The Broad View: Love As Addiction
There is a broader understanding of addiction that has been gaining steam in recent years. As two of us have argued, addiction should be considered to be a spectrum of motivation that emerges from the repeated application of any type of reward, including drug rewards, gambling rewards, food rewards, and sexual rewards . These appetite-motivations arise in response to reward conditioning, and are, indeed, the evolved mechanism by which we humans and other animals learn to behave in survival- and reproduction-enhancing ways. At the same time, such appetites do not always lead directly to these evolutionary outcomes, especially in humans, and even more so in the modern environment we have created for ourselves . Our appetite for food, for example, is not strictly genetically controlled: we are weaned onto it during gestation, and it can wax and wane over the course of our lives, often in ways that run contrary to our real nutritive needs . By the same token, we may develop appetites for any rewarding behavior, and these appetites may exceed or fall beneath a level that suits our biological needs, our conscious values, or our personal preferences.
Our Sex And Love Addiction Treatment Programme Consists Of:
- Free, no obligation addiction assessment – book your appointment today
- Structured group therapy and individual 1:1 therapy programmes
- Access to 12-Step support groups
For more information on the sex and love addiction treatment that we offer at Life Works, as well as the type of therapy that is involved, please visit our approach to addiction treatment page.
This page was reviewed by Robin Clayton, Primary Therapist, in September 2021.
Engaging in sexual activity to the extent that this has become out of control, may be indicative that a harmful addiction has developed. Sex addiction is not simply having a high sex drive, but rather, refers to a compulsion to participate in excessive sexual behaviours despite the negative consequences that this can cause.
The following are common signs that you or someone that you know, may be suffering from sex addiction:
- Experiencing persistent and overwhelming sexual thoughts and urges
- Having multiple sexual partners
- Engaging in increasingly risky sexual behaviours such as unprotected sex
- Sexual activity with paid sex workers
- Healthy relationship breakdowns
What Is Love Addiction
Love addiction is a condition that causes a person to develop an unhealthy and obsessive fixation with a love interest.
Being in love is a beautiful emotion everyone deserves to experience. Having someone to love and be loved by is something almost everyone strives for. However, being in love can manifest in an unhealthy way. It can make some people act in strange and irrational ways to the detriment of themselves and the people they love.
Someone addicted to love will also find it challenging to create and maintain healthy relationships. Although its more common within romantic relationships, love addiction can occur in other forms of relationships. It could happen in friendships and in relationship to children, parents, or even strangers.
People with this kind of addiction often have unrealistic standards and expectations of love. When these arent met, it only serves to worsen their condition further.
People often argue that love addiction shouldnt be classified as a mental health condition. However, others believe people with this condition experience real and debilitating symptoms.
They often have unhealthy fixations with their partners and seek to control them. Like with other forms of addiction, a person who is addicted to love may exhibit behavior and impulses that are out of their control. However, with the proper treatment and care, they can unlearn their unhealthy behaviors and attitudes towards love and learn how to form healthy and loving connections.
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The Myths And Mystery Of Love And Sex Addiction
Shondaland chats with psychologist Kerry Cohen, author of Crazy for You: Breaking the Spell of Sex and Love Addiction.
Sex and love addiction is, understandably, a very complex world. Not only do we each have our own experiences, understandings, and interpretations of sex and love, but many people also have preconceived notions regarding this particular realm of addiction, often connecting it to certain attitudes reverberating throughout popular culture that sex addiction is not a real thing but instead an excuse for celebrities and/or public figures infidelity. In reality, sex and love addiction exists on a spectrum, and its history in the world of psychiatry has not unfolded without controversy.
The American Psychiatric Association is responsible for publishing and updating the widely used and respected Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders . The 1987 DSM-III-R was the first of its kind to address anything related to sexual addiction, referring to distress about a pattern of repeated sexual conquests or other forms of nonparaphilic sexual addiction, involving a succession of people who exist only as things to be used. This reference, however, was later removed, and the DSM-5, the latest version of the resource, no longer lists sexual addiction as a mental disorder.
KATIE TAMOLA: For readers who might need a distinction, can you clarify the difference between love addiction and sex addiction?
What Is A Love Addict
Love addicts tend to become involved in brief, intense romantic relationships. If they are involved in a long-term relationship, it is usually characterized by many highs and lows. In some cases, love addicts completely withdraw from romantic or sexual relationships to avoid feelings of vulnerability.
Love addicts tend to focus a tremendous amount of energy on romantic relationships whether they are involved in one, looking for the next one, or avoiding one altogether.
The causes of love addiction are rooted in childhood trauma. Individuals lacking self-esteem or who had less-than-nurturing childhoods may grow up looking for constant reassurance from others. Relationship addicts also tend to enjoy the feeling of excitement that being in love brings.
Coping With Love Addiction
One of the most challenging things about living with love addiction is admitting that you have a problem.
