real life

The real story of life as a love addict.

“I just want to be able to form significant relationships… I desperately need to overcome this. It’s causing me pain and heartbreak every day.”

You’ve heard of drug addicts. You’ve heard of sex addicts. But you probably haven’t heard of love addicts.

While the affliction doesn’t appear in the psychiatrist’s diagnostic manual, self-described sufferers say it’s not only real, but unbearably painful.

A number of women have described their struggles with the condition online, and those personal accounts provide a unique insight into a rarely discussed condition. Tracey*, 24, says her love addiction was causing her “pain and heartbreak every day”.

“Since I’ve started ‘dating’, all of my relationships have began too quickly, ended horribly, and began one after the other, with no time to rest in between even though I feel like I wasn’t really actively searching for them,” Tracey writes in a thread on Reddit.

“I fall in love too fast,” she adds.

“I’m unsure of knowing the difference between reality and the illusion I’ve made in my own mind. It’s like knowing that what I feel is a lie, but still being unsure of my own knowledge. I just don’t know how much I can help myself at this point.”

“Since I’ve started ‘dating’, all of my relationships have began too quickly, ended horribly, and began one after the other, with no time to rest in between even though I feel like I wasn’t really actively searching for them,” Tracey writes.

Tracey says she first realised her issue might be love addition when she stumbled across an online article detailing the signs of love addiction.

“I read that article, and it sounded exactly like me,” she said.

“I just want to be able to form significant relationships… I desperately need to overcome this. It’s causing me pain and heartbreak every day.”

Despite Tracey’s commitment to change, she worries her rational mind won’t ever triumph over her irrational addiction to love.

“I just don’t think I’ll be able to identify it or stop myself once the cycle begins anew,” she says.

“I just want to be able to form significant relationships… I desperately need to overcome this. It’s causing me pain and heartbreak every day.” (NB: This is a stock image.)

Blogger Rebecca Lammersen has also written of her experiences with love addiction in a candid blog post for the Elephant Journal.

“I am a love addict and until last week, I thought I was just an unlucky in love, idealistic romantic with a hyperactive imagination,” she writes. “I’ve been in denial, completely oblivious to the sickness that has ravaged me for years.”

She adds that while she knows “intellectually” the perfect man doesn’t exist, she’s always had a secretly glorified passion and held out hope that “Prince Charming would save [her], swoop me up and care for [her].”

“Almost every man I came in contact with, I injected into a plot of a movie, ‘Maybe he’s the one. He could be. He is everything I’ve ever wanted. We would be so happy together.’ I molded ‘our’ story,” she writes.

“Consistently, every six months to a year, I have chosen someone to fantasise about. From a yoga teacher to the guy sitting at the table across from me at the coffee shop—within 15 minutes, I write the screenplay of our lives.”

US woman Rachel Yoder similarly revealed in a 2006 piece for the New York Times how love addiction devastated her life.

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“I dropped out of college, quit my job, stopped talking to my family and friends,” writes Yoder of the condition.

“I know what you’re thinking: ‘Love addiction? Give me a break’… But the facts of my experience — a relationship that utterly consumed my life, the magnitude of the depths to which I plunged before I sought help — are indisputable.”

Yoder describes being left suicidal after the relationship “crossed some boundary from passion to obsession” and left her unable to stand separation from her partner.

After eventually separating from him, she began attending meetings for Sex and Love Addicts Anonymous, where she said she heard “outlandish stories of vitriolic romances and suicidal tendencies” time and time again from fellow addicts.

“Crazy, I thought, until I considered how similar their stories were to mine.”

Yoder ultimately spent four months in treatment for her condition and, at the time of writing her New York Times column, had sworn off dating,

“I don’t want to partner up because of some compulsive need,” she wrote. ” I want to do it right. And for now that means not doing it at all.”

“Love addicts go through life with desperate hopes and constant fears,” Psychology Today reports. “The high hinges on physical or psychological arousal, and relationships can be marked by desperation.”

So what is love addiction, and what is it caused by?

“Love addicts go through life with desperate hopes and constant fears,” Psychology Today reports. “The high hinges on physical or psychological arousal, and relationships can be marked by desperation.”

According to the Center for Healthy Sex, Some of the signs that a person might be experiencing love addiction include trying to escape life’s problems through the use of “relationships”; feeling that life would have little meaning without a love relationship; and a feeling of getting “high” from romantic interactions, before “crashing”.

You can find the Sex and Love Addicts Anonymous self-diagnosis worksheet here.

Sex and Love Addicts Anonymous says usually love addiction is found in those who suffer from abandonment in early childhood — a claim Lammersen reiterates, explaining: “Love addicts… attach to another who remind us and perpetuate the relationships we bonded with as children.”

She adds: “We convince ourselves we are in love because our relationships are passionate, volatile and exciting. We are obsessed with falling in love and the euphoric feeling it brings, despite the exhausting and draining effort the relationship demands.

“The relationship itself disables our ability to participate in the rest of our lives. This is false love. It is a distraction and a survival tactic.”

Do you need help? You can connect with Sex and Love Addicts Anonymous here.

Do you have any experiences with love addiction?

*Not her real name.

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Sex addiction. I mean cheating. I mean sex addiction.

Is Tiger Woods a sex addict? Or just a bit of a dick?

Tags: health-and-wellbeing , women
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