Dr. Jed Diamond offers 21 ways to differentiate between love and love addiction.
When I was young I spent many hours at the movies longing for the kind of love I saw on the screen—love that was big, passionate, and everlasting. I wanted Splendor in the Grass and believed that Love Was a Many Splendored Thing. But as I got older and got married, became a therapist, and began working with men, women, and families, my views began to change. I found there was a difference between “love” and “love addiction.”
Most people associate addiction with things like alcohol, cocaine, or opiate drugs. But I’ve found that we can become addicted to behaviors as well as drugs. Addiction expert, Dr. Stanton Peele says,
“Many of us are addicts, only we don’t know it. We turn to each other out of the same needs that drive some people to drink and others to heroin. Interpersonal addiction—love addiction—is just about the most common yet least recognized form of addiction we know.”
Healthy love is wonderful and makes life worthwhile. On the other hand, “love addiction” can cause pain, suffering, and even death. People who become addicted are more likely to engage in practices that might result in HIV infection and most “love” addicts become depressed. Knowing the difference between love and “love addiction” can be life-saving. In sorting out my own love life and working with clients over the last 40 years, I have come to understand the following distinctions which I describe in my book, Looking for Love in All the Wrong Places: Overcoming Romantic and Sexual Addictions.
1. Healthy Love develops after we feel secure.
Addictive Love tries to create love even though we feel frightened and insecure.
2. Healthy Love comes from feeling full. We overflow with love.
Addictive Love is always trying to fill an inner void.
3. Healthy Love begins with self-love.
Addictive Love always seeks love “out there” from that “special someone.”
4. Healthy Love comes to us once we’ve given up the search.
Addictive Love is compulsively sought after.
5. Healthy Love comes from inside. It wants to give.
Addictive Love comes from outside. It wants to take.
6. Healthy Love grows slowly, like a tree.
Addictive Love grows fast, as if by magic, like those children’s animals that expand instantly when we add water.
7. Healthy Love thrives on time alone as well as time with our partner.
Addictive Love is frightened of being alone and afraid of being close.
8. Healthy Love is unique. There is no “ideal lover” that we seek.
Addictive Love is stereotyped. There is always a certain type that attracts us.
9. Healthy Love is gentle and comfortable.
Addictive Love is tense and combative.
10. Healthy Love is based on a deep knowing of ourselves and our lover.
Addictive Love is based on hiding from ourselves and falling in love with an ideal “image,” not a real person.
11. Healthy Love encourages us to be ourselves, to be honest from the beginning with who we are, including our faults.
Addictive Love encourages secrets. We want to look good and put on an attractive mask.
12. Healthy Love flows out.
Addictive Love caves in.
13. Healthy Love creates a deeper sense of ourselves the longer we are together.
Addictive Love creates a loss of self the longer we are together.
14. Healthy Love gets easier as time goes on.
Addictive Love requires more effort as time goes on.
15. Healthy Love is like rowing across a gentle lake.
Addictive Love is like being swept away down a raging river.
16. Healthy Love grows stronger as fear decreases.
Addictive Love expands as fear increases.
17. Healthy Love is satisfied with what we have.
Addictive Love is always looking for “more, bigger, better.”
18. Healthy Love encourages interests to expand in the world.
Addictive Love encourages outside interests to contract.
19. Healthy Love is based on the belief that we want to be together.
Addictive Love is based on the belief that we have to be together.
20. Healthy Love teaches that we can only make ourselves happy.
Addictive Love expects the other person to make us happy and demands that we make our partner happy.
21. Healthy Love creates life.
Addictive Love creates melodramas.
Also by Jed Diamond
|The 5 Most Important Things That Make A Man Feel Loved.||The 5 Stages of Love: Why Too Many Stop at Stage 3.||The 6 Most Romantic Words a Man Can Say to a Woman.||How to Find (and Keep) the Love of Your Life|
–Photo: Gregory Jordan/Flickr