Love Addiction: Definition, Common Signs & Options For Help

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Are you worried about your possible love addiction or that of a loved one?

You’re not alone. Many of us struggle with addiction in our lives, though not everyone has heard of love addiction to know how to recognize it.

Fortunately, you’ve come to the right spot. We can explain love addiction in detail to help you understand how it manifests, identify it, and seek proper treatment.

What Is a Love Addiction?

Love addiction is a pathological need related to love and interpersonal relationships. It’s characterized by excessive passion-driven behavior and unhealthy attachments or obsessions with romance or an individual.

Love addicts typically do anything to find and keep love, even at the price of abuse or lost identity.

Do Love Addiction Urges Go Away?

Love addiction urges will typically not go away on their own. Even traumatic events in relationships are usually not enough to help a love addict break their self-harming habits.

For most people, therapy can be helpful or they may find a support group that helps them manage their urges.

Forms of Love Addiction

While most love addicts focus their obsession on romantic partners, love addiction can come in many forms. Some love addicts are unwilling to give love. They only take it. Below are some different forms of love addiction.

  • Typical Love Addict: The most common type of love addiction, the typical form manifests as a desperation to find their “soulmate.” They will focus on and prioritize their romantic partner over themselves. Their romantic relationship becomes integral to their identity and their greatest fear is being left by their partner.
  • Romantic Love Addict: Romantic love addicts, also called serial daters by some, hop from one intense relationship to another, rarely being single or alone. They bask in the intensity, excitement, and passion of a new relationship, but will quickly move on when it fades, “falling in love” with someone else, often while still in a relationship.
  • Non-Romantic Love Addict: As the name implies, non-romantic love addicts become attached to someone platonically, often developing an obsession. It could be a friend, acquaintance, coworker, or any person in their life. It can also be an obsession with a celebrity they’ve never met.
  • Avoidant Love Addict: Avoidant love addicts are often also narcissists and display emotionally unavailable behavior. They crave and need someone to love and worship them to fuel their ego, but do not reciprocate.
  • Abusive Love Addict: Abusive love addicts use physical and emotional abuse, intimidation, and manipulation. Their form of love is abuse, and the more they abuse their partner, the more they feed their addiction.
  • Battered Love Addict: Battered love addicts are the counterpart of abusive love addicts, meaning the people who stay in a bad relationship no matter what their partner does to them.
  • Sex and Love Addict: This form of love addiction is similar to typical love addicts, but with a stronger emphasis on sex and sexual fantasies. Their addiction is like a sex addiction but only toward their partner.
  • Parental Love Addict: There is zero romance involved in parental love addicts. Instead, it manifests as a parent acting dependent on one or more of their children for attention, validation, and love.

Love Addiction Statistics

Love addiction is a larger problem than many people think. It’s also more serious than people may realize, as it goes far beyond puppy love or a harmless admiration for someone.

Below are some shocking love addiction stats to put this addiction in perspective.

  • Prevalence of Love Addiction in US Adults: It’s estimated that between 5% and 10% of adults in the US suffer from some form of love addiction.
  • Many People Suffer From Love Addiction: Between 12 and 30 million people in the US have a type of sex and love addiction.
  • Bad Childhoods: Almost 90% of love and sex addicts came from dysfunctional families or households.
  • Young Love: Adolescents are more prone to developing a love addiction, with most love addicts showing signs of addiction between 12 and 25 years old.
  • Double Addiction: Over 40% of love addicts also have a drug and/or alcohol abuse problem.

What Are the Signs of Love Addiction?

Recognizing the signs of love addiction can be difficult, but this section will list and define the signs of love addiction to look out for in yourself or your loved ones.

Fear of Being Alone

Many people want to find someone to love so they won’t “die alone” but this fear of being alone is excessive and intense in love addicts.

Being alone, even for a short period, causes extreme anxiety, stress, and depression. This sign can manifest as serial dating, settling for a bad relationship, or desperation to find a new relationship.

Obsessive Thoughts About a Relationship

It’s not unusual or unhealthy to think about your partner, but love addicts have obsessive and overwhelming thoughts about their partner and relationship, affecting every aspect of their life.

These thoughts can be positive but are often negative, anxious thoughts about abandonment, cheating, or other emotionally harmful situations.

Lack of Independence and Self-Identity

A super common sign of love addiction is a lack of self-identity and independence. Healthy couples love to spend time together, but can also do their own thing, whether it’s going out with friends, taking a yoga class, or going on a weekend trip.

Love addicts will lose themselves in their partner, disappearing into the relationship and taking on their partner’s interests and preferences.

Need for Constant Contact with Partner

Love addicts will become tense and panicked when they go too long without talking to their partner, whether via text, phone, or in person.

They may bombard their partner’s phone with needy texts and phone calls and will go out of their way to contact their partner, even if it means getting in trouble at work or school.

Self-Sabotaging Habits in Love

Love addicts rarely find themselves in healthy relationships. Constantly gravitating towards abusive or emotionally-unavailable people, love addicts often experience the negative consequences of their addiction, self-sabotaging themselves and their love life.

They make decisions with passion and impulse.

Reliance on Others for Emotional Fulfillment

Love addicts cannot emotionally fulfill or support themselves. Instead of self-soothing during hard times, they place 100% of their emotional health on their partner or the object of their addiction.

Instead of being responsible for their feelings, they place the burden on others to meet their needs and prevent emotional pain, often leading to extreme pain when they do not meet these needs.

Types of Unhealthy Love Behavior

Some types of unhealthy behavior that exemplify love addiction include controlling one’s partner, hostility towards people outside the relationship, dishonesty toward concerned loved ones, disrespect toward their partner, physical violence, and extreme dependence.

