The Meadows Logo

FE9D29B3-F346-4682-8D3C-A2B9B0FB6D7D Created with sketchtool.

Love Addiction

From intense entanglements to avoiding connection

What Is Love Addiction?

When Robert Palmer sang about being “addicted to love” in the ’80s, the imagery of the lyrics made it almost sound romantic. Almost. In truth, there’s nothing glamorous about a condition that’s painful, compulsive, and often the result of past trauma, low self-worth, or childhood issues.

The Meadows Senior Fellow Pia Mellody, the author of Facing Love Addiction, coined the terms “love addict” and “love avoidant” and detected the cyclic dance between the two. These conditions are considered attachment disorders that are born out of childhood pain. Unintentionally, love addicts and love avoidants attract one another like magnets.

Love addicts tend to get involved in romantic relationships that are brief and intense. They also tend to prioritize and put a lot of effort into pursuing relationships, wondering when the next dream guy or girl will materialize. Or in some cases the opposite is true: they devote a lot of attention to avoiding any chance of connection altogether.

Love avoidants have a disproportionate amount of fear of intimacy—anticipating being drained because their parent(s) were somehow depleting. They may have acted as their parent’s caregiver, confidant, or the object of their obsession or anger. Love avoidants often develop sophisticated distancing techniques. 

At The Meadows, we are able to address these issues during treatment through our gender-specific programs: Willow House and Gentle Path.

Love addiction

Negative Effects of Love Addiction

Expecting another human being to fill a deep void in someone’s life or help them recover from a childhood trauma is dangerous. It’s also a flawed place from which to derive self-worth. If someone has endured childhood sexual assault, the inability to trust another human being is understandable. But when someone seeks to rewrite history with an unhealthy relationship or by abstaining from relationships altogether, neither is a healthy course of action.

Like any other addiction, love addicts are largely in denial about their behavior or its repercussions. It may lead to emotional isolation, trouble at work or school, financial challenges, declining physical and/or emotional health, and a loss of interest in hobbies or socializing with friends, but they don’t see it.

And rather than recognizing they may be the common denominator in their failed relationships, love addicts tend to place blame on anyone they become involved with or close to. Addressing problematic behavior and the underlying causes is an important step. But unchecked, the love addict will keep trying to make it work with someone new — or just check out of meaningful relationships altogether.

Love addicts tend to get involved in romantic relationships that are brief and intense. They also tend to prioritize and put a lot of effort into pursuing relationships, or in some cases, devote a lot of attention to avoiding any chance of connection altogether.

Love Addiction by the Numbers

  • Girls and young women between the ages of 16 and 24 experience the highest rate of intimate partner violence — almost triple the national average. Among female victims of intimate partner violence, 94% of those age 16-19 and 70% of those age 20-24 were victimized by a current or former boyfriend or girlfriend.
  • Nearly half of all women and men in the United States have experienced psychological aggression by an intimate partner in their lifetime (48.4% and 48.8% respectively).
  • Repeatedly receiving unwanted telephone calls, voice, or text messages was the most commonly experienced stalking tactic for both female and male victims of stalking (78.8% for women and 75.9% for men).

What Are the Symptoms of Love Addiction?

Some of the symptoms of love addiction include:

  • An unrealistic, Hallmark movie view of love where romantic intensity, meet-cutes, a feeling he or she is “the one” is mistaken for love and lasting intimacy
  • Feeling desperate, worthless, or alone when not in a relationship
  • Seeking a new relationship while still in a relationship
  • Using sex as a way to get someone interested
  • Leaving a relationship once the sexual intensity and newness fades
  • Pretending to be interested in activities that aren’t enjoyable as a way to keep a partner or meet someone new
  • Relying on romantic intensity as a way to escape from stress and other types of emotional discomfort
  • Trusting someone too much or too little
  • Sacrificing your values or standards to be with someone

Reach Out for Help

If you or someone you love is struggling with love addiction, we’re here for you. Instead of a quick fix, our compassionate team of experts at The Meadows is waiting to help you begin your journey toward long-term recovery that focuses on the whole person by addressing any underlying mental health conditions or trauma that may be perpetuating love addiction.

Schedule a Call

Break the Cycle

At The Meadows, we understand the seriousness of addiction, trauma, and co-occurring mental health issues. In a safe and nurturing community of their peers, individuals are guided on a personal journey of recovery by examining the underlying causes of their disorders and given the tools they need to find healing.

Schedule a Call


Our Admissions team is here to help 24 hours a day and is experienced in assisting others with compassion, dignity, and respect — hallmark values of The Meadows for more than 45 years. The Meadows’ Admissions Specialists are here to help you on your way to a healthier and more productive lifestyle. When you call, they will lead you through a series of questions to determine if The Meadows is a good fit, and how soon your treatment can begin. If you are interested in The Meadows for yourself or a loved one, call or fill out an admissions form today!

If you are interested in The Meadows for yourself or a loved one call or fill out an admissions form today!

Contact our Admissions office

Phone Icon  928-260-3568

For international callers

Phone Icon  928-668-1999

Or complete an admissions contact form:

Click below to start the admissions process today

Admissions Form