Can Love Be an Addiction?

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Calendar icon Last Updated: 09/16/2021
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Who Answers?

Some people look for love everywhere they go, and in certain instances, this behavior can become harmful, even dangerous. A person could become fixated on one other individual or bounce uncontrollably from person to person, with both actions leading toward negative consequences. Therefore, we may wonder: can love be an addiction?

Is Love Addiction Real?

The University of Indiana states that there are “two basic forms of love addiction. In the first type, the relationship is often one sided, with the object of the person’s love not even interested in, or aware of, the obsessed person’s infatuation.” When the other person does become aware, though, or a relationship is finally initiated, the individual who was deeply and intensely in love before the relationship began often loses interest. The other type occurs when two people are in a relationship and one, or both, is fixated on the other, not wanting to be apart at any time, to the detriment of both people.

Though this is not one of the behavioral addictions that is commonly accepted by the medical community, there are treatments for love addiction, including individual and couples therapy and other types of counseling. There are also 12-step and other types of mutual help groups for these issues, such as Sex and Love Addicts Anonymous. While “there is almost no data evaluating their efficacy or effectiveness” These groups can provide the type of support, structure, and accountability required by individuals in this situation without high treatment costs (Psychiatry MMC).

Love addiction does occur, and it can be very damaging to both individuals in a relationship and to those around them. And, like other addictive behaviors, they cause people to do things that are problematic but the individual cannot stop without treatment. A person can be addicted to love, considering the similarities between these situations and other addictions, but the most important thing is being able to recognize when a true addiction exists and when a person is just exhibiting obsessive or problematic behavior.

How Can You Tell if Someone is Addicted to Love?

If you are unsure but think you know someone who is dealing with this condition, here are some ways to determine whether or not it is in fact an addiction:

  • The person’s behavior causes serious problems consistently for themselves, the person they are in a relationship, and others.
  • The person does not care about work, school, or other relationships, only the other individual.
  • The person also has a history of mental illness, mood disorders, substance abuse, or other psychological issues.
  • The person seems to go through withdrawal symptoms (depression, oversleeping or sleep disturbances, confusion, hopelessness, etc.) when they cannot be with their loved one or when the relationship ends.
  • The person hides things from others, is extremely secretive, or becomes incredibly jealous when their loved one is with other people.

“According to Halpern, some characteristics of love addiction occur in all relationships,” which can make it hard to know for certain if someone is, in fact, an addict (Indiana University). But when the relationship is destructive “and neither person can break it off,” then it fits into this category and the individual(s) require treatment.