Love Addiction consists of three components: Romance, Relationship, and Sexual Addiction.
Love addiction is often perceived to be "less serious" than other process addictions (i.e., compulsive sexual addictions, eating disorders, or self-harm/mutilation addictions). Perhaps because it sounds "softer." In reality, it is extremely painful and can be very dangerous to both the addict and their partners. Many abusive relationships, suicides, murders, stalking, rapes, and other crimes of passion have their roots in this addiction. Our culture has traditionally glorified love addiction with the notion that we fall in love and live "happily ever after." This ignores the groundwork that relationships require.
Many love relationships depicted in the media are really love addicted relationships. (See Romeo and Juliet as an example - not a very happy ending, huh?)
Signs and Characteristics of Love Addiction:
Lack of nurturing and attention when young
Feels isolated or detached unless chaos is present
Compartmentalization of relationships from other areas of life
Outer facade of "having it all together" to hide internal disintegration
Mistakes intensity for intimacy (drama-driven relationships)
Seeks to avoid rejection and abandonment at any cost
Afraid to trust anyone in a relationship
Inner rage over lack of nurturing, early abandonment
Highly manipulative and controlling of others
Perceives attraction, attachment, and sex as basic human needs, on a par with food and water
Sense of worthlessness without a relationship or partner
Feels that a relationship makes one whole, or more of a man or woman
Escalating tolerance for high-risk behavior
Intense need to control self, others, circumstances
Presence of other addictive or compulsive problems
Insatiable appetite in area of difficulty (sex, love, or attachment/need).
Uses others, sex & relationships to alter mood or relieve emotional pain
Continual questioning of values and lifestyle
Driven, desperate, frantic personality
Confusion of sexual attraction with love ("Love" at first sight).
Tendency to trade sexual activity for "love" or attachment
Existence of a secret "double life" or infidelities
Refusal to acknowledge existence of problem
Defining out-of-control behavior as normal
Defining "wants" as "needs"
Tendency to run/leave one relationship for another.
Attempts to replace lost relationships with a new one immediately (inability to be without a relationship.)
Many of these symptoms are also elements of codependency and intimacy dysfunctions resulting from childhood abandonment, emotional, and/or sexual abuse. For this reason treatment and therapy for love addiction often includes trauma recovery work. A love addict can be a victim but also an abuser since this type of behavior can be hurtful, manipulative, controlling, and even rageful.
If the things in the list above sound familiar to you I highly recommend Pia Melody's book "Facing Love Addiction." Love addiction responds to treatment and/or therapy with a practitioner knowledgeable in its effects and origins.
Several treatment centers now offer love addiction treatment. A 12 step program called SLAA (Sex and Love Addicts Anonymous) can also be helpful. Another book to try is John Moore's "Confusing Love with Obsession."