When you want to heal from love addiction, it’s helpful to seek guidance from a therapist.
In this article, you will learn more about love addiction. You will also learn three concrete tips to heal from a therapist who specializes in love addiction.
What is Love Addiction?
A person experiencing love addiction fixates on another person. Pia Mellody, author of Facing Love Addiction: Giving Yourself the Power to Change the Way You Love explains, “A Love Addict is someone who is dependent on, enmeshed with, and compulsively focused on taking care of another person.”
Love addiction has similarities to codependency, but these issues manifest specifically in romantic/sexual relationships. Furthermore, love addiction takes the symptoms of codependency to a more intense level – hence, the “addiction” term.
Most basically, addiction is defined as compulsive use of a substance or compulsive engagement in a behavior despite ongoing (and increasing) negative consequences. For example, a person with alcoholism will keep drinking despite warnings from their company to stop coming in late which they’re doing because they’re hungover. Then even when they lose their job they will keep drinking in their addiction.
Compulsive Behaviors and Consequences
With love addiction, the compulsive behavior is fixating and focusing on someone else even when this is harmful to your own life i.e., you miss work, you stop hanging out with friends, you stop getting enough sleep, you stop eating, etc.
In the rest of this article, specific signs of love addiction will be provided as well as concrete ways to recover.
Love Addiction Sign #1: The Other Person Makes You Feel “High”
When a person is love addicted, there is a predictable cycle marked by how the other person makes them feel “high” when they give them attention. For example, they may feel a rush of feel-good chemicals when the person texts them. They may spend the rest of the day replaying what the text said to keep feeling this rush.
Then once this high “fades,” the love addicted person will seek out ways to get their “fix” again. They will figure out how to connect with this person yet again. Yet if this attempt to connect “fails” they will feel increasingly desperate. If they text the person back and then they don’t get a reply, they will obsess about this because they are craving the high from interacting with this person again.
It can also feel like you may literally die if the relationship ends because of this addictive process with the other person.
How to Heal Love Addiction Strategy #1: Interrupt the Addictive Cycle
Admittedly, this strategy to heal from love addiction is the foundation of all other ways to heal. First and foremost, you will want to be mindful of how the other person truly does make you feel high. And you know this feeling clearly if you’ve ever experienced it.
The first step to healing from any addiction is to be honest about the problem. There is no shame in this. This is so relatable the whole concept of love addiction stems from this sense of being high. Please have compassion for yourself to help you recover.
Related: What is Self-Compassion?
How to Stop Getting High from Someone Else
Once you acknowledge the cycle of addiction with this person which includes feeling high and craving more interaction with them. You can work towards cutting off this “high” you get when you communicate with them or see them.
You may, honestly, need to break off contact with this person to heal in the best way possible. Of course, being ready to do this takes a lot of healing work alone. Therefore, to be compassionate with yourself, try to limit yourself with this person.
Instead of talking to them or texting all day long with them, for instance, reduce this time. This gives you breaks from the addictive cycle.
Focus on Your Relationship with Yourself
When you take breaks from the person you feel addicted to you will want to shift your focus. You can do this by focusing on yourself.
Often, in love addiction, a person becomes so consumed by another person that they may begin to neglect themselves i.e., not getting enough sleep, eating in a nourishing way, or hydrating. The first step to heal from love addiction is to bring some of your attention, time, and energy to your self-care.
Self-Care Helps You Heal
You can do this very simply. For example, instead of staying up late to text this other person, set a timer so you force yourself to go to bed 30 minutes earlier. As you shift your focus, and begin to self-care, your body and mind will become more balanced.
Finally, you heal this sense of being high from the other person on a core level. This is because the high comes from feeling validated when you don’t fully know or believe in your own worth and value.
When you practice self-care, you give yourself a chance to develop more love and respect for yourself. Thus, in time, the other person’s attention won’t mean so much to you.
It may still feel good to hear from them, but you no longer will feel “high” or like you will literally die without them. Of course, breakups almost always hurt even when you’re not love addicted. Yet, you know you will survive a breakup when you heal from love addiction.
Love Addiction Sign #2: You Ignore Red Flags
When a person is love addicted to another person, they tend to overlook the clear red flags in the relationship. They frequently may be in denial about what is actually happening. This also includes denial about what they truly need or want.
Instead of looking at the facts, they will ignore what’s happening. Or they’ll make excuses for the other person. For instance, they may tell themselves “It’s just not a good time for him to commit with everything he has going on at work.” They would tell themselves this in their love addiction even if they want a committed relationship.
