Have you ever heard of the term ‘in love with the idea of love’?
Love addiction is a serious issue, and something that not a lot of people understand or recognise. People are often more familiar with sex addiction, or things like drugs and alcohol. But love addiction does exist, and it can be just as detrimental to people’s lives.
Addiction takes over a person’s life. It is all that matters and becomes everything to them. An individual is unable to focus on anything but the thing they are addicted too. It takes over. It becomes everything to them.
As a result other parts of their life can suffer – relationships, work, finances etc. Everything else can spiral out of control. And the only thing left mattering is when they can get their next fix.
Truly loving someone takes a long time. There is a strong foundation of trust that needs to be built and an understanding that needs to take place. It takes effort and nurturing to make a relationship grow, and a lot of time to truly get to know someone. To understand them and learn about them.
Becoming addicted to loving someone on the other hand, happens very quickly. A person may fall for someone very fast and become absorbed in that person. A person can become objectified to them and as a result become everything to them. This can of course reach unhealthy levels, and enter a world of control and possession. And it is likely to be a highly sexualised relationship and reach very intense levels very rapidly.
With this type of love a person never really takes the time to get to know someone. They don’t truly understand them or learn about what’s important to them. Instead they become infatuated with them, and in love with the idea of that person. And they also focus on what that person can give them, and the need that they fulfill in them. Instead of embracing the person for who they are and respecting everything about them.
Here are some of the key symptoms of love addiction –
- Falling in love quickly and intensely
- Fantasise regularly about love and the ideal partner
- Focusing on attraction and nothing else. Physical attraction can take over all logic
- Really struggle to let go of a relationship – even when its detrimental to you
- Fear of being alone / never meeting anyone
- Can’t focus on everyday tasks when in a relationship
- Have a high level of need – for example being in constant contact
- Value love and being loved above everything else
- Will stay in an abusive relationship
- Hate the feeling of being alone and will seek someone else out quickly to avoid it
- Really struggle with boundaries – find it really hard to say no to your partner
- Become very possessive and jealous when in a relationship
- You will pursue the person you love at all costs
- You feel depressed and even suicidal when you are not in a relationship
Much like a lot of addiction, the causes can often be traced back to childhood and other life experiences. Things like low self-esteem can lead people to constantly look for re assurance from another. And this low self-esteem can stem from a variety of things – such as trauma in childhood, abuse, neglect or lack of love/nurturing. It can also be a result of abandonment, either in childhood or in adult relationships. Either way a person is often looking to fill a void. Ironically this void cannot be filled by another person.
Other people who are addicted to love enjoy the feeling of excitement that being “in love” brings. They have multiple romantic relationships or create intensity and issues within their current relationship in order to then get another fix as they repair things. It is all about getting affirmation and feeling loved / good enough.
Recovery from love addiction is possible. There are several things a person can do to help themselves move forward and make positive changes. Therapy of course can really help. It plays an important part in helping someone understand more about who they are and why they are doing the things they are doing. And it enables people to then start moving towards building healthier relationships.
Here are some other things that can really help when recovering from love addiction –
- Try to stop focusing on finding a partner
- Try and stop obsessing about a partner / partners you have lost
- Move towards a more positive relationship with a real person (and not an idealised fantasy)
- Work on your own levels of co-dependency (see previous blog entry)
- Focus on getting to know someone before becoming sexually involved with them
- Focus on learning about a person rather than flirting with a person
- Learn how to manage your obsessive behaviour
- Focus on moving towards a healthy relationship
- Keep on your own positive path
- Make your own self-care a priority
- Create time and space for yourself
- Spend time with your friends and family
- Don’t lose sight of what’s important to you
- Never give someone else power or control over you
- Above all – remember that another person doesn’t complete you