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Understanding Love Addiction: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment Options

Last Updated
March 8, 2023

What Is It?
Causes
Signs
Treatment
Negative Impact
Helpful Products

Love addiction is a disorder that causes someone to become overwhelmingly dependent on another person or relationship. It can involve constantly seeking out new romantic relationships, displaying intense neediness or possessiveness, and using the other person as an emotional crutch.

- Childhood trauma, like a lack of affection and neglect in childhood
- Physical or emotional abuse
- Genetics
- Low self-esteem
- Codependency
- Isolation
- You have addictive personality traits
- Unresolved emotional challenges and problematic feelings
- Social norms

- Need constant reassurance from romantic partners
- Intense romantic love
- Reward seeking behavior
- Always seeking romantic love
- Feeling constantly anxious or insecure when not with the other person
- Being unable to focus on anything else besides your love interest
- Always wanting to please the other person and change yourself accordingly

- Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT)
- Psychodynamic therapy
- Group therapy or support groups
- Antidepressants
- Mood stabilizers
- Medicines

- You may also find yourself in unhealthy and co-dependent relationships that are based on neediness, manipulation, and control
- Feelings of loneliness, isolation, and depression
- Jealousy and possessiveness
- You neglect your friends and family
- Unrealistic expectations
- Lead to obsessive-compulsive disorder
- It can lead to anxiety and depression

Love is a strong feeling that can make people happy. But if it gets too intense, it can turn into an addiction. This kind of addiction is a big problem. It can hurt the body, feelings, and mind. It can also lead to bad relationships and drug abuse.

In this blog, we'll talk about why love addiction happens, the bad effects, and how to treat it.

What is the definition of love addiction?

Love addiction makes a person rely too much on someone else or a relationship. They always want new love partners, act very needy, and use others for emotional support.

This addiction is a type of codependency. It causes problems everywhere in life, such as toxic or abusive relationships and unhealthy behaviors. Love addictions are a form of behavioral addiction. [1]

A couple getting married

So, what causes love addiction?

  • Childhood trauma, like a lack of affection and neglect in childhood
  • Physical abuse or emotional abuse
  • Genetics
  • Low self-esteem
  • Codependency
  • Isolation
  • You have addictive personality traits
  • Unresolved emotional challenges and problematic feelings
  • Social norms [2]

Important note: Young men who are navigating the complex world of teen dating might unknowingly develop unhealthy attachment patterns that can evolve into love addiction in their later years. Our comprehensive guide on Teen Dating Advice for Guys offers valuable insights to help young men understand, nurture, and navigate their relationships effectively.

What are the signs of love addiction?

  • Need constant reassurance from romantic partners
  • Intense romantic love
  • Reward seeking behavior
  • Always seeking romantic love
  • Feeling constantly anxious or insecure when not with the other person
  • Being unable to focus on anything else besides your love interest
  • Always wanting to please the other person and change yourself accordingly
  • Sacrificing your own needs for the relationship.
  • Feeling a high when you are around the other person, but feeling depressed when they are not around.
  • Feeling empty and lost without the other person.
  • Going to extreme lengths to get attention from the other person.
  • Stalking or harassing behaviors if the relationship ends.
  • Being jealous or possessive of the other person's time, energy, and attention
  • Having a fear of rejection or abandonment that causes you to stay in the relationship even if it's unhealthy.
  • Making excuses or minimizing the other person's bad behavior
  • Tolerating verbal, emotional, and physical abuse out of feelings of guilt or loyalty
  • Believing that you are not worthy of love and respect from the other person [3] [4]

Pro tip: Are you often caught in the whirlwind of emotions, struggling to decipher if your partner's affection is genuine or stems from an unhealthy attachment? To navigate through this complexity, we recommend reading our insightful article, "How Do I Tell If He Loves Me?"

What are the negative impacts of love addiction?

  • You may also find yourself in unhealthy and co-dependent relationships that are based on neediness, manipulation, and control
  • Feelings of loneliness, isolation, and depression
  • Jealousy and possessiveness
  • You neglect your friends and family
  • Unrealistic expectations
  • Lead to obsessive-compulsive disorder
  • It can lead to anxiety and depression
  • You may become clingy or possessive of your partner
  • The stress of being in unhealthy relationships can lead to physical health problems such as headaches, stomachaches, and even ulcers.
  • You may lose sight of your own values and beliefs in favor of those of your partner
  • You engage in risky or self-destructive behaviors in an attempt to fill the void that you feel inside.
  • Financial problems as well, as you may find yourself spending excessive amounts of money on gifts, flowers, or other things for your loved one.
  • You neglect your own needs in favor of your loved one, which can lead to physical and emotional exhaustion.
  • Your self-esteem and sense of self-worth are tied to your partner, as you may feel that you are not good enough for your partner or that you are not worthy of love.
  • You may also find yourself obsessing over your loved one to the point where it interferes with your work or other aspects of your life. [5]

Love addiction treatment

Therapy for love addiction

A table that outlines the treatment and medication for love addiction

Self-help can help, but many times, you need a professional to deal with love addiction. Therapists give special advice and support based on your needs. In this part, we'll talk about different ways therapists can help and why professional help is good for beating love addiction.

