15 Signs You May Have a Love Addiction
The idea of being addicted to love, an emotion we all feel and want others to feel for us, may seem crazy. However, love addiction is real. Here's what you need to know.
Having irrational fears of being alone forever
If you have an overwhelming fear of never being loved or never being in a relationship again, it's important to explore the cause of it. "A fear of being left, abandoned, or being 'alone forever' oftentimes hinders my love-addicted clients from rationally evaluating their relationship," shares therapist Lynn Zakeri. "Instead of assessing whether a partner makes them happy or is good for them, someone with a love addiction will experience a paralyzing fear of being alone. It's more like the love addict will fight hard to make their partner love them, rather than fighting hard because they'll miss the partner. It skews the entire premise of the relationship." Don't miss these other signs you're insecure.
Do you find yourself thinking about a new love interest all the time to the point where you can't focus on anything else? Yes, many people think about their crush often, but a love addict may focus to the point where they stop seeing friends and repeatedly miss deadlines at work. It crosses the line when the crush becomes an obsession and starts to negatively impact your life, yet you feel powerless to stop it.
If that has happened, think twice about how healthy the budding love is. "Falling in love quickly and thinking someone is perfect without giving the relationship an opportunity to grow is like boarding a plane not knowing where it is going," explains therapist April Kirkwood. "Tracking their every move on social media, becoming friends with their friends, and going to great lengths to change yourself based on their comments are all excessive, unhealthy, and self-defeating. Balance is lost, and it's an exhausting way to live and a disastrous way to love."
Staying in an unhealthy relationship
Do you know that your relationship isn't good for you, but you want to stay anyway? What makes a relationship unhealthy varies from couple to couple, of course. But generally, it's problematic if it worsens your life or otherwise feels toxic to your well-being. A love addict may stay in a verbally abusive relationship because they have a very strong need for their partner and a fear of losing love. Of course, it's not always obvious that you're in a bad situation. These are the subtle signs you're in a toxic relationship.
Christian counselor and relationship expert Kevon Owen explains it this way: "Think about literally any other kind of addiction out there. It would be difficult to quantify the kinds of abuse or harm that a person would go through to get to a substance they were addicted to or to a habit they're addicted to. Additionally, think about how common it is to hear that an addict has been abused or taken advantage of in their desperation for what they pursue." The resulting tunnel vision can cause a love addict an immense amount of suffering. They may lose perspective regarding the mistreatment they're receiving and may start to feel worthless.
Needing emotional intensity to feel OK
Another telltale sign of a love addiction: feeling a consistent need to seek out emotional intensity in order to feel OK or to feel better when you're down. Emotional intensity can be anything from full-blown drama to an extreme feeling of pleasure or pain. According to Ann Russo of AMR Mental Health Therapy, the root of this problem might go back to childhood issues or young-adult relationships. "In these cases, the individual will typically have had experiences of abandonment or lack of expressive love in previous significant relationships," she explains. "This can cause a need for emotional intensity. The intensity can signify the idea of being loved and also give the person a sense of security in the relationship. Emotional intensity does not ultimately equal positive love or security; rather, it is a symbol of past trauma that could be addressed healthily in individual or couples therapy."
Finding happiness only in a partner
If you only feel happiness or a sense of feeling "high on life" when you are with your romantic partner, that's a red flag. Psychotherapist John Sovec points out that there is neurobiology to falling in love. "When a person starts to fall in love with someone, their body and brain get stimulated and start to release huge amounts of oxytocin and dopamine. These chemicals, known as the feel-good chemicals, make us see a partner as perfect and the source of personal happiness. These chemicals can overwhelm our common sense and make the person of fascination a stimulus for chemical response and, thus, addiction energy."
Psychology Today also reports that being separated from a romantic lover can decrease dopamine (a reward chemical) in the brain. Although no studies have concluded whether there are more of these neurochemicals present in the minds of love addicts, the things that cause a person to have an addictive personality may also make them vulnerable to reacting strongly to these feelings. If they then start relying solely on their partner to feel boosts of happiness, that can cause severe short-term and long-term problems in a relationship. Did you know that being single for a while can actually make you a better partner in the long run?
Feeling defined by the relationship
"One of the roots of a 'love addiction' begins when an individual has trouble attaching to a person in a healthy manner," says licensed professional counselor Robert Magill of Magill Counseling Associates. "Attachment simply means how we relate to other people, but if an attachment isn't healthy, it can set us up to struggle with relationships."
Many people want to be in relationships. After all, few people set out to be alone. Relationships can be validating and fulfilling. However, if a love addict looks to their relationship to feel worthwhile and valuable, that will probably lead to trouble sooner or later. Magill believes that this can lead a love addict to remain in an unhealthy relationship for too long. They may also be too self-sacrificing and have other relationship issues that stem from insecurities and a fear of rejection.
Magill adds that love addicts often ask themselves who they are if their partner leaves them. They may also wonder who they are as a person if they can't maintain a relationship. Although not everybody who questions themselves in this way will be a love addict, feeling that your worth is tied to a relationship can mean that it's time to evaluate your situation and perhaps even see a counselor. Next, check out these expert-backed relationship tips to get the love that you want.