How to Spot a Love Addict
Practice Healthy Texting
Texting can be a potential minefield for love addicts, as there is often room for miscommunication, leading to anxiety and fear. Ms. Cohen said love addicts should refrain from talking about feelings via text with their partner, particularly negative emotions. “This will be good practice for you to regulate your feelings until you can talk in person,” she wrote, “and it may give you the pause you need to get a handle on how to respond without reacting.”
Stop keeping secrets
Many love addicts keep parts of themselves and their lives secret from their partner to provide what Ms. Cohen called an “artificial sense of autonomy” and a means to avoid conflict. Although having privacy is appropriate in a relationship, keeping secrets is not. Love addicts often “lie about their pasts, and try to be someone they think their lover wants them to be,” Ms. Cohen wrote in “Crazy for You.” She advised partners to share honestly with each other, especially about their struggles with sex or love addiction.
Consider no contact
After you have built a support team, you can decide if, when and how you should end a toxic relationship. With your therapist, consider what the “Cambridge Handbook of Substance and Behavioral Addictions” calls “a strict no-contact policy, avoiding any form of communication with the ex-partner that may trigger renewed feelings of craving and retard the healing process.”
Twelve-step programs often advise addicts to remove all reminders of the addiction, including all social media contact, photos, songs or memorabilia. “Somebody is camping in your head, you’ve got to get them out,” said Dr. Fisher.
Try a dating plan
It may be helpful to develop a dating plan with your sponsor or therapist, which can be a useful guide to finding a new, healthy relationship. Start by identifying one action that has brought about negative consequences in your past. Some love addicts may have sex too quickly with a partner and get too attached. In that case, it might be helpful to establish a rule to only have sex after entering a committed relationship.
“Nobody gets out of love alive,” said Dr. Fisher. “People live for love, pine for love, kill for love and they’ll die for a loved one. It’s one of the most powerful brain systems we’ve evolved.””
Whether you harness this energy for a positive or negative romantic experience is up to you.
Kaila Yu is a journalist based in Los Angeles.
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