There are some people that cannot be happy unless they have a romantic partner. These people may be blessed with everything else in life that is good – a loving family, caring friends, good health, and even wealth – but unless they're in a relationship, their otherwise perfect world seems bleak. Psychologists refer to these people as love addicts.
Of course, falling in love is wonderful, and we all enjoy the rush of emotions that comes with it. But love addicts are so hooked on those intoxicating feelings that they lose all perspective and are unable to let go of a relationship, even when it becomes toxic or unhealthy.
Plus, when a relationship does finally end, they are miserable until they find a new one, which they throw themselves into head first, starting the cycle all over again.
Love is the drug
Consider love on a purely physiological level, and you can see why it can become an addiction.
When we are in love, the body releases dopamine, a neurotransmitter that helps control the brain's reward and pleasure centers. Basically, dopamine makes us feel good, which is why it is often referred to as the pleasure chemical. Kayt Sukel, author of Dirty Minds: How Our Brains Influence Love, Sex and Relationships, says that that being in love may feel like being on drugs, and therefore may be similarly addictive.
“Some scientists argue that drugs hijack the body's natural love systems in the brain–areas that directly affect the release of dopamine, the pleasure chemical. Certainly, brain scans of a person in love look quite a bit like someone who is high on cocaine,” says Sukel, “Let's face it, connecting with a person is rewarding and pleasurable. And given all the risks involved–pregnancy, disease, heartbreak–we might not do it if it weren't so biologically compelling.”
The addictive lover
Cole Adams, a Dallas, Texas, based psychotherapist who specializes in love and sex addictions, says that love addiction is more complicated than just a person's need to have someone complete their life.
“A lot of times there is a really powerful fantasy that is built up around someone they’ve just met, or someone that they have been dating for a short while, and they have a very difficult time seeing the actual reality of the person because the fantasy of who they are is so powerful,” he says.
Lola Augustine Brown
Lola Augustine Brown writes about sex and relationships for Cosmopolitan, Penthouse, FHM, Fashion, Flare and numerous other magazines. She also has a weekly column, Lola the Love Expert, on Sympatico.ca. Lola gained her expertise through real life experience and extensive research.