“Love addicts live in a chaotic world of desperate need and emotional despair.”
What is love dependency?
Love dependency is a compulsive, chronic craving and pursuit of romantic love to get our sense of security and worth from another person. Fearful of being alone or rejected, love dependants endlessly search for that special someone – the person that will make the person feel whole.
Is love dependency authentic?
Love dependency is a process dependency, which according to scientists, affects the same brain reward system as chemical addictions. It can be equally debilitating as drug or alcohol abuse.
Love dependency is a little harder to define simply because, by nature, we are all dependent on loving – meaning we want it, seek it and have a hard time not thinking about it. We need an attachment to survive, and we instinctively seek connection, especially romantic connections. There is nothing dysfunctional about wanting love. Robert Weiss stated in a Pro-Talk article in 2015 that it’s essential to realize that love dependants are not hooked on love but are dependent on “limerence.”
Limerance: “A completely life-altering state of mind, more than a “crush”, very intense feelings of affection towards somebody else.”
Limerance is a temporary sensation that paves the way for a long-term relationship by serving as the glue that keeps people interested in one another long enough to potentially form a deeper and more meaningful (albeit less neurochemically intense) desire for intimacy.
“Love dependants, rather than sticking with someone and allowing longer-term emotional bonds to form, attempt to perpetually extend the neurochemical excitement of early romance. In essence, their “drug” is the rush they feel whenever they meet someone new who might be “the one.” And they use the rush to get high in the same ways and for the same reasons that alcoholics drink and drug addicts take drugs – to escape from stress and other forms of emotional or sometimes even physical discomfort.” – Robert Weiss
The condition is diagnosed by a psychologist or health care professional in the same fundamental ways as other dependencies. The three primary issues, according to Robert Weiss, founder of The Sexual Recovery Institute in Los Angeles, are:
- An ongoing (six months or more) preoccupation to the point of obsession with romantic fantasies and new relationships
- An inability to exercise control over romantic dreams and new relationships
- Negative consequences directly and indirectly related to out-of-control romantic stories and serial relationships
What are the symptoms?
- Mistaking sexual and romantic intensity for love and genuine, lasting intimacy
- Feeling desperate and alone when not in a relationship
- Missing out on essential commitments (with family, work or elsewhere) to search for a new relationship
- Seeking a new relationship while still in a relationship
- Constantly struggling to maintain the sexual/romantic intensity of an existing relationship
- Feigning interest in activities that aren’t enjoyable as a way to keep a partner or meet someone new
- Relying on romantic passion as a way to escape from stress and other types of emotional discomfort
How does it differ from being “in love”?
While the desire to be loved is perfectly normal, the intoxicating feeling of being “in love” can be addictive for some individuals. If you’ve ever been in love, you know how powerful it can be. Suddenly your world is completely turned upside down. You feel an excitement – energy if you will – that makes everything seem new and wonderful. Some people describe it as feeling like they were walking on air. So it’s natural to want this euphoric feeling to last forever.
Of course, most people realize that the beautiful initial feeling of new love doesn’t (and can’t) last forever. In healthy long-term relationships, the initial love gradually gives way to a more mature love – perhaps less intoxicating and euphoric but ultimately much more fulfilling and stable. However, for those prone to love dependency, the loss of that initial euphoria is akin to the crash that drug addicts feel when their drug of choice wears off. They crave the “high” and begin the search for another fix. Love dependants are no different, so they often go from one relationship to the next once the initial high wears off.
It’s important to understand that love dependency has little to do with real love. It’s the opposite. While it might seem that love dependants are eagerly looking for love, the reality is that love isn’t really what drives them. Real love involves intimacy, which requires a willingness to be vulnerable. Love dependants are scared of intimacy and the vulnerability that goes with it. Instead, they seek the “feeling” – the intoxicating high or infatuation that accompanies a new relationship.
What are the root causes?
Love dependants are driven by low self-esteem, a fear of abandonment, and deep, unmet emotional needs. As a result, they look to each new love object to give them a sense of security, belonging, identity, validation, worthiness, and purpose. They believe the new love object can take away all their pain, make them feel whole and happy, and love them unconditionally. But, of course, no one can provide all these things or meet such excessive demands. As a result, their expectations are unrealistic, and, as can be expected, their relationships always end in disappointment.
Who is Prone to Love dependency?
Love dependants can be either male or female. However, women tend to be more prone in general. It is partly because women are very relationship-oriented. Many women put relationships above all else in their life and often base their sense of identity on their relationships.
They often have an underdeveloped sense of self. As a result, they feel incomplete on their own and need a significant other to feel good about themselves. As a result, they tend to place an unusually high value on romance and often daydream or fantasize about their ideal lover – the person who will satisfy all their needs and longings.
It is not uncommon for love addicts to have a childhood history of trauma, neglect, and abandonment. Many love addicts didn’t receive much nurturing, positive attention, or love growing up. As a result, they often have a deep-seated fear of rejection. Without appropriate modelling of healthy love in their formative years, they have no idea how to develop loving relationships in adulthood. To a love addict, the intensity in a relationship is often mistaken for intimacy.
Love addiction doesn’t necessarily pertain only to romantic or sexual relationships. A person can relate as a love addict with their friends, children, sponsor, guru or religious figure, or even with a movie star, they have never met.
What is the difference between love & sex?
“Although love and sex addicts may act the same by having lots of sex with different people, their intentions differ.” – Robert Weiss.
Love dependents will use sex to hook or hold on to a person they are in love with. Their interest is primarily to escape reality through romantic fantasy and activity.
Sex dependents will use romance to lure in a partner to have sex. Their focus is primarily on escaping reality by engaging in sexual fantasy and sexual activities.
Too Much Love: Love Addiction and Codependency. https://positivepsychology.org.ng/love-addiction-and-codependency
Understanding Intimacy: Love and Romance Addiction. https://rehabs.com/pro-talk/understanding-intimacy-disorders-love-and-romance-addiction/
Love addiction counseling treatment therapy – Leslie Root Counseling. http://leslierootcounseling.com/love-addiction/