Love addiction—which is also called pathological love—is a type of behavioral addiction where the person becomes addicted to falling in love with someone. This process of falling in love gives the person a dopamine hit that they seek to repeat. Like any other addiction, love addiction can cause the person to lose interest in much of their life except for the object of their affection. When the object of their affection rejects them, they will usually begin seeking out their next target.
If you’ve gone to therapy for love addiction or been diagnosed with the disorder, you’re probably working on a recovery plan to get your life back.
A Love Addiction Recovery Plan Should Have Four Main Steps
- Identify what your specific addiction issue looks like
- Set some recovery goals
- Commit to specific actions you will take
- Develop a support system
Identifying Your Love Addiction Issue
Love addiction can take different forms. You might even be using it to replace another addiction. For example, some people in rehab for drug addictions replace their chemical high with a high from falling in love with someone in rehab with them. Some people are addicted to falling in love with people they can’t be with, such as celebrities. Some behavior associated with love addiction is extremely obsessive, to the point of being similar to stalking. It’s important to recognize your specific addiction issue in order to solve it.
Set Recovery Goals
Goals are important so that you know where you’re going in your recovery journey. Recovery starts with treatment, where you admit that you have a love addiction. How do you set recovery goals? Be S.M.A.R.T. Set specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and timely goals. Unrealistic goals or vague goals are easier to avoid or excuse yourself when you don’t reach them. It’s also important that your goals are timely and not simply set at some distant point in the future.
Commit to Taking Specific Actions
Your therapist might recommend specific actions to take during your recovery from love addiction. For example, you might need to stay out of pursuing relationships for a certain amount of time, or you might need to work on cultivating healthy relationships as friendships.
Build a Support System
As with any addiction, it’s important to have a support system to help you through recovery. This support system can be your family and friends, and it can also be your therapist. If you attend any group meetings for love addiction, these people can also function as part of your support system.
Signs of Love Addiction
If you haven’t reached the recovery stage yet, but have been told that you might have a love addiction, it’s important to know the signs.
Some of the Signs of Love Addiction Include the Following
- Obsessive need to feel in love
- Putting your romantic partner or object of love on a pedestal
- Obsessing over your romantic interest
- Experiencing cravings and euphoria when with your partner
- Having withdrawals when you can’t see or be with your romantic interest
- Difficulty being alone
- Seeking emotional comfort from your romantic interest
Many people with love addiction form unhealthy obsessions with people who don’t return their affections. They may also stay with partners who are abusive due to their overwhelming need to be with someone.
Why Love Addiction?
Research is ongoing to find out more about pathological love and why some people have it. Love addiction seems to come from areas of low self-esteem or childhood trauma. A love addict may need to lean on a partner or romantic interest to feel validated or worthy. Some of the reasons behind love addiction are quite similar to any other addiction. Feelings of being in love or engaging in romantic love causes chemicals like oxytocin to release in the body. These chemicals create a “high” and that high can become addictive.
Another reason for love addiction is an emotional void. You might feel like something is missing in your life and so you pursue romantic love to fill it. You might also find yourself looking for partners who have the traits you believe that you lack. This in turn causes you to see your partner in an idealized way and put them on a pedestal.
There Are Four Types of Love Addicts
Obsessive addicts struggle to detach from unhealthy relationships. Codependent addicts look for partners they can fix. Narcissistic addicts exploit their partners for attention. Ambivalent addicts avoid true intimacy and run away from closeness.
Getting help for love addiction from a professional therapist is a great place to start. Dr. Howard Samuels is an addiction therapist who has written a book on love addiction. Reach out today to find out more.