Defining Love Addiction
Love addiction is a behavioral pattern in which people obsess over the feeling of being in love. Like sex addiction and gambling addiction, love addiction is tough to diagnose and is not always seen as a “bad” thing. It masks itself in the form of a healthy relationship, however, each emotion that the love addict expresses is taken to an extreme. It may entail seeking feelings of familiarity and comfort even though their partner may be distant or abusive. They may feel emotionally insecure and attached in their relationship, and tend to seek reciprocation from their partners.
While this is not currently a medical condition as per the DSM, it is a widely prevalent addiction. Health practitioners and the research community are widely divided on the existence and diagnosis of this disorder. Medical professionals have not been able to quantify the existence and patterns of love treatment in medical terms. However, enough research has been conducted that suggests the existence of a behavioral condition in which the patients behave abnormally while displaying “love seeking” patterns beyond the normal realms of human emotions.
Signs and Symptoms
- Always feeling the need to be “loved” when in a relationship
- Always asking your partner to “prove” his/her love for you
- Restlessness about your partners and their commitment
- Always fantasizing love as depicted in movies and novels
- Feeling dissatisfied with the “care and affection” given by your partner, even when you know that love is present
- Feeling guilty about pushing your partners too hard
- Often facing troubled relationship because of being overly demanding
- Always feeling the need to be cuddled and coiled up with your partners
- Holding hands with your partner in public places; always feeling the need of a “touch”
- Always looking up to other couples and running comparisons between “them” and “us”
- Awareness of unreasonable behavior, even conscious
Causes and Risk Factors
Biologically, some people experience a high degree of dopamine secretion when they get a feeling of being loved. Excessive dopamine secretion leads people to experience feelings of euphoria that comes withaddiction.
Some people feel the need of constant attention and love because of negligence during their childhood by their primary caregivers. Children who have had a troubled past, have had single parents, or have had parents who were too busy to provide adequate time for their children, often develop one or more types of dependencies on others to fill the void. This may cause these children to grow into love addicts.
Like other non-substance addiction, it can be passed on through genetic mutations. Additionally, some cultures are inherently more “romantic” than others and people who have been brought up in such surroundings may develop an addiction for being loved “endlessly”.
Patients of love addiction face many risks including:
- Withdrawal from social situations
- Troubled relationships because of demanding relationship
- Suicidal ideation
- Aggression, restlessness and irritation as part of withdrawal symptoms
Since there is no “defined” diagnosis for love addiction, treatment of this disorder can be tough. Patients are usually administered targeted psychotherapy and are given anti-depressants and benzodiazepines in order to keep withdrawal symptoms from occurring.
Love addiction can be best treated in a rehabilitation center. Therapists work with individuals to help manage symptoms and realize the addiction. Group therapy and cognitive behavioral therapy are also great ways of treating its patients.