“Whoa, you like to think that you’re immune to the stuff, oh yeah.
It’s closer to the truth to say you can’t get enough
You know you’re gonna have to face it.
You’re addicted to love.”

–  Robert Palmer “Addicted to Love”


Talk about a heavily loaded subject! You might be thinking to yourself; addicted? Why, I’m no addict! I don’t take drugs, and I certainly don’t drink to excess! Addicted to love?  Moi?

The fact is that addiction comes in many shapes, forms, and variations. Addiction to love (which really has nothing to do with love at all), often includes unsavory elements like obsession, dependency, and compulsion. It’s one of the most destructive addictions that will surely stop intimacy dead in its tracks – and the first place it will rear its ugly head is in love relationships.

But how do you know if you’re addicted to love?  How do you know you’re actually in an addictive love relationship?

Let’s look at a number of these prominent characteristics related to addictive love as listed by Brenda Schaffer in her powerful book, Signs of Addictive Love.  (We’ve added our own examples, in italics, of how these traits might be interpreted and expressed.)

The person in an addicted relationship:

  • Feels consumed: “I can’t think about anything or anybody else!
  • Can’t define ego boundaries: “I call him 30 times a day!”
  • Exhibits sadomasochism: “Oh, the pain! This must be love!”
  • Fears letting go: “I can never really relax in this relationship. He might leave me…”
  • Fears risk, change, & the unknown: “What if I get hurt? What if things change? What if?”
  • Allows little individual growth: “She doesn’t give me any space!”
  • Lacks true intimacy: “I love him because I need him.”
  • Plays psychological games: “I’ve got it all under control.  I can read her like a book.”
  • Gives in order to get: “If I give her enough stuff, then she’ll give me sex.”
  • Attempts to change the other.  “If he could just get rid of that awful laugh.”
  • Needs other to feel compete: “I could never make a decision without her. She’s my better half.”
  • Seeks solutions outside the self:  “When we’re finally married, I’ll finally be happy.”
  • Demands and expects unconditional love: “You’ll always love me and nobody else, right?”
  • Refuses commitment: A year into the relationship: “I like you, but I don’t know if I love you.”
  • Looks to the other for affirmation and worth: “Ten times/day: “Do you think I’m okay?”
  • Fears abandonment upon routine separation: “Where are you going? Don’t leave me!”
  • Recreates old negative feelings: “You’re just like my ex!  See, I knew I couldn’t trust you!”
  • Desires, yet fears, closeness: “Not tonight, dear, I have a headache… again.”
  • Attempts to take care of other’s feelings: “With me, you’ll never have to worry about anything.”
  • Plays power games: “You’ll never leave me. You know that I’m the brains in this relationship!”


Now, not all of the characteristics listed above necessarily point to the pathology of love addiction. You’ll have to decide how much of a problem this might be for you and what you’re willing to do about it. The point here is that the more you (and your partner) are at least aware of your shadier side, the more your love relationship will have a chance to grow and flourish.


*Any kind of addictiveness is always important stuff to deal with, especially when it comes to any role you might play in an emerging and promising love relationship. To better tackle the challenge of identifying and doing something about these possible addictive elements, please consider the purchase of my latest book, Honeymoon Forever; Secrets to Long-Term Intimacy.

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Secrets to Life-Long Intimacy

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