- Article SummaryPrint
- Falling in Love
- Signs and Symptoms
- Physical Effects
- Psychological Effects
- Social Effects
- Treatment and Rehabilitation
- Recovery Support
Can too much love really be a bad thing? For those struggling with love addiction, the answer is yes. Addicts are often in love with the feeling of being in love, which triggers compulsive behavior. Love addiction treatment centers offer the supportive environment needed to begin the recovery process for this compulsive disorder. If you need more information about treatment for love addiction, call us at 1-800-928-9139 or click here to contact us. We offer information and referrals for those who are ready to begin the rehabilitation process.
Falling in Love
Falling in love is not an act of magic as some people believe. Instead, it is a complex physiological process that involves hormones, neurotransmitters, and other chemicals. When someone falls in love, that person feels sympathy for an object of affection. After the initial attraction, the two people idealize each other and attach to each other. If they stay together, their love eventually matures and changes. People with love addiction never get past the initial stages of falling in love. This gives love addicts a sense of purpose and meaning. They become dependent on their objects of affection, hoping that these people will somehow complete their lives. The feeling of falling in love creates an emotional intoxication that makes the addiction worse.
Falling in love creates the same euphoric feeling that develops when someone takes cocaine, according to Rick Nauert, Ph.D.
"One of the hallmarks of love addiction is repeated relationships with people who are emotionally unavailable."One of the hallmarks of love addiction is repeated relationships with people who are emotionally unavailable. This is also known as forming an addictive relationship with an avoidant partner. Avoidant partners are afraid of being smothered by their addicted partners. They are also afraid to show their true emotions. This is why they tend to enter into relationships with people who lack emotional boundaries or have difficulty thinking for themselves. When a love addict and an avoidant get together, their relationship creates feelings of chaos and dependency. This type of relationship also increases the risk for abuse.
Did You Know?
Physical abuse is not the only type of domestic abuse. Abusers may also verbally or psychologically abuse their partners.
Signs and Symptoms
The signs and symptoms of love addiction vary from one addict to another. The severity of the symptoms also varies based on personal factors and environmental cues. People with love addiction may display the following:
- Constant searching for new romantic partners
- Difficulty spending time alone
- Using sex to keep a partner interested
- Consistently picking partners who are abusive
- Frequently starting relationships with emotionally unavailable people
- Avoiding friends and family members to pursue romantic relationships
- Confusing sex with love
- Feelings of desperation when not in a relationship
- Unhappiness in romantic relationships
- Avoiding relationships for long periods of time
- Difficulty leaving bad relationships
- Returning to abusive or emotionally unavailable partners
Not everyone who experiences these things occasionally has a problem with love addiction. The key to distinguishing love addiction from normal ups and downs is to examine the frequency or severity of the behaviors. If a woman has five happy relationships and one unhappy one, she is not likely to be a love addict. If she is unhappy in every relationship, there is more of a chance that she is addicted to love. Someone who avoids relationships after a particularly painful breakup probably does not have a love addiction. Someone who is in a constant cycle of whirlwind relationships followed by long periods of avoiding relationships may have this disorder.
Love addiction has physical and psychological components. The physical aspects of love addiction have to do with chemicals called neurotransmitters. Neurotransmitters help the brain communicate with the rest of the body. Love, especially the excitement of new love, triggers the release of these neurotransmitters. The result is feelings of pleasure and excitement, which can be addictive. As love addiction progresses, the addict seeks out newer and more exciting relationships to achieve this pleasurable feeling.
The brain has more than 100 different neurotransmitters.
Some people develop love addiction as a response to their childhood experiences. When someone receives a lot of love and nurturing as a child, it is likely that the person will develop good self-esteem and healthy relationship boundaries. Without this nurturing, a child may develop poor self-esteem and insecurity. Falling in love relieves these negative feelings, so someone with love addiction may use obsessive behavior to keep their negative feelings under control. The staff members at love addiction treatment centers help people with love addiction find more positive ways to resolve their feelings.
Without appropriate treatment, love addiction can have physical consequences. Love addicts may engage in risky sexual behaviors in an attempt to maintain the interest of an avoidant partner. These risky behaviors increase the risk for hepatitis and other diseases. Love addicts may also experience bouts of physical pain, as the same areas of the brain are responsible for romantic love and pain perception.
Ancient cultures believed that the heart housed the soul, which is why the myth of the broken heart has been around for centuries. In a 1969 issue of the British Medical Journal, researchers published some surprising information. These researchers followed more than 4,000 widows for nearly 10 years after their husbands died. They found that the widows had a 40 percent increased of dying within the six months immediately following their husbands' deaths. This risk eventually returned to normal. Surprisingly, most of the widows died from heart attacks."...risk of dying from violence, alcohol problems, and auto accidents following the end of a relationship or loss of a loved one."
Subsequent studies have also shown an increased risk of dying from violence, alcohol problems, and auto accidents following the end of a relationship or loss of a loved one. Researchers theorize that the increased risk comes from behavioral changes that stem from the romantic loss or death. If someone starts drinking alcohol to cope with emotional pain, that person has a greater risk of alcohol-related complications.
