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Understanding Love and Romance Addiction: What Is an Addictive Relationship?

By Robert Weiss, LCSW, CSAT-S

Addictive relationships are characterized by unhealthy dependency, guilt and abuse. At times despairing of their cycle of unhappy affairs, broken relationships and liaisons, the romance addict may try a “swearing off” period, not unlike the anorexic stage of an eating disorder. They may decide that not being in the game at all will solve the problem, only to later find the same issues reappearing whenever reattempting intimacy.

The love addict’s denial of the problem can be seen in their externalization of the problem, blaming boyfriend after boyfriend for being problematic rather than looking within. Like the alcoholic who offers up stressful jobs or financial problems as justification for their excessive drinking, the love addict’s cycle of dramatic and empty relationships keeps them ever distracted from taking stock of themselves (or potential partners), making it impossible to gain the insight required for change.

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