I have talked to nearly 30,000 teenagers and young adults in my career. Talk radio is what I do. I love it and I'm totally committed to those who call me. But I don't always understand some of the people who call. It's like we are talking on two different wavelengths and I know I'm not getting through. I realized that some of the most frustrating calls were from people who were addicted to love.
What Love Addiction Looks Like
I was struggling to understand why people who were being completely used in a relationship wouldn't leave their partner. Why did they seem to be totally set against doing what they ought to do to get help or healing? Why did they refuse to get off the road that was leading them to heartbreak and destruction?
I could never understand how a guy could treat a girl so awful. He'll hit her, make fun of her, cheat on her, get her pregnant and leave, and yet the girl does everything in her power to keep him or get him back. I used to want to say to these girls, "Why can't you see it?! Are you blind? " I know that doesn't sound very loving, but that's how I felt.
But one day, I decided to learn as much about being addicted to love as I possibly could. In my research, I have learned love addiction can strike either sex and it is every bit as powerful and destructive as drugs, gambling, alcohol, eating disorders, or cutting. Now I understand better about love addiction and can spot it almost every time a love addict calls my show. Now I know why love addicts won't respond to the simple solution to their problem drop him/her.
How Can Love Be an Addiction?
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 by feeling loved. In fact, the feelings of a love addict are just as false as the high drugs bring to a drug addict.
If you are a love addict, you think you cannot live without the other person and you will do just about anything to keep the relationship alive.
I think if you're addicted to love then that means once you're in a relationship, you can't live without that person, and you will do whatever you can to stay in a relationship...(Riah)
Some teens don't get the love they want from home or friends so they plunge themselves into relationships that will never work out. They crave love so much that it blinds them and makes them so desperate that they'll try to find it anywhere possible. (Jessica) Jessica understands that many a love addict comes out of a troubled home where there wasn't nearly enough love, and she's right. She also understands just how desperate a love addict can be. Many go from partner to partner terrified of being alone.
Love Addiction Defined
Using Riah's, Jessica's and my thoughts on love addiction here's a pretty good definition of a love addiction. A love addiction is when a person obsessively and compulsively tries to relieve or medicate the deep pain in their life through a romantic relationship.
They plunge themselves into relationships that will never work. Once they're in a relationship, they feel they can't live without the other person and will do whatever they have to do to stay in the relationship. The love addict craves what they think is the feeling of love so intensely, it blinds them and makes them desperate to find and keep it any way possible.
Are You a Love Addict?
Look at some of the qualities of a love addict to try to see if you might be one. Be honest with yourself. One of the main characteristics of a love addict is denial.
A Love Addict:
- Lives in a fantasy world.
- Wants to be rescued from their empty life.
- Pushes their partner to meet needs only God can meet.
- Tends to worship their partner.
- Confuses sexual attraction with love.
- Craves to be consumed with his/her partner.
- Lacks attention and nurturing when they were young.
- Feels detached and isolated from family.
- Is highly manipulative and controlling of others.
- Has inner rage over lack of nurturing and early abandonment.
- Tries to avoid abandonment at any cost.
- Confuses the drama in the relationship as love.
- Feels being in a romantic relationship will make them whole.
- Has an obsessive drive to leave one relationship for another?
- Uses relationship and sex to alter their mood and relieve emotional pain.
- Trades sexual activity for what they think is love.
If you are a love addict or know somebody who is, I want you to know there is hope. Literally thousands of people have broken away from the bondage of love addiction and learned what real love is. Love is a powerful gift given to us by God. In fact, God is love. But when we mishandle or confuse love for something false, heartbreak comes.
Liz's comment clearly explains how a love addict feels: I was in this long-term relationship with this guy, and I convinced myself I couldn't live without him. I had to talk to him every night or I couldn't sleep. Now that we have broken up, I realized the only reason it felt like I couldn't live without him was that I was addicted to love. He treated me like I wasn't even his friend in public, but I put up with it because I wanted to feel loved. When [he told me he] loved me every night, it made me feel like a completely different person, made me feel untouchable for that split second. Everyone thrives to hear those words. That's why it is so easy to [become] addicted to love because whether you love that person or not, it feels good to hear it. (Liz)
Why do people become love addicts? Check out my post on LOVE ADDICTION AND ABANDONMENT