Romantic love can be a wonderful thing that is healthy for both the mind and body. When it becomes an addiction however, love and romance can have destructive effects on a person's psychological well being, relationships, and quality of life.
A love and romance addiction can be defined as an intense preoccupation with falling into and being in love. The obsession becomes so severe that it causes a person to behave in an irresponsible and regrettable manner.
A love and romance addiction can have many of the same consequences that a person who is addicted to gambling, drugs, alcohol, or spending faces. Feelings of depression, anxiety, and low self worth are common, along with ruined relationships at work, school, and with family. There can even be financial troubles and health problems as well.
A love addict does not have the ability to regulate their own feelings, and instead will rely on the rush of a new romance to define themselves and their own future. This rush is caused by chemicals in the brain such as dopamine, oxytocin, serotonin, and other endorphins that create feelings of intense well being. These are the same chemicals that create the high feeling that those who abuse drugs experience. This is what can make love and romance as addictive as a drug like cocaine.
That feeling of being in a new relationship, where everything seems exciting and full of promise, and the other person's thoughts, feelings, and actions seem so important, is what a love and relationship addict seeks. Oftentimes they are not even aware that they have a problem until other things in their life begin to fall apart.
Love addicts are not actually addicted to love - they are addicted to the rush of a new relationship that is impossible to maintain for the long run. This means that they will move from person to person seeking that same feeling and leaving behind a path of destroyed relationships in the process. A love addict will continue to use relationships with others as a way to escape the stress and emotional discomfort of their own lives.
Other criteria of a love and romance addiction include:
-An obsession with relationships, romantic fantasies and the pursuit of them for a period of 6 months or longer.
-Losing control over the pursuit of these relationships and fantasies. There are usually several failed attempts to quit the obsessive pursuit of love.
-Experiencing negative consequences as a result of their obsessive pursuit and behaviors.
These criteria are similar to that of a drug or alcohol addiction. Behaviors that are typical of a love and romance include:
-A constant struggle to find and maintain romantic relationships. When the excitement of one begins to wane, the addict will abruptly move on to a new relationship.
-Using romantic relationships to escape from stress, and any other mental conditions that produce unpleasant emotions.
-A feeling of desperation and loneliness when not in a relationship.Also, a feeling of being trapped and smothered when in a relationship that is no longer exciting.
-Always being in pursuit of the perfect partner. They will abruptly end a perfectly good relationship in order to pursue someone that seems more exciting or interesting.
-Going from one relationship to another without a break, and sometimes even overlapping relationships.
-Failing to keep commitments and life responsibilities because of their obsession.
A person with a love and romance addiction will often be in denial about their problem and will blame others for their problems with maintaining relationships. Because of this, it can be very difficult to receive treatment for the addiction.
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