Roxanne Tellier Addicted to Love

rox lolas May 2014 3

I can’t live … with or without you.” U2, 1987, right?

with or without you

Nope … that desperate cry came a long time before that, in Roman poet Ovid’s Ars Amatoria (The Art of Love) (2 A.D.) When Christ was teething and learning to walk, in other words.

Every generation thinks they invented sex (and drugs and music) but we’re all of us like ants on a chemical scent trail, just following the brain pathways that were in place when we humans first crawled out of the sea and on to dry land. Which I find both scary and wonderful at the same time … a lot like good sex, come to think of it. And also a lot like good drugs.

love addiction

“By nature we are all addicted to love, meaning we want it, seek it and have a hard time not thinking about it. We need attachment to survive and we instinctively seek connection, especially romantic connection. There is nothing dysfunctional about wanting love.     

hugging bearsLove, however, is a compulsive, chronic craving and/or pursuit of romantic love in an effort to get our sense of security and worth from another person.” Ann Smith, author and therapist.


A love addict is in love with being in love. Who wouldn’t be? The flush of new love is very like the rush of a cocaine high. The parts of the brain that light up when we are in love are the same ones associated with cocaine and nicotine addiction, physical pain and distress and attachment, with similar or even identical psychological, chemical, and neuroanatomical substrates.

We crave more, more, more!  Living through a chaotic, exotic, lusty relationship, with its soaring heights and even its plummeting depths, makes the body tingle, and the senses soar.

belong together

And we celebrate that wonderful madness in art, literature and music. We’re soaking in it; scratch the surface of art and you’ll see the pleasure and pain that compelled the artist’s hand or voice.

influence addict5-001

“Love is like oxygen. You get too much, you get too high. Not enough and you’re gonna die. Love gets you high.”

“Tell me how I’m supposed to breathe with no air. Can’t live, can’t breathe with no air. It’s how I feel whenever you ain’t there. It’s no air, no air.”

Well, passionate love may feel as integral to continued living as oxygen, but the state of being “in love” owes a lot to a brain chemical cocktail of adrenalin, endorphins, serotonin,  and phenylethylamine, with a dash of the oxytocin we get from kissing and hugging thrown in.   oxytoxin and chemicals


Fight it all you like, but when the right combination comes along – you’re going down for the count. As Smokey Robinson said: “I don’t like you, but I love you; seems like I’m always thinking of you. You treat me badly, I love you madly; You’ve really got a hold on me.”

Some lovers will resent feeling out of control, as though they’ve been unwillingly taken over by their own emotions, and feel that they – out of all the creatures on the planet – are the only ones experiencing this turmoil.

Others burn with the intensity of an addict for someone they feel they can never possess, but must have. “To say the things I said, you drove me out of my head, I was under the influence.”

 “Baby, sweet baby, you’re my drug. Come on and let me taste your stuff. Baby, sweet baby, whisper my name. Shoot your love into my vein” (Lucinda Williams, Essence.)

“I’m addicted to you, hooked on your love. Like a powerful drug I can’t get enough of
Lost in your eyes, drowning in blue, out of control, what can I do? I’m addicted to you!”

And when love goes wrong – the taste is as bitter as acid. “Love is just a lie, made to make you blue. Love hurts...”

Or “I want to hurt you just to hear you screaming my name. Don’t want to touch you but you’re under my skin (deep in) I want to kiss you but your lips are venomous poison

But still we are driven to find the other half of ourselves, the one person who makes us feel complete, and who stirs up that complex mix of chemicals that keeps us awake at night, writhing in anticipation.

love is the drug

In the case of a true love addict, there is a simultaneous fear of abandonment and fear of intimacy. Contradictory? Not at all.  On the one hand, the love addict fears losing the person (or friend, child, religious figure, even literature, tv or movie icon) they’ve become emotionally attached to, but on the other hand, fears that the object of their desire would lose interest if they knew who their admirer really was, in all of their positive and negative facets. They put their idol on a pedestal, and imagine themselves prone and worshipping at their feet. A beauty in abasement to such an intense attraction and attachment.

Why can’t he see? How blind can he be? Someday he’ll see that he was meant for me

Idiot me. Stupid fool. How could you be so uncool? To fall in love with someone who doesn’t really care for you. It’s so obscure… But I feel… Wonderful. Yes I feel… Wonderful

“I steal a kiss from her sleeping shadow moves, Cause I’ll always miss her wherever she goes  And I’ll always need her more than she could ever need me.I need someone to ease my mind. But sometimes a someone is so hard to find. And I’ll do anything to keep her here tonite.  And I’ll say anything to make her feel alright.And I’ll be anything to keep her here tonite.”

I’d crawl to you baby, And I’d fall at your feet, And I’d howl at your beauty like a dog in heat.
And I’d claw at your heart, and I’d tear at your sheet, I’d say please, please – I’m your man

It’s the settling down part after that high that’s hard, for anyone, but especially for those addicted to love. On average, a married person thinks about being single once a day. A long-term relationship is comfortable and secure. You know what you’ll be doing and when, and that’s healthy for stability, and the raising of children. It can also feel like a mind-numbing rut. Who is this person lying beside you in bed, and why are they still here? Do you really love them anymore, or have you become comfortably numb? Can you love and not be ‘in love’?

love not in love

Here’s the funny thing. There’s longevity in relationships between couples with secure, compatible emotional and romantic styles, who’ve ridden out the first flush of chemical love heights and formed a solid partnership. But guess which other kind of couples hang in for the long haul?  It’s the group where one partner has a lot of anxiety and needs constant reassurance, while the other tends to avoid intimacy, and feels smothered by too much attention. It’s a recipe for love addiction. And they’ll stay locked together on a constant emotional roller coaster ride of unmet needs until something comes along that shifts the balance, changes the chemistry, and knocks the attachment out of kilter.

emotional rollercoaster

“The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeing new landscapes, but in having new eyes.” Marcel Proust”


Roxanne’s column appears here every Sunday 

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DBAWIS ButtonRoxanne Tellier has been singing since she was 10 months old … no, really. Not like she’s telling anyone else how to live their lives, because she’s not judgmental, and most 10 month olds need a little more time to figure out how to hold a microphone. She has also been a vocalist with many acts, including Tangents, Lady, Performer, Mambo Jimi, and Delta Tango. In 2013 she co-hosted Bob Segarini’s podcast, The Bobcast, and, along with Bobert, will continue to seek out and destroy the people who cancelled ‘Bunheads’.

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