Are you ever told by your friends and family that you’re blinded by love? Or, that when you find a new love interest, it takes over your life and you bail on your other commitments? When love turns into an obsession and you struggle to control your behaviours, constantly seeking reassurance and unable to detach yourself from your partner, it pulls you away from other important people in your life.
If this sounds like you, we’ll show you how to spot the signs of love addiction and how you can focus more on yourself to nurture healthy relationships in the future.
Is love addiction real?
According to science, yes. Research has shown that love can be addictive, highlighting the similarities between love addiction and substance addiction, including cravings and obsessive thought patterns.
When we’re in love, there are biochemical reactions occurring within the brain involving serotonin and dopamine, amongst others. Our brains reinforce feelings of pleasure and happiness by sending reward signals when we engage with the behaviour – in this case, love.
However, if this becomes overwhelming and consuming, with a sense of dependency, then it can cause you to become distracted and act differently. It’s usually rooted in fears of abandonment or childhood trauma.
Am I addicted to love?
So, how can you know if your infatuation is on the brink of an unhealthy obsession? Ultimately, everyone’s experience is different, but here are four common signs that you may be addicted to love.
1. You struggle to be alone
It’s normal for us to care about our loved ones, miss them when they’re gone, and show our appreciation for their presence. But if this spirals into unhealthy preoccupations and problematic behaviours, it impacts your self-worth. Worrying so much about your partner that your mood is directly impacted by theirs can leave you unable to separate your emotions from theirs.
Codependency is when you’re unable to distinguish yourself from your partner emotionally and instead become reliant on them. It’s born out of fears of abandonment: What will I do without my partner? How will I function without them?
When you’re experiencing codependency, love addiction can make it challenging for you to be content with your life outside of the relationship. It directly affects other relationships and prevents you from prioritising your own needs. Neglecting yourself in order to keep your relationship going can quickly become unhealthy.
2. You need to be constantly reassured
Low self-esteem is closely linked to codependency, causing you to focus less on your own needs. For example, you might not be confident enough to be on your own without feeling like you need to be in a relationship. In some cases, you might settle for less rather than waiting for what you deserve.
By working on your self-acceptance and self-love, you can build up the assertiveness you need to feel adequate and not seek out a relationship you might not be ready for.
3. You ignore red flags
Overlooking major flaws and red flags, and believing that your partner will change and become the person you want them to be, means you may not be emotionally fulfilled. Again, this goes back to fears of abandonment. Becoming attached to an idealised version of your partner can often cause us to stay in painful or even abusive relationships, fearing conflict.
4. You fall in love at first sight
In a healthy relationship, love grows over time as you get to know one another. But, love built upon compulsions and lust can lead to an obsession that lacks the important foundations to connect on a deeper level.
What can I do?
Setting boundaries between you and your partner, whether mental or even physical, can help you to separate yourself from them and live more independently. You’ll find you’re able to have a much healthier relationship when you’re not tied too closely to your partner and don’t neglect your own emotional health.
Learn to recognise what you can control and use this when you’re supporting your partner. For example, focus on listening rather than immediately taking on the burden of trying to fix all their problems.
Learn to love yourself
Are you ready to work through the grieving process of losing your couple relationship?
Do you want expert advice on opening your heart to love again?
In our course How to mend your broken heart, we will help you understand why the pain of someone breaking up with us, hits us so deeply that we can barely breathe. You will learn that in the early days post-break-up, it’s essential to look after yourself. After all, your heart has been broken and needs love and attention to mend.