The beginning of a healthy long-term relationship and a love addiction can look very similar: time disappears when you’re together, a smile from ear to ear; you’re walking on a cloud. Learning to tell the difference, early on, can help determine if you’re in deep waters suited for navigation or in shallow waters luring mighty sailors to shipwreck.
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The main difference between love addicts and healthy people is that love addicts never make it beyond the intense experience of falling in love (the attraction and lust stage). They seek to continually stimulate their brain’s pleasure center (area responsible for love) with one new relationship after another and making each new person their whole focus. Similarly, a sex addict compulsively stimulates his brain’s pleasure center by pursuing and engaging in sexual fantasies, images and/or encounters to get the same high. Some individuals are both sex and love addicts.
The following are some telltale signs you may be navigating in shallow waters with a love addict:
- Serial short-term relationships (approximately 3 to 24 months)
- Constantly looking for “the one”
- Has a strategy in play to find, seduce and keep a new partner
- Uses sex, seduction and manipulations to hook or hold on to a partner
- Perpetually on the hunt for special attention and intensity
- Finds it unbearable or emotionally difficult to be alone
- Desperate to please and fearful of abandonment within the relationship
- Chooses partners who are emotionally unavailable, married or abusive
- Gives up important interests, friendships for new love
- Compulsively use’s sex, masturbation and/or fantasy to fill the loneliness when not in a relationship or to avoid being in one
- Repeatedly returns to previously unmanageable or painful relationships
- Repeatedly engages in unprotected sex, disregards the long-term potential consequences (STDs, pregnancy, rape)
- Incapable to maintaining an intimate relationship once the newness has worn off: becomes bored or fearful of being trapped with the wrong person then creates emotional distance or drama to turn off the partner
Like sex addicts, love addicts search for something outside of themselves to make themselves happy. Like in all addictions, the first step of recovery is to move out of denial and admit life has become unmanageable. Therapy, support groups like Sex and Love Addicts Anonymous are available to begin the healing journey. Underneath love and sex addictions lie attachment trauma and often sexual abuse.
If you suspect the person you’re dating is a love addict, it’s best to move on and find someone who is ready and capable of creating lasting healthy love. If you’d like to continue the relationship, have an open discussion around this topic and see if they are willing to get help.
Long-term successful marriages and relationships are intentional. They work best with people that share similar behaviors and values necessary to make love last.
From Love Trauma To Fearless Love: 7 Tango Steps for Breaking Free From Narcissists and Predators
Download the Free Excerpt: Lovetrauma.com.
Weiss, Robert; Sex Addiction 101: A Basic Guide To Healing From Sex, Porn And Love Addiction. HCI, 2015