Is It Love or Addiction?
Love is one of the most cherished of human experiences. Most people hope to deeply bond with another human being romantically, spiritually and mentally. Songs and movies continually remind you that somewhere out there is your true soulmate, the person who will be your most important companion and make you complete.
So it’s no wonder that you are driven to find this perfect person who will fill the emptiness inside. But there are certain signs that the way you approach relationships may not be healthy and may not have much to do with love at all. It may actually be a form of addiction.
Signs of Addiction
When a substance or behavior has become addicting, there are certain tell-tale signs. These signs are fairly consistent whether you are addicted to alcohol, prescription drugs, street drugs, food, gambling or sex. Often other people know you have a problem with addiction long before you do. For some people, love itself becomes a behavior that is addictive.
The signs of love addiction aren’t very different from the signs of drug addiction. In the case of drug abuse, usually use of a drug of choice starts casually. You start to have a drink or a pill before any stressful event. Before you know it, you are incapable of handling any kind of stress without reaching for a mind-altering substance or behavior. You find that you develop tolerance and need more of the substance or behavior to obtain the same result. If you try to give it up, you develop very distressing symptoms known as withdrawal.
Love as a Drug
When love has become your drug of choice, you have almost the same signs and symptoms as a drug addict. Love and connected relationships aren’t just something you want, but have instead become a compulsion. You chase after the sensation of being in love and deeply connected with another human being, and you do it with the intensity of an addict anxiously chasing his or her next high.
You constantly obsess about the object of your affection. When you are apart, you spend your day thinking about your lover. You may repeatedly call or text him or her to check in and reestablish the feeling of connectedness. Like a drug addict, you have developed tolerance, and you need to increase contact and intensity with your loved one to feel whole.
When Love Addicts Live Without Love
For a love addict, being in love is the be all and end all of existence. You dislike the feeling of not being in a relationship, and you may rush from one bad relationship to another. Friends or family ask you why you fall head over heels over everyone you date and why you are so convinced that each one is the one. You may wonder why you are always so needy and clingy to the point that you drive others away. Or you may simply think that you are unlucky in love.
When a relationship ends, you are panicked. Like an addict, you experience symptoms of withdrawal. You may shake or sweat. You may experience insomnia. You feel like you need another fix. You can only get that from another relationship.
Awareness and Healing of Love Addiction
Think about the patterns in your relationships. Were you completely swept off your feet from the beginning in almost all of your relationships? Have you been attracted to people who are emotionally unavailable, such as active alcoholics or drug addicts? Have you completely revolved your life around each of the people you loved and felt absolutely crippled by breakups? Do you feel like there is a gaping hole in your heart when you are not part of a couple? You may be a love addict.
When you are aware that your approach to relationships is abnormal, there is hope of healing. You can learn a lot by attending meetings of Al-Anon or Co-Dependents Anonymous, or by talking to a counselor who specializes in love addiction. With time and effort, you can heal your addictive approach to relationships. Only then is there hope of experiencing true love.