Romantic love is heavily associated with the same regions of the brain as drug addiction. Those who have it experience the same intensely pleasurable feelings, while those who are deprived of it experience the same crashing emotional lows and cravings. Consequently, it is fair to say that love is an addiction. Whether it is positive or negative, though, depends on whether the love is reciprocated, appropriate and nontoxic.
Still, because everyone is different, there are different types of negative love addiction. Humans can be loosely categorized into four major types, based on their overall patterns of thoughts and behaviors. Each of the four types tends to experience negative love addiction in a different way.
Romance junkies fall into the category of explorers, ruled largely by the dopamine system of the brain. Explorers are adrenaline junkies, hooked on thrills, adventures, and above all, novelty. In romance, this translates into an ongoing search for the dopamine rush affiliated with new relationships. When the infatuation phase gives way to the inevitable crash and burn, romance junkies are likely to go elsewhere seeking a new infatuation.
Builders, who are largely ruled by serotonin, are cautious, conventional, rigid rule-followers. They like to stick to plans and schedules, and take responsibility very seriously. Consequently, they tend to revere attachment above all other elements of a serious relationship. Their love addiction keeps them holding on long after a relationship has run its course.
People who fall into the directors category are largely ruled by testosterone. Although many directors never escalate into physical violence, they tend to be less empathetic and less socially skilled than their peers. Consequently, they tend to be action-oriented, using their physicality to express their emotions. They are likely to become violence junkies, addicted to chaos and turmoil in their relationships. When they are rejected, violence junkies may turn to stalking, physical attacks, or even impulsive suicide or homicide.
Negotiators are ruled primarily by estrogen and oxytocin. They tend to be agreeable, trusting, nurturing, and introspective, the caretakers in their relationships. Their addiction runs toward self-sacrifice, giving more than they should to heavily damaged partners. When they are rejected, despair junkies fall into rumination, obsessive thinking, and clinical depression. They tend to talk endlessly about the trauma, blame themselves, and try fruitlessly to figure out what they did wrong. Despair junkies are at higher risk for suicide in the wake of rejection.
Love addiction is complicated and highly personal, and every situation is different. Most people, regardless of type, manage to successfully navigate the pain associated with a breakup. Still, it is wise to be aware of your own type and those of your closest friends, and to watch out for each other in the weeks and months following a rejection. Taking proactive steps to ease the trauma can help to ensure that you do not fall into a dangerous pattern.
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