Can you be addicted to a person? These tips for getting over “love addiction” are inspired by a reader who is struggling to heal after a breakup.
“I just broke up with my boyfriend after a year,” says Jessica on How to Let Go of Someone You Love. “My heart is torn, I feel like my world has ended. I just want one thing, to see him, to hear his voice. I feel like I’m addicted to my boyfriend. But he doesn’t respond my phone calls or emails, which adds to my pain. My pain doesn’t end, the sorrow doesn’t leave me alone. I’d rather die and not to see these moments. I can’t sleep, eat, or talk to anyone anymore. I blame myself for what happened and I can’t forgive myself…what should I do? Is there such a thing as addiction to a person?”
Some psychologists say yes, you can be addicted to a person and some say no. What really matters is that when you feel like you’re addicted to a person, you feel powerless, helpless, and heartbroken. Here, you’ll learn four ways to break from from your feelings of being addicted to your ex-boyfriend, ex-husband, or any other person in your life.
Love addiction is a desperate need to be with a person. It’s a need that overwhelms everything else. Love addiction is similar to drug dependence because it involves stronger and stronger cravings, and brings withdrawal symptoms when the lover is gone. Addictive relationships are complicated because the source of the addiction (your ex) is often caught up in his own cycle of addiction and dependency.
But, the cycle of addiction can be broken. If you’re not sure what it means to be addicted to a person, read How to Recover From Love Addiction.
4 Ways to Break Free When You’re Addicted to a Person
The first step is figuring out if you’re addicted to love or just sad about the breakup. Learning about addictive relationships will help you figure out if you’re addicted to love or “just” heartbroken.
One sign of an addictive relationship is the need to be in a relationship regardless of how he treats you. Love addicts are afraid to be alone, feel like they can’t let go of even the most destructive relationships, and feel magnetically drawn to their exes. Since heartbroken people who aren’t addicted can experience the same feelings, it can be difficult to recognize the difference between addiction and a broken heart.
Understand your own story
Why are you addicted to love, or to certain people? Put your ex aside for a moment…what in you is drawn to addictive love? Why do you need to be in a relationship at all costs? How have your past experiences affected how you view love? Figuring out your story means understanding your feelings and your life, and looking for insight and reasons for what you do.
One helpful way to understand your story is to talk to a counselor (especially one with experience in love addiction). And again, read a book! Information and education is powerful – and there are heaps of help and insight in books. Find books that empower and inform, such as Facing Love Addiction: Giving Yourself the Power to Change the Way You Love (can you tell how much I love books, and how important I think they are for breaking an addiction to a person?!).
Reach for a higher power
Even if you don’t believe in God or a Higher Power, now is the time to deepen your spiritual relationship. Have you tried meditation or prayer? A strong sense of spirituality will connect you to a greater purpose and power, which can comfort and guide you when you have no energy to get dressed, go to work, and face the day. Both meditation and prayer have been found to reduce stress, increase feelings of well-being, offer deep relaxation, reduce depression, and increase self-confidence and self-love.
You don’t have to be religious or even spiritual to benefit from meditation; connecting to a higher power such as God, the Universe, or Allah can help you when you’re addicted to a person.
Use your positive emotions to create strength
“Making use of positive emotions can help you to cope better with life in general,” writes Susan Nolen-Hoeksema, Ph.D. in Women Who Think Too Much: How to Break Free of Overthinking and Reclaim Your Life. She cites research that shows that deliberately looking for ways to infuse stressful situations or negative moods with momentary positive emotions can increase happiness, improve health, and help you feel better about your life.
When you’re battling those feelings of addiction to your ex, find something blissful to do. Watch a movie you love (“Chicago and “Charlie’s Angels” both make me feel strong, powerful, happy, and inspired!), go to a dog park, call someone you love, or even just think of a funny memory. You know what makes you happy…so go do it!
Learn how to empower yourself
You can’t change how you feel or what happened between you and your ex, but you can control what you focus on. You can control what you do, what you talk about, and what you think about. Instead of obsessing about your ex, what happened during your relationship, why you broke up, and how you feel, focus on other aspects of your life.
Think about where you want your life to go. Where do you want to be in one year, or five years? What are your career goals, your life plans? This is the time to take a step back from your current path and look at your life in a whole new way. This is an opportunity to change your life for the better.
Help Overcoming “Addiction to Love”
One of the first things to do is equip yourself with knowledge. Books like Addiction to Love: Overcoming Obsession and Dependency in Relationships and How to Break Your Addiction to a Person are great ways to learn how addiction works.
Are you coping with a breakup? Read How to Heal Your Heart Without Relationship Closure.
Have you ever been addicted to a person – or are you trying to shake off an addiction right now? I welcome your comments below, but I can’t give personal advice. Writing is one of the best ways to figure out what you really think and feel, though – and it can help you heal your addiction to love.