Relationship Counseling for Individuals and Couples
What is Love Addiction?
Love addiction is a psychological addiction, a result of unfulfilled childhood needs. Children whose needs remain unrecognized may adjust by learning to limit their expectations. This limitation process may take the form of core beliefs such as: “My needs don’t count”, “Getting close will hurt”, and “I’m not lovable”.
The trauma/abuse of abandonment/neglect of a child by the major caregiver creates love addiction. Abandonment is when the major caretaker is not present and there is little major caretaker connection.
As Pia Mellody explains: Abandonment/neglect gives the message to the child that they are not loveable and if the child wants anything close to love, intimacy and/or respect when they will have to settle for crumbs.
Such beliefs do not satisfy childhood needs, leaving them to be met later in life. As adults, addictive lovers remain dependent upon others to care for them, protect them and solve their problems.
The child learns three things form their experience of being in a relationship with a major care-taker who abuses them with abandonment/neglect:
Love Addiction is about being obsessed with another person, wanting the other person to love the love addict into loving themselves and wanting the other person to take care of the love addict in some way. It is as though they the love addict wants the other person to “right the wrong from childhood” and they want the person that they are obsessed with to parent them.
One of the peculiar issues with love addiction is that the love addict is not “loving” the other person as he or she really is, but has fallen in love with a fantasy the love addict has made up about the other person. It is in this “fantasy” that the love addict actually objectifies the other person. When the other person does not live up to the fantasy, the love addict goes into withdrawal from the fantasy, not the other person.
The withdrawal is emotionally traumatic, in that the love addict feels suicidal and/or homicidal and panicked. In this state of mind, the love addict may act out forcefully to attempt to get the other person back into the fantasy.
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