Love Addiction

Love Addiction

Love addiction is a behavior where people become addicted to the feeling of love. In today’s society, it is more common than it might seem, yet most addicts don’t realize they are indeed addicted to love. A variety of behaviors can result from being addicted to love, including sexual acting out–which more specifically might be recognized as sex addiction. Love addiction, however, usually involves something of an emotional need rather than simply a pure physical need.

Is love addiction a legitimate addiction?

Yes. Some believe that love addiction is simply a metaphor for being in love, but researchers distinguish love as an actual drug. Among pioneers in recognizing this addiction was Dr. Stanton Peele, and along with Archie Brodsky, he explored it in the book Love and Addiction in 1975. Peele noticed social behaviors with love that were prominent in physical addictions as well. He observed the consuming grip it had on some people’s lives, and also saw physical withdrawal symptoms when an addict dealt with a romantic breakup. According to Peele:

Love is an ideal vehicle for addiction because it can so exclusively claim a person's consciousness. If, to serve as an addiction, something must be both reassuring and consuming, then a sexual or love relationship is perfectly suited for the task. If it must also be patterned, predictable, and isolated, then in these respects, too, a relationship can be ideally tailored to the addictive purpose. Someone who is dissatisfied with himself or his situation can discover in such a relationship the most encompassing substitute for self-contentment and the effort required to attain it.

Since Peele’s look into love addiction in 1975, others have joined in as well. 1985’s Women Who Love Too Much by Robin Norwood furthered the concept of addiction to love, and Susan Peabody’s Addiction to Love in 2005 was the first place where the phrase ‘love addict’ was used as a legitimate term. Many now recognize dependency on love as a very real and literal addiction.

Signs and Symptoms of Love Addiction

  • Frequently mistaking romantic infatuation for love

  • Constantly searching for love or romance

  • Easily falling in love with strangers or people just met

  • Often anxious or unhappy when alone

  • Skipping out on important time with family, career, or friends in order to pursue a romantic relationship

  • Constant fantasizing about object of infatuation

  • Inability to let go of person bonded with

  • Initial attraction is more appealing than falling in love over time

  • Object of desire is idealized, often to the point of divinity

  • Reality is distorted to see what is desired to see

  • Inability to want to leave an abusive partner

  • Very possessive and jealous when in love

  • Spying on person in love with


Because the concept of love addiction is fairly new, not many treatments are specifically designed to handle love addiction. There are, however, a few places online that can offer support. and Susan Peabody’s Love Addicts Anonymous are a couple such places. Another, more traditional method of treatment is psychological therapy.