Science Explains Why We Are All Love Addicts And How We Should Embrace It

Science Explains Why We Are All Love Addicts And How We Should Embrace It
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We all know that crazy feeling of falling in love. We can’t stop thinking about our partner, from the moment we wake up until the moment we go to bed. Maybe this is happening to you right now. Do you find yourself distracted throughout the day? Can’t seem to think straight? It’s almost as if you are addicted to being in love. And the truth is – you are.

Or maybe you’re not addicted to a new love, but rather you can’t get over an old one. The two of you broke up and you know it was for the best, but you just can’t stop thinking about your ex. Maybe you’re wondering what exactly is going on to make you miss your ex so much. Well, science has an explanation.

Love is part of the reward system of the brain.

You know all of those crazy feelings and thoughts you have when you first fall in love? Your brain is responsible and starts mixing chemical cocktails that make you feel addicted to your partner. Helen Fisher, an anthropologist, explains:

“Love is not an emotion – it’s a motivation system, it’s a drive, it’s part of the reward system of the brain.”[1]

Neuroscientists Andreas Bartels and Semir Zeki conducted research to compare the brain activity of happily in-love couples with that of addicts who had just injected drugs.

What they found is shocking. It turns out that the two activities both activated the same regions in the brain’s reward system.[2] Additionally, further research has shown activity in the nucleus accumbens brain region, which controls all addictions, of in-love couples.

Like an addiction, you can’t stop your feelings from growing when you fall in love.

Two people in love exhibit all of the characteristics of a drug addict.

Think about it, you can’t wait for the next time you see your new love, hear their voice, or get to touch them. In fact, you crave for it.

You feel a rush just thinking about your new partner, and your feeling only continues to grow. This growing obsession is referred to as “intensification” when talking about drug addictions.[3]

Yet your addiction doesn’t end when the relationship ends. Oh no, that would be too easy.

Instead, your brain goes through withdrawals, especially if you’re the person who was dumped. Crying, loss of appetite, eating too much, anxiety, not sleeping enough, sleeping too much, and feeling lonely. Have you experienced any of these symptoms after a breakup? You’re not alone. These are the same symptoms of drug withdrawal.

But this kind of addiction turns out to be what we need for survival.

Survival of species relies on being addicted to love.

In order for the human species to survive, emotional attachment is necessary. In order to make sure that humans continue to thrive and multiply, your brain steps in.

When you start getting to know a potential romantic partner, the amygdala and prefrontal cortex in your brain turns off. These are the areas responsible for making judgment calls and producing negative thoughts. In other words, you are prevented from being judgmental and thinking negative thoughts about your new partner. Since all you can think of are hearts and flowers, the emotional attachment in your relationship grows.

Addiction to love can be a positive thing when the relationship is appropriate and the feelings are mutual. However, it can also be just as toxic as a drug addiction when the romantic advances are unwanted, rejected, or inappropriate.

Bravely face the emotions rollercoaster when you fall into and out of love.

If you find yourself falling in love with someone, remember to enjoy the rollercoaster of emotions. It’s one of the most amazing things that keeps us alive.

If you find yourself staying in a toxic relationship or unable to get over an ex, remember that these thoughts and feelings are normal. However, don’t let loose of yourself and indulge yourself in it because like an addiction, you need to face it and do something in order to overcome it.

The good news is that science proves it can take only 11 weeks to get over your ex.[4] When you feel really hurtful trying to quit the “addiction”, hang out with friends and family. When you surround yourself with people who make you feel loved and safe, you can fill that feeling of emptiness. Being with close friends and family also helps your brain produce more opioids, which are like the natural painkillers.[5]

Or try repeat affirmation. Charlotte Davis Kasl writes in her book Women, Sex, and Addiction,[6]

Once the negative core beliefs have been exposed and challenged as false, you need to adopt positive, life-affirming beliefs. ‘I am unlovable’ becomes ‘I can love and be loved, I am a sacred child of the Universe.’ Feelings of hopelessness are counteracted by the new belief ‘I have the power to change my life.’ ‘I am defective’ slowly changes to ‘I get to make mistakes and be loved.’

Work on your mind, and your soul will heal. It takes time to quit any kind of addiction, but if you embrace the emotions and bravely face it, you’ll eventually overcome the withdrawal from a relationship.

Featured photo credit: Inna Lesyk via pexels.com

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