As the list of forms of love addiction above explains, some love addicts are desperate for love and will bend and break themselves to get it. Yet others thrive on toxic love, meaning they control and abuse their partner, which fulfills their love addiction urges.

A massive theme in love addiction cases is a lack of respect, whether for someone’s physical well-being, emotional state, personal space, ability to consent, or desires.

What Is the Main Cause of Love Addiction?

As mentioned in a statistic above, love addiction typically develops because of childhood trauma. Most love addicts experienced instances of emotional abuse, sexual abuse, physical abuse, abandonment, betrayal, neglect, and other dysfunctional situations during their childhood.

How Love Addiction Affects the Brain

The love addiction’s effect on the brain is dramatic, eliciting extreme emotions on both ends of the spectrum. Much of the behavior associated with love addiction stems from the nucleus accumbens, the area of the brain that controls desire.

It’s usually the desire for food or water, but in love addicts, the desires and urges focus on intimacy and love.

Being in love seems like an ethereal and intangible state, but it is just a combination of biochemical reactions in the brain.

Love and romance can release compounds in your brain, such as dopamine, oxytocin, vasopressin, and serotonin, that make you feel happy and safe. The release of these compounds can create feelings of trust, pleasure, and reward.

What Is the Personality of a Love Addict?

Love addict personalities can vary significantly, from arrogant and controlling to desperate and obsessive. These people often have super low self-esteem and are highly emotional, whether they’re happy or sad.

Love addicts are typically impulsive and very manipulative, even if they don’t do it consciously.

Is Love Addiction a Mental Health Issue?

Technically, no. Love addiction is not classified as a mental illness, therefore is not recognized in the DSM-5.

The research and attention on love addiction are fairly new, as the term was only coined in the late 70s and many individuals and healthcare professionals did not give the addiction validity.

Despite not being an official mental illness, love addiction is often treated with therapy, but there are no medications available.

What Mental Illnesses Go Hand in Hand With Love Addiction?

While love addiction is not considered a mental illness in itself, it is often accompanied by the following mental illnesses and conditions.

  • Anxiety: Love addicts in-and-out of a relationship will experience anxiety, despair, and a lack of trust
  • Depression: Many love addicts may experience clinical depression when alone
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD): Often caused by childhood trauma or other emotional trauma
  • Acute stress disorder (ASD): extreme and debilitating stress caused by a lack of love

How Do I Stop My Love Addiction?

Like most addictions, the first step is breaking out of denial. Once a love addict acknowledges their addiction and decides to change, they will need to get in touch with their emotions, explore and process past trauma, remove triggers from their life, and learn what a healthy relationship is.

They must develop more independence and personal power, often through therapy and self-care.

Can Love Addicts Ever Be Cured?

Yes, with conscious emotional work and therapy, most love addicts can break their unhealthy habits, learn to be more emotionally independent, and choose non-toxic relationships. Like with any addiction, they may experience withdrawal while trying to change their ways.

What Is the Most Common Treatment for Love Addiction?

Therapy is the most common treatment for love and sex addiction. There are currently no medications for love addiction, but many love addicts go through cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and participate in love addict support groups.

In these support groups and therapy sessions, addicts will attempt to tackle their addiction by reshaping their thoughts and behaviors.

What Can I Replace Love With?

“Replacing” love, sex, and intimacy to remedy your addiction is not the best idea, as it can lead to a new addiction. For example, replacing love with food, exercise, drugs, or alcohol, can lead to substance abuse and eating disorders.

Instead of replacing love, addicts should practice giving themself love and receiving love from themselves rather than relying on someone else.

Frequently Asked Questions

Below are questions people often ask about love addiction and love addicts.

Can a love addict have a healthy relationship?

Even though some love addict relationships look healthy, they are not. After acknowledging and working through their addiction, love addicts can have healthy relationships. But people in the throes of their love addiction are unlikely to be in a healthy relationship.

Is love addictive as a drug?

No, love addiction is not addictive as a drug, but love can have the same effects on a love addict as substances do on a drug or alcohol addict.

As mentioned, a love addict may experience withdrawal from love, but the physical symptoms can’t compare with substance withdrawal.

The feeling of love can be highly addictive because of the brain’s chemical response, so it’s easy to compare love addiction to drug addiction or alcoholism.

Additional Addictions to Be Aware Of

Love addicts get dopamine and validation through relationships, but there are similar types of addiction. Like love addiction, these addictions often trigger a dopamine response in the brain, activating the brain’s reward system and eventually leading to addiction.

  • Sexual Addiction: Sex addiction and love addiction often go hand in hand, but not all sex addicts want or need romance or intimacy. Sex addiction is more physical than emotional but can be equally as destructive. Many sex addicts are also love addicts, but not always.
  • Pornography Addiction: Like attention and love, pornography can produce dopamine in the brain, giving people a feeling of pleasure that can become addictive. Porn addicts will watch porn even when they don’t want to, sometimes to the detriment of their love or work life.
  • Social Media Addiction: People can also be addicted to social media, especially people who seek validation and attention on social media platforms. Like love addiction, social media addicts are desperate for the dopamine they get when they use social media, which can come in the form of adoring fans or manifest as the desire to ridicule people online.

Wrapping Up

Love addiction may sound trivial compared to other dependencies, but it can lead people to destroy their lives and hurt others.

It can also be hard to detect love addiction, as it can start small and grow into something much worse. Showing signs of change in one’s emotional mentality and attitude toward their partner or relationship can be the beginning of a love addiction.

The best way to deal with love addiction is to work to change your mindset, prioritize self-love, and learn to break habits through therapy or support groups.

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