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Is It Real Love Or An Addiction?

I am often asked if I can explain the difference between love and a love addiction.

What this question is really asking for is the answer to “Am I normal or do I have a problem?”

My career’s work has been focused on helping men and women who are lost, confused, and in a place of pain and disappointment with themselves and their relationships. As I work with someone, I guide him or her through a personal healing process to discover what false beliefs and dysfunctional patterns they have that are causing their unhappiness.

In most cases when we are talking about romantic relationships, there is a conscious or unconscious belief that if the person finds and keeps the right one, they will be fulfilled and happy.

This false belief drives the person to look for a love interest for all the wrong reasons. If this continues it can turn into what is called a “love addiction.”

According to the American Society of Addiction Medicine, “Addiction is a primary, chronic disease of brain reward, motivation, memory and related circuitry. Dysfunction in these circuits leads to characteristic biological, psychological, social and spiritual manifestations. This is reflected in an individual pathologically pursuing reward and/or relief by substance use and other behaviors.”

To translate that into layman’s terms an addiction is a compulsive and chronic pattern of using a substance or behavior for soothing, comforting and/or arousal as a means of medicating uncomfortable feelings.

The reason this becomes confusing for many is that as humans we instinctively seek connection, especially romantic ones. From an evolutionary standpoint this is absolutely necessary for the continuation of the species. From a psychological standpoint we are created to be in union with one another and not isolated.

To make things clearer, when someone has a love addiction, they compulsively and chronically crave and/or pursue a romantic love in an effort to attain a sense of security and worth from another person.

The causes of love addiction often stem from childhood.

Many times, the person experienced inadequate or inconsistent nurturing, care, and love from their parents, which produced a  low self-esteem. In addition, there is usually not a positive role model present of a healthy love and commitment. Finally, there is frequently a naïve buying into the perfect happily-ever-after stories portrayed in songs, books, and movies.

The bottom line is that anytime a person is searching outside themselves for their worth and value they will end up hurt, disappointed and feeling empty. The fact is to have true love one must start with loving him or herself.

Read more posts by Bree Maresca-Kramer, M.A. here. Bree is a blogger for JenningsWire.