Love Addiction: When Caring Becomes Dangerous

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Article written for PsyWeb.com by Sherry Gaba, LCSW.

To many people the idea of a love addiction seems far fetched or something that is just made up to explain irrational behaviors. However, love addiction is not a new concept. Early literature and history are full of references to people, often very powerful and famous people, which allowed their dependence on another person to cause their downfall or even death. Why some people become so dependent on another is largely a factor of emotional needs that are not met through positive relationships but are somehow met through negative and destructive relationships.

When you are in love addiction you tend to put your partner (or ex-partner) on a pedestal and long for that person’s love and approval. Anytime you put someone on a pedestal you are not seeing what is. You are seeing what you hope is that person but not what is.

People don’t belong on pedestals. There is only one way down from a pedestal and that happens when the object of your obsession reveals their flawed humanity. In love addiction you see the flaws but put the person right back up on that pedestal. You see what you want to believe is possible and you don’t deal with what is. In that way you allow yourself to stay in abusive or unhealthy relationships, always believing the other person is finally going to change and keep their promises.

Love addiction is more than just an emotional need that isn't met, there is a potential for serious injury and even death because of this behavior. When a person continues in a relationship that is abusive, either physically or mentally, there is a very real danger. Women and men are abused in relationships, and unfortunately death by an intimate partner is a very real concern in today's society. Knowing when love has become an addiction starts by asking the following questions:

  1. Have I been hurt, physically or emotionally, by my partner?
  2. Do I make excuses or rationalize the abuse?
  3. Do I tend to choose partners that are emotionally distant or do I have a history of being in abusive relationships?
  4. Is there a give and take in this relationship or do I give and give but seem to get nothing or very little in response?
  5. Can I leave this relationship and move on in my life?

Answering these questions honestly is the first step in determining if you may have an addiction to love that is potentially harmful or dangerous. Most people need help with this very serious issue and greatly benefit from talking with a therapist or counselor that specializes in addictions and addiction recovery.

SHERRY GABA LCSW, PSYCHOTHERAPIST, LIFE & RECOVERY COACH IS FEATURED CELEBRITY REHAB ON VH1. SHERRY IS THE AUTHOR OF WWW.SHERRYGABA.COM CONTACT SHERRY FOR WEBINARS, TELESEMINARS, COACHING PACKAGES AND SPEAKING ENGAGEMENTS. LISTEN TO SHERRY ON “A MOMENT OF CHANGE WITH SHERRY GABA” ON CBS RADIO. ARE YOU A LOVE ADDICT? TAKE SHERRY’S QUIZ FOR A FREE EBOOK FILLING THE EMPTY HEART: 5 KEYS TO TRANSFORMING LOVE ADDICTION. SIGN UP TODAY FOR MY FREE TELESEMINAR: ELIMINATE LOVE ADDICTION & LEARN THE FIVE KEYS TO LASTING RELATIONSHIPS WWW.SHERRYGABA.COM/OFFERS/GROUP

How do you get out?

Ms. Gaba- I really like what you article, approach, and your methodology. I often see you talking about the symptoms and the problem in other articles. Can you please talk about practical solutions? I'm a love addict, i have gone to Al-anon meetings, i have a daily meditation practice, but i still struggle with falling on the same pattern and going back "hoping for a change." what do you recommend for people like me? I have a great insight about why i do what i do, but i continue doing it. How do you get someone off the pedestal? how do i meet my emotional needs in a positive way when im so stuck in a not so positive relationship?

Thanks for your help, i trust your experience and knowledge on this issue

 
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