Compulsiveness: Addicted to Love
Being in love can produce a sense of ecstasy, euphoria, and a feeling of well-being, much like a powerful drug. In fact, when a person is in love, his or her body releases the drug phenylethylamine, which produces these feelings (Sabelli et al., 1996). (Phenylethylamine
is also present in chocolate, which may be why we love it so much, especially during a breakup!) Some people do move from relationship to relationship as if they were love – addicted, trying to continually recreate that feeling, or else they obsessively hang on to a love partner long after his or her interest has waned. (See Lee’s description of mania in the Colors of Love, page 183.)
Love addiction is reinforced by the popular media’s portrayals (even as far back as Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet) of passionate love as all-consuming. It fosters the belief that only one person is fated to be your “true love,” that love is always mutual, and that you’ll live “happily ever after.” Some people feel the need to be in love because society teaches that only then are they really whole, happy, and fulfilled in their role as a woman or a man. Yet love based solely on need can never be truly fulfilling. In Peele & Brodsky’s (1991) book Love and Addiction, they argue that love addiction is more common than most believe, and that it is based on a continuation of an adolescent view of love that is never replaced as the person matures. Counseling or psychotherapy may help the person come to terms with his or her need to constantly be in love relationships.