Which Is It? Love or Love Addiction? – 6 Ways to Tell the Difference
It is the thing we write songs, poems, and stories about. It is the thing we’ll eat a tub of ice cream and sob over. The thing we’ll jump into despite how much pain it has caused us in the past.
With such intensity and interest surrounding love, it can be difficult to determine where the line is between love and love addiction.
Some might even ask, ‘Is there a line?‘
Though love is something we all desire, love addiction is a seriously detrimental condition that morphs the joys of love into a nightmarish cycle of extreme highs and lows.
More specifically, it is a disorder of intimacy that typically affects people who have experienced childhood trauma. Thus, children who were neglected or physically/sexually abused are at a greater risk of using love as a way of bandaging the wounds left from trauma.
How then do you distinguish the intoxicating feelings of healthy love with that of love addiction?
6 Ways to Tell the Difference Between Love and Love Addiction
1. You can’t tolerate being single.
No, it is not uncommon to be less than enthusiastic about going solo, but love addicts are desperate to be in romantic relationships. These types of relationships reflect their perceived worth.
Unlike those who have a healthy relationship with love, an addict will not be able to supplement moments of being single with friendships, hobbies, or self-improvement. Instead, addicts will be in constant search of a relationship, sacrificing their wants and needs, missing out on events and other opportunities, and feeling extreme discomfort being alone.
2. Your relationship to love is like an alcoholic’s relationship to the bottle.
Like alcoholics, love addicts experience similar emotional and physical effects of their addiction.
Do you find you need more and more romance to get the “high” of love? Are you isolating yourself from friends or family, keeping your romantic engagements secret? Do you go through withdrawals such as lack of sleep, anger, desperation, anxiety, and other physical ailments?
These are all signs of a love addiction.
3. You confuse sex with love.
Sometimes we confuse sexual encounters with feelings of love because they both produce feelings of fulfillment and temporary highs. It is important, however, to distinguish the difference between sex addiction and love addiction.
Though a love addict can have an unhealthy relationship with sex, sex addicts exclusively obsess over sexual acts. Love addicts use sex as one aspect of how to get love but do not experience the same degree of obsession with it as sex addicts.
4. Your relationships are difficult to sustain.
Often, love addicts are so desperate for romance, that they settle for relationships that cannot last or seek unsustainable relationships on purpose as a self-destructive pattern. This leads to a relationship that is toxic in nature.
In addition, love addicts will find it difficult to maintain interest in a relationship long-term because their tolerance level for romance will continue to become greater. Thus, it is common for love addicts to be seeking another relationship while still in one, select unhealthy partners, or be very intense in their relationships—none of which are sustainable.
5. Romance helps you cope with stress, anxiety, or feelings of a void.
We learn as children how to self-soothe, and for children who experience trauma, this skill is heightened. For adults who become addicts, this ability to self-soothe is supported by dependencies on things such as drugs, alcohol, sex, and love.
If romance is your way of soothing the anxiety you feel in your life or discomfort with yourself, you may be in addicted to the “high” of love.
6. You find your self-esteem is directly linked to your romantic life.
Love should be something you enjoy and celebrate in your life, not something that determines how you evaluate your self-worth. If love is a tool you use to measure your worth or one that affects your self-esteem in a negative way, you may be abusing love.
Still questioning what type of relationship you have with love?
Try talking to a love addiction specialist for a better assessment. In addition, try attending support groups such as Sex and Love Addicts Anonymous (SLAA). These safe spaces will help you determine if you have an addiction to love and what to do next.
Love is a wonderful experience that everyone deserves to participate in. Ensure that your love life is a positive additive by seeking the help you need to overcome any unhealthy dependencies.