“Love makes the world go ’round,” so the song goes. What happens when what passes for love causes a swirling and dizzying ride that creates emotional disorientation and has one making ill advised choices?
Love addiction is a condition that is characterized by:
- Co-dependence- not recognizing where your boundaries end and another’s begins
- Seeing someone else as the primary source and sustenance of validation in your life
- An inability to be alone
- Serial dating in a frantic attempt to compensate for a solo state
- Using sex as a means of affirming your worth
- Bartering love for attention and affection
- Wanting someone to complete you
- Feeling broken if not in a relationship
- Falling in love too quickly without taking time to get to know another
- Engaging in high risk sexual behaviors
- Obsession over another person
- Putting aside healthy interactions with family and friends in favor of a romantic partner
- Focusing on the fantasy, rather than the reality of another
- Spending an inordinate amount of time involved with thinking about the subject of interest
- Attempting to seduce and charm
- Excessively attempting to please another
- Perpetually on the lookout for a new partner to fill the metaphorical ‘hole in the soul’ that characterizes addictive conditions
- Paradoxical fear of being with one partner since they might leave
- Elevation of phenylethylamine (PEA) — a brain chemical that triggers euphoria that accompanies the state of falling in love
- As is so in any addiction, such attitudes and behaviors make life unmanageable
What Is The Origin of Love Addiction?
Childhood is where one can turn to contemplate where seeds may have been planted. Insecure attachment to a parent, either because of neglect/abuse or enmeshment may set the stage for later in life relational issues. If a child’s physical and emotional needs are met, the likelihood exists that they will be able to sustain healthy and enduring connections with others. If the caregiving adults have their own imbalances that are left dysregulated, the chances are stronger that they will be incapable of providing the support the child requires. When a child is soothed by a caring parent figure, he or she learns to self soothe in positive ways, including when in relationships with others.
What Type of Attachment Disorders Contribute To Love Addiction?
The Anxious-Avoidant type of person feels heightened levels of anxiety as he or she is also commitment phobic; taking on many partners as a means of getting ‘too close’ to any one person.
The Preoccupied personality is ambivalent, as there mixed messages from him or her in which the communication expresses beckoning and then backing off, “come here, go away” at the same time.
The Disorganized type is both fearful of enmeshment and abandonment. Having someone coming too close and simultaneously setting boundaries and stepping back, are threatening.
Mirabai Galashan, a personal and professional development consultant, as well as a chaplain who assists people in uplifting their lives offered some wise words about the nature of certain dysfunctional relationships.
“Love addiction explained in 5 words: Romantic Heroine meets Romantic Heroin.”
There are times in which attraction to another turns into addiction. Sandy found herself, and at times, lost herself in relationship to Vince who she describes as being, “like a drug dealer. He knew just what to offer in the right quantity to keep me hooked and coming back for more. Then he would disappear and I would go through withdrawals. Just when I thought I was ‘clean,’ he would show up again and I would let him in even though I swore to myself that I wouldn’t.” It took deep and earnest soul searching on her part to step aside from the pattern and a recognition that she needed to find her own value separate from this relationship. She knows it is a day by day process.
Working with a competent therapist can assist with determining the origin and progression of the condition, as well as finding solutions to the dysfunctions it imposes.