Love addiction, while often thought to be less serious than other addictions, is very real and can be detrimental to the person - just like any chemical dependency issue. In reality, love addiction is extremely painful.
It can be difficult for anyone who is not a love addict to understand how love can be exploited or evolve into destructive patterns of addiction and compulsion. Yet for the love addict, romantic love, sexuality and the closeness they offer, are experiences most often filled with pitfalls and anxiety. Living in an often chaotic and emotional world of desperation and despair, fearful of being alone or rejected, the love addict endlessly longs for that 'special' relationship.
Some glaring signs of a love addict are:
Constantly seeking a sexual partner
New romance or significant other
An inability or difficulty in being alone consistently
Choosing partners who are abusive or emotionally unavailable
Using sex, seduction and intrigue to hold onto a partner
Using sex or romantic intensity to tolerate difficult experiences or emotions
Missing out on important family, career or social experiences in order to maintain a sexual high or romantic relationship when in a relationship
Being detached or unhappy, when out of a relationship
Feeling desperate and alone
Avoiding sex or relationships for long periods of time to solve the problem"
An inability to leave unhealthy relationships despite repeated promises to self or others
Returning to previously unmanageable or painful relationships despite promises to self or others
Mistaking sexual experiences and romantic intensity for love.
Love and sex addicts who are not in recovery, like any addict, do not learn from their consequences and mistakes. It is only when the pain of these behaviors and situations becomes greater than the pain and challenges of creating change that recovery begins.
As the love addict recovers at Orange County's Sure Haven Love Addiction Treatment Center, they begin to discover themselves in new and unexpected ways. Time formerly put into flirtation and the hunt, now may go into family involvement and work. Creativity formerly used to seduce or attract now goes into hobbies, self-care and healthy relationship exploration. As hope and honesty slowly replace despair and superficiality, the recovery process brings about a deepening maturity and sense of choice that the addict may have never previously known.