How to Heal Love Addiction Strategy #2: Pay Attention to the Facts
When you are experiencing love addiction, it’s really important to overcome the natural tendency to deny the facts by paying clear attention. You can do this by keeping a notebook tracking what is actually happening in the relationship i.e., “I feel really needy and am overlooking my work because I’m obsessing” or “I feel really insecure because he’s working late yet again tonight.”
Notice the negative consequences of this relationship on you. Use this as guidance rather than getting stuck in a fantasy of this person or relationship. Then practice radical acceptance which is the skill of accepting reality for what it is rather than what you wish it was.
Of course, you want to have compassion for the fact that it makes sense you may overlook warning signs or problems in the relationships. This completely makes sense given your desire to maintain a relationship with someone that makes you feel high.
Yet to recover you must pay attention to the facts of how this person treats you and how this relationship makes you feel.
Love Addiction Sign #3: Wanting to Be Rescued
One of the primary fantasies a love addict has is that of being rescued by their romantic partner. A woman may dream of her “knight in shining armor” for example. Often though, this fantasy of being rescued turns the romantic partner into a surrogate parent of sorts.
In other words, the love addicted person may fantasize that their partner is their perfect parent. The loving, emotionally available father who never leaves for example. Or a nurturing, kind mother instead of a critical one.
How to Heal Love Addiction Strategy #3: Address Your Trauma
The desire to be rescued by a perfect partner who can also be like a surrogate parent that takes care of your every emotional and/or financial need is understandable.
If you relate to this, please practice being kind to yourself that this fantasy stems from trauma. At some point, you likely didn’t receive enough of what you needed from a parent growing up. Now this wounded younger part of you is seeking the care and attention you always deserved but didn’t get in your romantic partner.
Of course, while understandable, you cannot have a healthy, mature relationship with someone you want to rescue you. A healthy relationship consists of two equals coming together to share life but are each personally responsible to self-soothe and self-care.
To heal from love addiction and no longer feel high from another person’s attention, you have to care for the younger parts of you that didn’t get what you needed but deserved. You can do this fundamentally by beginning – and committing to – a self-care practice.
Inner child work is also helpful to nurture the hurt part of you that still craves a loving parent. The Inner Child Workbook: What to Do with Your Past When It Just Won’t Go Away by Cathryn L. Taylor is a good resource to start this process.
More Ways to Heal
Therapy is also an invaluable part of healing from trauma for many people. For more guidance on how to find the right therapist for you, please read “What to Look for in a Therapist: 3 Tips from a Licensed Therapist.“
However, you can start healing trauma on your own now by reading, “Can You Heal Trauma on Your Own? 4 Clear Steps to Heal.“
You may also find resources to heal from trauma on the Healing Resources page.
You Can Heal from Love Addiction
When you are experiencing love addiction it can be so overwhelming. Honestly, your life can feel so consumed by your feelings and the relationship that it can be hard to know where to begin to heal.
However, it’s completely possible to recover from love addiction. Start with the simple steps provided in this article to begin your healing journey including:
- Create distance in the relationship from the person you feel addicted to (or end it if you can),
- Be honest with yourself,
- Have compassion for yourself,
- Practice self-care,
- Radically accept reality – the facts about what’s happening and how you feel in this relationship as well as the consequences of this relationship,
- Seek therapy as you can,
- Work on healing from trauma including doing yoga and inner child work
About The Author
Krystal Mazzola Wood, LMFT is a practicing relationship therapist with over a decade of experience. Currently, Krystal sees clients at her private practice, The Healthy Relationship Foundation. She has dedicated her entire career to empowering people to heal from unhealthy relationship processes. She does this by teaching the skills and tools necessary to have a life filled with healthy and loving relationships.
This passion led her to write her best-selling books and create courses. Her books, The Codependency Recovery Plan: A 5-Step Guide to Understand, Accept, and Break Free from the Codependent Cycle and The Codependency Workbook: Simple Practices for Developing and Maintaining Your Independence have helped many people heal.
Her third book, Therapy Within Reach: Setting Boundaries, will be released September, 2023.
If you have any personal dating or relationship questions, Krystal is happy to provide advice using her expertise and compassion. If you feel comfortable, feel free to leave any questions in the comments of this post. Otherwise, you may send an email to email@example.com or DM her on Instagram. Your name and any other identifying information will always be kept confidential.
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