Do you have a pattern of instantly falling for a person without getting to know them? Does your relationship history include a pattern of becoming instantly attached to emotionally unavailable people? Do you jump from one caustic relationship to another, searching for “the one?” Finally, do you abandon your physical, emotional and financial needs in pursuit of love? If so, you may be suffering from a love addiction.
Love addiction is a term that you may have heard about but experience difficulty understanding. Part of the problem is because this form of addiction is unlike other kinds of dependency.
For example, when someone is addicted to alcohol, they can see, taste and even smell its presence. The same holds true for someone who is addicted to other substances, such as barbiturates, or amphetamines.
For the individual addicted to love however, the “substance” is much more insidious and exclusively involves a person.
What follows is a working definition of love addiction and includes 5 common traits and characteristics which may suggest that you (or a person you know) is addicted to love.
Ready to learn more? Let’s jump right in!
Love Addiction Defined
Love Addiction is a process addiction (also known as a behavioral addiction) that is person focused. This form of addiction involves an individual becoming instantly attached to another, regardless if that person is emotionally available.
In many cases, love addicts become obsessed with the object of their affection and cycle through various stages of Obsessive Relational Progression as outlined in the Obsessive Love Wheel. Love addiction can lead to stalking.
5 Signs of Love Addiction
What follows are five tell-tale signs that you or someone you know may be a love addict. Please note that the traits listed here need to be viewed in their totality and that it is important to take a historical view of your relationships as part of any evaluation.
1. Attracted to people who are emotionally unavailable and abusive
Love addicts are attracted to others who are often emotionally unavailable and many times abusive. Examples include:
- Becoming “hooked on the look” of a person;
- Attracted to others who are emotionally unavailable;
- Involvement with people who may be sex addicts;
- Mistaking sex for intimacy and romance;
- Magically assigning traits to someone they do not possess.
2. Abandonment of the self
Love addicts characteristically abandon themselves, meaning neglect of their physical, emotional and spiritual needs in pursuit of an object of obsession. Examples include:
- Being more concerned about a love interest’s needs than your own;
- Neglect of your physical needs (i.e. diet, exercise) due to an inability to focus.
- Extreme swings in mood, riding a roller coaster of depression and anxiety.
- Abandonment of relationships with friends and family in favor of love object.
3. Self-destructive behaviors
A tell-tale sign of love addiction is engaging in self-destructive behaviors. These behaviors often run on a caustic spectrum and touch upon a number of areas. Examples include:
- Spending money you do not have to impress or “buy” the love of another;
- Use of drugs and/or alcohol to medicate deep emotional and psychological pain;
- Changing your appearance through surgery or other cosmetic procedures.
- Yo-yo diets and exercise with the goal of impressing a love object.
- Commonly has a co-existing sex addiction.
4. Manipulative behaviors
Commonly, love addicts will engage in manipulative behaviors designed to force a love object into a romantic or sexual situation. Examples include:
- Dressing seductively with the goal of bedding a love object;
- Inappropriate sexual, physical and emotional sexual boundaries;
- Using sex, drugs and information to manipulate a love object;
- Purposely inserting yourself into an existing relationship of the love object with the goal of destroying it.
5. Pattern of caustic attachments
Love addicts commonly have a pattern of unhealthy relationships with others that can be traced back to early childhood. Their cyclical nature is repeated over the course of time and characteristically contains elements of instant attraction, anxiety, obsession and some form of destruction. Examples include:
- An endless pattern of searching for “The one”;
- Replication of being attracted to the same types of people over the course of time;
- Engagement in relationships that trigger feelings of abandonment;
- Strong history of need to take care of or “fix” love objects.
- Involvement with others who are emotionally unavailable.
- Withdraw symptoms from a relationship, such as depression and anxiety. These symptoms are only cured when a new love obsession replaces the old.
Love addiction is a very real addiction and is an equal opportunity destroyer – meaning both women and men can suffer from this insidious form of relational dependency.
I am including the book, Confusing Love with Obsession that I wrote nearly a decade ago as a resource for greater insight into this painful condition.
In order to recover from love addiction, a person must be willing to confront the myriad of issues impacting their irrational approach to relationships while exploring early childhood relationships. These early relationships can help to inform destructive behaviors in the here and now.
Treatment for love addiction requires ongoing psychotherapy with a helping professional that is ideally trained in sex and love addiction and is familiar issues in codependency. 12-step programs, such as SLAA (Sex and Love Addicts Anonymous) can be powerful support tools as part of the recovery process.
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