What is love addiction? Most people, when meeting someone new for a possible romantic relationship, will experience that first heady rush of happiness and excitement. You will think about that person perhaps almost excessively, and look forward to being in their company. As time goes by, you are aware that it is normal for the relationship to settle. And for that early excitement to diminish. Even if the individual does turn out to be ‘the one’. A deeper more meaningful relationship will ensue. If they are not ‘the one’ then the relationship will naturally end and the early feelings will pass.
Love addiction – what does it mean?
Love addicts become addicted to this early rush of feeling. And will move from one relationship to another in swift succession. They need to be in a relationship and are ‘in love with being in love’. Technically a love addict is defined as someone with:
- An ongoing (six months or more) preoccupation to the point of obsession with romantic fantasies and new relationships
- An inability to exercise control over romantic fantasies and new relationships
- Negative consequences directly and/or indirectly related to out-of-control romantic fantasies and serial relationships
As with other addictions, love addicts will tend to deny that they have a problem. And not see how they are not only harming themselves but also the people who care about them. They will tend to experience a loss of interest in everyday activities that they used to enjoy, they will neglect their friends, be distracted at work, become emotionally isolated and may even experience financial problems as a result of their obsession. This will lead to declining mental and physical health. When things go wrong in their relationships they will tend to blame their partners. Thus they avoid accepting and addressing their addiction problem and having to look at themselves.
Love addiction is not sex addiction
Love addiction should not be confused with sex addiction. Sex addiction is dependency on sexual activity. There can be overlap between the two if love addicts use sex as a way of holding on to the object of their love obsession but generally speaking love addicts are obsessed with one person at a time rather than the activity of sex (possibly with several people).
Love addicts may have suffered from some trauma in early life, or may have issues with low self worth, depression and anxiety – but not all will do so. They will focus on the new ‘love’ in their life in order to avoid their having to deal with their own problems and feelings which may include guilt, shame and fear. This is their main go to mechanism for coping with everyday life and any difficulties encountered. Therefore in the end love addiction becomes less an active search for love and more a way of avoiding real life.
What it looks like
Love addicts will mistake early intense feelings for genuine lasting love. They will feel desperate and alone when not in a relationship. And will put potential new love before other commitments, sometimes letting family and friends down. They will frequently overlap their relationships. Starting anew one before ending the last, to avoid being alone. They will pretend to have the interests of their partner to start the relationship, keep hold of them and maintain the relationship. Their main purpose in life is to find and hold on to that perfect partner.
Both men and women can be love addicts.