Love Addiction

I’ve been thinking a lot about love addiction lately, perhaps it’s because of my fascination with the Jodi Arias trial.  Arias slaughtered her former boyfriend because of what I believe is an extreme case of love addiction.

Marital and Relationship Therapy

A coworker of Arias’ disclosed that Arias drove 1,000 miles from Palm Desert, California to Mesa Arizona because she couldn’t get in touch with her former boyfriend.  This occurred at night after working an entire shift at a restaurant.  This scenario is reminiscent of Lisa Nowak, the astronaut who drove from Huston, Texas to Orlando Florida.  She did this while wearing a diaper because she didn’t want to have to stop.  She apparently was obsessed with her former lover and drove to Florida to kidnap his then girlfriend.  Jodi Arias and Lisa Nowak are clearly extreme versions of a people in the throes of love addiction, but what about those of us who are still addicted, while not being driven to such extremes?

What exactly is love addiction?  According to Pia Mellody, a renowned expert in the field of love addiction, it is a result of being neglected or abandoned in early childhood.  These people spend a lot of time alone and as a result they have a very active fantasy life.  This fantasy life actually creates a chemical change in the body, which in turn, causes a sense of joy and relief.  So, it’s the fantasy which they are addicted to, rather than the love.  When these children grow up, they fantasize being rescued by the ideal man who will take care of them, and love and value them forever.  When and if the fantasy blows up, the love addicted person goes into withdrawal.  This is when it could get very dangerous for the object of their affection.  They can get homicidal or suicidal.  At the very least, they can experience panic attacks and wind up in an emergency room.

Individual Counseling Services

According to Love Addicts Anonymous, the following questions will help you determine if you are a love addict.  If you can answer yes to more than a few of the following questions, you are probably a love addict. Remember that love addiction comes in many forms, so even if you don’t answer yes to all of the questions you may still be a love addict.

  1. You are very needy when it comes to relationships.
  2. You fall in love very easily and too quickly.
  3. When you fall in love, you can’t stop fantasizing—even to do important things. You can’t help yourself.
  4. Sometimes, when you are lonely and looking for companionship, you lower your standards and settle for less than you want or deserve.
  5. When you are in a relationship, you tend to smother your partner.
  6. More than once, you have gotten involved with someone who is unable to commit—hoping he or she will change.
  7. Once you have bonded with someone, you can’t let go.
  8. When you are attracted to someone, you will ignore all the warning signs that this person is not good for you.
  9. Initial attraction is more important to you than anything else when it comes to falling in love and choosing a partner. Falling in love over time does not appeal to you and is not an option.
  10. When you are in love, you trust people who are not trustworthy. The rest of the time you have a hard time trusting people.
  11. When a relationship ends, you feel your life is over and more than once you have thought about suicide because of a failed relationship.
  12. You take on more than your share of responsibility for the survival of a relationship.
  13. Love and relationships are the only things that interest you.
  14. In some of your relationships you were the only one in love.
  15. You are overwhelmed with loneliness when you are not in love or in a relationship.
  16. You cannot stand being alone. You do not enjoy your own company.
  17. More than once, you have gotten involved with the wrong person to avoid being lonely.
  18. You are terrified of never finding someone to love.
  19. You feel inadequate if you are not in a relationship.
  20. You cannot say no when you are in love or if your partner threatens to leave you.
  21. You try very hard to be who your partner wants you to be. You will do anything to please him or her—even abandon yourself (sacrifice what you want, need and value).
  22. When you are in love, you only see what you want to see. You distort reality to quell anxiety and feed your fantasies.
  23. You have a high tolerance for suffering in relationships. You are willing to suffer neglect, depression, loneliness, dishonesty even abuse to avoid the pain of separation anxiety (what you feel when you are not with someone you have bonded with).
  24. More than once, you have carried a torch for someone and it was agonizing.
  25. You love romance. You have had more than one romantic interest at a time even when it involved dishonesty.
  26. You have stayed with an abusive person.
  27. fantasies about someone you love, even if he or she is unavailable, are more important to you than meeting someone who is available.
  28. You are terrified of being abandoned. Even the slightest rejection feels like abandonment and it makes you feel horrible.
  29. You chase after people who have rejected you and try desperately to change their minds.
  30. When you are in love, you are overly possessive and jealous.
  31. More than once, you have neglected family or friends because of your relationship.
  32. You have no impulse control when you are in love.
  33. You feel an overwhelming need to check up on someone you are in love with.
  34. More than once, you have spied on someone you are in love with.
  35. You pursue someone you are in love with even if he or she is with another person.
  36. If you are part of a love triangle (three people), you believe all is fair in love and war. You do not walk away.
  37. Love is the most important thing in the world to you.
  38. Even if you are not in a relationship, you still fantasize about love all the time— either someone you once loved or the perfect person who is going to come into your life someday.
  39. As far back as you can remember, you have been preoccupied with love and romantic fantasies.
  40. You feel powerless when you fall in love—as if you are in some kind of trance or under a spell. You lose your ability to make wise choices.                                                                                                    Even if you can relate to a few of these traits, I strongly suggest that you seek help, either with a twelve-step program, or by seeing a counselor, or both.