Five signs you're addicted to love and why it could be dangerous

WHEN it comes to addiction, most people think of drugs, alcohol or gambling, but being addicted to toxic love can be the most dangerous of all.

“Coming off a narcissistic, abusive relationship is a harder addiction to come off than heroin – and that’s coming from an ex heroin addict,” says Emma Davey, narcissistic abuse expert and founder of My Trauma Therapy.

“In the end, when people are ending their life, self-harming or drinking to escape, it’s because they’ve given every single part of themselves [to the abuser] that they have nothing left to give.”

Recognising the signs of this deadly yet poorly-understood addiction can help to keep yourself safe and get the help you need.

You always go for the same type

We’re not talking ‘tall, dark and handsome’, this is about repeatedly attracting partners with emotionally abusive personality types.

Emma says: “If you don’t heal from a toxic relationship, you’re very likely to go back into another one because that behaviour – the huge highs and horrific lows – has become normal for you.”

The excitement you feel creates an addictive cycle and with each repeat, a toxic love addict will forget all the negatives in their relationship because they’re chasing the next high.

Emma explains: “When you’re getting the extreme love, the attention and affection, chemicals are released into the body, the brain and the cells just like drugs and alcohol which gives you that high. Your feeling is as if you’ve just done a line of cocaine – that’s where the body and brain is at.

“Then when the abuser takes that love away from you, they discard you and ignore you, they withhold sex with no explanation, your body is craving that chemical again. So you are now in a cycle of abuse: Idolise, devalue, discard.”

Someone addicted to toxic love will repeat this pattern in multiple relationships.

You ignore red flags

Jealousy, name calling and lying are just a few red flags that could mean you’re dating an emotional abuser.

But a person with an unhealthy love addiction will ignore these signs and continue with the relationship.

Emma says: “You see them, they’re waving in your face, but because you’re so wanting that love, you’re prepared to ignore them and you excuse their toxic behaviour.”

You can’t imagine your life without them

Struggling to imagine your life without your other half is perfectly normal in a loving relationship, but feeling like you can’t live without them or that you don’t know who you are without them can be a sign of something darker.

Emma warns that the abuser in a toxic relationship will mould their victim into who they want them to be, destroying a love addict’s identity and leaving them feeling as though they have nothing without their partner.

She says: “You become so dependent on that love and that happiness that they give you – but that they also take away from you whenever they feel like it.”

You keep going back

A toxic love addict will keep going back to their emotionally abusive partner, no matter how many times they’re burnt in the relationship.

Emma warns: “Every time you go back to an abuser, you are saying to them: I care more about you than I do myself.

“And the abuser’s thinking: I can do whatever I like to this person because they’ll always come back.”

You lack self-worth

Remaining in a toxic relationship will ultimately destroy a victim’s self-worth and is another sign of unhealthy love addiction.

People who lack self-worth have difficulty speaking up and prioritising their own needs or feelings, constantly apologise for everyday actions, having difficulty making their own choices and often do not feel deserving or capable of having ‘more’.

Emma says: “If you don’t value yourself enough to have strong boundaries and say, ‘I am not accepting this behaviour’, then you will be really taken advantage of.”

What to do next

If any of these signs apply to you, you could have an unhealthy relationship with love.

Emma advises educating yourself on love addiction because, as with any addiction, the first step is to identify and admit it.

Once you recognise the problem, you can get specific help for the addiction of love from a therapist who specialises in this area.
To explore Emma’s resources and therapy options, visit My Trauma Therapy.

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