When we hear the word addiction, we automatically think of drugs or alcohol. Some may even think of gambling or video games. But there are many things you can be addicted too. Of course, it is not good to be addicted to anything because it is an unhealthy dependency on something. Even if you are addicted to love, that is not a healthy addiction either.
What is Addiction?
The American Psychiatric Association (APA) describes addiction as a disease of the brain that is characterized by a psychological and physical inability to stop using a certain substance or doing a certain activity despite harmful consequences. In other words, you have a major focus on a certain thing that takes control of your life. This definition was written for alcohol and drug addiction, but it means the same thing. When you are addicted to love to a point that it is negatively affecting your life, it is an unhealthy addiction. The addiction typically starts out mild and continues to build up until it takes over your life. The progression has certain steps, which are:
- Tolerance – The more you have, the more you want, because you build up a tolerance, needing more and more to get the same feeling.
- Seeking – You will go out of your way to get more of what you want.
Unsuccessfully trying to quit – No matter how much you try, you cannot control your addiction.
- Psychological problems – You start having psychological issues related to your addiction like depression when you cannot have it.
- Physical problems – You will actually make yourself sick or hurt yourself getting your addiction.
- Withdrawal – When you don’t get what you want, you have physical withdrawal symptoms.
Sex or Love Addiction?
Both sex and love addiction are similar because they are both related to intimacy. They may seem to be connected because you may be addicted to the sexual activity you get from your love addiction and vice versa. Just like the differences between drug and alcohol addiction, they can be linked together or just used concurrently as a coincidence. You may be more addicted to one or the other but can be addicted to both at the same time.
Causes of Love Addiction
Experts believe that almost all addictions are a defense to some sort of unresolved pain or trauma. Like post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), addictions can be caused by some form of abuse or neglect either as a child or in your adult life. Those who were neglected as a child may have an unhealthy relationship with love because they are trying to resolve the pain of that neglect. However, it can also be caused by a chemical imbalance in the brain or it may be hereditary. If you have a relative with any type of mental health disorder, you are more likely to have one of your own.
How Do You Know You are Addicted?
While there are indications that you may be addicted to love, it can be difficult to determine. Because love is a feeling and is not something you can physically see like drugs or alcohol, it may take years before anyone realizes you have an unhealthy addiction to love. And since love is a normal feeling that everyone feels, it is hard to determine whether it is an addiction or if you are just really in love. Here are some specific symptoms of love addiction:
- You have to be in a romantic relationship to be happy
- Being obsessed with your partner
- You do not see it as a problem even though others do
- Getting in trouble with the law for the one you love
- Taking risks to get and keep this person’s love
- Isolating yourself from everyone except your partner
- Don’t mind making enemies or losing your job to get the one you love
- You continue seeking love even if it makes you physically or emotionally sick
- Inability to think of anything besides your love
- Getting in a relationship with someone you don’t really want just to have a relationship
- Smothering or overwhelming your partner
- You spend too much time fantasizing about love
- Staying in unhealthy relationships just to avoid being alone
- Becoming emotionally attached to people you do not know
What Can I Do?
If you realize you have an unhealthy addiction to love, you can try to help yourself by getting as much information about it as you can. Reading this article is a good beginning. Do more research and see what you can do to manage your love addiction. There are ways to overcome it on your own. However, it is not as likely to be successful without professional treatment.
Support Groups or Therapy
They do have love addiction groups including Love Addicts Anonymous where you can talk to others who are dealing with the same or similar issues. You can learn more about what treatments are most successful and get support from others who have successfully managed their addiction. However, talking to a relationship counselor is the best idea because they are trained and experienced in how to treat the addiction. You can talk to one of the online counselors or therapists at ReGain.us anytime, no appointment needed. Get started today.
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