Relationship Rehab: Why Love Is As Addicting As A Drug

by Erika Huber

Love: It’s something humans crave and break our backs and hearts to obtain. Our ability to feel complex emotions not only drive us to reproduce, but also give us reasons to live. It’s what makes us such a unique species.

When we give and receive love, chemicals fly like fireworks in our systems. We reach highs like no other, like when feeling someone’s hand stroke our faces as we sleep, or when looks are exchanged from across the room. Things like this are loaded with meaning to be shared between the two entities.

Being loved by another can serve as justification for the meaning in our lives. If living for oneself is not enough, there is someone else who needs, wants and values you.

Love is most certainly a drug, and sometimes, it’s one from which we must wean ourselves. Some love is toxic; some relationships go from candies and roses to daggers and poison apples.

When we realize that a relationship has changed for the worse or has run its course, it can be hard to leave what was good in order to relieve ourselves of the bad that has taken over.

Just like any addictive drug, we must cleanse toxic loves from our bodies gradually and painfully. It isn’t easy to give up the person who was there when you woke up and when you went to sleep.

Relationships can become routines. We can become dependent on another person's presence in our lives. Fear of loss and emptiness keeps us in vicious cycles.

Fight, break up, cry, make up, promise to change, soak in the good, revert to old ways, repeat. Those whom we love will still hurt us.

Even a small scrape can cut deep because we become so sensitive and vulnerable. Pain inflicted by the ones we love stings far worse than the ignorable pain anyone else could cause.

We expect things from our partners. The effect of the high can dim or run out, so we push the substance, hoping desperate measures will bring us back to that first night in the park, the mornings spent entwined in one another’s limbs or the days dedicated to running errands together.

Love is exciting, and when it’s not exciting, it’s comfortable and safe. Leaving it can seem dangerous. Sometimes, we don’t want to accept that the love we are fighting for is hurting us more than if we were to have no love at all.

Staying in unfulfilled relationships or ones that are only sporadically good is unhealthy. We project hope onto our partners, making ourselves believe that we can change them. But, fighting for something that is already broken doesn’t make much sense.

Think of it this way: You’ve had the same car since the day you could drive. You love it. It has taken you so many places, embodies memories that you will forever cherish and you’re attached to it because it has grown to be part of your life and your identity.

But, the car hasn’t been working well lately. It keeps breaking down at the worst of times and it fails you when you need it most.

You keep repairing it, putting excessive amounts of money and effort into keeping it together, but when it leaves the shop, it only runs right for a week or so, and then it’s back to smoking and rattling to a stop on the side of the road, leaving you helpless and in need of saving.

Why would you continue to fix a car that will inevitably conk out on you, regardless of what you do? Why not let it go, move on and get a new car?

Feeding an addiction to a toxic love is a lot like paying an arm and a leg to save a dying vehicle. It’s so much pain for no logical reason at all. But that’s just it: Love isn’t always logical. We love who we love for reasons that often only make sense to ourselves.

It's the warmth and safety you feel when his arm is around you as you fall asleep. It's knowing you share true understanding of one another when she sits with you in silence after a blow-out fight with your dad. Minute details of our relationships can keep us hooked, making breaking up easier said than done.

When you know deep down that the little things don’t add up to something as close to a whole as possible, that is when you need to gather the strength to leave and one day, find something that never needed much repair in the first place.

Love is an addiction because we find it, in varying quantities and conditions, and we absorb every bit we can in order to feel euphoric. But, even euphoria can come at a cost, and it is far better to attain naturally than to force the feeling with poisons that are bottled to look like something sweet.

We need to kick our addictions to those that hurt us, no matter how amazing the high can be because we will always come down and feel lost again.

So instead, try becoming addicted to only what makes you stronger.