A Heart Struggle: The Misunderstood Phenomenon of Love Addiction

Love Addiction

At the age of 18, I entered my first relationship. I was head-over-heels for this dude and in love with being in love. 9 months later, he dumped me for another chick — and I completely lost my mind. 

I became the crazy ex-girlfriend. I would call him several times a day even though he never answered. I would hang around his subway stop when I knew he was getting off work, hoping to “accidentally” run into him. Thinking about him ate up all my mental bandwidth, and I was completely obsessed and preoccupied with him. But most of all, even though he broke my heart, the relationship didn’t work and he certainly didn’t want me, I wanted him back. 

I didn’t know it at the time, but I was in full blown love addiction. 

Love addiction isn’t clearly defined or recognized by the DSM-5, so there is some argument as to its validity as an addiction. Some may argue that perceived “bad” or immoral behavior does not constitute an addiction. However, it’s not a new concept, and there’s an entire industry available to treat it from therapies, rehabs to 12 step programs

Love addiction could be summarized as an unhealthy or obsessive fixation with a love interest that can exhibit a pattern of addiction. So rather than it being an addiction to a substance, it could more so be related to an addiction to a behavior or a feeling that a love interest represents. It is estimated that approximately 3% of the U.S. population suffers from some form of love addiction. 

There are seemingly endless manifestations of love addiction of which there are too many to outline. However, it can look like a possessive or controlling partner, promiscuity, serial monogamy, the person who can’t be alone, or in my case, the stalker ex-girlfriend. The types of love addiction are really quite unique, as they vary from person to person and I could use an entire post just listing examples.

These examples are considered negative in nature as they tend to lead to distressing consequences. Most everyone has met, or at least heard of some kind of love addict — some have even dated or married one. The behaviors associated with love addiction don’t always start off bad, but can end that way. The outcomes can range from hysterics, clinginess, obsession, controlling and sometimes even abusive behavior. This can result in breakup, divorce, STD’s, restraining orders, and in some cases, jail. 

Treatment for love addiction often involves therapy, which may include cognitive-behavioral techniques, support groups like SLAA, and addressing underlying issues such as low self-esteem or childhood trauma. Developing healthier coping mechanisms, learning to set boundaries, and improving self-esteem are crucial steps in overcoming love addiction and fostering more fulfilling relationships.

Addressing love addiction requires courage and self-awareness. It means confronting the underlying issues that drive compulsive behaviors and learning to cultivate healthier relationship patterns based on self-love, respect, and boundaries. 

Overcoming love addiction is about reclaiming agency over one’s own life and finding fulfillment and happiness within oneself, rather than seeking it externally through romantic relationships. By taking steps to break free from the cycle of obsession and dependency, individuals can embark on a path toward greater self-discovery, resilience, and genuine connection with others. Remember, you are worthy of love and belonging, just as you are.

Overall, that dude leaving me was a blessing in disguise as he traipsed a wayward path in life and died young of a drug overdose. But how I reacted to the breakup was so surprising to me as it was all so wildly out of character. However, love addiction is a complex and often misunderstood phenomenon that can make good people act crazy. And I know that, because it happened to me.


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