If you are a love addict, you are addicted to being in love. Your relationships are the center of your universe, and you don’t feel complete unless you are in a committed relationship. If one relationship ends, you are devastated, but you immediately look to fill that hole in your heart with another relationship. As long as you have someone to love, you feel whole and like you can get through life. You probably recognize that you are needy, clingy and smothering of the people you become involved with. Yet on some level, you probably also feel that you are the victim of bad luck in your relationships. Your partners never seem to love you as deeply as you love them, and you can’t understand why your love isn’t reciprocated.
Love Addiction and Other Addictions
The reason love addicts become addicted to love is similar to the reason drug addicts become addicted to drugs and alcoholics become addicted to alcohol. If you are a love addict, you have learned that being in love causes you to feel euphoric, satisfied and complete. Once you have experienced that wonderful feeling, you want to feel it again and again. You can’t think about anything other than chasing that feeling. Addiction is an unhealthy way to relate to substances, behaviors or people. When you are addicted to drugs, you are obsessed with chasing after the feeling of being high. When you are addicted to love, you chase after the feelings of passion, romance and connectedness with just as much fervor as a heroin addict chases his or her fix.
Reliving Hurts of the Past
Most love addicts are people who have been deeply hurt in their lives at a young age. Your parents may have been alcoholics or addicts, or they may have been people who neglected or abused you. Deep inside, you feel like you are flawed and unlovable. You are terrified of abandonment. Every failed relationship convinces you that there is something terribly wrong with you and proves to you that you were right in believing that you were somehow not good enough. The repetitive pattern of your relationships is a clue that you are compelled to repeat and relive the hurts of the past. You may be attracted to people who are emotionally unavailable, and you are driven to prove that this time you can have your love reciprocated and avoid ending up rejected and abandoned. Yet the obsessive way you approach your relationships dooms you to continue to be rejected and unfulfilled.
Looking for Love in the Wrong Places
The heart of love addiction is looking for love with all the wrong people in all the wrong places. You are attracted to people who can’t possibly meet your driving need to be loved, and with your neediness and clinginess, you create a self-fulfilling prophecy of rejection and disappointment. The real problem is that you are looking for someone or something outside yourself to make everything better. You want other people to tell you that you are OK and that they want you around and that you are good enough. Unfortunately, no matter how much love and attention others give you, there is still a gnawing feeling inside that you are giving more than you are getting. The solution is to recognize that you are setting yourself up to be hurt and disappointed over and over again and to learn how to meet your own needs. Instead of showering love and affection on people who never seem to give it back, shower love and attention on yourself. Get to know yourself and what your likes and dislikes are. Give time and attention to yourself and learn to be the center of your own universe. Deep-seated patterns won’t go away just from making a decision, but it’s a beginning. You can learn more about love addiction and how to meet your own needs by attending meetings of Al-Anon or Co-Dependents Anonymous or by working with a counselor. You can learn that it’s possible to fill the hole in your heart with your own love and to give yourself what you’ve been trying to get from others.