Types of Therapy for Love Addiction:

  • Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT): CBT helps find and change bad thoughts and actions linked to love addiction. It teaches people better ways to cope and understand their feelings.
  • Mindfulness-Based Therapy: This method helps people pay attention to their current thoughts, feelings, and actions. Mindfulness lowers anxiety and makes people more aware of themselves. This leads to better choices in relationships.
  • Group Therapy: Joining group therapy lets people share experiences and get support and encouragement. It helps them feel less alone and more ready to make changes.
  • Online Therapy: Online therapy is good for people who want privacy and comfort. It lets them get professional help without leaving home. [6]
Medication for love addiction

Medication for love addiction

  • Antidepressants can help people with love addiction. They work in a few ways and affect the brain chemicals. Plus, antidepressants increase oxytocin and decrease dopamine which can help manage the condition.
  • Mood stabilizers, such as lithium, may help with love addiction. This is because when people are in love they can act impulsively. But we don't have enough evidence yet to know if this is true or not.
  • Medicines named antipsychotics can block a brain chemical called dopamine. This might help love addicts since their feelings are tied to this chemical. But, there's no proof that these medicines work for this issue.
  • Medicines for addictions like drugs might also help with love addiction. This is because the brain acts in a similar way with all addictions. We need more research to know if this is true.[7]

Ways to work on yourself

  • Understand what love addiction is
  • Speak to a qualified online therapist
  • Understand the root causes of your love addiction
  • Identify the unhealthy patterns in your love life
  • Make a commitment to yourself to overcome your love addiction
  • Work on building self-esteem and self-love
  • Learn how to set boundaries
  • Practice saying no to unhealthy relationships and behaviors
  • Work on developing healthy coping skills for managing difficult emotions
  • Avoid people and situations that trigger your love addiction
  • Fill your life with healthy activities and hobbies that make you feel good about yourself
  • Spend time with supportive people who care about you and want to see you succeed in recovery
  • Write down your goals for recovery and refer to them often when you feel tempted to relapse into old addictive behaviors
  • Reward yourself for making progress in recovery [8]
A woman going for therapy and sharing her story

Personal Stories: Triumph Over Love Addiction

David

David, 46, is recovering from sex and love addiction. He tried to take his own life 20 months ago because of the stress from living a double life. At first, he thought sex addiction was his main problem. But after getting sober, he saw that love addiction was the real issue. David expected too much from his partners and made them his whole world. When they didn’t meet his expectations, he felt angry and turned to sex addiction.

David didn’t have a bad childhood, but he always felt he wasn’t good enough. He tried to be who his dad wanted him to be. His dad, a tough rugby player, wanted something different than what David, a sensitive boy who loved poetry, was. David wanted his dad’s approval. This, and a twisted view of relationships, led to his love addiction. He learned early not to trust his feelings and thought they were wrong. So, he hid his feelings and replaced sadness with anger. This kept the cycle of bad relationships going.[9]

Patric

Patric, addicted to sex, love, and fantasy, was stuck in a harmful cycle after breaking up with her ex. She couldn't stop thinking about her ex with someone new and would wake up shaking. Even though she had been sober from alcohol and drugs for 6 years, the pain and loneliness from the breakup made her think about suicide.

To try to feel better, Patric watched pornography every day and visited prostitutes. But this only helped for a short time. She would end up feeling lost again, missing her ex and using sex to try to forget the pain. She felt stuck and couldn’t escape her sadness. When she hit rock bottom, she found SLAA and started to understand her addiction and its control over her.[10]

Madrid

A woman in Madrid is 50 days into recovering from sex and love addiction. There are no SLAA meetings in her city, so she talks on the phone with her SLAA sponsor from another part of Spain. She works hard on her recovery every day. But sometimes, she doubts if she can regain her self-respect and connect with herself and her Higher Power. The emotional shifts she's going through affect her body. She feels like she's not seen, feels unattractive, and unworthy.

Even with these struggles, she’s set on not going back to her old painful life where she felt so bad, she wanted to die. Talking to other women who are also recovering gives her hope. Hearing their stories of finding answers helps her keep going on her path to healing and learning about herself. [11]

Are you struggling to decipher the true nature of your partner's love? Our latest article, "How Do I Tell If He Loves Me?", delves into the complexities of love and helps you distinguish between genuine affection and unhealthy attachment patterns.

Conclusion

Love addiction can hurt your well-being and stop you from having good relationships. If you're dealing with this, seeing a therapist can be key to learning how to have healthier relationships. Taking care of and loving yourself is also vital. It can help you build and keep positive relationships later on.

We invite you to add your voice below and share your thoughts and experiences with love addiction. Your words can help and encourage others going through the same issues.

FAQ

How can I tell if I'm addicted to love?

Common signs include obsessive thoughts about a partner, an inability to focus on other aspects of life, a need for frequent validation from your partner, and strong feelings of jealousy or possessiveness. If you relate to any of these signs, it’s important to seek professional help.

What are some tips for starting a healthier lifestyle?

Start with small steps to healthier habits like sleeping enough, eating healthy food often, and regular exercise. Know the triggers that could make you fall back into old habits. Also, reward yourself when you make progress in getting better.

References

  1. Project MUSE: Addicted to Love
  2. Psyche Central: All About ‘Love Addiction’: Signs, Causes, and Treatment
  3. Link Springer: The Love Addiction Inventory: Preliminary Findings
  4. Psychologs: Is love an addiction
  5. American Addiction Centers: Signs of Codependency & Addiction (Impacts & Negative Effects)
  6. European Journal of Psychiatry: Treatment of love addiction: Current status and perspectives
  7. European Journal of Psychiatry: Treatment of love addiction: Current status and perspectives
  8. PsychAlive: Love Addictions: Do You Have an Unhealthy Addiction to Love?
  9. SLAA UK: I want to be US not ME
  10. SLAA UK: Sex and Love addiction crippled me worse than substance abuse
  11. SLAA UK: 50 days in SLAA without meetings

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I have a passion for writing. I work as a Senior Marketing Manager for Islomania LLC. I have developed a strong interest in writing articles and website management during my time here. I enjoy both article writing, poetry, and story writing. In my role as a marketing manager, whether I’m writing an article, or a story, or improving other writers’ content, I always try to engage my readers and give them something to think about.
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