The Subtleties of Love Addiction

The word “addiction” is so alarming to me and brings up all kinds of associations. I think of my mother with her vodka, her DUI’s, her rehab stints, and her overall sad and lonely train wreck of a life. I think of movies that portray addiction and recovery incredibly well, such as 28 Days and Thanks for Sharing. I think of being taken to AA meetings by my parents, my twin sister and I playing under the table while people talk about their feelings in a room full of cigarette smoke. I think of 12-step recovery books arranged welcomingly on the top of toilet tanks (that’s kind of a thing people in recovery do). I grew up in a recovery family and have seen many forms of alcohol addiction. I’ve seen loved ones recover and loved ones pass away from the disease. It’s a loaded word, and for most of my life, I swore I would never be associated with it.

Footprints in the sand

Photo by Christopher Sardegna on Unsplash

Finding the Courage to Change

On Monday, February 20, 2023, I attended my first Love Addicts Anonymous meeting. Yes, love addiction is an actual thing. And no, it’s not the same as giving up a substance such as alcohol or pills. Love addiction is a behavioral disease, and it’s a bit more subtle to detect.

I think deep down I have always known that something was off with me and my relationship to love. And I’ve spoken recently on this blog and related podcast episode about how I have historically avoided dating men I’m very attracted to. Because I think in the past, when I have let myself feel a really strong attraction, I felt so much crazy arise within me, and I never wanted to lose myself in it. So I just avoided intense relationships. Until one situation recently crept up on me, and before I knew it, I was in the depths of my love addiction, and seriously didn’t know what to do.

Humility and Help

Over the past few months, while in the depths of my love tornado, I began following the breadcrumbs of humility, ultimately making my way to help. Some loving family members literally blurted out my issues to me, not so subtly. And although I was rather incensed at the time, the confrontation stuck with me. Several weeks later, I purchased a book on love addiction, started reading it, and instantly related to so much of it. Validation. Then, I forgot about it for a bit, thinking to myself, “Okay, this is a thing you do, but it’s not a big deal, just good to keep in mind.” Another week passed and I watched Pamela Lee’s documentary on Netflix, finding myself identifying very closely to her and her love life drama. That evening I recall thinking, “Hmm, I might need some help.” In the film, there is actually a moment when Pamela herself is listening to a podcast about love addiction and is horrified by what she’s hearing and tries to quickly turn it off. It’s hard to face, I know!

Pamela, a love story

I highly recommend this documentary. Pamela is such a lovely soul and the film is quite fascinating, even if you don’t relate!

After that documentary, I began counting down the days until I could attend my first meeting. I just knew it would bring me relief. And I was at a point where I was just suffering. I wasn’t my best self, my most healthiest self, and I wanted to get back to that.

Attending my first meeting was easier than I thought. I sobbed for the first fifteen minutes and knew I had found a place of comfort and potential healing. My tears were loaded with a mix of shame and relief. Most importantly, I felt hope. I had been operating under a cloud of depression for weeks, and I can honestly say that since that first meeting, my depression has lifted and has not returned.

Some Subtle Signs of Love Addiction

Since I am so new to this journey, I don’t claim to be any expert. However, I would love to leave you with some signs and symptoms of Love Addiction, as stated on the official Love Addicts Anonymous website. Experts in this area have stated that 90% of most songs, movies, and stories in pop culture are based on love addictive behaviors, tendencies, and traumas. It’s no wonder we have normalized something so insidiously wounding. And love addiction can be quite common, if you have experienced any form of subtle or not-so-subtle neglect or abandonment as a child. I hope you find this helpful, and if not, please take what you like and leave the rest.

This is just a sampling from a list of the 40 Statements To Help You Determine If You Are A Love Addict.

  • You are very needy when it comes to relationships.
  • You fall in love very easily and too quickly.
  • Sometimes, when you are lonely and looking for companionship, you lower your standards and settle for less than you want or deserve.
  • More than once, you have gotten involved with someone who is unable to commit—hoping he or she will change.
  • When you are attracted to someone, you will ignore all the warning signs that this person is not good for you.
  • You take on more than your share of responsibility for the survival of a relationship.
  • You are terrified of being abandoned. Even the slightest rejection feels like abandonment and it makes you feel horrible.
  • As far back as you can remember, you have been preoccupied with love and romantic fantasies.
  • You are terrified of never finding someone to love.
  • More than once, you have carried a torch for someone and it was agonizing.

For more information, visit Love Addicts Anonymous.

sunrise on a beach

Photo by frank mckenna on Unsplash

9 thoughts on “The Subtleties of Love Addiction

  1. Thank you for sharing something so vulnerable. While I’m sad to hear how you’ve been suffering, it seems that you’ve found a welcoming community to support you in finding your way back to yourself and give you hope of a happy, healthy romantic relationship. Wishing you all the best! 💕✨

    Liked by 3 people

  2. Humility and help…thanks so much for sharing, Libby, and those two words? Humility and hope? I love them…and would add one more…hope! Hugs and gratitude for your openness and courage! 💕

    Liked by 4 people

  3. A very vulnerable post Libby. Thank you for sharing yourself so openly here. I can relate to a few of the statements you included, also the mention of childhood abandonment but it must be debilitating for someone who finds themselves defined by the majority of those expressions and wondering why or what to do. I’m so glad you have found support. Hugs to you!

    Liked by 3 people

  4. So fascinating that the ways love is portrayed in our culture is based on an unhealthy view of it – wow! Thank you for sharing this eye-opening info and your journey. You are so freaking brave to continually lean in to all that life teaches you and it’s so inspiring! Sending lots of love and appreciation for you, Libby! ❤ ❤ ❤

    Liked by 2 people

  5. I share the applause you have received from others. At this point “love addiction” is a popular culture idea, not a formal diagnostic category and the symptoms overlap with many other challenging human qualities. That said, the support you are getting and the bravery you have shown shouldn’t be discouraged or discounted. I can only wish you all the best.

    Liked by 1 person

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