How To Recognize and Overcome 'Love Addictions'

Life & Love | Gerren Keith Gaynor | 01/23/2014 | 11:00 AM EST

There’s a fine line between love and addiction...which side are you on?

This week’s episode of Being Mary Jane (starring Gabrielle Union) was steamy and scandalous to say the least. The focus of the show, however, centered on the theme of addictions. While her brother struggled with his addiction to cocaine, Mary Jane’s addiction is to a married man (the major plot of the show). Many viewers are still on the fence as to whether they want to sympathize with Union's character or judge her for her obvious desperation.


While her sexcapade makes for great television, did you ever wonder if such a love addiction can happen in real life?


Believe it or not, love addictions are real and occur more often than we think and they can be psychologically and emotionally damaging. Celebrity relationship therapist Vladimire Calixte - who appeared on the reality show Starter Wives Confidential - tells Centric that love addictions are generally defined as an attraction (or what one thinks is love) to someone who won’t or can’t reciprocate those same feelings.


“They get a high from these type of relationships. It’s a real high, as though it is a drug or alcohol addiction,” Calixte says.


Typically, Calixte says, one who’s experiencing a love addiction is enthralled with someone who will more than likely turn away - hence, sleeping with a married man. But love addictions don’t have to be so extreme. Other love addicts are obsessed with a partner because they’re more so in love with the idea of being in love.


Like any other addiction, there are signs you can recognize if you or someone you know has a love addiction.” These are the people you will find are overly possessive, overly jealous and you’ll find that they’ve neglected their family and friends, they’ll meet someone in two months and you won’t hear from them,” Calixte says. They’re always smothering someone and they fall in love so quickly and very easily. And when they do fall in love they can’t stop fantasizing.”


The source of most love addictions, she says, are rooted in one’s past baggage. Whether it be sexual abuse or one’s family dynamic, people often bring their past into their present relationships in very unhealthy ways. “Whether you’re married or in a relationship, we all bring something from our past in our relationships, whether it’s our wounds, our anxieties, our vulnerabilities, our hurts.”


It’s important to really examine your romantic relationship to ensure that you’re not engaging in a love addiction. If you, however, find that you may be caught up in a love addiction, there are steps you should take to remedy the issue. For one, Calixte says, you need to acknowledge that you have a problem. The next thing one should do is seek professional help. “It’s important to engage in therapy and to try to really get the person to become aware and have some insight to really distinguish between reality and  fantasy,” she says.


Everyone wants to be loved, but at what cost? Is love worth your sanity or your integrity? While healthy relationships can be great for the soul, unhealthy and toxic relationships cause more harm than good. If you or someone you know are showing signs of love addiction, disengage and walk away. It’s in everyone’s best interest.

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