Love addiction is a type of behavioral addiction where the addict becomes addicted to the feeling of being in love. It’s important to realize that love addiction is not simply a nice way to refer to sex addiction, but that it’s actually an addiction in and of itself. It’s possible for someone to have a love addiction with someone they’ve never even met, such as a movie star or music star.
Let’s take a closer look at the process of love addiction and the behavior of love addicts.
What Is Love Addiction?
Another name for love addiction is pathological love. It describes a pattern of behavior characterized by obsessive and excessive interest towards someone who may or may not be a romantic partner. This obsessive interest often results in a lack of control, loss of interest in other aspects of one’s life, and various other negative consequences. Love addiction is an immature love that is largely blind and uncontrolled. This type of pathological love is found in about three to 10% of the population, but it’s higher in some demographics like college students, where it’s about 25%.
Love addiction should be separated from other similar conditions like borderline personality disorder or dependent personality disorder. These disorders may have similar dysfunctional behavior, but the behavior is not limited to romantic love. As previously mentioned, love addiction is not the same as sex addiction or erotomania.
There’s no universal consensus on what exactly constitutes a love addiction. Love addicts may be suffering from an impulse-control disorder or a mood disorder. This is due to their display of impulsive behaviors and hypomania mood states. Another possibility is that love addicts are on the obsessive-compulsive spectrum. They may be affected by repetitive and intrusive thoughts about their romantic interests.
5 Steps of Love Addiction
Love addiction has a distinct pattern that may set it apart from the other previously mentioned disorders. Love addicts become trapped in this cycle and may stay in that state for most of their adult lives. However, the cycle is only as powerful as the ignorance that goes with it. A love addiction cycle usually follows five steps.
Step 1 – The Inciting Incident
n this step, something about someone triggers a strong attraction. It doesn’t matter if this attraction is reciprocated by the other person, only that it’s something the addict can act on.
Step 2 – Craving a Dopamine Hit
Love addicts may get a dopamine hit simply by seeing the object of their affection. They may further fan the flames of addiction by visiting the person’s social media or going to where they work. If the object of the love addiction recognizes or interacts with the love addict, the addiction will grow even stronger.
Step 3 – Planning Repeated Doses
Love addicts may start rearranging their entire lives to get closer to their object of affection. They might change their schedule, change interests or hobbies, or even change their personality to become more attractive to the other person. This leads to a fantasy stage where the addict is dreaming of a future with this person and feeling like they are on the verge of starting a passionate affair.
Step 4 – Painting Red Flags Green
This tends to be the worst stage of love addiction. At this point, love addicts often realize that their feelings are not reciprocated. However, many love addicts aren’t deterred by this realization, instead they justify why the rejection is happening. The denial leads to more fantasies of how the relationship can become a reality.
Step 5 – Reality Is Unavoidable
The final stage of love addiction is ground zero where reality becomes impossible to deny. This is when the object of affection rejects the addicted person in a very final way. They may even end all contact or otherwise leave the addicted person in the dark.
Recovering From Love Addiction
One of the reasons why love addiction fits the profile of addiction is because love addicts often want to stop their behavior, but they find that it’s uncontrollable. When one fantasy relationship ends, they often state that they will never fall in love again, but then go out and immediately try to find another relationship.
Cognitive behavioral therapy and psychodrama group therapy can be effective in changing negative behavior patterns and encouraging healthier relationships. Finding a professional therapist who specializes in addiction is a good way to start the recovery process.
Doctor Howard Samuels is a Therapist in Los Angeles who specializes in therapy for different types of addiction, including love addiction. Dr. Samuels has also written a book on love addiction, which goes into greater detail about this pattern of behavior. If you’re struggling with a similar disorder, reach out to Dr. Samuels today to find out how therapy can help.