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Love Addiction: Symptoms, Causes, Coping, Therapy

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Love addiction, or morbid love, is a controversial term for when a person becomes unhealthily obsessed with romantic love. Although not a “formal” diagnosis, it may be considered part of a larger addictive behavioral pattern.

This article discusses the signs and symptoms of love addiction, accessible ways to begin treatment, and some self-soothing and coping strategies.

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love addiction meaning

Love addiction is characterized by obsessions, compulsions, anxiety, and negative life outcomes as a result of romantic interest. First discussed in the 1970s, it has not been well studied.

informal classification

Love addiction can be viewed from both a narrow and broad perspective. Both of these are informal classifications.

  • narrow field of view: Categorizes love addiction as only the most extreme and harmful forms of love, or love-related behaviors, that can become addictive in nature.
  • wide field of view: Love addiction classifies everything on the spectrum of addiction, even basic attachment Similar to other types of addiction.

Related but different conditions

Love addiction is not a formal diagnosis. It is associated with behavioral addictions, impulse control disorders, obsessive-compulsive disorders, and other clinical diagnoses under the spectrum of mood disorders. Disorders associated with love addiction include:

Researchers explain that love addiction is linked to these other disorders. This is because the cycles of emotional ups and downs, longings, and resulting extreme behaviors are similar.

Characteristics and symptoms of love addiction

Criteria for love addiction were defined in 2018 and include:

  • A compulsive and uncontrollable desire not to contact your romantic interest
  • You spent a lot of time thinking about your future with them
  • A strong desire to connect even if the other person doesn’t feel that way
  • Romantic pursuits that are distracting from the person or withdraw from a regular schedule for spending time with or thinking about them and causing problems
  • Maintaining Relationships Despite Toxic Traits
  • Efforts to avoid real or perceived abandonment and to regain feelings of initial love by breaking up, getting back together, or moving forward despite problems (to preserve relationships) get engaged to or move in together)
  • When you feel down, anxious, worried, or want reassurance, ask that person for a “solution.”

Risk factor

All of the following have been suggested as potential risk factors in the development of love addiction.

Parent-child relationship

Parenthood is the foundation for children to learn what love is, including how to receive and give love in healthy ways. If this core bond is unhealthy, children may be more likely to model unhealthy love. It may contain other things that are possible.


Trauma, such as physical or sexual assault, is a risk factor for love addiction in the sense that trauma is a risk factor for addiction. I have.

Substance Abuse and Mental Health

Substance abuse and mental health disorders may also be considered risk factors for addictions such as love addiction. These conditions are associated with disconnection and loneliness in the same way as love addiction. Substance use disorders and mental health conditions are said to alter brain function. This can affect a person’s desires, healthy coping capacity, and perceived need for lifestyle changes or additional support.

Benefits of treatment

Psychotherapy and talk therapy are often the first line of treatment for love addiction, but their effectiveness has not been fully investigated.

Potential benefits of treatment include:

  • Strengthening communication skills
  • Increased personal empowerment and life satisfaction outside of romantic relationships
  • Improve your relationships with yourself and others
  • Developing a toolkit of skills for coping with a life free of unhealthy love addictions

An accessible way to initiate treatment

There are several types of treatment and methods of access to treatment. Consider talking to a mental health professional to develop a plan to reduce the impact of love addiction on your life. This professional may or may not be covered by insurance.

Accessible methods for initiating treatment include:

  • Talk to your employer about Assistance Programs (EAPs) and treatment coverage (number of sessions, etc.)
  • Find medical providers covered by insurance networks
  • Ask about sliding scale options for treatment services
  • Participate in conversations with mental health care providers with an open mind, but with a goal to guide the session (such as healing from a love addiction or being comfortable being single)
  • Try virtual therapy sessions to access more types of professionals from a wider network (this is especially valuable in small city settings where access to therapy from local providers is difficult)

Self-soothing and coping strategies

If you experience symptoms of love addiction, you can try the following self-soothing and coping strategies. These activities will increase your feel-good hormones in a healthy way and give you what you’re looking for from your love addiction.


Love addiction is a condition in which someone has an unhealthy attachment to love. This means they may act in unhealthy ways to get and keep love and may stay in toxic relationships. Like anything related, it just prolongs the problem. To heal from love addiction, you can seek the support of a health care provider or therapist and begin practicing self-soothing and coping strategies.

A word from Verywell

Terminology aside, if you’re experiencing love addiction, consider talking to a mental health professional. We all deserve healthy love and attachment, and seeking the right support may help end the cycle of love addiction once and for all.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Can You Overcome Love Addiction?

    yes. Love addiction is not a clinical addiction or disorder, but a behavioral pattern that can be changed. By acknowledging the need for change, seeking therapy, and practicing self-soothing and coping skills, people with love addiction can change their behavior to something healthier.

  • How does our childhood affect our adult relationships?

    Learning how to give and receive wholesome love begins in early childhood. How parenting adults show love, talk about love, and show it to each other is critical to this learning process. If we grow up with insecure attachments, we may carry this into adulthood and repeat similar cycles without actually realizing it until the problem repeats itself.

  • What is the first step in ending codependency?

    You need to see the signs of codependency, accept that you are in a codependent relationship, and start working on ways to change or shift your relationship. Support from other people is helpful unless their relationship is codependent. This is why you need professional help.

  • What can I do besides therapy to heal my love addiction?

    Outside of therapy, you can practice healthy ways to boost your feel-good hormones. This includes exercising, listening to music, getting massages, and attending support groups. Check out Sex and Love Addicts Anonymous to get more support outside of therapy.

Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed research, to back up the facts in its articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.

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Michelle Pugle

Michelle Pugle, BA, MA is an expert health writer and has been providing accurate, accessible health news and information for the agency’s website and print magazines for nearly a decade. Her work focuses on lifestyle management, chronic disease, and mental health. Michelle is the author of Ana, Mia & Me: A Memoir From an Anorexic Teen Mind.



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