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Can You Really Be Addicted to Love?

From the Show: HER
Summary: Even though a love addiction doesn't seem harmful, it's the exact opposite.
Air Date: 2/26/15
Duration: 10
Host: Michelle King Robson and Pamela Peeke, MD
Guest Bio: Robert Weiss, LCSW
Robert Weiss Robert Weiss LCSW, CSAT-S, is a therapist, author and clinical educator who has been writing about and treating sexual addiction for 25 years, and whose work specializes in the link between digital technology and personal relationship management.

Today he is Senior Vice President of Clinical Development for Elements Behavioral Health, now the largest provider of residential addiction treatment in the nation. A UCLA MSW graduate and early trainee of Dr. Patrick Carnes, Robert is the founding director of The Sexual Recovery Institute in Los Angeles (opened in 1995). He is also author of Cruise Control, Sex Addiction 101 and co-author with Dr. Jennifer Schneider of Closer Together, Further Apart and most recently, Always Turned On.

He has appeared as a commentator on CNN, The Oprah Winfrey Network and The Today Show while his work has been featured in the NY Times and Wall St. Journal.

Robert has also been invited to provide clinical training and program development by the National Institutes of Health, United States Armed Forces, and behavioral health treatment centers worldwide.
Can You Really Be Addicted to Love?
Falling in love and wanting to give love are completely normal feelings that you may experience a few times in your life. Being in love can be a euphoric experience. But, doctors and relationship experts believe the intoxicating feeling you have can actually become an addiction.

What are some signs of a love addict?

Even though a love addiction doesn't seem harmful, it's actually the exact opposite. Just like any addiction, love addiction is extremely unhealthy and dangerous for your mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual health. Some warning sings of love addiction include fear of abandonment, low self-esteem, more focus on how the relationship should be and not on what it really is, going to extremes to provide and help your partner, and tending to fall in love easily and quickly.

What cycle does a love addict typically get stuck in, and is there a solution?

Robert Weiss, LCSW, discusses love addiction and the signs you need to be aware of.
Transcription:

RadioMD Presents:HER Radio | Original Air Date: February 26, 2015
Host: Michelle King Robson and Pam Peeke, MD

It's all about HER. Her body. Her mind. Her wellness. Her sex. Her relationships. Her aging. Her beauty. It's HER Radio, starring acclaimed entrepreneur and women's advocate, Michelle King Robson and leading women's health expert, the "doc who walks the talk", Dr. Pam Peeke.

PAM: You remember that song by Robert Palmer, I think? Addicted to Love? Remember that one?

MICHELLE: Yes. Oh, yes. I loved that song. "You're addicted to love."

PAM: Yes. Let's do it together and remind ourselves why we should never, ever sing for a profession.

MICHELLE: Oh, come on.

PAM: I think it's a huge issue. Can you really be addicted to love?

MICHELLE: Yes.

PAM: Our "go to" expert who's going to help you, Michelle—you've got that look on your face.

MICHELLE: Yes. Thank you.

PAM: "Yeah, that's me! It's all about me."

MICHELLE: It's all about me.

PAM: Is Robert Weiss. Rob Weiss is probably one of the nation's leading experts on all things love, sex addiction, intimacy, relationships. He's got a brand new book, Always Turned: Sex Addiction in the Digital Age. He's a therapist, author and oh, heck, he's the "go to" person for multimedia on all of these topics.

So today we get the benefit from his expertise, all you wonderful listeners of HER Radio.

Alright. Rob. Is it possible to be addicted to love? And, I'm talking about the female love addict.

ROB: Well, I don't know about you, Dr. P, but I have to say, to Michelle, you know, "You might as well face it. You're addicted to love."

MICHELLE: I forgot that part. Thanks, Rob.

PAM: Okay, Rob? Don't give up your day job.

ROB: But, let me just say, I don't really think love addicts are really addicted to the "love" part. They're more addicted to the rush of infatuation. You know, those of us who have been in long-time relationships understand that that first year or two, "Oh, my God. They're the most wonderful thing in the world," and every cute little fart they do is just so wonderful. That kind of fades away after time and we, hopefully, develop a deeper intimacy and a deeper appreciation. But people who are, if you say, "addicted to love" want that initial rush. That, "Oh, my God. That person's so amazing and I can't wait to be with them," fades away, they think maybe they don't care about the person anymore and they're ready to move on to the next one. So, it's kind of like that.

MICHELLE: So, Rob, is there a difference between love addiction in men and women?

ROB: Well, I think there's a difference between sex addiction in men and women because a male will have a whole lot of sex and, hey, what we call them? We call them a "stud". A woman has a whole lot of sex, we call her something else and it's not a nice word.

MICHELLE: Yes.

