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The signs of love addiction and how to overcome it

4 min read

The signs of love addiction and how to overcome it
Love addiction can lead people to neglect their work, relationships and wellbeing for the sake of romance. Here's how to build more healthy connections
Do you ever feel like you were born to be in love or born to love someone? Has your response to someone asking you what you wanted to be when you grow up ever been, “to be in love?” Well, chances are you might be a love addict.
Being in love is something most of us aspire to. How could we not with all the fairytales, romantic comedies and a global holiday dedicated to love?
Human beings are naturally hard-wired to partake in and enjoy feelings of love. Love is a wonderful experience that fills us with a cocktail of hormones and reminds us of the pleasures of life.
While the desire to be in love is perfectly normal, it can also take a dark turn and lead us down a path of endless self-destruction. A path that can be difficult to recover from.

What is love addiction?

Love addiction, also known as emotional dependence or affective dependence, is defined as a condition that causes an individual to develop an unhealthy and obsessive fixation with a love interest. It is marked by an unhealthy preoccupation with being in love. 
Plenty of experts have debated the validity of love addiction throughout the years, as well as the appropriateness of the label. 
"It is marked by an unhealthy preoccupation with being in love"
While love addiction can cause an individual emotional distress and consist of harmful behavioural patterns, love addiction is not the same as substance abuse.
Substance abuse can be life-threatening and using the term addiction to describe emotional dependence can downplay the seriousness of “real” addictions
In addition to that, the term addiction comes with stigma which can cause individuals with a love addiction to feel shame and make it difficult for them to seek out help. 

Love addiction symptoms

man touching face of woman with love addiction
Although love addiction isn’t one of the addictions named in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Health Disorders, its effect on people’s lives is very real. 
Love addiction can occur within familial and platonic relationships, and relationships with strangers, but it is more common within romantic relationships.
There criteria for love addiction varies from expert to expert, however the most common signs of a love addiction are:
  • Intrusive thoughts—It’s perfectly normal to be preoccupied with a love interest during the honeymoon phase of a relationship. However, having pervasive thoughts about a love interest or being in love that interfere with your ability to perform at school or work or disrupt your sleep isn’t healthy.
  • Poor decision making—Relationships require sacrifice, however uprooting your life, quitting or changing your career, or cutting ties with loved ones for a fairly new relationship isn’t healthy.
  • Hyper-fixation on object of affection—Everyone becomes preoccupied with spending time with a new love interest, however skipping school or work and cancelling plans with loved ones is an issue.
  • Separation anxiety—It’s normal to miss a love interest, but being distressed by their absence may be an indication of an unhealthy attachment to them.
  • Using love a form of escapism—Life is challenging and seeking support from others can help us cope with life’s stressors with greater ease. However, using romantic relationships as a way to escape your problems or chronic unhappiness is unhealthy.
  • Only finding joy in being coupled up—Relationships of all kinds can provide so much happiness and increase our overall satisfaction, however romantic relationships shouldn’t be used as a source of happiness in place of hobbies, a career, etc.
  • Serial monogamy—An inability to stay single is the most common sign of love addiction. Most love addicts have been in back-to-back long-term relationships from as early as 12 years old. A fear of being alone and an insatiable need to be loved are the most common reasons for this.
  • Inability to leave toxic relationships—Commitment to making a relationship work is required for the longevity of a relationship, however being unable to leave toxic relationships may be an indicator of a love addiction or trauma bond.
A trauma bond is described as an emotional bond that arises from a cyclical pattern of abuse. Love addicts often pursue and stay in relationships regardless of the quality of them.
Research suggests feelings of intense romantic love activate the same regions of the brain as substance use disorders.
Addictive substances, like alcohol and nicotine, trigger the release of a feel-good brain chemical called dopamine, and evidence suggests love can do the exact same.
Love addiction can be a product of genetics or childhood trauma. It can be a manifestation of an existing mental health condition, such as depression or obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), or a manifestation of an anxious attachment style from an inconsistent or rejecting caregiver.
It’s not uncommon for people with a love addiction to struggle with chronic depression and low self-esteem

Recovery from love addiction

man sitting on bench and smiling at phone
Though difficult, it is not impossible to heal a love addiction.
Popular forms of “treating” love addiction involve cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) and  dialetical behavioural therapy (DBT). 
CBT can help to address persistent thought patterns that drive compulsive behaviours, while DBT can help you learn new strategies for coping with emotional distress and regulation.
Medication can also be used in cases where the love addiction is a manifestation of a particular mood disorder
"Love addicts tend to neglect themselves and their lives"
Lastly, support groups like Sex and Love Addicts Anonymous are dedicated to helping people stop their compulsive romantic behaviour. 
Because love addicts tend to neglect themselves and their lives, you can also learn how to prioritise yourself, enjoy your time alone, rely on family and friends and pursue meaningful work.
When done correctly, romantic love can be healing and nourishing, and everyone deserves to experience that kind of love. 
If you or a loved one struggle with love addiction, please contact Infinity Addiction on 0800 334 5541.
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