Signs of Romance Addiction

Posted by on 09 26 14 in Love Addiction News | Comments Off on Signs of Romance Addiction

Men Can Experience Love and Romance Addiction

When Dale showed up for his first SLAA (Sex and Love Addicts Anonymous) meeting, he was certain he was there for help strictly with his history of sexual acting out. His girlfriend of the last year had threatened to leave, and he was tired of the way his relationships seemed to repeatedly be ruined by his sexual behavior. For years, he’d just considered himself a “man’s man”—one who liked football, and beer and, of course, women. But he was 40 now and he finally thought he wanted the same thing so many of his friends had had for years—a wife, kids, even. He was tired of hooking up; he wanted something that could last.

But Dale’s behavior wasn’t conducive to settling down. He was a terrible flirt; he liked to say he just couldn’t help himself. In the past ten years he’d gone through nearly as many relationships, and almost twice as many affairs. He was always chatting up someone new, and even when he intended only to be civil, his conversations with women quickly turned flirtatious. He’d flirted with three generations of women at a recent family gathering, and this had incensed his girlfriend. He’d promised not to be “so nice” to other women in the future, but of course, he hadn’t been able to keep that promise.

Now here he was, in a 12-step meeting for sex addicts, he thought, only to discover that he shared a pattern of romantic and relationship issues as well. He had been certain he was in love with all nine of the women he’d been involved with romantically over the last 10 years, despite the fact that he’d barely known them at the time of his amorous pronouncements. His relationships had been intense and brief, marked by chaos and seductive intrigue, and he had flirted, cheated and seduced others along the way. He could see now how he may have used these relationships to medicate his emotions. He could see how he’d rarely made time for himself or his own betterment, and how he’d always been chasing something—the feeling of intoxication through intense companionship with a new romance, or the feeling of intoxication through flirtation or seduction. He could also see that he’d been making failed promises to stop these behaviors and settle down for years, only to find himself in a 12-Step meeting for addicts.

Signs of Love or Romance Addiction: 

Below are some signs you may be experiencing love or romantic addiction:

  • You are always “on the prowl” for a romantic partner
  • You believe that you are in love despite just meeting someone (the “love at first sight” phenomenon)
  • You value the time spent with a love object over time needed for yourself
  • Your relationships create feelings of optimism and happiness, or feelings of security that are not present when alone
  • You mistake sexual or romantic intensity for healthy love
  • You experience brief, chaotic and conflict-based relationships
  • You have a pattern of failed relationships
  • Sacrificing time with friends or family in order to act out
  • You have a history of using sex or seduction to initially hook or hold onto a partner
  • You use romantic intensity to numb or alleviate emotional pain or problems in your life
  • You have a pattern of relationships with people who are emotionally unavailable, distant and/or harmful to you
  • You tend to flirt and/or engage in physical or emotional affairs while in a relationship
  • You have a pattern of broken promises to stop your behavior/addiction

Treatment for Romantic Addiction

Romantic or love addiction often emerges in a cyclic pattern where sexual addiction is also present. While certain men and women who experience sexual addiction find their pattern of addiction is focused around orgasmic release, others find their addictive pattern is as much about validation and the rush of attention from intriguing partners as it is from the sexual acts themselves. These individuals are at risk for problematic relationship histories in which addictive patterns show up as much in the way their relationships negatively engage as in the way the addict behaves regarding sex. Relationships have intense highs and lows: there are moments of highs that signify the reward experience in the brain—or the dopamine and endorphin rush—and there are intense lows, or the addict “crash,” which reengages a desperate search for the high. It’s a self-perpetuating cycle.

To heal from romantic addiction, it is usually advised that an addict disengage, at least for a time, from the object of addiction—in this case, relationships and sex. As humans, we need attachments with others and sexual relationships during a period of our lives in order to be most healthy, so this abstinence period is not intended to last forever, and may be case-by-case for those who come into recovery as married individuals or long-term partners. The more important piece is that the addict finds the recovery model that works best for him or her, and this is likely to include professional therapy in a one-on-one or group setting along with, perhaps, a 12-Step program. The latter is beneficial especially because it introduces the addict to a group of non-judgmental others who have been in the same place, facing the same problems, and who have gathered with the purpose of healing.