ROB: Alright? So, those are four letters. We give them the word, "S". So, you know, I think by culture and certainly in terms of who women are, it's much harder for a woman to look at herself as someone who is having a lot of sex and certainly get help for it. So, a woman may be having 3 or 4 hookups a week and looking at porn 3 or 4 hours a day and she'll go to therapy and say, "I think I have a problem with intimacy, or relationships or I just can't find the right person." A guy who is doing the same thing will go in and say, "Hey, I think I think I've got a sex problem." He has no problem saying that. So, it's a big cultural difference for men and women. But, in terms of love, women are more likely, because of how women are built, to look for that intimate connection over and over and over again even when they can't sustain it. I'm talking about women who are struggling with addictive problems. By the way, women who have love addiction generally have a fair amount of trauma in their background. They've had either abuse or experienced it. They have neglect or experienced it. They have had alcohol or mental illness in their family and it's caused some of these "always chasing the endless person you can't quite catch" problem.

PAM: And so...

ROB: I just wrote down a couple of things that I think are signs of love addiction in women and if you want them, maybe I can toss them out there.

PAM: Let's do it. Let's do it right now.

MICHELLE: Yes.

ROB: So, using sex as a means to find or hold on to love. So, the woman who leads with her sexuality and the idea that she's going to find love that way and then when it just turns out to be a hook-up, she leads with her sexuality again. So, she's really using sex to find love. That would be one example.

Another one would be the woman who constantly finds herself in abusive or other relationships where the person is unavailable and they keep trying to chase that person and make them into the right person or they give up on them and they find another abusive person and another empty relationship and they keep chasing the hollow or the empty. So, they're kind of chasing a pattern that's familiar to them.

There are other women I work with who will mistake romantic intensity for love. They'll think that first two months is so amazing with all the sex and all the words and "I love you" and "you're amazing" that that somehow means deep and enduring love. Then, again, when that intensity and passion go away, they think, "Well, maybe I'm not in love anymore. I'm with the wrong person." So, they move on and they're never really satisfied. They're always searching.

PAM: So, it's sort of like they don't get it and they don't understand the natural evolution of relationships at all and that they constantly think that this higher than high is supposed to be sustained 24/7 forever.

ROB: You're absolutely right, Dr. Peeke. I mean, I don't know if they don't understand, though, I would say maybe it's more they're afraid.

PAM: Ah!

ROB: So, you know when you start to get close to someone and that blush of first love wears off and you really start to see who they are? That's when the real intimacy starts and for people who have difficult histories, that kind of intimacy can be very scary and the rush of intensity of early love feels a lot easier to tolerate, a lot more familiar than what happens when somebody really gets to know you, could then hurt you and all that kind of stuff.

PAM: Relationships are work. Right, Michelle?

MICHELLE: Oh, boy. Are they ever. And, it's complicated, right? It's never easy but especially in the early stages because I think to your point, Rob, and to Dr. Peek's point, we feel that, we get that rush, we get that high and then, all of a sudden, you know, reality sets in and peoples' fears start to come into play. Is that person really going to stay with me and are they going to hurt me? It's just so complex.

ROB: And, Michelle. Michelle, I would add, "Are they going to see who I really am and not love me anymore?"

PAM: Oh, yeah.

ROB: Are they going to abandon me because they're going to find me not worthwhile once they really get to know me? So, I'm going to run.

PAM: They found your warts. Yeah. They found all those warts that you had. And now, is this going to be okay?

MICHELLE: So, Rob, is that men and women both, do you think? Or is that just more women?

ROB: Well, again, we're talking about addiction, so we're talking about people who have a history of some kind of trauma or emotional deficit. So they are turning to these experiences for the same reason we all do. They want to be loved and appreciated, respected, a part of, and connected. And, you know, all of those. And they want to be loved and they want to love back, but they're just not able to do it. Then, when somebody shows up, they run away.

PAM: Rob, what's the solution?

MICHELLE: Right.

PAM: What's the solution? What's the solution? What should someone do if they think they're running into problems?

ROB: Well, I talk to both men and women about creating a dating plan. You know, which almost like a "red light, green light, yellow light". For example, say for a woman, if the guy's still living with his ex, probably not a good thing. If the guy doesn't return your calls within a week, probably not. You know? So how you set up, in concrete terms--since your thinking may be a little skewed or as we say in the biz, you have a bad picker-- let's sit down and decide what it is you want in a relationship and what you're willing to put up with and what you're not. Then, you share that with a girlfriend or with a clergy member or a therapist or whatever and you just make sure that you don't date somebody who is a "red light" on your list no matter how wonderful they seem. You know, "yellow lights" might be smoking or other things you don't like and "green lights" are, you know, they laugh at all my jokes and they're always available. So, you can begin to put it on paper in a way that you can hold onto when your emotions run away with you.

PAM: I love it. This really makes sense. You know, Rob, once again, you've been our "go to" expert on everything that has to do with "Can you really be addicted to love," and more importantly, is there a difference between males and females on this one and, yes, female love addicts do it a little bit differently. I want everyone out there to run out there and grab Rob Weiss' new book, Always Turned On: Sex Addiction in the Digital Age. You can get it on Amazon and everywhere. His website is RobertWeissMSW.com.

Rob, thank you so much for being on HER Radio. We just love it. Talk to you again about it, too.

I'm Dr. Pam Peeke with Michelle King Robson.

MICHELLE: And ladies, sometimes you just have to go, "You know, you'd better face it. You're addicted to love," and how can you get over that.

This was a great segment.

Thank you for listening to HER Radio on RadioMD. Follow us on Twitter. Like us on Facebook. Stay well.
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