When we know we can totally trust our partners, we feel at ease. It does not only make us feel good about our partner; it also builds our internal security so that we feel better about life in general. Having someone we can trust and rely on at all times aids us in taking those risks that help us grow and develop.
From the passionate and tender moments, to writing your thoughts and expressions of your love in your vows; love can be very intricate, unique and individual but the most pure and treasured form. It is something the whole world shares in common we are all able to love, even if it is just ourselves for a while. Love is a collective experience and it is always better when shared, no matter how many times we share it!
Apparently, machines can lead us to believe they are humans, at least on our smartphones. However, what happens once you actually get to ‘meet your date in person’? It is very unlikely that a machine could fool us with its physical appearance. Simply, technology is not there yet, there is a prominent distinction between how we look, the way we walk and the language our bodies “speak” and those of machines.
You are in love. You don’t eat, you don’t sleep, you can’t do anything but think of the person. Are you addicted to love?
Ever since the beginning of time love has been described as an excruciating passion. We see it everywhere; in movies, in books, in songs. Almost two thousand years ago, Ovidsaid: “I can’t live with or without you” (Amores III, xi, 39) – a sentence that was made famous by Irish band U2 song. Other musicians sang about this too; legendary Led Zeppelinin their “I can’t Quit You Baby” as well as Ke$ha in her catchy song"Your Love Is My Drug." Similar feeling is expressed in the famous movie Brokeback Mountain by the character Jack Twist who said: “I wish I knew how to quit you.”
It is far from true that only artists and poets feel this way as our everyday speech is full of such expressions. We often hear those in love saying: “I need you” and “I am addicted to you”. It seems like when we are in love, we experience a tremendous attraction towards another person and that attraction is persistent and often times impossible to ignore.
Love is often thrilling but it can sometimes be dangerous. If our feelings are returned, we are in a state of euphoria. However, other times we might follow love’s pull to the point of suffering. It is hard to disagree with the fact that lovers sometimes become confused, unreasonable, unpredictable or even self-destructive. When relationships end in an undesirable way, lovers feel pain, grief and loss.
These patterns of alternating euphoria and despair, frantic longing and harmful thoughts and behaviours that might occur after a relationship ends are strikingly similar to phenomena we see within ‘typical’ addictions to drugs, alcohol, nicotine or gambling. For example, a gambler might feel euphoric during the initial rush and excitement that comes along placing a bet and winning. When an unwanted loss occurs, the gambler feels desperate and often behaves in a destructive way – for example they may increase the bet with money that he or she is not in the position to spend. Nevertheless, while we often borrow phrases from the language of addiction when referring to love, there is at least one distinction between love and conventional addiction; while nobody desires to become addicted to alcohol, nearly everyone yearns to be in love. Is it therefore absurd to claim that there is a true resemblance between love and addiction?
Perhaps not. First, there is a resemblance between love and drugs even before an addiction develops. For instance, scientists suggestthat on a physiological level, falling in love and smoking crack cocaine are incredibly similar processes! This not to be confused with that slightly buzzed sensation you might feel after a glass or two of wine; it is rather the overwhelmingly euphoric and exciting feeling that follows the intake of crack cocaine that is similar to falling in love. So, if you are looking for a legal way to get high, perhaps consider falling in love.
What is really happening when we fall in love? We start by experiencing a rush of emotions. Some like to call it magic, others prefer the term ‘fate’, I like to say that I’m being love-struck. Whatever term we use, from a biological perspective, being in love causes a range of chemical reactions in your brain; neurotransmitters called oxytocin and dopamine get released. These chemical reactions affect your brain and produce the euphoric feeling that we experience during the initial stages of a relationship.
The chemistry behind falling in love has been extensively studied and written about. However, many of us are not too concerned about that – we simply like the way it feels. Also, even without reading articles, many of us know that this overwhelming rush of feelings will fade away at some point. There is nothing wrong with that. The initial first weeks or months should help us build a solid foundation with the person we are in love with and hopefully form a relationship that goes beyond just a chemical reaction. Nevertheless, for some people this chemical reaction, this euphoric state is what they become addictedto and keep looking for even when it is over. This is then another similarity between love and addiction; just like drug addicts desire to feel the high cocaine gives them and are unable to resist it, love addicts have a hard time letting go of that initial rush.
If at this point you feel like you are definitely a love addict, please bear in mind that almost everyone can relate to that initial rush experienced during the early stage of a relationship. We’ve all been there; the other person’s existence provides us with constant emotional excitement and distraction. However, most people acknowledge that healthy relationships will inevitably develop into something less exciting but more profound in the long run.
While the similarity between falling in love and taking a drug is there, being in love evolves into a healthy, happy relationship whereas compulsively taking a drug can develop into an addiction therefore it appears that there is a distinction between the two. Unfortunately, this is not always the case. In the same way that drug addicts cannot resist the urge to get the high, love addicts choose to rely on the neurochemical rush. When the rush fades away (whether induced by love or drug), the addict feels pain and disappointment and compulsively seeks the rush again.