Believe it or not, love addiction may also lead to weight gain or eating disorders. This is because a person who is addicted to love may develop unhealthy eating habits in an attempt to control their emotions. These habits may include self-starvation, binge eating, and purging after meals and snacks. Anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, and binge eating disorder are three of the disorders that may develop along with love addiction. Love addiction treatment centers can help addicts change their coping mechanisms and avoid serious complications. If you or someone you love needs information about love addiction treatment, contact our free and confidential helpline at 1-800-928-9139 or click here to contact us online. We offer free referrals to addiction treatment centers.
Did You Know?
The National Eating Disorders Association estimates that 10 million American women have some type of eating disorder.
People with anorexia starve themselves because they never feel thin enough. Even if someone points out the unhealthy behavior, someone with anorexia cannot just start eating normally again. People with bulimia engage in binge eating, which is followed by purging. Bulimics purge due to feelings of guilt and inadequacy related to their excessive food intake. People with binge eating disorder eat unusually large amounts of food. These people may continue to eat even if they already feel full, which can lead to vomiting, indigestion, heartburn, and other digestive problems.
These eating disorders have significant effects on the body. Anorexia may cause low blood pressure, heart muscle damage, muscle weakness, muscle wasting, dry hair and skin, severe dehydration, hair loss, fatigue, and kidney failure. The constant binging and purging of bulimia may contribute to gastric rupture, tooth decay, constipation, esophageal inflammation, pancreatitis, peptic ulcers, and electrolyte imbalance. Binge eating increases the risk for high cholesterol, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and gallbladder disease.
Many people associate eating disorders with women, but approximately one million American men have this type of disorder.
Helen Fisher, a biological anthropologist, studied a group of 15 people to determine the effects of love rejection on the brain. The researchers accomplished this by performing a brain scan on each participant. They found that love rejection affects the same pathways that are affected in people who have drug addictions. This causes a love addict to crave another person and quickly develop deep attachments to other people. These feelings may manifest themselves as physical pain or emotional pain.
Consequence of Love Addiction
Sex addiction is another possible consequence of love addiction. When someone is constantly in search of a relationship, that person might use sex to attract new partners.
People with love addiction may also develop alcohol or drug addictions. This is because love addiction involves the same areas of the brain as other types of addiction. People struggling with love addiction may start drinking more than usual as a way to cope with their emotional pain. Abusing illicit drugs is another way to avoid the emotional feelings associated with love addiction.
Sex addiction is another possible consequence of love addiction. When someone is constantly in search of a relationship, that person might use sex to attract new partners. Participating in sexual activity activates the pleasure centers of the brain, which increases the likelihood of sex addiction. Love addiction treatment centers have the resources needed to help people cope with co-occurring addictions such as alcohol addiction, drug addiction, and sex addiction.
Love addiction affects family relationships, friendships, and romantic relationships. When family members and friends point out addictive behavior, the love addict may respond with aggression and hostility. The addict may avoid spending time with loved ones because he or she would rather spend time searching for a new romantic partner. Once a love addict finds a romantic partner, the new relationship is characterized by a period of highs and lows. The new relationship starts with infatuation, which makes it difficult for the love addict to see the romantic partner's flaws and shortcomings. Once this phase ends, the relationship is characterized by periods of melodrama and chaos. The partners may verbally or physically abuse one another. When the relationship ends, the love addict experiences reduced self-esteem and exhibits self-destructive behaviors.
Treatment and Rehabilitation
Love addiction is similar to sex addiction and drug addiction, so the treatment options are very similar. One of the most important aspects of treatment for love addiction is cognitive behavioral therapy. Cognitive behavioral therapy, also known as "talk therapy," is when someone with dysfunctional emotions or behaviors talks with a therapist and tries to resolve problems. The therapist helps the love addict set treatment goals and develop a systematic plan for changing his or her behavior.
One of the most innovative methods of therapy is computerized cognitive behavioral therapy. This is when a therapist delivers cognitive behavioral therapy via the Internet or active voice response system. This is not a substitute for face-to-face treatment, but it can help patients take advantage of CBT if they lack transportation or live in an area that does not have any available therapists. This type of therapy costs less than traditional talk therapy, so it may be a suitable option for those who would like to supplement their CBT sessions.
Interacting with the love addict in a kind and supportive manner is one of the most important roles of friends and family members. Therapy does not take place in a vacuum; this means that outside influences affect the success of rehabilitation for love addiction. When a love addict has support from loved ones, there is a better chance of recovery. Fortunately, there are several ways for loved ones to show their support.
- Use nonjudgmental tones and words.
- Offer to attend family therapy sessions.
- Avoid making accusations.
- Offer your support and empathy.
- Avoid bringing up past behaviors.
Recovering from an addiction can take a toll on a person's physical and spiritual well-being. Preparing a hot meal or offering to help the recovering addict with household chores are just two examples of things you can do to show your support. Instead of pressuring the love addict to talk about the issue, offer to listen any time he or she wants to talk. If the person does not want to talk about the problem, do not insist on bringing it up in conversation.