Love addiction – the vital signs

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Love addiction is a fairly recently recognised phenomenon and describes the painful, compulsive way in which some people relate to others. The intense feelings we have for someone can feel like love because they are all-consuming but if they are coupled with an inability to let go of a person even when it is clear that the relationship is unhealthy, damaging or abusive it may be a love addiction rather than a healthy relationship.

The partner

The people love addicts are attracted to all seem to have one thing in common – they are unable or unwilling, to respond to the single minded devotion the love addict places on him or her. The more unresponsive this person is the more intense the love addict’s feelings become and they experience increasing amounts of pain, frustration and self-defeating behaviours as the relationship progresses. The partner is often absorbed in their own problems and life which is why they are unavailable. They move further away, rather than closer, to the love addict, the more intense the relationship becomes.

The love addict

There are certain characteristics that define a love addict and the most recognisable one is that they seem to have a mental obsession with the object of their affection. This obsession can become so extreme that they neglect to care for themselves in healthy ways and attach their value and self worth to this person’s response to them – feeling good when they are attached and bereft when they are not.

Love addicts fear:

–          Being left alone, and they will do almost anything to make sure their partner never leaves them

–          Being intimate – even though they want closeness and dependency they actually fear healthy intimacy. They unconsciously choose a partner who cannot be intimate with them in a healthy way

These two fears create an agonising and self-defeating dilemma for the love addict because they want to keep their partner close but find themselves doing things that sabotage the relationship and push them away.

Are you a love addict?

Having any of the symptoms below on its own doesn’t necessarily mean you are a love addict but if you identify strongly with the majority of them you may decide to do some further research into the condition and ways to recover.

1.       You have a tendency to fall in love very quickly and easily

2.       You place a lot of importance on initial attraction and will disregard signs that a match may not be good for you

3.       When you have developed a connection with someone you find it very hard to let go even if the relationship is obviously not working or they are clearly not interested. You may have stayed in relationships where someone was abusive towards you; stalked previous partners; felt suicidal when a relationship has ended; believed that your love was true and they were in denial or pursued the object of your affection even if they are in a relationship with someone else

4.       When you are in a relationship you think about it so much it interferes with your everyday life. You become very needy and smother your partner; you find it impossible to say no to your partner; you deny and sacrifice your own needs and wants; you feel jealous and possessive and compelled to check up on your partner; your relationships with family and friends will tend to suffer and you let go of other interests

5.       When you are not in a relationship you daydream about love a lot, to the exclusion of other interests and hobbies – either about partners you have had – replaying times you were together or dreaming about new love affairs either with real people or imagined; feel terrified that you will never find a partner; believe that being in love is more important than anything; feel terrible loneliness and will often seek out a new partner just to avoid this feeling; obsess about finding a new partner and pursue this aim to the exclusion of all else.

The solution

Pia Melody author of ‘Facing Love Addiction – giving yourself the power to change the way you love’ gives detailed guidance on ways to recover from love addiction. For many people the condition can be as debilitating and damaging to their life as any other addiction and may require professional help to really get to the root of the problems and make a full recovery.

As with any addiction the first step in the recovery process is admitting that you have a problem – after that you will be much more open to taking responsibility and finding a solution.


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