It’s as the lyrics used to say,
“You can’t sleep, you can’t eat. There’s no doubt, you’re in deep. Your throat is tight, you can’t breathe. Another kiss is all you need. Whoa, you like to think that you’re immune to the stuff, oh yeah. It’s closer to the truth to say you can’t get enough. You know you’re gonna have to face it, you’re addicted to love.”
So what separates love and addiction? Curtis(1983) has defined love as a relationship that contains the elements of needing, giving, romance, and companionship. It is a healthy relationship that allows the two people involved to mature and grow as both individuals and as a couple. However, a love addiction is not as healthy. An addiction to love is also known as a “pathological love,” “obsessive love,” “being lovesick,” or “infatuation.” Curtis defined the love addiction as a relationship that is built upon power, possession, protection, pity and perversions. It leads to obsessions and uncertainty about the security of the relationship, which eventually leads to constant anxiety. This love addiction can interrupt one’s life by creating a constant need to perform uncontrollable behavior and often leads to negative outcomes to one or both individuals. Timmreck (1990) estimated that 5-10% of the US population has some sort of addiction to love. The love addiction builds up an idea that one person cannot live without the other, and that the relationship is physically needed to survive. Many people experience the high of a love addiction at the beginning of a relationship, but it is the extension past the start of a new relationship which transforms it from a healthy to unhealthy emotion.
A love addiction is very similar to a substance abuse addiction, because even if the individual knows it is unhealthy they frequently cannot escape the hold that the addiction has on them. Reynauld (2010) found that a love addiction causes similar behaviors as a substance addiction such as euphoria, uncontrollable desire when the object of the addiction is around, negative mood, and inability to sleep when the love object is gone. It is difficult for the addicted individual to get anything done since there is a constant focus on and inability to concentrate on anything other than the love object.
So what to do if you believe you might be addicted to love? There are many options. The Sex Love Addicts Anonymous is a 12-step program that focuses on romantic emotions. It involves learning to take it a day at a time and focusing on how to be alright in a solitary situation. There is also therapy for individuals addicted to love. Creating a social network to go to when the individual would typically turn to the focus of the love addiction can also be useful. Group therapy could also provide some sort of companionship without turning it into an unhealthy addiction. But the MOST important thing is to try to stay away from the focus of the love addiction!