America’s “instant gratification” culture is a causative factor:
Public awareness of the problem of love addiction has been increasing in recent years. In part, this has been the result of a number of celebrities that have “come out of the closet” about their problems with love addiction. Margaret Cho has stated that her obsessive relations with men are an addiction. On Sex Rehab with Dr. Drew, supermodel Amber Smith admitted to being a love addict. In fact, she has now become a lecturer on love addictions.
While women seem particularly vulnerable to this problem, it also affects men. A number of men have been identified as love addicts as an element of their sexual misbehavior, such as Anthony Wiener, Harvey Weinstein, and others. To some degree, their serial sexual misadventures may be related to their love addiction but lack of success in establishing lasting, meaningful relationship with another person. For example, despite the fact that he was married, Anthony Wiener admitted that he sexted other women because he wanted to feel desired by them. Tiger Woods, for example, did not see himself as love addicted when he had his serial affairs with one-night stands and prostitutes. It can be judged that these men were really looking for love, even if it was only short-term and transitory.
For example, the case of “George,” both successful in business and highly educated, who admitted to being addicted to what he called the emotional effects of being “in love,” the pounding of the heart, the anticipation of seeing the loved one, and the exhilaration. However, in a relatively short period of time, usually about 6 to 9 months, the excitement would wear off, and he lost all interest in continuing the affairs. In “dumping” his ex-loved ones, he created emotional problems both for himself and for the other parties in the affairs. In time, he became aware that this was a repeating pattern. He recognized that the brief periods of pleasure and exhilaration he was getting from the relationships were not authentic emotions, but merely stages in a cycle of fantasies.
After consulting with a psychologist, he was led to recognize that the pattern of his love addiction relationships grew out of a deep sense of loneliness within him that could not be permanently filled by another person in a transitory relationship. A deeply-ingrained sense of social isolation is often at the heart of the love addictive behavior. Those feelings, in turn, are accentuated and elevated by images of couples enjoying themselves and glamorized in television commercials. These images demonstrate to the person with the deep-seated feelings of isolation and loneliness that they are “different,” and, therefore, they “create” love affairs in order to satisfy the longing inside of themselves. The problem is that the relationships are not based on meaningful interests and characteristics, so they don’t last very long. After the break up, which is a problem not only because the other personal may be missed, but, more significantly, because it emphasizes the fact that the love addict is alone again, deepens their feelings of loneliness. To “fix” the problem of their depressed personal feelings, and to become “normal” again, they enter into another relationship just to be in a relationship, not for other more significant reasons, and the cycle begins all over again.
This love addicted behavior is one factor that drives many people to the social networking websites in the hope of finding a lasting relationship there, but these relationships, also, are often transitory, generating more motivations for the vain search for the next relationship to fill the void.
Texting and email may also be may also be used to fill the void between relationships. Whenever an email or text from a potential love interest comes through, that stimulates an injection of adrenaline and dopamine into the brain, producing pleasurable sensations. This is a form of instant gratification which has become a critical element of modern-day life. The postponement of love relationship until the “right person” is found creates tension within the individual;, and the tension needs a release, and the release is the start of a new relationship. The need for instant gratification overrides logic and reason that indicates that, under the right circumstances, time will produce the desired results. But, that requires patience, so it is sacrificed by the need for immediate results. The love addiction substitutes the intensity of emotional extremes for the values of real intimacy between the members of a relationship. Thus, the love addict needs the relationship, but not the partner who is just a tool to create the illusion of a meaningful relationship. These are mechanical ways of relating to other people, not the creation of authentic, reality-based relationships.
Love addiction can be successfully treated by various forms of psychological treatment: Cognitive Behavioral Treatment, Psychodynamic treatment, Dialectical Behavioral treatment, Gestalt Treatment and Psychoanalysis.
Next: Part 3, Positively dealing with problems of love addiction.