For most of us, the word addiction conjures images of alcohol dependency or even gambling. Rarely do we associate addiction with love. Nevertheless, it is possible to suffer from love addiction, strange as it sounds.
Love addiction is a condition that leads to the development of fixations, idealization, and compulsions in love interests and results in unhealthy behaviour toward loved ones.
A love addict is addicted to the rush that comes with a new romance. Due to this behaviour, his or her relationships never develop beyond this initial, emotionally elevated state.
When the rush ends, a love addict becomes unhappy, restless, detached, irritable, and discontent. When a love addict is not in a relationship, they feel despair, worthless and extremely lonely.
Signs of love addiction
Love addiction can take on the following symptoms:
- Mistaking intense sexual experiences and new romantic excitement for love
- Constantly craving and searching for a romantic relationship
- When in a relationship, being desperate to please and fearful of the other’s unhappiness
- When not in a relationship, feeling desperate and alone
- Inability to maintain an intimate relationship once the newness and excitement have worn off
- Finding it unbearable or emotionally difficult to be alone
- When not in a relationship, compulsively using sex and fantasy to fill the loneliness
- Choosing partners who are emotionally unavailable and verbally or physically abusive
- Choosing partners who demand a great deal of attention and caretaking but who do not meet, or try to meet, your emotional or physical needs
- Participating in activities that don’t interest you or go against your values to keep or please a partner
- Giving up important interests, beliefs, or friendships to maximize time in the relationship or to please a romantic partner
- Using sex or romantic intensity to tolerate difficult experiences or emotions
- Using anonymous sex, porn, or compulsive masturbation to avoid “needing” someone, thereby avoiding all relationships
- Finding it difficult or impossible to leave unhealthy or abusive relationships despite repeated promises to oneself or others to do so
Genetics, trauma, and upbringing can play a part in love addiction. Love addiction stems from several places like low self-esteem, or other underlying problems. People may develop love addiction as a way to fill a void left over from childhood trauma, low self-worth, or a lack of self-love. Like child abuse, rejection, and emotional neglect can contribute to love addiction.
The four main types of love addicts
- Obsessed love addicts- Obsessed love addicts struggle with detaching from partners, even if the relationship is no longer healthy, or the partner is emotionally distant
- Co-dependent love addicts- Co-dependent love addicts use their partners as their source of self-esteem and self-worth.
- Narcissistic love addicts- Narcissistic love addicts place themselves in a position of power in their relationships. They exploit their partners, using them for a source of attention, ego-boosting, and servitude, among other things.
- Ambivalent love addicts- The ambivalent or avoidant love addicts avoid true intimacy. They can function as the one who holds on to past loves, engage in one-sided relationships and can sabotage their relationships.
Therapy for love addiction
As is most common with addiction, there is an underlying trigger for this addiction. It could be a shame that needs healing or a void that needs filling. Cognitive Behavioural Therapy can be effective for this kind of addiction. It will help the addict to be mindful of his or her thoughts.
This way he or she can avoid triggers and detect signs of the condition in him or herself and afterwards be able to take the right steps in dealing with the condition.
Whenever anxiety is involved, meditation plays a big part in quelling the disturbances. Cultivating self-love can work superbly well in managing the condition.
For trauma, therapists in inpatient rehab facilities can both help provide helpful insight, while recognizing unhealthy patterns from childhood or adulthood that can impact diagnosing unhealthy patterns or behaviour.
Lastly, useful medications for depression or anxiety can benefit the individual.
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