Are You Addicted to Love? The Signs and Symptoms of Love Addiction

Author and Medical Reviewer
Dr. Jose Toledo

love addiction Chain with heart

Although love addiction is not recognized as a diagnosed mental health disorder, the condition is prevalent. 

Studies show that love addiction affects people similarly to other addictions such as drug and alcohol abuse. 

What is love addiction?

Love addiction is a disorder that causes people to develop unhealthy feelings and obsessive fixations towards others, such as a potential love interest or romantic partner.

People with love addiction might behave in unusual and irrational ways. The above may cause damage to the relationships of those with love addiction, causing profound distress for the sufferers and those around them.

Love is a beautiful emotion.

love addiction roses

For most of us, being in love, especially at the beginning of a relationship, can be beautiful.

Love creates myriad emotions that can make us feel unique, safe, and acknowledged by the person we treasure most in the world- however, for some, the euphoria of love can manifest in destructive and unhealthy ways.

The effects of love addiction

If you think you might have a love addiction, you may encounter relationship problems frequently; you might also experience difficulties creating and maintaining healthy relationships. Moreover, love addiction is not a condition reserved only for romantic relationships.

Love addiction can occur in various (non-romantic) relationships such as:

  • Siblings
  • Parents
  • Friendships
  • Colleagues
  • Strangers

Unrealistic expectations

People with love addiction usually have unrealistic expectations of others and love in general, and when these needs or standards are not met, they may find their condition worsens.

Many experts have compared the symptoms of love addiction to those experienced in substance abuse, and it seems there are many parallels.

Impulsive behaviors

Like substance addiction, a person addicted to love may demonstrate specific impulses and behaviors and may experience a loss of control over their thoughts and actions.

People addicted to love may form unhealthy obsessions and fixations with their partner or love interest and often seek ways to control their significant other.

Love addiction symptoms

Like most mental health disorders, love addiction manifests differently for every individual. Additionally, there are likely to be various factors involved with the disorder, such as the presence of other conditions, known as co-occurring disorders and a person’s family history.

However, the research literature identified a specific symptom of love addiction that is consistent in many people with the disorder.

Such a symptom involves unhealthy fixations where an individual with a love addiction will engage in obsessive compulsions such as stalking a love interest or calling and texting them too often.

Other symptoms

love addiction phone

Other symptoms of love addiction include:

  • Feeling depressed or discouraged when you don’t have a romantic partner or love interest.
  • Becoming extremely down or depressed when a love interest does not reciprocate your feelings or when they dismiss your romantic advances
  • Feeling as though life is pointless without a partner and depending solely on the person you are seeing.
  • Making poor choices because of how you think about your romantic interest or object of affection, including ending family relationships or leaving your job
  • Putting your partner before anyone else in your life, such as family, friends, and work commitments – prioritizing your love interest comes before anything else, including your health and wellbeing.
  • When single, you are constantly on the lookout for a partner, even if the people you meet are not suitable for you
  • You may find it challenging to leave toxic or unhealthy relationships. 
  • Engaging in obsessive thinking about your love interest or partner 

Additional telltale signs of love addiction

Unlike other addictions, love addiction can be challenging to detect since everyone expresses love differently. Alcohol and drug abuse are recognizable in that a person with a substance use disorder will drink or take drugs frequently – the symptoms of substance abuse are usually impossible to miss.

However, love addiction is a subtle disorder; the euphoria is not as apparent as in drugs and alcoholism, yet the suffering is the same, although a person with love addiction likely suffers in solitude and silence.

How an individual expresses their feelings of love will be mirrored in their symptoms – many expressions of love are harmless, while others are detrimental such as controlling behaviors or stalking.

Risk factors

Various factors can put you at risk of developing love addiction – much like other mental disorders; such factors involve genetics and adverse life experiences, including trauma.

Additionally, researchers have noted strong correlations between the feelings of euphoria a person experiences when they fall in love and those observed when someone abuses substances like alcohol or cocaine.

People addicted to love, and those who engage in substance abuse may act and behave similarly.

Love addiction versus substance addiction

Those addicted to substances and those with love addiction may experience similar emotions such as:

  • Compulsions
  • Emotional dependency
  • Cravings and urges
  • Obsessions
  • A lack or loss of control
  • Significant mood swings

Researchers suggest that specific brain chemicals might be responsible for the reactions experienced in drug and love addiction and that similar patterns emerge in both conditions.

For example, when we are in love, our brain releases chemicals such as dopamine, which can make us feel good. According to researchers, similar patterns occur with substance addiction.

Additional risk factors

Other factors can put someone at risk of love addiction, including:

  • Experiencing traumatic relationships in the past
  • Fear of abandonment or abandonment issues in your past
  • Childhood trauma, such as physical, emotional, or sexual abuse
  • Low confidence or self-esteem issues

Should love addiction be considered a mental health disorder?

love addiction frozen heart

Many mental health experts argue that love addiction should get included in the diagnostic and statistical manual of mental health disorders. The lack of acknowledgement synonymous with love addiction presents various treatment challenges for professionals working with people with the disorder and those with the condition.

Fortunately, studies have been conducted on love addiction, including “The Love Addiction Inventory,” which consists of several questions that might be useful when determining a love addiction diagnosis.

Speaking to a professional

If you think you might have any of the symptoms of love addiction – you must reach out to a mental health professional who can advise you on the next steps.

Since love addiction does not get recognized as a mental disorder, your doctor may refer you to a therapist for further assessment and treatment.

Treatment

Treatment for love addiction is varied. However, treatment intervention for love addiction may focus on addressing the core issues that may have caused the disorder.

The above might include addressing feelings of low self-worth and shame and helping people create healthy boundaries in their relationships. Moreover, breaking toxic patterns and self-defeating thoughts, feelings, and behaviors and changing unhealthy beliefs or ideas about relationships may also be part of a person’s treatment.

Cognitive-behavioral therapy 

Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is an effective treatment for addictions, including love addiction. CBT allows people to understand unhelpful or problematic behavioral patterns that may cause or trigger addictive behaviors.

Other treatment interventions may be recommended for those with co-occurring disorders such as anxiety or depression.

Other ways to cope with love addiction

love addiction addiction way out

Researchers have suggested other ways that people with love addiction can manage the condition. 

They include:

  • Support from friends and family
  • Engaging in self-care techniques, such as investing in your growth, getting to know yourself better, and putting your needs ahead of others
  • Being aware of recurring patterns – identifying old relationship patterns can be beneficial for those with love addiction since it allows people to take stock of unhelpful behaviors from the past.
  • Joining a support group – Joining a support group allows those with love addiction to share their experiences with others who understand their struggles. Moreover, speaking to others who have overcome love addiction can be immensely cathartic.

Tikvah Lake Recovery

If you think you have any of the symptoms mentioned in this article, it might be time to contact a specialist who can help.

We specialize in treating various addictions and mental health disorders at Tikvah Lake Recovery. We recognize that reaching out can be challenging for many people; however, once you take the first step – you will begin to feel much better.

Our specialists are a friendly, dedicated team who are always willing to go that extra mile. Contact a Tikvah Lake Recovery specialist today.

About Adam Nesenoff

Adam Nesenoff has been working in recovery for over ten years.

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