Love addiction is a pattern of behavior in which you revolve your life around relationships. Nothing makes you feel more alive and energized than the feeling of being in love and connected to another human being. You fall in love hard and often. Your approach to love is all-consuming and obsessive.
People may think that love addiction isn’t as serious as other forms of addiction. It may seem like love addiction is just a label or an excuse for obsessive behavior. But if you have a problem with love addiction, there is a good chance that you end up in one bad relationship after another and you’re terrified of living a life that doesn’t include a significant other. It’s a problem you may not be able to overcome without help. The consequences of failure to recover can be devastating and sometimes even dangerous.
Love addicts often come from a history of neglect and unfulfilled needs that have led to a very deep-rooted fear of abandonment. To you, the thought of being left alone is more terrifying than anything you may experience in a relationship. Because of this, you may stay in bad relationships long after other people would leave.
You may put up with both verbal and physical abuse. You make excuses for your partner. You continually hang onto the hope that things will change, but most of the time things don’t get better. They get worse. Abuse can be very devastating and even deadly, but you are afraid to leave.
The Consequences of Self-Neglect
You are completely other-focused. Just about every waking minute, you are thinking about the other person. You continually call or text your loved one. You think about his or her goals and dreams and you set your own plans aside. You are uncomfortable focusing on yourself.
As a love addict, you may lose sight of your own ambitions and dreams. You may develop habits of self-abuse such as drinking, smoking or eating disorders. You may not meet your career potential, and if you have children, they may also become victims of neglect because your focus is constantly on your love interest.
Sadness, Disappointment and Depression
Your pattern is to continually give of yourself until there is nothing left. You are attracted to people who are emotionally distant or addicted, people who have very little to give back. Your fear of rejection and abandonment is often a self-fulfilling prophecy because you drive people away with the intensity of your need to be connected all the time.
Your life is full of sadness and disappointment. You may experience severe depression both between relationships and when you are in a relationship that is unfulfilling. Some love addicts may go as far as a suicide attempt for relief from constant sadness.
Getting Help for Love Addiction
If you recognize yourself in these patterns of love addiction, it’s time to get help. Learn as much as you can about love addiction and codependency. You may be able to work through some of your abandonment issues by talking to a counselor. If you are suffering from severe depression, talk to your doctor. Don’t try to pretend that everything is fine when you know that it’s not.
It may also help to keep a journal and try to recognize repetitive patterns of behavior in your relationships. Do you often drive people away with neediness or clinginess? Have you tried to make people love you who didn’t put much effort into the relationship? Do you usually fall apart and feel completely empty between relationships? Recognizing the repetitive nature of love addiction is the first step toward making new choices and getting better.
Consider attending meetings of Al-Anon or Co-Dependents Anonymous. At these meetings you can learn from others who have had similar experiences and have learned new behaviors and coping skills.
Love addiction is a real disorder, and it isn’t likely that it will go away without help. The good news is that with help you can learn to focus on your own growth and avoid getting into unhealthy relationships in the first place. It is definitely possible to heal from love addiction.