“Am I a Love Addict?”

by Andrea Blundell
Reviewed by Dr Sheri Jacobson

Feel lost if you aren’t head over heels or being chased by someone? Spend all your time in and out of dramatic relationships? And someone has hinted you have a problem?

Secretly wondering, "am I a love addict?".

But how can love be addictive?

It can certainly be argued that a feeling of openness and caring without judgement, the love spoken of by philosophy and religions, isn’t addictive.

But unfortunately that’s not what most people are engaging in when they speak about ‘love’ in modern day society.

Love has become an umbrella term that is a mask for codependency, lust, need, power games, and mutual use. And these things certainly can be used in an addictive manner.

The different types of love addiction

Given that it's not really 'love' we are addicted to, you might also hear people referring to:

  • romance addiction (addicted to hunting down love, reading romance novels, dreaming about the 'One')
  • people addiction (obsessed with one person, or in a relationship that has taken over your life)
  • sex addiction (addiction to sexual acts, alone or with others, both real and imagined, such as fantasies and porn).

How do I know if I am addicted?

Addiction always comes with the same hallmark symptoms, regardless of whether it’s a substance, thing, or behaviour we are addicted to.

We use something to avoid facing deep emotional pain, and we:

  • hide the habit and lie about it, even to ourselves (shame)
  • can’t stop doing it even if we want to (out of control)
  • need more and more of it to get the same good feeling (increased dependency)
  • and are seeing more and more of our life negatively affected.

Signs you are a love addict

So to return back to the different types of love addiction, what might symptoms look like?

Romance addiction could look like staying up all night to read romance books or watch romance movies, even when you are getting warnings from your boss for falling asleep on the job. And then going ahead and secretly watching a film at work on your phone.

People addiction could mean feeling high when you around your current partner, then lost and despondent when you are separated. Or sabotaging everything in the name of 'love', such as putting your career on hold and spending money you don't have to please your partner. And lying to friends about how much you are spending time together.

Sex addiction could mean telling friends you aren't feeling well and can't go out when really it's because you want to stay home and watch porn. Or being so addicted to the high of orgasm you even risk doing it in the supply closet at work.

Are behavioural addictions diagnosable conditions?

An official psychological diagnosis takes years to evolve, requiring a large body of evidence and endless discussion. For example, PTSD was only quite recently accepted as something that affected more than just soldiers or those who lived through a natural disaster.

Behavioural addictions are still the subject of research and debate. The World Health Organisation's diagnostic manual, the ICD-11, recently classified gambling problems and compulsive sexual behaviour as 'impulse control disorders' and not addictions. Things like love and romance addiction, compulsive shopping, or internet addiction remain left out of any ‘official’ diagnosis.

But note that here in the UK the NHS recognises shopping and the internet as possible addictions, and states that "it's possible to be addicted to just about anything'.

So is or isn't it a real problem?

So just because 'love addiction' is not an official diagnosis does not mean you don't have a very real problem. Or that a therapist won’t take addictive behaviour around love and romance seriously.

If you are using relationships or romance in an addictive way and it’s negatively affecting your life, and your sense of self? Then it’s a very real issue, whether you want to call it ‘love addiction’ or ‘relating problems’. And the terminology is far less important than getting the support you need to gain your life back.

What type of therapy can help?

Cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT) can help you recognise and gain control over the negative thoughts that set off your need to act out.

Dialectical behaviour therapy (DBT) can help if your love addiction is based around a fear of being rejected that sees you throwing yourself impulsively into overly intense, short-lived relationships.

Schema therapy is perfect if you have really big trust issues that see you clinging on to certain people in an obsessive way. Or if you feel you are stuck in a pattern, where you make the same relationship mistake again and again.

Psychodynamic therapy might be for you if feel that your childhood is the root of your problems and you want to discuss your past in great detail.

And then there are a host of therapies that were created just to help with relating issues, including interpersonal therapy (IPT), transactional analysis, and dynamic interpersonal therapy (DIT).

Time to let real love come into your life instead of destructive and addictive imposter? Use our easy booking tool now to find a therapist who can help with love and romance addiction.

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