterized by fear of intimacy and underlying fear of abandonment. These cycles ensure that relationships between the two addicts never reach a level of intimacy nor is there abandonment between the two. Symptoms of Love Addiction Include:
- Feeling incomplete in-between relationships
- Setting unrealistic expectations
- Inability to let go
- Having emotionally unavailable partners
- Using sex to hold onto your partner
- Staying in the relationship out of guilt
- Fear of trust
- Fear of rejection
- Feeling an intense need to control
- Accepting abuse
- Low self-esteem
- No sense of self-worth
Consequences of Love Addiction
Almost all love addiction can be linked back to childhood and childhood trauma or to being addicted to the feeling of being in love and a need for drama in relationships. Consequences of love addiction consist of anxiety and depression, loss of job, loss of custody of children, STD's, and forming new destructive coping mechanisms. While love addicts are actively in their addiction, the consequences of their actions may not be recognized.
Love Addiction Treatment
Managing obsessive-compulsive behavior and engaging in healthy relationships is possible with willingness and dedication. There are several treatment options to help recover from love addiction. Some options include 12 step programs, supportive therapy, or residential treatment programs.
The 12 step programs are similar to love addiction support groups that offer education on the addiction and are comprised of people struggling with related issues. Residential treatment facilities vary in approaches of the treatment of love addiction, some incorporating 12 step programs while others use more of a holistic, individualized program.
Pia Mellody created a treatment center in Arizona to treat those struggling with addiction including love addiction and the compulsions that follow love addiction. Her program not only focuses on the love addiction itself but also the root of the addiction and helps addicts gain the clarity that aids them in their recovery. There also are supportive therapists that specialize in the treatment of love addicts.