How to Know if You Struggle with Love Addiction

By Laura K. Connell.

If you struggle with love addiction, you’re familiar with the feeling of intense interest in someone who shows little interest in you. You may skip over the getting-to-know-you phase and propel yourself into a future of undying devotion. 

However, this future exists only in your mind because the object of your desire has shown no sign they feel the same way. These maladaptive and self-sabotaging patterns echo a childhood in which you had to convince yourself your parents cared and would do anything to protect you, even when they demonstrated no such intention. 

Here are five signs you suffer from love addiction; see how many resonate with you.

  1. You are drawn to unavailable people.

These partners might have narcissistic qualities, avoid intimacy, or simply show no interest in a deeper relationship with you. You create a fantasy in your mind because it’s easier than facing the reality that this person is not interested in a real relationship. 

  1. You find nice people boring.

You don’t feel that chemical attraction to people who treat you well. You find a way to sabotage any chance of a relationship with them because they are not creating the chaos you crave. 

This is why we must not mistake that instant chemistry for a green light. In fact, it may be the red flag saying you’re about to enter a danger zone, so beware.

  1. You think if you try hard enough, you’ll win love.

With love addiction, red flags are ignored or excused. You think with enough love and understanding you’ll coax this person into a relationship, even when there is a pattern of evading commitment. 

You approach relationships with the same striving you did with your parents or caregivers—striving that never got your needs met and which will have the same result today. 

  1. You believe a relationship will rescue you.

Even if someone all but ignores you, you believe this person is the one who can solve all your problems. You’re convinced he or she will make your life perfect if only you can uncover the “real” person inside. 

You tell yourself that once that happens, this person will understand you were meant for each other, and you can finally feel complete. If you only need less and give more, he or she will become your savior and fill the empty space inside.

  1. You re-create past trauma.

With love addiction, you’re attracted to partners who make you feel the same way your parents or caregivers did. You reenact this need to win their love by becoming clingy and frantic for their attention. 

This activates the person’s fear of intimacy, and they pull away, which only makes you work harder to win their affection. The feeling of longing for someone who appears distant or as though he cares much less about you is compelling because it’s familiar. 

It triggers the same false promise it did with your mom or dad (or another caregiver): if I only try hard enough, this person will love me; if I can only be perfect, this person will finally see I’m worthwhile. 

How to Recover from Love Addiction:

Take Time Alone for Self-Care

Love addiction often means going from one relationship to another without taking a break to focus on your own needs or process what happened. Consider some time off from dating to date yourself for a while.

Just as we need self-connection before we can connect with others, self-fulfillment comes from within, rather than as a product of what others give us.

See Dating as Information-Gathering

If you struggle with love addiction, you may treat dating as a one-sided test where you prove your worthiness as a romantic partner. Begin to see dating instead as an information-gathering exercise. 

Listen to what the other person is telling you without sugar-coating it or telling yourself it means something different. In addition, pay attention to their actions which speak more loudly than words.

Laura K. Connell is a trauma-informed author & coach who helps her clients recover from the devastating impact of dysfunctional family trauma. Take the Dysfunctional Family Roles quiz here:

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