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Obsession or Addiction?

Obsession or Addiction?

Addiction is not quite the same as obsession in unrequited love. The basic difference is that in instances of addiction, the object of desire is thought about persistently and images of togetherness are constantly made by the unrequited lover. In instances of obsession, the unrequited lover tries to control or maintain a strategic distance from the thoughts and images of the beloved and looks for possible distractors to maintain balance; though this relief is short-lived. However, the term “love obsession” generally includes both addiction and obsession.

Those of you who have read my blog “Unrequited Love and Cocaine” would know that despite the fact that unrequited love is connected with tension and anxiety, this state, mixed with hope of reciprocity leads the unrequited lover to feel extreme happiness to the level of euphoria. This reaction is similar to the effect of cocaine. Like cocaine, love increases the levels of serotonin, norepinephrine, and dopamine in the body. Because dopamine is associated with pleasure and causes the brain to think about pleasurable moments, narcotic drugs like cocaine increase the brain’s levels of dopamine and cause addiction. This scientifically explains why unrequited lovers are addicted to the object of love.

A love-obsessed person finds it difficult to accept reality of rejection and loneliness and is more often found waiting for the beloved to return into a broken relationship or accept the previously declined proposal. The random increase in the levels of dopamine and norepinephrine in the body, keeps providing energy for the unrequited lover to continue to wait for one person endlessly. However, this supply of energy is intermittent due to random rise and fall of neurotransmitters in the lover’s body, which leads them to experiences of fluctuating highs and lows.

In this way love obsession is different from addiction. When a love-addict doesn’t have access to the love object, his neurotransmitter levels stay low until he finds a way to indulge in the thoughts and fantasies of the beloved. In love obsession, however, the neurotransmitters are on an all-time rise, leading the unrequited lover with enough charged up energy to hold on to the object of desire and continue to believe that there is a future for a relationship with them, while everyone around them knows there isn’t any.

A study of a betrayed lover talks about the lover becoming a woman stalker as a result of the broken relationship. The man started seeing a therapist after a progression of unsuccessful relationships. He confessed that he had been trying to seduce and attract women ever since he was left back in a romantic relationship. While some attempts to seduce women failed, he ended the successful ones because he was either bored in those relationships or found them unfulfilling. This led to frustration and rage building up in him and he eventually distanced himself from the willing partners. While he desperately wanted to indulge in sexual encounters with women, his body was physically and emotionally incapable of forming a fulfilling association.

In this case, the young man showed addiction to chasing women instead of addiction to being in love with them. Surprisingly, individuals with addiction of being in love have difficulty in forming long-term relationships. As soon as the initial “kick” of being in love starts fading away, these individuals start showing withdrawal symptoms and either start going astray or end the association. What these lovers actually need is constant flow of love chemicals. It can be with anyone who is capable of bringing out this feeling in them.

unrequited love 1 July 16

Such people basically are wounded unrequited lovers who resort to ‘jumping” relationships after being immensely hurt in their past relationship or past one-way love. Rejection leads them to being averse to intimacy and attachment. They are constantly trying to hide their wounded spirit from others. These people even have “replacement” planned and kept aside, in case they are alone and need it in the future.

In my next blog “Addicted to Grief” I will talk about the ways in which unrequited love or rejection resembles ‘death’ or loss of a loved one to our brain and weighs down the lovers with aching memories, tears of self-pity and an inevitable vacuum forming in the heart, body and soul.

See a description of yourself in my blog? Please share how unrequited love makes you feel and I will add your experience in my future blogs.

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