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Addicted to Love: Or is it Really Neediness and Dependence, the Opposite of Love

 Cultural injunctions and family values inculcates us with the belief that we’re not worthy as a person unless we’re in a relationship.  “Being In Love” is a state sought for by most human beings.  But learning to actually LOVE someone is something altogether different.  It’s a truism that you can’t love someone else until you love yourself.  What is loving yourself?  You’ve resolved childhood conflict about not getting the nurturing from your parents you needed.  Unless we grow out of that, we envision our partner as a nurturing parent who exists only to take care of childhood needs and to give us the unconditional positive regard we didn’t receive then.  In this regressed state, a part of us feels helpless, needy and incompetent and needs the partner (parent) to physically and emotionally survive.  When survival is at stake, addiction and dependence is part of the game.  The cure for love addiction?  GROW UP.  BECOME A MATURE, COMPETENT ADULT WHO EXPERIENCES A SENSE OF MASTERY OVER INNER AND OUTER LIFE   Develop a sense of involatile self-respect and self-worth from within, not from the behavior of another person.

When we ‘fall in love’ we aren’t really in a rational state of mind. In fact, the symptoms are similar to those that drug-users experience. Our time sense becomes distorted as time spent with our loved one simply flies while time spent apart feels like an absolute eternity. We struggle to sleep at night, and we focus on that one, special individual to the exclusion of everything else.

When we fall in love, the levels of an organic chemical called phenylethylamine (PEA) that’s associated with euphoria and excitement, increase. Some experts believe that sex addicts and those who are addicted to love may have developed a dependence on this chemical.

Most people don’t become addicted to love, even though they’ve experienced the thrill of falling in love, so this explanation, though interesting, is incomplete. There is more to being addicted to love than a physical dependence on a chemical stimulus. There are deep-rooted psychological reasons for becoming a love addict, and these need to be addressed in sex addiction therapy NY.


When Love Crosses the Line

Broadly speaking, when your love for someone begins to negatively affect your life (and possibly theirs too) and you can’t stop the behaviors that you know are doing the damage, something is the matter. Specific examples include:

  • Feeling that you are worthless without a specific person.
  • Returning to the same, ‘bad’ relationship again and again, even though it didn’t work out when you tried this before.
  • Consistently neglecting important aspects of your life in order to please the object of your affection.
  • Constantly seeking recognition or affirmation from a specific person, and feeling devastated if you don’t get it.
  • Feeling the need to avoid any form of rejection or abandonment at all costs.
  • Manipulative behaviors.
  • Tolerating or indulging in risky behaviors for the sake of your partner.
  • Having unrealistic expectations: for example, believing that the person you love will solve all your problems.
  • Acting out to get attention and sympathy from a loved one.
  • Refusing to let go when a relationship comes to an end.
  • Codependency

Like the drug addict, the person addicted to love will often refuse to admit that there is a problem, and may hide away certain aspects of their lives so that others won’t know their ‘secret’.


What causes people to become addicted to love?

Love addiction is a symptom of underlying issues that will have to be dealt with in therapy before the problem can be dealt with. As a sex addiction therapist in NY, I also see patients that have become addicted to love. The underlying causes are often similar and are rooted in painful feelings from the past.


In most cases, I find that there has been some form of abandonment or rejection on the part of parents when my patients were still children. A very important emotional need has not been fulfilled, and the patient suffers from low self-esteem and an intense fear that they will be abandoned or neglected again.


What is the Treatment Process Like?

Recognizing the problem is the first step towards recovery. This is very difficult, since denial is at the heart of all addictions. Recognizing the damaging nature of the addiction and the ways in which it is holding them back from having a full and fulfilling life is an important step towards patients’ recovery. Before you can deal with a problem, you need to be aware of how it affects you.


Once you understand the full extent of your addiction to love and the ways in which it affects your life, you can begin to deal with it effectively. You need to understand and grieve over the real reasons why you became a love addict. The stages of grief are particularly painful at first. You experience:

  • Shock
  • Denial
  • Anger
  • Going through ‘What if’ scenarios from your past
  • Depression

At last, you are able to accept what happened to you, and once you have reached this stage, you can start working on the details of your recovery. With your sex addiction therapist, you will work on specific interventions – things you can do to identify and stop the negative behaviors that are hurting you, and ways of coping you’ve learned on your own without having to be dependent on your partner.


Therapy Helps You Find a New, Authentic, Joyful Relationship

These days, with being addicted to love gaining wider recognition as a bona fide addiction syndrome, you can even go to 12 step meetings in which you and other love addicts share your thoughts and feelings and offer one another support. Group therapy can be very helpful. The people you meet are going through a process that’s very similar to yours. You begin to realize that you are not alone with your problem, and you have support from people who understand you.


But group therapy is not enough. You need to work with a sex addiction therapist NY if you really want to get individualized help and full support. The treatment for being addicted to love can be very painful, and talking one-on-one with a trained therapist will allow you to be more open and expressive than you would be in a group.


You’ll also get individualized help as you develop strategies to overcome the symptoms of your addiction. You’ll discover what triggers the damaging behaviors and you will learn how to deal constructively with the resulting situations.


It’s Worth your While

There is nothing wrong with loving or being in love, but when it reaches the level of an addiction, it prevents you from fulfilling your true potential as a human being. It makes you unhappy and afraid, it ruins your relationships, and it prevents you from living a full and happy life.


Yes, it is wonderful to have someone special who loves you and whom you love in return, but it’s also important to know that you have value on your own, and that your relationship status does not define you. On your own, you’re just as able, attractive and talented as you are when you are in a relationship. Discover true independence – your loved ones will benefit too! When you stop being addicted to love, you’ll have stronger, happier relationships – and that includes your relationship with yourself.

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Dorothy Hayden, LCSW has 20 years of experience treating sex and porn addicts, love addiction, codependency, fetishes, sadomasochism, "kink friendly", crossdressers and their wives, partners of sex addicts. She has been interviewed on "HBO", "20/20" and Anderson Cooper 360. Ms. Hayden has authored the book "Total Sex Addiction Recovery - A Guide to Therapy"

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