When people say lock “have one addiction,” they’re often talking about an too much fondness because that something. Sure, you could really love snowboarding, listening come podcasts, or city hall cat videos. Yet generally speaking, these aren’t actual addictions.

Addiction is a serious problem that affects the brain. True addiction provides it complicated to think about anything else. You’re compelled to store seeking that point out, even when your require negatively affects friend or her loved ones.

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This description can do it simple to translate certain relationship behaviors into a “relationship addiction.”

These actions might include:

feeling incomplete there is no a partnerconstantly talking about falling in lovehaving an ext interest in gift in love than in maintain a healthy and balanced relationship

But can you actually be addicted to love? the complicated.


Addiction commonly refers to alcohol or substance dependency, however experts significantly support the existence of behavioral addictions. These incorporate addictions come things prefer gambling and shopping. Partnership addiction, part argue, might fit right into this category.

But it’s not that simple.

According come Vicki Botnick, a marriage and also family therapist in Tarzana, California, “using the term addiction to talk around love and sex is controversial.” Love and sex space both a natural part of person life, unlike, say, substance use or gambling.

The absence of diagnostic criteria additionally complicates things. “Are girlfriend an addict when you run from partnership to relationship? What walk ‘loving as well much’ in reality mean?” she asks.

In other words, simply moving from relationship to relationship or wanting to have actually multiple relationship at the exact same time doesn’t typical you’re “addicted.” neither does fall in love quickly, wanting to discover a new partner automatically after a breakup, or enjoying exactly how it feels to have actually a relationship.

Still, Botnick acknowledges that, “as with any type of condition, it’s worrying when someone’s thoughts and behavior cause significant, recurring distress.”


A couple of recent studies have actually explored how attributes of addiction can display up in the advancement of romantic relationships.

A 2016 study explains romantic love as a organic addiction. Civilization in love frequently experience euphoria, cravings, dependency, withdrawal, and other behaviors connected with addiction. This happens, researcher explain, since the dopamine reward system in your mind is triggered by romantic love, simply as it’s activated by substances and also addictive behaviors. However, the authors do the distinction that romantic love isn’t identified as a behavioral or chemistry addiction.

A 2018 review and case study echoed the link in between love and also dopamine. However, the authors provided that the cravings and longing often tend to mellow end time right into a an ext stable, lasting love. That is, when the love is mutual. One-sided or unrequited love can feel much more addictive.

The addictive characteristics of love can additionally come right into play throughout a breakup. A 2010 examine examined brain activity in 15 world who had recently experienced partnership rejection. Follow to the study, similar areas of the mind activated by cocaine cravings were additionally activated after ~ rejection.


As through other varieties of addiction, addiction-like behaviors about relationships result from a facility interaction of factors. This include mind chemistry, genetics, upbringing, and the relationship you see about you.

Others argue the love is simply an evolutionary survive response.

Botnick additionally points to low self-esteem as a vital contributor. “When us don’t know just how to gain positive feedback from inside ourselves, we require it from exterior sources. Fall in love, or just acquiring interest native potential partners, can end up being a technique we rely on.”

She additionally adds that attachment worries can fuel this pattern.


Although partnership addiction isn’t recognized as an official diagnosis, mental health experts and also existing research normally agree top top a few key indications that suggest reason for concern.

You have to keep fallout’s in love

Experts connect the euphoric high (activated by the release of dopamine and also other “happy” hormones) it is so usual in the early on stages of love to addictive connection behaviors. For this reason it adheres to that someone enduring this pattern would crave that emotion again and also again.

“You could find yourself in a revolving door that relationships, v no down time in between,” describes Melissa Stringer, a marriage and also family therapist in Sunnyvale, Texas.

You desire the excitement of beforehand love, however you don’t want to stick roughly for a relationship. This have the right to hurt both you and also your romantic partners end time, especially when friend don’t connect (or realize) your relationship goals.

You proceed “craving” someone who doesn’t feel the very same way

“With every addictions or comfort-seeking behaviors, one obsessive kind of focus can start to take it over,” Stringer says.

Maybe you struggle to let walk of a relationship after that ends. Or you could fixate on the human being you love, also if castle no longer return her feelings. Even after lock ask because that space, you might feel compelled to keep seeing them, do the efforts to to convince them to provide the relationship another chance.

This overwhelming need for your companion can also happen within a relationship when you crave their company so lot you ignore work, school, and other crucial parts of your life in order to spend time together.

You idealize the idea the love

According to Botnick, unrealistic cultural ideas around love can play a part.

“From fairy story to lifetime movies to on facebook feeds, we’re bombarded with pictures of ‘perfect’ partners and love the ‘completes’ us,” she says.

With these ideals in mind, you can feel like you have to keep searching for that soulmate, that perfect love, there is no considering the an extremely real work-related that goes into making a relationship strong and successful.

You don’t care who friend date, as long as you in a relationship

Many people who struggle with compulsive relationship habits need others to develop up their self-worth. If you discover it tough to love yourself or do yourself happy, you might look because that someone to fulfill that need.