But what is the rush in love addition? Unlike the typical addiction, we can’t point into something physical such as pills, cigarettes or slot machines. There are, however, clear symptomsthat manifest in a person’s behaviour and might signal love addiction.
One of the most common signs of love addiction is assigning too much importance to the new love. Of course, we all feel a little obsessed about the person we fell in love with but only love addicts would do whatever it takes in order to keep the high; they jeopardise work, friendships and even family and prioritise the new person in their life. Furthermore, they neglect responsibilities in their life in order to chase relationship dreams. Once the new person becomes the centre of their world, love addicts tend to believe that he or she can fix everything. As a result, instead of the relationship enhancing their life goals, their lives become all about the relationship. Ultimately, love addicts find themselves in relationships driven by feelings of incompleteness and insufficiency and find it difficult to feel ‘whole’ without their partner.
These feelings, however, vary from person to person. That said, even if you exhibit all of these behaviours you might not be an addict, as everyone is different what makes someone addicted might be perfectly fine for someone else, in the same way that drugs don’t make everyone addicted to the same degree. In any case, there is advice for everyone who experiences the love addiction signs. In his book ‘How to Break Your Addiction to a Person’, Howard Halpern describes techniquesthat might help in breaking or preventing the addiction to a person
1. Keep a Relationship Diary
Log the events and happening of your relationship in as much detail as possible. Most importantly, be honest, express your thoughts and feelings openly. Doing this may help you understand your feelings better and the way they relate to your actions. For instance, you might spot that every time you feel bad, you reach out for your phone and text your partner. When you are more aware of the situation, coming up with solutions becomes easier.
2. Connect with others
Try and reconnect with your friends and family. The value of this network can be precious and those addicted to love often neglect it. Although it might seem that only your partner can provide support and understanding, you will be surprised to see that sharing your thoughts and feelings with your friends or family can be equally comforting.
3. Become Aware of Your Body
Our minds are deeply connected to our bodies. The way we feel is related to our body functioning and it is therefore important to be aware of that relationship. Become aware of your body; it can be something as simple as focusing on your breathing. This will enhance the feeling that there is a central core within you and that you are actually the one who has control over it.
4. Allow Multiple Attachments
Just like we can connect with people, we can also connect to something more timeless. Go out in nature, read books, listen to music – the world is full of things to explore. In a way, whereas people come and go, these things will always be around. This is not to say that we should not connect with people because one day they might not be there, but rather that we should get the best out of everything that is out there be it people, places or things.
So, is it love or is it addiction? Probably it is a little bit of both. While some dose of addiction can be nice and poetic, in its essence, addiction is not about enjoying something but rather having a hard time staying away from something that gives you pleasure. Therefore, just like with everything in life, the best would be to find the balance between the two and enjoy a happy relationship.
Dr Kurt Smith. Yes, it is Possible to Be Addicted to Love. Retrieved from: https://www.beliefnet.com/wellness/yes-it-is-possible-to-be-addicted-to-love.aspx
Earp, B. D., Wudarczyk, O. A., Foddy, B., & Savulescu, J. (2017). Addicted to love: What is love addiction and when should it be treated?. Philosophy, psychiatry, & psychology: PPP, 24(1), 77.
Fisher, H., & Holt, H. (2004). The brain in love. SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN.
Halpern, H. M. (2003). How to break your addiction to a person. Bantam.
Today may be a day like every other day — consisting of our daily routines like pressing a button on our coffee machines, running the kids to school, attending the occasional meeting and the frequent checking of our phones. We may not realise it, but technology today has such an omnipresenceand has changed the way we function in our everyday lives. We use our devices around 50% more than we did ten years ago, thus it is incredible what we have managed to achieve in such a short space of time. It is crazy how it all seems so conventional now, but we have come a long way since the catastrophic internet dial-up tone we all remember from the 90’s, as well as the five minutes it took for a webpage to load. Now, we can easily get over a million results on a search in less than a second and wirelessly transfer items from one device to the next, and even to our cars. Technology is amazing; however, it does have its drawbacks.
One of the biggest advantages if technology is its ease of use and convenience. It is easy to get to grips with, and when we use them, we save a lot of time and energy in our day, even when we are doing the most tedious of activities like the food shop. The saying, “Time is money” could not ring any truer, especially now more than ever before in light of the world’s current financial crises. However, with that in mind, we spend less time doing tedious everyday things, but spend more time interacting with technology instead, so what has happened in the time we have made up in the real world, but lost to the virtual world?
Grace Roche for Cuvva.com discusses the profound effects of technology on our everyday lives, explaining one of the biggest disadvantages of technology is how we are relying too much upon having easy and instantaneous access to everything we may desire. The use of technology has literally given us the power to have the world in the palm of our hands; from ordering our food and clothes to be delivered to our doors and getting artificial intelligence to do it for us. The ease, accessibility and speed at which we are provided with what we want from companies and devices means we are receiving instant gratification which can ultimately and inevitably lead to us all becoming less patient and to some extent more frustrated when we don’t receive what we desire when expected or when done manually.
