Love Addiction can be a very difficult obstacle to overcome. Treatment centers that specialize in treating love addiction have begun to appear in response to the growing number of individuals suffering from the disorder.
What is Love Addiction?
Love addiction is not really about love. While a love addict may look as if they are pursuing love with a vengeance, they are actually running away from real intimacy. Love addiction is closer to codependency than love. It is rooted in an unhealthy dependency and poor self esteem.
Love addiction stems from a fear of abandonment and a false sense of identity. It is about holding on to a relationship at all costs regardless of the other person’s needs. The sought after love interest in this addiction is used as an object to fill a very early primal unmet need. They are not viewed as a separate individual with their own unique needs, wants and desires.
This can be quite common and developmentally appropriate in adolescent relationships but can cause pain as it continues into adult development.
Love addiction has similarities with Dependent Personality Disorder, where the person transfers their dependence onto all relationships not just a romantic one. Individuals perceive the relationship as necessary for survival and functioning outside the relationship impossible.
Love addiction is also marked by short dramatic relationships with intense highs and lows. This is not necessarily common in those with the personality disorder. Love addiction differs from sex addiction as emotional attachment is typically not a factor in sex addiction.
The sex in a sexual addiction is impersonal, while it tends to be idealized and laden with intense feelings in a love addiction. The sex addict is preoccupied with the sexual intercourse not the romance fantasy. Neither sex addicts nor love addicts have healthy intimate relationships.
The Severity of Love Addiction
Love addiction is often perceived to be not as serious as other process or behavioral addictions such as compulsive sexual addictions, eating disorders or pathological gambling. Perhaps that is because the word love makes it sound softer and less harmful than the other disorders.
In reality, Love addiction is extremely painful and can be very dangerous to both the addict and their partners. Sometimes suicides, murders, rapes and other crimes of passion have their roots in this addiction. Domestic violence can also have it’s foundation in love addiction. The gravity of love addiction should not be underestimated.
Causes of Love Addiction
Love Addiction is just like any other compulsion except that it has to do with relationships. The unhealthy pattern of relationships develops in the individual long before the romantic relationship is found.
Causes of Love Addiction Include:
- Attachment problems
- Lack of nurturing or attention during childhood
- Isolation or detachment from primary care givers
- Emotional pain
- Early abandonment
- Unrecognized needs
- Fears of rejection, pain, and lack of love
Characteristics of Love Addiction
Love addiction can be well hidden by the addict. The fact that society romanticizes and glorifies intense passion-blinded love in books, movies and songs makes it appear quite desirable. The addiction involves serial monogamy, or a pattern of multiple relationships that often begin with intense passion but end relatively quickly.
Characteristics of Love Addiction Include:
- Inability to trust in relationships
- Inner rage over lack of nurturing in childhood
- High-risk behavior
- Other addictive or compulsive behaviors
- Constantly questions personal values and purpose of life
- Has a driving, desperate, frantic personality
- Denies problem
- Confuses wants as needs
- Serial Monogamy
- Confusion of sexual attraction with love “love at first sight”
- Intense need to control or please others
- Sense of worthlessness when not in a relationship
- Avoids rejection or abandonment at any cost
- Feels that relationship makes them “whole” or “complete”
- High drama confusing intensity for intimacy
- Uses relationship to feel high or avoid emotional pain
- Outer facade of “having it all together”
- Trades sex for “love”
- Perceives romantic relationships as basic human needs
The word love in the phrase love addiction can be misleading. Mature love is about knowing and being known by another person. It is about building intimacy through honesty and the sharing with the other person. Unrealistic hopes, dreams and demands tend to shatter their relationships quickly and because of this pattern of disappointment, fear and dependency are constant emotions. After the end of a romantic relationship, the love addict will find another partner so they don’t have to tolerate being alone. The addict may become obsessed with relationships to the point of stalking, domestic violence and in some cases, homicide.