If you have an addictive, obsessive approach to relationships, you may be a love addict. You fall deeply in love repeatedly and often. No matter how many times you fall in love, you always have the thought that the newest person you are with is the only person for you. A new love interest gives you a sense of excitement and euphoria not so different from a drug-induced high. As relationships progress, they often become more predictable and less exciting. As a love addict, you continue to try to experience the same intense excitement that you did early in the relationship. While it looks like what you are after is love, you may actually be looking for something else.
Fantasy Vs. Reality
Drug addicts use chemicals to escape from pain and live in an altered reality. Using drugs allows them to avoid facing unpleasant feelings or experiences. Love addicts have the same subconscious goal. If you are a love addict, you avoid facing stress or pain by falling in love repeatedly or by focusing on another person practically every waking moment. But is what you are experiencing love at all? Often your excitement and devotion is nothing but a fantasy. You may be in love with love itself or with an imagined concept of who the other person is or who he or she might eventually become.
Does it seem like you use romantic relationships to make yourself feel more alive and excited? Think about the patterns in your relationships. If a relationship is too predictable, you might do something to create drama so that you can continue to be emotionally stimulated. For example, you may create conflict by arousing suspicion about your partner’s whereabouts when there is no real reason to be suspicious. You may pick a fight for no apparent reason. The constant drama in your relationships may be partially caused by your attraction to emotionally unavailable people. If your partner is emotionally unavailable, you never have to deal with real intimacy and you get to continue revolving your life around unpredictability and emotional extremes. It’s like being on an emotional rollercoaster that you never get off.
The cause of love addiction is often related to low self-esteem and a deep-seated fear of abandonment issues. As a young child, you may have been abused or neglected, and this has resulted in a belief that you aren’t worth loving. You continually look outside yourself for someone to tell you that you are OK. You are terrified of being abandoned. Unfortunately your fear drives you to cling to others to the point that you push them away. Being abandoned may become a self-fulfilling prophecy. At the same time, you hang onto relationships in which the other person isn’t as emotionally committed as you are. You may hang on long after you should have let go, and you may stay in relationships where there is verbal or physical abuse because your fear of being alone is much greater than your dissatisfaction with your partner.
Breaking the Cycle
What love addicts are trying to get from relationships typically isn’t really love. The way you relate to others is a form of escapism, a way of altering reality and leading a life that doesn’t require you to focus on yourself. In most cases, it’s a way of avoiding feeling abandoned or alone. If you have recognized that there is an unhealthy pattern in your relationships, you have taken the first step toward breaking the cycle. Learn as much as you can about love addiction by reading on the topic or by attending meetings of Co-Dependents Anonymous. Consider reaching out to a counselor who has experience in the field of love addiction. It is only by recognizing that you have a problem with addiction to love that you will be able to work toward recovery. By learning what is causing your destructive tendencies in relationships, you will be able to move forward toward healing. Breaking the addictive cycle of love addiction opens the door to much more rewarding and fulfilling relationships.