Love Addiction: Are You Addicted to Love?

Last Updated 19.02.2022
13 min read

Does falling in love make you miserable? If finding a new romantic partner leads you to obsessiveness, unreasonable expectations, low self-esteem, and mood swings, you may be suffering from love addiction. 

Yes, you can be addicted to love. There are articles that confirm this. It's a serious issue that can prevent the person affected from enjoying positive romantic relationships. If your personal romantic relationships crash and burn due to your inability to stop sabotaging yourself, keep reading. We're going to explore what love addiction is, the symptoms, and how you can learn to navigate the emotional challenges of maintaining healthy relationships.

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What is Love Addiction?

Love addiction is a syndrome that leads a person to become obsessed with a romantic partner and engage in unhealthy behaviors as a result of that. Where falling in love generally leads most people to be happier, the love addict can make themselves, their new partner, and others absolutely miserable because of their unhealthy decisions.

People struggling with love addiction often become fixated and controlling. Of course, their off putting behavior often leads to the end of romantic relationships. When these romantic partnerships do continue they are often rife with conflict and tension. In any case, the cycle of love addiction leads to low self-esteem. This can lead to the individual who is addicted to love seeking out validation through even more unhealthy romantic relationships.

It is important to note that while most articles on this topic focus on romantic partnerships. This problem can be seen in any human partnership. Some people may become obsessed with the lives of their children.

Is Love Addiction a Real Mental Health Disorder? 

According to the European Journal of Psychiatry, love addiction is not officially recognized as a mental health disorder in the DSM. However, research shows that it meets the challenges for recognition as an independently diagnosed mental illness. You may be able to find other articles with more data to confirm this.

The research published in the European Journal of Psychiatry also indicates that the best treatment results may include certain medications such as mood stabilizers to help deal with unhealthy actions. Other forms of treatment include CBT (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy). However, these are generally given to the person because they have some other diagnosable condition such as depression or other issues.

To summarize, love addiction may not be an officially recognized illness or condition. However, it is regarded to be real enough and worthy of research and treatment by scientists and mental health professionals. If you suspect you have a love addiction, there are pathways to receive treatment for that, and develop strategies to ensure better mental health.

What are The Symptoms of Love Addiction?

Love addiction can manifest itself in different ways for different people. However, the common theme is that people who struggle with this addiction become fixated with their love interests. This can lead to alarming activities such as texting and calling partners several times each day and doing other things to make them feel suffocated. Stalking is often an extreme expression of love addiction.

Take a look at the following symptoms. The list isn't complete, but if you notice these or similar behavioral patterns, you may be struggling with love addiction:

  • You feel dependent upon your partner despite being a capable individual
  • You react to romantic rejection by becoming fixated
  • You feel unreasonably strong feelings of depression or frustration when someone isn't interested in  you
  • You feel lost when you aren't romantically attached
  • You make decisions that are detrimental to your wellbeing  when you are attached romantically (e.g.: quitting jobs or moving to be near someone you just met)
  • You neglect your family and loved ones
  • There are children who are impacted
  • You can't break away from unhealthy or abusive partners
  • You have taken extreme steps to maintain an unhealthy partnership such as tolerating abuse or humiliation
  • You obsessively think about and track new partners

There are other things to consider as well. Have you ever become so obsessed with a romantic partner or handled a breakup so poorly that you used drugs to cope? Has more than one partner left you because you were smothering or obsessive? Has anybody ever had to take action to get you to leave them alone? This might include legal action such as no-contact orders, but also changing their numbers or blocking you on social media. These are all signs that love addiction could be a problem for you, and that it is time to get help.

Why Love Addiction Can Destroy a Romantic Partnership

Healthy couplings aren't built around obsession and dependence. Even if it simply comes off as intense interest at first, there are only two outcomes for a coupling that is impacted by love addiction.

The first is that the partner who is not struggling with an addiction to love is going to realize that the situation is unhealthy if not dangerous. They will then leave the relationship. While this is no doubt the right decision for them, the person with love addiction is left dealing with the  fallout.

The other, often worse outcome, of love addiction is that the people impacted stay in the relationship. This is problematic, because that partnership is often combative, unhealthy, and may even escalate to violence. 

Remember that someone who is addicted to love isn't just prone to engaging in actions that are disturbing. They are also likely to be victimized by a love interest who is willing to exploit their inability to leave unhealthy partnerships. This can manifest as emotional or financial abuse, infidelity, or even matching the compulsive actions of the person struggling with love addiction. 

What are The Other Dangers of Love Addiction

Love addiction doesn't just impact people in romantic entanglements.  It has rippling effects that can cause harm to other people, and make it difficult for the person who is struggling to lead a normal life.

Difficulty at Work

The level of fixation that love addiction involves can make basic functioning difficult. Someone struggling with love addiction may miss work to spend time with the object of their obsession or track their movements. When they are at work, their performance may be poor as they struggle with fixation, sadness, and anxiety.

Inability to Remain Connected to Family and Friends

Love addiction impacts the way that you relate to all of your personal relationships. This mental health issue often leaves the people who care about you feeling frustrated, helpless, even neglected. They are often the ones dealing with their loved one's mood swings, and the fallout resulting from their obsessive actions. 

Physical Health Impacts

Mental health issues like love addiction often lead to physical symptoms. The person impacted may not eat, engage in self-destructive behavior or self-harm. Additionally, they may abuse alcohol or drugs to cope.

Financial Issues

Yes, there is a cost to love addiction. When it is so severe that it makes the person struggling with this issue unable to work or behave responsibly, that ripple effect can impact their finances. This is even worse if their actions include spending excessive amounts of money in an effort to get partners to reciprocate their feelings.

