What is Love Addiction?

Posted by on 07 27 12 in Love Addiction News | Comments Off on What is Love Addiction?

Addiction is by no means restricted to illicit drugs and alcohol. A whole spectrum of activities can be the subject of an addiction – from gambling through to shopping – and love is no different. Understanding the nature of these addictions is much more difficult than understanding a chemical dependency, because they are often activities people participate in regularly without becoming addicted. Falling in love and finding lasting companionship is arguably the foremost of healthy human desires, yet it can still develop into something unhealthy and damaging. The difference between healthy love and love addiction is related to the individual’s perception of the relationship.

The “One”

Much of love addiction is centered on the search for the “one.” The idea that each individual has another “half” and that when they find each other both will feel “complete” is often a big factor in driving people to love addiction. They expect the right relationship to transcend all previous ones and usher in a lifetime of consistent, abundant happiness. This search takes on more meaning for love addicts because they feel as though the emptiness they feel inside and the shortcomings of their character will be magically rectified by this one person.

The Initial Rush

Everybody has experienced it. When you first meet someone who’s very special to you, everything they do takes your feelings and multiplies them exponentially. Whether it’s the cutesy way she sips her drink or the child-like wonder in his eyes when he talks about his future, you notice (and love) every single detail. Biology is largely at play here, as the natural desire to find and maintain a mate propels you onwards (keeping you hopped-up on neurotransmitters) as you move closer and closer to intimacy. This intense initial feeling is the equivalent of the high someone may get from heroin, a euphoria that pervades into every aspect of their life and leaves them feeling truly content. This feeling becomes the pinnacle, the benchmark against which the addict measures love.

The Inevitable Fading

After the initial rush of love, things tend to settle down. A healthy relationship eases into this stage, with feelings becoming calmer and intimacy continuing to develop at a gentler pace. The participants in a healthy relationship are still content because of the deep connection they’ve formed, but a love addict begins to feel as though the relationship isn’t the same. They start to wonder whether something is wrong, whether the passion disappearing from the relationship means that this person isn’t actually the “one.”

The Love Addicts’ Response

Love addicts don’t want to settle for the ordinary (realistic) form of companionship they have. They can respond in various ways, but it can be broadly defined as acting out. By creating drama within the relationship they aim to rekindle the lost fire, and they can even resort to outright manipulation or purposefully conceive a child to “trap” their partner. The love addict does anything to try to create that initial rush again, like a heroin user injecting every day in hope of reaching the same heights as their first time. In many cases, if the ploys don’t work, the love addict will go in search of another partner.

Withdrawal

Like all addictions, withdrawal plays a big part in love addiction. If the love addict is rejected while they’re still trying to make the relationship work, this often leads to self-destructive or otherwise harmful behavior. The addict makes the damaging assumption that rejection means that they are not “worthy” of love; it vindicates their already low self-esteem. Recognizing this in yourself is difficult, however, and love addicts will often blame their partner rather than thinking about their own behavior. They might even think that if they obsess about the individual enough and take drastic enough action the relationship can be saved.

The Cycle of Love Addiction

The stages above create a perpetual cycle for love addicts. All throughout the ordinary stages of a relationship, they’re plagued by the idea that the “one” is out there, and the search for that elusive person destroys their chances of real contentment and moreover, true intimacy. When single, the love addict dates compulsively and desperately, jumping head-first into relationships (regardless of the consequences) to get that initial rush. After the rush fades, the desire to repeat the “high” leads them to do anything to save the relationship, and if that doesn’t seem possible they’ll move on to somebody else. If they get rejected, they might even “swear off” of relationships for a while, but will return to the same patterns whenever they try again. The new relationship ends as quickly as the last one and the addict rushes off again in search of another fix.

Causes and Risks

The causes of love addiction can be varied, but generally result from some early experience of abandonment. This leads the individual to search for that unconditional love again and cling onto it. Love addicts generally have very low self esteem (feeling that love will “complete” them) and are often immature when it comes to relationships. The potential risks associated with love addiction are violence and self-harm or suicide. The addiction to the intense, initial love means they’re sometimes willing to stalk or behave violently towards their partner (or prospective partner) to regain it and the withdrawal can lead to suicidal depression in extreme cases.

Overall, love addiction is very much like drug addiction, in that it’s a consistent search for an un-maintainable high which often results in the neglect of responsibilities and even physical risk. It seems easy to discount love addiction as a biological imperative, but the cycle of damaging behavior and short relationships doesn’t marry up with this viewpoint. Love addiction is a desperate, perpetual longing for an unrealistic, intensely-loving relationship.

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