Psychic Luna shares her wisdom on how to break out of the cycle of love addiction.
While love addiction or limerence is a topic that is not as widely researched as substance addiction, it is important to recognize that it frequently affects many individuals of all genders and sexualities. Despite the addiction concerning an altruistic topic such as love, the effects can be mentally debilitating for anyone suffering. Limerence is popularly understood as the feeling of being “madly in love” despite it not requiring that there be consistent reciprocity.
Limerence is characterized by euphoric highs, obsessive thinking, and episodes of despair and longing. Because limerence does not require that individuals be in love or committed to one another to occur, limerence is first and foremost a mental state. In fact, individuals can develop limerence for another person that they have only briefly or never even met. This is what distinguishes limerence from love, which is an act and an action, not simply a thought or daydream. Limerence can last anywhere from three weeks to five years and is sustained through a combination of both hope and uncertainty. In limerence, individuals have enduring hope that they will achieve their ultimate goal of having their feelings reciprocated. This hope is coupled with an enduring uncertainty, given the desired love often displays inconsistent reactions and responses.
While we may be inclined to consider substance addiction a more severe reality, the felt experience of love addiction is neurochemically similar to the neurochemistry of an individual suffering from substance addiction. In both instances, the brain produces an elevation of the neurochemical dopamine and a decrease of the neurochemical serotonin. This combination of neurochemical reactions leaves individuals feeling the dissimilar emotions of euphoria and despair, ultimately driving them to seek out attention from their desired love in an effort to sustain the euphoria and quell the despair.
In order to soothe the experience of limerence, individuals often have the impulse to actionably indulge their fantasy and seek out the person they desire, but this attempt only increases the severity of limerence as it is often met with a lack of enthusiastic reciprocity. Rather than inflating the intensity of limerence, individuals can engage healthy ways to decrease their intrusive and obsessive desires. You can soothe the discomforting mental anguish of love addiction in a few key ways that not only regulate your nervous system from the limerent reaction, but also bring you an overall feeling of peace and stability.
The first step in soothing your love addiction is to acknowledge its existence and then reframe its value. Remind yourself that there is nothing inherently wrong with you—you are simply experiencing a neurochemical reaction that is driving you to addiction and obsessive action. Knowing this can support you in stopping your decisions post recognition. Meaning, instead of reaching out to your desired love, you can instead reach out to a friend. Other tips for soothing love addiction include meditation, getting out of the house, engaging cognitive behavioral practices like pros and cons lists and saying positive affirmations to yourself. For more details on how to engage these practices and a step-by-step guide to reframing your love addiction, be sure to check out the accompanying podcast episode.
If you feel you are someone who suffers from limerence or love addiction, know that you are not alone. Remind yourself that you are valuable and do not have to endure the despair of being dismissed and unrecognized. You deserve love, attention, care and connection and you can receive this in healthy ways that don’t feel obsessive or addictive in nature.