What Causes Love Addiction 

Research in the European Journal argues that people who suffer from love addiction should be treated as if they have a mental illness. However, the research there really doesn't explore what causes addiction to love. 

There are some theories that have emerged from scientific research though. One is that the causes and outcomes of love addiction often matches those of drug addiction.This means that genetics and trauma are likely the underlying causes of these challenges. That makes sense because unhealthy fixation, poor decision making, and inability to respect boundaries all align with addiction. Additionally, the cravings, emotional dependency, and compulsive actions are both symptoms associated with substance abuse issues and love addiction. The difference is the inability to leave unhealthy romantic entanglements versus the ability to stop using your drug of choice.

Although, in a sense love addiction does relate to substance use  in another way. Being in romantic partnerships can cause your brain to release dopamine. This pleasure hormone causes similar feelings to being "high". This can lead to a pattern of pleasure seeking that people experience when they fall in love or receive affection.

If you feel like you struggle with love addiction, it may help to consider what triggered this problem for you. You may find that you have past abandonment issues or other forms of trauma. These can lead to love addiction. So can the following:

  • History of past sexual or other abuse
  • Low self worth
  • Other childhood trauma
  • Having experienced abusive or traumatic romantic partnerships

These things can make it difficult to understand the actions that are associated with healthy partnerships. 

It helps to consider family history as well. Is there a history of mental health disorders? Did your parents model healthier relationships? Did they struggle with other forms of substance abuse ? Were either of your parents obsessive or abusive towards a love interest?

Can a Love Addict Have Healthy Romantic Partnerships? It is possible to develop coping strategies and other skills that make it possible for someone with love addiction to have healthier relationships. However, it is imperative that you avoid starting a new relationship until you have done that. Otherwise the new relationship will be detrimental to your mental health. Additionally, you will repeat the same patterns that drive your love interest away.

Getting Help For Love Addiction

It can be difficult to get help for love addiction. Because it isn't officially recognized as a mental health condition, getting a diagnosis may be challenging. It is up to the discretion of the doctor or therapist you are working with. There are also no treatment facilities that are designed to deal with this issue specifically.

That said, don't be discouraged. Because many of the symptoms align with other disorders there are behavioral and medical treatment protocols that can help. One of the more popular methods of treatment is CBT (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy). Mood stabilizers are often provided as well. 

Additionally, you may be able to access help through treatment facilities if you are experiencing symptoms or compulsions that are overriding your ability for self control. This is especially true if you are concerned that your behavior could become dangerous towards yourself or your love interest. 

Speaking of self-control, there is a behavioral component here as well. There are choices you can make in how you handle your addiction, and whether you develop coping skills. Before you pursue your next love interest, there are things that you can work on.

Get a Therapist and be Honest About Your Concerns

You don't need a diagnosis to seek treatment from a counselor or other psychology professional. They are there to help you develop coping skills and make better life decisions. Just remember that they can only be as helpful as you are honest about your symptoms and past actions.

Analyze Your Past Partnerships

Ask yourself very honest questions about your last relationship. What happened? When did you begin to feel obsessive, or that your entire worth was wrapped up in a single love interest? How did they treat you? At what point did you really notice the symptoms of being obsessed with your partner?

Be Mindful and Learn to Feel Your Emotions

Remember that destructive actions are sometimes a way to avoid negative emotions. It's similar to using alcohol to mask your emotions. The difference is that you are externalizing self-doubt, anxiety, fear of abandonment, and other symptoms by making your love interest the focus. This can lead to the need to control, or to fawn obsessively over your partners.

Find a Support Group

A local mental health treatment provider may have resources for you to find a support group. You will be able to speak with people who have the same experiences as you. Just remember that the point of these groups is accountability and taking responsibility for your issues. Support is not synonymous with validation.

Lean on Friends and Family

Friends and family can be a source of support as well. If you notice signs that you aren't coping well, simply spending time with a family member or friend can help get you through a crisis. Make it a priority to nurture your friendships, and ask loved ones to tell you when you begin to act out of control with your partners. Friendships often suffer when you have romantic addictions, so it can help to act proactively to maintain these connections.

Take Steps to Feel Better About Yourself

You must acknowledge that you are worthy of love and happiness regardless of your partners or relationship status. Invest in yourself so that you have reasons to feel good about your life. Develop new skills. Take a class. Think about your job? Are you happy there? If not it may be time to look into moving on.

What if Your Partner Suffers From Love Addiction

Someone with an unhealthy connection to romance or love can have healthy relationships. However, it is up to them to manage their addictions. You can't force the person addicted to change. You can only determine how you react to their unhealthy choices. It is also up to you to decide if you are up to the emotional challenges that lie ahead.

Here are some tips to navigating relationships and learning when your concerns should set off some serious alarms:

  • Set clear boundaries around contact and communication
  • Blocking access to your family or job is a reason to leave
  • Encourage the person you are with to take care of their health
  • Seek your own help from a psychology expert
  • Get help and make an exit if physical or sexual abuse is involved
  • Remember that you are not responsible for making anybody feel good
  • Nobody is entitled to access to you including the person addicted

The individual you love is not responsible for the emotions they experience. However, they are accountable for the way that they choose to act. You can recognize that this is an illness, but also that there are behavioral components that make accountability absolutely a must. 

Encourage your partner to get help controlling unhealthy impulses, but recognize their life choices belong to them. If they sabotage your relationship with unhealthy addictive behaviors, they are responsible for that. Sadly, many people have to torpedo some personal relationships before they seek help and support.

Finally, it may help you to do some research to increase your understanding. Just don't fall into a pattern of getting too involved or doing the work of getting better for them. Still, finding some articles with reliable research can be helpful. This can help you understand the unhealthy behaviors you may witness.

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