Many people who are addicted to love cannot identify why expressing obsessive emotions towards their partners, or love interest is problematic.
If you exhibit symptoms of love addiction, speak to a healthcare professional as soon as you can. With proper treatment and care, you can begin to discover healthier ways to express love.
If you have a love addiction, here are some tips to help you cope with your condition as you seek help:
If you or a loved one are struggling with love addiction, contact the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration National Helpline at 1-800-662-4357 for information on support and treatment facilities in your area.
For more mental health resources, see our National Helpline Database.
Why Do We Need To Deal With Tlc While Treating Patients Who Have Addiction Problems
Remember it could be because of stress or anxiety or any mental health issue that the patient is faced with and that has led to addiction . We need to give them appropriate care and affection and treat them well to overcome this addiction . Tender love care is the actual and excellent solution to patient suffering from withdrawal symptoms
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Your Relationships Follow A Similar Pattern
Relationship addiction can involve a lot of breaking up and getting back together.
The beginning of a relationship releases endorphins and dopamine, which feel wonderful, while breakups can spike a deep depression. People with certain personality types may feel attracted to this roller coaster and have a hard time feeling alive without it, Botnick explains.
Stringer expands on this, suggesting that the enthusiasm of believing youve found the one and depression when the short-lived relationship ends can form a cycle. This cycle can lead to impulsive decisions and affect your ability to function as you usually would.
Types Of Love Addiction Dynamics
People facing love addiction have several ways of showing up in such unions. Susan Peabody, known for her writings on love addiction cites 4 main types of love addicts:
- Obsessed/obsessive love addicts
- Narcissistic love addicts
- Ambivalent love addicts
Obsessed love addicts struggle with detaching from partnerseven if the relationship is no longer healthy, or the partner is emotionally distant. Next, the codependent love addict uses their partner for their source of self-esteem and self-worth. They people please in relationships, hoping to get validation from their significant other. If the other partner is codependent, it may not be a problem early into the relationship, but resentment can build if the partner seeks a more emotionally independent partner.
Lastly, the ambivalent love addict avoids true intimacy. They can function as the one who holds on to past loves, engages in one-sided relationships , and can sabotage their relationships. Furthermore, they are addicted to the illusion of relationships but may run away or be inconsistent about getting close in relationships. Any of these models of love addicts can use sex to maintain unhealthy attachments, lie, manipulate, play out past relationship dynamics, or even threaten themselves or their partner if they decide to leave.
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What Has Changed For You Now What Are The Gifts Of Recovery
These days the general underlying hum of depression and existential angst has vastly cleared with only ripples remaining as I continue to give back to people and being of service to the community. My mental health and wellbeing have drastically improved not that Im not caught in the endless cycle of torture that perpetuated the pain.
Im now able to form healthier relationships, set boundaries and have become more disciplined. Im more independent and derive my own sense of self-esteem internally. Ive regained self-respect, healed extensive amounts of the pain of previous lovers, forgiven those who have hurt me and have learned to love myself.
As a byproduct of these internal shifts, my recovery has given me the stability and confidence to make much desired life alterations including career changes, new social groups, more travel. Ive been able to move to the beach and built a new, healthier, happier lifestyle and have been able to pursue lifelong hobbies and dreams, such as comedy and videography.
Freedom is possible. Healthy relationships are possible. My life is unimaginably better.
What Is Sex And Love Addiction
Most people assume that addiction always involves alcohol or drugs the reality is that addiction is an illness of the individuals brain and that it is possible for a sufferer to become addicted to almost anythingor anyone. Addiction to sex and love is a common manifestation of the illness just because it doesnt involve a substance doesnt mean it is any less harmful or destructive to the individual sufferer, or to their family and loved ones. Classified as a process addiction, sex and love addiction is often overlooked and the correct treatment can be hard to find. Primrose Lodge offers a comprehensive treatment programme for sex and love addiction. If you or a loved one are suffering, you may want to read on
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Avoidance Is Not Love True Love Does Notevade Or Turn Away True Love Embraces And Turns Towards
A quintessential representation of a Love Avoidant in romantic relationships is someone who consistently maintains an emotional and mental distance from their partner. They feel overwhelmed by their partners desire for closeness and feel stifled at any thoughts or pressures of vulnerability– and rely on an escape route, through distancing strategies.
For the Love Avoidant, distancing strategies make sense, as they are very effective at keeping themselves emotionally walled up and disengaged in a romantic relationship. Yet, using distancing strategies is very ineffective at creating a loving, happy relationship- for both partners.
Love Addiction And Its Symptoms
Love addiction is a type of behavioral addiction triggered by the feeling of being in love. Love addiction is a lot like other addictions where a person obsessively and compulsively tries to relieve or medicate the deep pain in their life with feeling loved. In fact, the feelings of a love addict are just as false as the high a drug addict feels. The intense physical feelings of euphoria you have when youre in love produce effects similar to using addictive substances. Infatuation creates a high, which can crash or dissipate quickly. Someone addicted to love becomes fixated on chasing that feeling, so they develop an unhealthy focus on the object of their affection.
