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What Does It Mean To Be Love Addicted?

By Dr. Margaret Paul
June 03, 2013

How do you know if you are love addicted? Discover the answer in this article.

Our culture seems to promote love addiction to such an extent that it seems like a healthy way to relate. While it is very common, it is anything but healthy. Because it is so prevalent, many people don't realize they are love addicted.

Henry asks:

"Is love addiction like when I see a friendly woman a couple times in public, and I start obsessing about her, how wonderful she is (even though I don't know her), and thinking how great it would be to be with her?"

Fantasizing about a woman you don't know is one form that love addiction can take. Let's explore what Henry is describing to see how it is a love addiction.

Henry is obsessing about how great it would be to be with this woman that he doesn't know and is making up. In making her responsible for him feeling great, he is avoiding taking responsibility for his own feelings instead focusing on his fantasies of her. What feelings is Henry avoiding by obsessing about this woman? Perhaps he is feeling anxious or empty or alone and he doesn't know how to learn from and manage these feelings, so he turns to fantasies of being with this woman to avoid the difficult feelings.

The problem is that when Henry does finally meet a woman he wants to date, he will be needy - wanting her to make him feel great because he is not making himself feel great. That's what a love addiction is all about – getting someone else's love to fill up your emptiness, take away your aloneness, and define your worth. He may latch on to this woman, pulling on her to give him what he is not giving to himself. He may want to spend all his time with her, and he might feel angry or jealous if she wants to spend time with her friends.

Since people are attracted at their common level of self-abandonment, a woman who is attracted to Henry will likely be a person who is also needy for his love. She might be a caretaker who is willing to give herself up to try to have control over getting his love, or she might be fairly narcissistic and demanding, while he might give himself up to get her love. In either case, they will establish a codependent relationship that probably won't work well.

Love addiction is like any other addiction in that the purpose is to avoid responsibility for your own feelings. Just as someone becomes addicted to food to take away emptiness and aloneness, people become addicted to another's attention to take away these painful feelings.

It’s a vicious cycle. The feelings of aloneness and emptiness are being caused by the lack of self-love that results from the various forms of self-abandonment. As long as Henry is abandoning himself by not lovingly attending to his feelings and by not learning to love himself, he will continue to feel empty and alone – no matter how much attention a woman gives to him. While her attention might feel good, as long as Henry is treating himself badly by ignoring his feelings, judging himself and turning to addictions to avoid his feelings, he will feel empty and alone. The emptiness and aloneness are the inevitable results of self-abandonment.

Henry, if you learn and practice Inner Bonding, you can heal your love addiction and eventually create a loving relationship, where you are sharing your love rather than trying to get love.


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