Relationship Addiction

Relationship addiction, or love addiction, is also known as codependency. In 1988, psychiatrist Timmen Cermak suggested that codependency be classified as a mental illness, requiring psychotherapy and treatment interventions.

What Is Relationship Addiction?

Relationship addiction, or love addiction, is characterized by compulsive patterns of negative behavior that arise in romantic, sexual, and personal relationships. Such addictive relationships—including being addicted to someone in particular or addicted to relationships in general—can result in harmful consequences. Moreover, these consequences can impact both the addicted individual and the other people involved.

Relationship addiction and codependency are typically rooted in early life experiences. Specifically, key factors that contribute to love addiction are childhood neglect and trauma, combined with physical, emotional, and/or sexual abuse. Moreover, insecure attachments in childhood can ignite love addiction and codependency in teens and adults. Relationship addiction also can impact brain chemistry. As with drug addiction, codependency and love addiction have been shown to trigger pleasure chemicals in the brain, including dopamine and serotonin.

Love addiction treatment includes learning how to build healthy relationships, set appropriate boundaries, and achieve genuine intimacy. Therefore, people suffering from relationship addiction can move beyond their painful obsession with romance and fantasy by learning how to make authentic human connections.

Sources: Mental Health AmericaUniversity of Illinois Counseling CenterPsych CentralHealthPsychology.org

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