How to spot a love addict
Just like anything else that makes us feel good it is possible to get addicted to love – not usually the steady, reciprocal kind but the heart-thumping, unrequited kind which is filled with high drama and adrenalin fuelled exchanges. A love addict relates to people in a painful, compulsive way and will hold onto a relationship even if it has become abusive because they need to get their fix.
This way of relating has only recently been recognised as an addiction. There are now many resources to help people recognise the symptoms and learn how to build functional, lasting relationships rather than these unhealthy unions.
Who are love addicts attracted to?
There are always two people involved in a relationship and it is important to recognise that it is not only the love addict who may have a problem – the type of people they are attracted to are often contributing to the problem even if they are not aware of it.
Love addicts are drawn to emotionally unavailable people. These people may say they are willing to engage in a relationship, they could even be married to the love addict – but at some level they are not available for the intimate connection the love addict desperately seeks – maybe because they have their own addictions, alcoholism, gambling, workaholism etc or they could physically be unavailable – i.e. they are in a relationship with someone else.
Healthy and unhealthy love
When you meet someone you connect with you may find yourself thinking about them constantly; daydreaming about your future and wanting to spend all your free time together. This is a wonderful, exciting experience especially when the other person feels the same way about you – you fall in love with each other and over time the intense early feelings pass and a more secure, lasting love develops on which you can build a life together. This is healthy love which enriches both of your lives and helps you grow and develop as individuals as well as a couple.
In an unhealthy connection many of the same early characteristics will be present but the constant thinking about the object of your affections will have an obsessive quality to it which can interfere with you being able to engage with your normal daily activities. This obsession may become so extreme that you neglect to care for yourself in healthy ways. Your sense of value and self worth becomes caught up with the way in which this person responds to you – when they seem interested in the relationship you are elated; when they aren’t you are bereft – the emotions are very extreme and you may feel out of control, like you are on a roller coaster. It’s often clear, particularly to people outside the relationship, that the connection is damaging and self-defeating yet you feel compelled to keep trying even when it becomes terribly painful.
Spotting a love addict?
These are the main things you should look out for which could indicate that, you or someone else is a love addict:
1. They have a tendency to fall in love very quickly and easily – often they are in love with an idea of someone rather than the real person because they haven’t begun to get to know them
2. They find it very hard to let go of the relationship even if it is not working or the other person has stated clearly that they do not want it to continue
3. They will pursue the relationship at the expense of their own health and wellbeing
4. When they are in a relationship they think about it so much it interferes with their everyday life – this often manifests itself in jealous, controlling behaviours. A love addict may check up on their partner; smother them with their over interest and seem to have little life of their own outside of the relationship
5. When they are not in a relationship they will be obsessed with finding one, often to the exclusion of all else.
What to do
If you believe that you, or someone you know, is a love addict there is now a lot of help available. As with any addiction the first step in the recovery process is admitting that there is a problem – then the addict will be able to take responsibility and find a solution.
In her book ‘Facing Love Addiction – giving yourself the power to change the way you love’, Pia Melody gives more detail on how to spot and recover from love addiction.
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