Illustrated By Sydney Hass.
Being in love is a strange thing. Amazing, sure. Weird? Definitely. Confusion is a given, especially the first few times around. For example, while the idea of having someone who constantly makes you smile and gives you butterflies seems like what all of us should strive for, is it possible to be too attached to the idea itself, to the point that being in love becomes more important than the person you're in love with? Is it possible to be addicted to love?
It turns out that, just like sex addiction, love addiction is a very real, documented phenomenon. And, while much like sex addiction, it can be difficult to define what exactly being a "love addict" means, it's helpful to consider the true definition of the term "addiction." The American Society of Addiction Medicine describes addiction as "a chronic disease of brain reward, motivation, memory and related circuitry...reflected in an individual pathologically pursuing reward and/or relief by substance abuse and other behaviors."
In today's world, where "love" is seemingly as accessible as a few taps on your OKCupid iPhone app, it's not too much of a stretch to claim that the pursuit of love can be driven by a pathological need for the "rewards" that theoretically come with the feeling of being in love. When combined with today's gender constructions and expectations, which encourage single women to harbor fear and shame if they are not in a relationship that mirrors the fantasy of love as portrayed in Sex And The City or The Notebook, it's no surprise that many women develop an unhealthy relationship with that all-important L-word.
So, how do you know whether you're truly a love addict? No surprise, it's not an easy question to answer, and a number of factors could be at play. For example, serial monogamy, or the habit of going from relationship to relationship with very little healing time in between, can indicate love addiction. As YourTango notes, many love addicts typically find themselves in relationships that cause them to devalue themselves or abandon self-care. Others are attracted to relationships that are particularly volatile, marked by many highs or lows, which mirror those relationships seen in movies and on TV. Among those who are in a relationship, love addiction can manifest as chronic dissatisfaction — or a preoccupation with the question, "Did I make the right choice?" The most important (and maybe most common) indicator? Love addicts harbor a pathological need to be loved — to feel validated, to feel complete, or to be happy.
Sound a little too familiar? Take a self-diagnosis quiz at Love Addicts Anonymous and find out if your behavior might be problematic.