Psychology has long delved into gratification across the lifespan, more specifically though, the focus has shifted along with the new technological era and is now taking into consideration how it is impacting our relationships with others. Jim Taylor Ph.D notes in his article for Psychology Today that technology has also redefined our meaning of relationships, as such Pomerantz (2013) explores this further in her dissertation on ‘Attachment and Delayed Gratification in the Technological Age’. She acknowledges that we interact in a different way than we did in the past and as such we have created a new way to keep communicating with others and express our needs virtually, with “Generation Y” using it to their advantage to enhance feelings of comfort and minimise feels of negatively skewed feeling and emotions. In a sense, we are now able to turn our backs or disconnect when we feel uncomfortable, take for instance the ending of a phone call during a heated discussion or avoiding a message. On a positive note, the means by which we are connected now allow us to think freer and be more responsible in what we let others think and how they perceive us. As such, messaging has since become associated with the euphoric feeling of feeling loved or highly valued. However, this also signifies the lines between virtual and reality may have become blurred and we may have lost touch with how we would react if someone were to say the same things in person (Walsh, White and Young, 2008).Furthermore, in our modern day and age, it is easy for us to become tangled in the web and quite literally too. We are all a part of the World Wide Web in one way or another, as such via social media or through the press in some way. We read the news, connect and scroll through our timelines, and even sometimes express our lives and opinions on it. It is an everyday necessity now. So much so, we have begun unable to separate the real world from our virtual ideals and social media entities. Our true realities can be blinded by the eye-catching headlines and glamorous paparazzi snaps, evading the truth behind the screen and misconstruing what is really going on in our lives and the world. As such, you can feel envious and that you should be doing something far greater than what you are doing. Whilst for many of us this may be the case due to our ambition and wanting to better our lives, for others it is because they have viewed something on the internet, and they wish to be like someone else and are thus wanting to live in someone else’s false sense of reality. Believably, it is easy for us to look at something and base an opinion on it, whether it be a judgement of them, or in comparison of ourselves.
Whilst the instantaneous access allows us to be constantly aware of the world around us, it can also mean we are at a heightened state of fear and apprehension. Technology and social media have also elevated and influenced the fear of missing out, or commonly known as ‘FOMO’ in today’s society. We are relying upon the media and the internet to tell us what to do and how to get there, without consideration to real life circumstances or emotions. As such, we are more unhappy in our lives and surroundings than ever before and BBC Scotland has found it is because we are focusing on all the things we feel aren’t controllablebut really and truly are, if we only disconnected from technology for a mere second. What is more, we are also in what has been aptly named the “loneliness epidemic”,Alice G. Watson explains our dependence on our phones and in particular our interactions with social media have heightened our feelings of loneliness and isolation, especially when viewing or being a part of negative interactions online.
So how can we combat these feelings and help our interactions with the real world?
We must first look at the bigger picture, our phones and technology are an essential to our day to day lives, but not an essential part of our existence. We are more than a collection of photos and statuses, and our self-worth is not determined by the likes or how many followers we have. In the real world we make connections by talking to people, we first learn the little things about them and then we delve into the deeper conversations, getting to know one another piece by piece. Our devices help us to ask the difficult questions as we can hide behind a screen, making it easier to talk to one another as previously mentioned, but when it comes to face to face contact make sure you don’t back out of love, even when it may be scary or you might be uncomfortable.
If we took a step back from technology, and limited our usage, therefore only using it as and when needed, we could be happier and find we are leading more of a meaningful life. By being able to disconnect we are able to reconnect to ourselves and realign our feelings in accordance to who we wish to be and not who we see or want others to see. According to Forbes when we engage in real social connection (face-to-face) and make a conscious effort to be surrounded by others physically and not our devices, we perceive our activities to be more meaningful and consequently we feel more fulfilled and happier.
Of course, the times will change and a new wave of technology will soon be available, but we can’t let a false sense of reality make us lose sight of who and what we love and appreciate. Whilst technology may have changed the way we communicate, and as it stands most of our “interpersonal interactions have become imbued with an immediacy and connectedness unrelated to physical proximity". We must never let it completely void all face-to-face conversation, as without it we won’t feel or get raw emotion and understand others. Part of life is being able to understand where we are going wrong and where we are going right, perhaps in our relationships or perhaps even in our work. Technology doesn’t have to rule our lives in every domain as we must always remember, things aren’t always as they seem, and we cannot predict everything. Think of your device as a view into someone’s view of themselves, you will only see what they want you to see, and it is most likely a false image. Happiness, fulfilment or opportunities will not come from comparing, or being stationary behind a computer screen.
Thus, our message is to not become tangled in what you see, your happiness lies within you, from understanding yourself, knowing who you are and your capabilities, learning to be kind to yourself and making meaningful connections. You will know what you want, and even better you will know how to get there.