Love addiction is a psychological addiction, a result of unfulfilled childhood needs. Children whose needs remain unrecognized may adjust by learning to limit their expectations. This limitation process may take the form of core beliefs such as, “My needs don’t count,” “Getting close will hurt” and “I’m not lovable.” Such beliefs do not satisfy childhood needs, leaving them still to be met later in life. As adults, addictive lovers remain dependent upon others to care for them, protect them and solve their problems.

Those with love addiction are characteristically familiar with desperate hopes and seemingly unending fears. Fearing rejection, pain, unfamiliar experiences, and having no faith in their ability–or even their right–to inspire love, they wait, wish, and hope for love, perhaps their least familiar experience.

According to Pia Melody author of Facing Love Addiction there is a distinct pattern of love addiction. There is the love addict and love avoidant. Both of which do a distinct and toxic dance with each other in which the love addict pursues and wants the love avoidant to love them back, to be with them, to pay attention to them etc. and the love avoidant who is afraid of engulfment, turns away from the love addict. At times the love addict may then turn away, and the love avoidant turns back to chase them, but they are rarely facing each other, they are rarely in the same place, committed to the same relationship.

Characteristics of Love Addiction

  • Is all consuming and obsessive.
  • Is inhibited.
  • Avoids risk or change.
  • Lacks true intimacy.
  • Is manipulative, strikes deals.
  • Is dependent and submissive.
  • Demands the loved one’s devotion.

Effects of Love Addiction

Love Addiction can become an obsession with finding the world in one lover. A person’s own growth and development has been hindered early in life, and addicted lovers attach themselves to their lover’s identity. Often, this dependency results in their drawing unearned pride from their lover’s accomplishments. Sometimes it leads to their demanding, for themselves, undeserved recognition for their lover’s achievements.

Fearful of change, addictive lovers will neglect individual development of self and find the ultimate security in believing they can become indistinguishable from their partner. Sometimes the fear of change is so great all individual development of abilities, interests, and desires is suppressed. Stagnation is a common characteristic of addictive love relationships.

The desperate need for security leads to emotional scheming. Addictive lovers are inclined to think that doing things for their partner will secure their love. The resulting opportunities for disappointment and resentment are sufficient to make such scheming pointless. But addictive lovers are obsessed with impossible needs and unrealistic expectations. Love demands honesty and integrity.

Typical Signs of Love or Sex Addiction Include:

  • Constantly seeking a sexual partner, new romance or significant other
  • An inability or difficulty in being alone
  • Consistently choosing partners who are abusive or emotionally unavailable
  • Using sex, seduction and intrigue to "hook" or hold onto a partner
  • Using sex or romantic intensity to tolerate difficult experiences or emotions
  • Missing out on important family, career or social experiences in order to maintain a sexual high or romantic relationship
  • When in a relationship, being detached or unhappy, when out of a relationship, feeling desperate and alone
  • Avoiding sex or relationships for long periods of time to "solve the problem".
  • An inability to leave unhealthy relationships despite repeated promises to self or others
  • Returning to previously unmanageable or painful relationships despite promises to self or others
  • Mistaking sexual experiences and romantic intensity for love

As the love and sex addict recovers, they begin to discover themselves in new and unexpected ways. Time formerly put into flirtation and 'the hunt', now may go into family involvement and work. Creativity formerly used to seduce or attract now goes into hobbies, self-care and healthy relationship exploration. This self-redefinition allows the love and sex addict to have a much clearer understanding of healthy partnerships. As the single person begins to really recover and their self esteem and understanding improves, so does their choice of dating and romantic partners. No longer willing to take anyone who might have them or give him or her away, they begin to develop clear criteria (often written down) of the type of partners they wish to engage. Recovery for the coupled person brings a deeper understanding of their emotional needs and wants in their partnership, encouraging them to take more intimacy risks in their relationships. As hope and honesty slowly replace despair and superficiality, the recovery process brings about a deepening maturity and sense of choice that the addict may have never previously known.

If you are wanting help, our counseling center provides individual, group, couples, and family counseling for love addiction. There are two ways to setup an appointment with one of our counselors: 1) Fill out the Contact Form and a counselor will call you with 24-hours; 2) Call our offices at (479) 202-6300.

Waterstone Counseling Center is a full-service family counseling practice that provides a wide range of services for individuals, couples, and families in Northwest Arkansas. » Contact us to learn more