What Is Love Addiction?

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What Is Love Addiction? 

Love addiction is a condition that causes a person to develop an unhealthy and obsessive fixation with a love interest.

Being in love is a beautiful emotion everyone deserves to experience. Having someone to love and be loved by is something almost everyone strives for. However, being in love can manifest in an unhealthy way. It can make some people act in strange and irrational ways to the detriment of themselves and the people they love.

Someone addicted to love will also find it challenging to create and maintain healthy relationships. Although it’s more common within romantic relationships, love addiction can occur in other forms of relationships. It could happen in friendships and in relationship to children, parents, or even strangers.

People with this kind of addiction often have unrealistic standards and expectations of love. When these aren’t met, it only serves to worsen their condition further. 

People often argue that love addiction shouldn’t be classified as a mental health condition. However, others believe people with this condition experience real and debilitating symptoms.

They often have unhealthy fixations with their partners and seek to control them. Like with other forms of addiction, a person who is addicted to love may exhibit behavior and impulses that are out of their control. However, with the proper treatment and care, they can unlearn their unhealthy behaviors and attitudes towards love and learn how to form healthy and loving connections. 

Symptoms of Love Addiction

Love addiction looks a little different from person to person. The most commonly identifiable symptom of love addiction is an unhealthy fixation with your partner that causes you to carry out obsessive compulsions, such as calling them too frequently or even stalking them.

Love addiction often manifests itself in the following ways:

  • Feeling lost or uprooted when you don’t have a partner
  • Feeling overly dependent on your partner
  • Prioritizing the relationship you have with your partner over every other personal relationship in your life, sometimes to the point of completely neglecting other personal relationships you have with family and friends
  • Becoming depressed and obsessed with a love interest when your romantic advances aren’t reciprocated
  • Constantly seeking to be in romantic relationships even with partners you recognize aren’t good for you
  • Feeling despondent whenever you don’t have a romantic partner or aren’t in a relationship 
  • Finding it difficult to leave unhealthy or toxic relationships
  • Making poor decisions because of emotions you have towards your partner or love interest (e.g., quitting your job or cutting ties with your family)
  • Obsessively thinking of your partner or love interest so much that it disrupts your life

There are many other symptoms of love addiction that might not be outlined above. This is because symptoms of the condition are wide and varying, and people express emotions uniquely. The way a person chooses to express their feelings will reflect in their symptoms.

Symptoms of love addiction also vary in severity. While some signs, like calling frequently, can seem harmless, others like stalking a love interest or restricting who they interact with are more harmful. 

Identifying Love Addiction 

Love addiction is not a mental health condition recognized by the Diagnostic Manual of Mental Health Disorders.

There have been several debates in medical circles and communities about whether the condition should be classified as an actual mental health condition. This makes identifying the condition a lot trickier than other established mental health conditions.

If you or someone you know suspects they have a love addiction, speak to your doctor about it. They are most likely to refer you to a psychotherapist who might conduct a series of tests and ask you a series of questions to determine if a love addiction is a useful way to conceptualize your difficulties.

In 2019, some researchers developed a framework to help identify love addiction, called “The Love Addiction Inventory.” The inventory comprises a series of questions that can be used to assess a love addiction diagnosis.

Causes of Love Addiction 

Much more research needs to be done to understand love addiction and easily identify what causes or triggers the condition. Some existing research points at various factors, such as trauma and genetics, being triggers for the development of love addiction.

Research also shows a connection between the euphoric feeling you get when you are in love with the feelings of pleasure a person addicted to substances like cocaine or alcohol might have.

Researchers drew parallels between the way a person in love and a person addicted to a substance might act. People in both groups might experience emotional dependency, cravings, mood swings, compulsions, obsessions, and loss of self-control. When you are in love, your brain releases chemical messengers that make you feel good, like dopamine. These same patterns occur with substance abuse and addiction. 

Other common triggers of love addiction include: 

  • Dealing with abandonment issues in your past 
  • Having low-self esteem 
  • Having lived through emotional or sexual abuse in the past 
  • Having experienced a traumatic relationship
  • Living through childhood trauma

Treatment for Love Addiction 

Treatment for love addiction can be tricky. This is because it’s not a universally recognized mental health condition, and diagnosing it and treating it is typically done at your doctor or therapist’s discretion. Love addiction may be approached similarly to other forms of addiction. More research does need to be done to determine just how effective psychotherapy can be for treating love addiction.  

A common form of therapy used in treating addictions is cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT). With CBT, your therapist will work with you to uncover problematic thought patterns that can contribute to triggering your addictive behaviors. 

Because love addiction isn’t a recognized form of mental health condition, there are currently no medications typically used for its treatment. However, if it co-occurs with other disorders such as anxiety or depression, your doctor could prescribe medication to treat symptoms of the co-occurring condition.

Some research also shows that doctors could prescribe antidepressants and mood stabilizers to help a person living with the disorder cope with symptoms of obsession and impulsivity in certain instances of love addiction. 

Coping With Love Addiction 

One of the most challenging things about living with love addiction is admitting that you have a problem.

Many people who are addicted to love cannot identify why expressing obsessive emotions towards their partners, or love interest is problematic.

If you exhibit symptoms of love addiction, speak to a healthcare professional as soon as you can. With proper treatment and care, you can begin to discover healthier ways to express love.

If you have a love addiction, here are some tips to help you cope with your condition as you seek help: 

  • Learn to be alone: If you are not involved with a romantic partner at the time of your diagnosis, you should take the opportunity to spend some time alone. Explore the reasons and triggers for your addiction and make some progress in your treatment before entering a new relationship. 
  • Look out for recurring patterns: A love addict will typically exhibit the same pattern of behavior with any love interest. Take a look over romantic relationships you’ve been in and identify any recurring patterns. 
  • Invest in yourself: Taking time to invest in your self-growth is a great way to fall in love with yourself. With love addiction, people with the condition often neglect themselves and their own needs.
  • Rely on friends and family: Sharing your struggle with this condition with the people who love and care for you can help. 
  • Join a support group. One of the most comforting facts of living with any condition is knowing that you are not alone and that there are people who share in your struggles. Joining a support group exposes you to such people. It also allows you to speak to people who have overcome the condition. 

If you or a loved one are struggling with love addiction, contact the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) National Helpline at 1-800-662-4357 for information on support and treatment facilities in your area.

For more mental health resources, see our National Helpline Database.

A Word From Verywell

If you think you might be dealing with an addiction to love, know that you aren't alone; there are many others who are experiencing or have dealt with these kinds of emotional challenges. The good news is that a mental health professional can help you learn to form healthier relationships with yourself and others.

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3 Sources
Verywell Mind uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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