5 Crucial Truths About Love Addiction

Posted by on 11 17 14 in Love Addiction News | Comments Off on 5 Crucial Truths About Love Addiction

Love addiction is a misunderstood issue. It’s generally grouped together with sex addiction, as a sort of less-raunchy relative of the problem. This has contributed to the misunderstanding, since sex and love addiction are distinct issues relating to different elements of intimacy, but the more serious issue is the disagreement among experts about the definition. It’s currently not recognized by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (the DSM), although the term “love addiction” was coined in 1945 and became popular in the ’70s—coinciding with the founding of Sex and Love Addicts Anonymous. To address some of the misconceptions surrounding the issue, The Fix.com writer Laura Barcella presents five crucial truths about love addiction.

Truths About Love Addiction

1.Five Crucial Truths About Love Addiction - Love Addiction Treatment Love Addiction Is A Process Addiction — Love addiction is a “process” addiction, much like gambling addiction, meaning that it is dependent on the physiological and psychological effects of an activity (a “process”) rather than a substance. Many people believe that such addictions aren’t as valid as drug addictions because no chemicals are administered. However, process addictions set off the same neurochemical reactions within the brain’s reward system that drug addictions do. In other words, they create their effect on the individual by interacting with the same parts of the brain, and therefore have the potential to destroy lives in exactly the same way.

2. Obsession And Preoccupation — According to Sherry Gaba, author of The Law of Sobriety: Attracting Positive Energy for a Powerful Recovery, “love addiction is an illusion where the love addict makes up who they want their partner to be rather than who their partner really is.” Love addicts fantasize about romance and become preoccupied with the individual of their affections, developing an obsession comparable to a drinker or drug-user’s obsession with their substance of choice. They’re in a continuous state of infatuation, developing compulsive and damaging behaviors to satiate their craving for romance and love, but their addiction won’t allow them to have a healthy relationship. When the intensity naturally wanes as the relationship grows older, love addicts feel empty and head off in search of a new partner and their next intense infatuation.

3. Love Addictions Take Root In Childhood — While the causes of love addiction can vary depending on the individual, it is often found to be tied to childhood experiences. These ordinarily revolve around either physical or sexual abuse, rejection or abandonment, usually by a parent or caregiver. During these formative years, early relationships with caregivers set the individual up for later emotional life, and love addicts often end up insecure about relationships with others and even their personal identity. Instead of facing the shortcomings of their reality, love addicts reside in a fantasy world where they’re endlessly searching for the relationship of their dreams—what they see as the “perfect” relationship.

4. The Love Addicts’ Addiction/Avoidance Relationship Cycle — Pia Mellody, the author of a key text in the early history of love addiction, Facing Love Addiction, explains that many love addicts find themselves attracted to what she terms “love avoidants.” A love addict will often desire a partner who is closed off (whether through personality, disinterest or unavailability), but continue to pursue him or her due to an obsession with finding the perfect partner. This sends love addicts into a spiral of chasing the partner and being rejected over and over again, producing a damaging but self-perpetuating cycle, which often incorporates jealousy, manipulation and obsession. The love addict will do anything to get the partner of his or her dreams and keep the intensity flowing in the relationship. One love addict spoke to The Fix under a pseudonym, explaining how she originally thought her problems with jealousy were related to her drinking problem, but realized this wasn’t the case after going through AA. She comments, “After I stopped drinking, I realized I really couldn’t stop calling to check up on my boyfriend or [driving] 80 miles to see where he was, and I couldn’t blame it on being drunk anymore.”

5. Recovery From Love Addiction — Sex and Love Addicts Anonymous (SLAA) is a 12-step program designed to address the issues faced by both groups of people. The process isn’t always easy, and it can take a lot of dedication, hard work and time to learn to develop more positive and healthy relationships. The support offered by sponsors—who’ve been through the same problems themselves—is invaluable when trying to overcome the issue, not to mention the professional guidance provided by the experts running the meetings. Other treatment methods exist, including inpatient treatment and more straightforward counseling, but most are primarily filled with women. This isn’t because men don’t suffer from the issue—they do, and just as often. It’s because men are less likely to seek help for it.

What Recovery From Love Addiction Looks Like

Like with many other addictions, recovery from love addiction often revolves around acknowledgement of the underlying psychological issues that drive you to seek solace in the intense thrill of new infatuation. Building self-esteem outside of the context of a relationship is essential, and once this and similar issues are addressed, the individual is more able to be realistic about the things a partner can provide. The overt reduction in jealousy, manipulation and obsession are just symptoms of the more vital adjustment in how the love addict sees relationships and, more importantly, how she sees herself.