This consuming require for a relationship can make it simpler to finish up with someone who isn’t the best match. It can even have actually a harmful influence if you continue to be in one abusive or toxic relationship to stop being single.

Your relationships follow a similar pattern

Relationship addiction can involve a many breaking up and also getting earlier together.

“The beginning of a connection releases endorphins and also dopamine, which feel wonderful, when breakups have the right to spike a deep depression. People with specific personality varieties may feeling attracted to this roller coaster and also have a difficult time emotion alive there is no it,” Botnick explains.

Stringer increases on this, suggesting that the passionate of believing you’ve found “the one” and also depression when the short-lived relationship ends can kind a cycle. This cycle have the right to lead come impulsive decision and affect your capability to role as you generally would.


If you’re working to resolve compulsive love or relationship behaviors, awareness of how these behaviors affect you is an essential first step.

But, Stringer emphasizes, awareness commonly isn’t enough. “Learning brand-new skills and tools because that coping room both essential parts of actions change,” she explains.

These tips can help you start creating the change.

Try a fact check

If you have tendency to idealize love, try looking at your relationships v a more realistic lens.

Love have the right to be great, it’s true. A committed companion can administer emotional support, a sense of connection and belonging, and assist meet various other needs. However a partner can’t fulfill all of your needs.

Thriving relationships are interdependent. That way you have actually an created self-identity and also don’t lose the in the relationship. You have the right to work to gain your own requirements met but likewise know when to look to your partner for assist and support.

Remember that healthy relationships take it work. In the beginning, points usually it seems ~ easy: friend have good chemistry, re-superstructure interests, and also never argue. But over time, together you get more comfortable, your distinctions might start to stand out.

This doesn’t typical the relationship has actually failed. It just way you have to work together to learn more about each other and find a center ground.

Take a rest from relationships

When problematic patterns arise in your relationships, it’s valuable to step ago and consider why the exact same things save happening.

Dissatisfaction often method you aren’t acquiring what you need. However maybe you aren’t exactly sure what you require or want. Or perhaps you’re trying to find something you’re i can not qualify to discover (like romanticized love that mainly only exist in the media).

Remember, forming and quickly finishing relationships no just influence you. It have the right to also influence the partner you leave behind.

If friend don’t want to continue a relationship, you have to never feeling compelled or obligated to carry out so. However, you fan it to potential partner (and yourself) come be together honest and clear around your intentions together possible, if you want to avoid resulting in harm.

Spending time v friends and family can aid you prioritize other strong relationships. The bonds you have with other loved people can meet other necessary social link needs besides romance.

Practice loving yourself

Self-love is tied to self-esteem, and also a absence of either can add to partnership dependency and addiction-like behaviors.

Working to construct up self-esteem top top your very own isn’t always easy, but Botnick suggests:

Asking yourself if you have realistic requirements for yourself. If not, try to identify much more moderate, achievable goals. Unrealistic goals deserve to lead to self-criticism and self-blame as soon as you fail to attain them. Identifying an unfavorable self-talk. If you find yourself reasoning something like, “I’ll never have actually the love ns want,” try replacing it through something much more realistic such as, “Exploring what I desire from a partnership can help me uncover what i’m looking for.”

Positive self-talk can also help you feel much better about yourself and lead to stronger relationships.


Addictive behaviors approximately love, sex, and relationships have the right to be hard to overcome on your own.

According to Stringer, a number of factors can impact your success in relocating past these habits without experienced help. “When unresolved trauma drives this behaviors,” she says, “chances are lower you’ll simply have the ability to stop them.”

If you’re having actually difficulty, a therapist can help. Therapy is always recommended at any time relationship actions cause girlfriend (or anyone) distress.

It’s finest to talk to who sooner quite than later if you:

depend completely on her partnerbelieve her life lacks meaning without a relationshipfeel unable to leaving a toxic relationshipcan’t stop calling or texting a love attention or past companion who’s request you not to call them

A therapist can work v you to recognize and address thought fads or underlying concerns contributing to these feelings and behaviors.

Therapy can also help you construct stronger relationships. If your craving for the euphoric “high” of brand-new love is maintaining you native the irreversible relationship you in reality desire, a therapist can help you come up v a productive arrangement for creating the sort of love she seeking.


Some specialists suggest we’re every addicted come love. After all, we need to attach with others to continue our existence, therefore we want — even crave — this bonds transparent our lives.

The require for love or a connection doesn’t impact everyone negatively. It’s completely normal and healthy to desire a relationship, and if your search for love doesn’t damage you or everyone else, you most likely don’t have to worry.

But if you feeling dependent ~ above relationships, or if your connection patterns or behaviors concern you in other ways, a therapist have the right to offer assistance without judgment.

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Crystal Raypole has previously operated as a writer and editor for GoodTherapy. Her areas of attention include eastern languages and also literature, Japanese translation, cooking, natural sciences, sex positivity, and mental health. In particular, she’s committed to helping decrease stigma approximately mental health issues.


last medically the review on January 23, 2020


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Medically the evaluation by Jennifer Litner, LMFT, CST — composed by decision Raypole on January 23, 2020

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