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Love Is Like An Addiction

love addiction, brain in love, Helen Fisher, VTA, Nucleus Acumbens, reward system, love obsession, addicts and relationships, love is craving, human drive, Plato, love Reptilian Core, love tolerance, dependence, withdrawal

In this week’s Success Newsletter, I would like to like to reveal the reasons that love is like an addiction.

First a quick update: 

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Now What Really Matters To You?
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Now, let’s talk about the reasons that love is like an addiction.

You have experienced the intense joy of love, as well as the intense pain from love, correct?

You have probably done extreme things for love, correct?

Of course!

Love feels like addiction, and love is like an addiction.


Because being in love creates the same rush in your brain as does being on cocaine!

Love Has The 4 Key Characteristics Of An Addiction:

1. Craving – The burning desire to see, be and do things with your love; to achieve that high of love
2. Tolerance – Obsession – The need to have more – to see and be with the object of your love; losing control, taking extreme risks and engaging in self-destructive behavior to be with/experience love; thinking obsessively, acting compulsively, intensely motivated to win over your love
3. Withdrawal/Dependence – The pain you experience without your love (separation anxiety) or the intense pain of a breakup – depression, insomnia, anger, sadness, binge eating/drinking.
4. Relapse – Just when you think you are over him/her, something happens to remind you of them, and you break down, feel pain, and crave them all over again.

Conversely, addicts develop intimate relationships with drugs that have a lot in common with ‘real’ intimate relationships; behavioral addictions such as food, sex, and gambling use many of the same brain pathways activated by substance abuse.

Yes, love is a craving, and a very powerful one – people live for love, kill for love, and die for love (just as drug addicts also do.)

Love is a human drive, and according to anthropologist, Helen Fisher it is stronger than the sex drive; stronger than thirst or hunger; stronger perhaps than the will to live:

“Love is a basic brain system, like the fear or anger system. It will never disappear…romantic love is a drive, a basic mating drive. Not the sex drive – the sex drive gets you looking for a whole range of partners. Romantic love enables you to focus your mating energy on just one at a time, conserve your mating energy, and start the mating process with this single individual…thus initiating the formation of a pair-bond to rear their young (at least through infancy) together as a team.”

Helen Fisher

Love is so critical to healthy human functioning that it is hardwired in the brain. It is part of our need for social connection, belonging and attachment. Survival of the species depends on attachment.

We crave love, we take risks, and we seek attachment, but we are deeply pained by rejection. The intention of the pain of rejection is to drive us towards creating and developing attachments, not to run from them.

Love Involves Three Key Areas Of The Brain:

1 The Reptilian Core which is associated with wanting, motivation, focus and craving.
2 The Nucleus Acumbens which is associated with taking risks and assessing  gains and losses
3 The Orbital Medial Prefrontal Cortex which is the apex of the social brain and is associated with attachment, belonging and rejection.

Thus, just like an addiction, you will select a potential mate (for various factors of attraction) and begin to obsess over this person. You will focus on ways to win the person; think compulsively about him/her and crave more of them. You will also assess what you have to gain and to lose with this person – and what you are willing to risk for them. If you win them over, then you will experience intense highs that are also connected to building emotional and enduring bonds. If the attachment is secure and healthy, you will experience satisfaction and joy from belonging. If the attachment/relationship fails and you experience rejection, you will feel great pain.

“The god of love lives in a state of need. It is a need, it is an urge, it is a homeostatic imbalance. Like hunger and thirst, it’s almost impossible to stamp out.”


Love Addiction and Soul Mates

Greek Mythology tried to explain the human obsession and love addiction with a story by Aristophanes in The Symposium (385 BCE.) Aristophanes said that humans were once 4-legged creatures who annoyed the God Zeus, and so he split them into two, and ever since that fateful day, we have been searching for our original other half to complete us. This is the origin of the story of romantic Soul Mates!

Love Addiction And Why You Crave What You Can’t Have

The Nucleus Acumbens region of the brain is also part of the “reward system” – feelings of pleasure – part of the VTA (Ventral Tegmental Area) and they are part of primal drives (again the reptilian brain.) Therefore, they are below thought and emotions. They are basic drives of desire, craving, focus and motivation. The brain releases dopamine when you expect to get a reward and it enhances motivation.

So, why do we chase what we can’t get or what is hard to get? The VTA becomes more active when you can’t get what you want, and motivation is heightened based on the belief of a significant reward – namely the love of the person you desire.

Once you experience the high and the pleasure of being with the person you love (and crave) your brain creates “reward memories.” It encodes and remembers what led to the pleasure, so that you repeat the behavior and go back to the reward in the future. Therefore, the brain encourages behaviors that are proven to help the human species to survive by attaching pleasure to them. 

Thus, the bond and attachment formed with this person is also part of the brain’s system focused on survival and growth through social connections – to form relationships, to belong, to be able to read other people and thus harmonize with others.

When you understand the role that your brain plays in love, you can express compassion for the way that love is like an addiction – for the seemingly uncontrollable and bizarre behavior that we all engage in when it comes to love.

If you or a friend need help to resolve pain from love or failed relationships, do as others have done and resolve it rapidly and be set free of the pain by experiencing my SRTT process  – without reliving the pain: book a one-on-one session with me.

You can add to the conversation below.

I wish you the best and remind you “Believe in yourself -You deserve the best!”

Patrick Wanis Ph.D.

Celebrity Life Coach, Human Behavior & Relationship Expert & SRTT Therapist

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