Have you experienced these symptoms of love addiction?
While romantic love addiction is most common, you can also have intense cravings for attention and affection from familial or friend relationships. However it affects you, it is important to be aware of love addiction to avoid developing unhealthy relationship patterns.
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How Can Someone Recover From Love Addition
The first step in recovering from love addiction is to recognize the problem. Like fighting any addiction, the process can be challenging. Feelings of withdrawal may arise. Recovering love addicts may have to face unresolved childhood pain. However, with help, people can break the pattern of love addiction and go on to form truly fulfilling and close intimate relationships.
Many people find help by entering a 12-step program for love addiction. Sex and Love Addicts Anonymous offers meetings worldwide.
According to Pia Mellody, there are four phases of recovery from love addiction.
- The first step is to address any other addictive processes, such as alcoholism, eating disorder, etc.
- The second step is to disengage from the addictive part of the relationship process.
- The third step is to find a therapist, if necessary, to help deal with unresolved childhood pain. Mellody explains, In my experience, most people who recover from toxic relationships as adults first need therapeutic help with their internal residue of unresolved and harmful feelings from childhood.
- The fourth step is to work on the underlying co-dependent symptoms.
If a recovering love addict is not currently in a relationship, it is very important that they pay close attention to the type of partner they may be drawn to when entering a new relationship. Otherwise, they may repeat the same destructive relationship dynamics.
S To Help You Start Overcoming Love Addiction Withdrawal Caused By A Breakup:
1. Breaking out of Denial
One of the hardest things for love addicts experiencing a breakup is breaking denial of an ex-partner and the relationship they were in. Denial is the PRIMARY psychological symptom of addiction. Denial is the one sure thing that will halt recovering. You cannot overcome a problem unless you come to fully accept that it exists. Denial comes in the form of:
- Ignoring how unhealthy the relationship actually was
- Believing getting back the relationship will solve all the problems.
- Convincing the self, it will “be different” next time.
- Not accepting the relationship is over.
- Believing the avoidant partner can be someone different than he or she is.
- Holding on to the fantasy you created from the beginning of the relationship.
Come to accept your powerlessness over your love addiction and the chaos and unmanageability it has brought into your life. Get help in doing so.
Positive affirmation is a powerful tool to apply in recovery to help begin rewiring the mind from dishonest messages which you unknowingly took on and carried from the past. It is a way of deleting the inner critic like deleting files from our computers and replacing them with new files. By applying affirmations, you begin to form a new relationship with yourself in a healthy and nurturing manner.The following is a list of positive affirmations. Use the list as a tool.
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Love Addiction And Well
There are three main theories of well-beingor classes of theoriesdiscussed throughout the literature . How one relates love addiction to well-being, and therefore to treatment, will depend upon the theory of well-being one finds most convincing.
The first class of theories concerning well-being are hedonistic theories, which are defined in terms of mental states. The simplest account of this type of view is that happiness, or pleasure is the only intrinsic good, whereas unhappiness or pain is the only intrinsic bad. More complex hedonistic views include a greater plurality of states of mind as possibly contributing to well being: for example, Freud is reputed to have refused analgesia when dying of canceralthough he was in great physical painon the grounds that he preferred to be able to think clearly in a state of torment than foggedly in a state of drug-induced comfort .
Yet however one construes this hedonistic mental-state view, it is clearly possible that a person could prefer to exist in a rapturous state of love, even though it might yield a number of adverse consequences in other areas of her life, due to its irrefutably high, intrinsic hedonic value. Indeed, in Western societies, being in love is widely considered to be an extremely valuable state, and possibly constitutive of a good life all on its own. This notion is captured in the ideal of dying for love with the implication that such a love might even be the very meaning of life.
Can You Walk Us Through Your Personal Experience Of Love Addiction
While everyone experiences addiction differently, there are many recognisable features of sex and love addiction and love avoidance that we all tend to share.
In my addiction, I would pursue relationship after relationship. It saw friends and family members perpetually roll their eyes in the disbelief: Seriously, another girlfriend?
Caught in romantic and sexual obsessions and compulsions, I would constantly outsource my sense of self to another, either demanding they save me or attempt to become the saviour myself swooping in with the pursuit of being the knight in shining armour trying to save the damsel in the distress.
The harsh reality though, was that I was being held prisoner or taking hostages myself whilst externally trying to find some sense of self-esteem, which I now know can only be derived from within. Coming not only to know this theoretically, but to actually feel and understand it, is essential to recovery.
This cycle continued for years as I tried to find myself and to find pleasure and joy through other people. I was using them as a way to treat underlying depression until it all came crashing down in a failed engagement that left drowning in debt, almost totally friendless and isolated, and contemplating suicide.
That was my rock bottom, but thankfully its also what led me to start my recovery.
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