Aftermath of Love Withdrawal Explained

This post was updated on Jan 10, 2024

In the words of the immortal Pat Benatar: “Love is a Battlefield.” Indeed, this beautiful song perfectly encapsulates the thin line between passion and pain in a relationship and our willingness to battle our demons for nothing besides a promise of a brighter future.

Sometimes, however, we may lose the sense of what we’re fighting for or why we’re even fighting. Sometimes, we take the fight to the extreme and lose sight of our objective. In doing so, we turn arms and armor ourselves until nothing’s left, apart from the fight itself. Often to find that we are fighting the wrong fight.  

Still, no war lasts forever. Sooner or later, the combat ceases, and the dust begins to settle, leaving us with a simple question. “What now?” This analogy is also the perfect love withdrawal example.

Once the battle is done, we’re left navigating the battlefield of broken emotions and injured self-esteem, wondering how to deal with love withdrawal. The answer lies in understanding the implications and consequences of adopting love addiction as a default operating method.

how to stop love withdrawal

What Are The Effects Of Love Addiction?

Much like traditional addiction (Substance Use Disorder/SUD), pathological love can manifest in a myriad of psychophysical effects, including (not limited to):

  • Obsession with the romantic interest;
  • Intense craving for the emotional high;
  • Compulsive pleasure-seeking;
  • Overwhelming fear of rejection/abandonment;
  • Distortion of self-worth/fragile self-esteem;
  • Formation of codependency;
  • Compromised/irrational decision-making.

Do note that this is, by no means, a comprehensive list of symptoms. The effects and examples of love addiction are incredibly diverse and typically vary on a per-person basis, as each individual experiences and expresses emotions differently.

What Are The Disadvantages Of Love Addiction?

Based on the aforementioned factors, we can extrapolate many disadvantages that come with pathological love. Here, we’ll focus on those that can have a profound effect on virtually every aspect of the person’s life. Note that this has nothing to do with pressing blame or shaming individuals struggling with attachment dysregulation. Instead, we’re here to help you understand the negative consequences such behavioral patterns can have on your day-to-day life.

Enmeshment

Derived from diminished self-worth and self-esteem, individuals in a love-addicted relationship often tie their entire system of self-value to the perceived levels of attention and affection they receive from their romantic partners.

Compromised Decision-Making

Due to the compulsive need to maintain the emotional high, love-addicted individuals can often make decisions that could not be called entirely rational. Instead, they tend to prioritize the relationship above everything else, even to the point of jeopardizing their own well-being. 

Tumultuous Emotional Landscape

A prime example of love addiction and its hallmark is the experience of being on an emotional rollercoaster. The cycle of euphoric highs, caused by receiving affection from the partner, is typically followed by devastating lows when said affection is lacking.

What Are The Consequences Of Love Addiction?

Being trapped in the cycle of love addiction can have a number of outcomes that can be detrimental to the individual’s overall quality of life. However, some of them can have grave and lasting consequences, thereby warranting further breakdown.

Potential For Codependency

The dependence on external validation, resulting from enmeshment, may cause a person’s own identity to become secondary, which not only further exacerbates the feelings of unworthiness but also stifles the potential for personal development and independence.

Consequences Of Irrationality

This obsession with the partner and relationship can lead to a variety of detriments, such as:

  • Neglect of personal and professional responsibilities;
  • Inability to set, maintain, or respect healthy boundaries;
  • Neglect of other relationships, personal and professional;
  • Accepting abusive behavior in the name of “love.”

Emotional Volatility

The endless cycle of highs and lows is intensified by the constant need for affirmation and fear of abandonment. This can lead to emotional instability that can affect the individual’s mental health and also strain the relationship, eventually leading to its dissolution.

What Are The Withdrawal Symptoms Of Love Addiction?

To better understand love withdrawal, first, we must understand what this process entails in its original context.

What Is Withdrawal?

In terms of traditional addiction (SUD), withdrawal refers to psychophysical reactions the body experiences after the cessation of substance (ab)use. After prolonged use, the brain and the body adapt to the substance.

Since this way of functioning becomes a new normal, the body starts reacting negatively once the person stops introducing drugs or alcohol into the system, causing withdrawal symptoms to emerge.

However, it must be noted that, while unpleasant, withdrawal is not necessarily a bad thing. The human body has an innate “memory” of the correct way of functioning, as well as the ability to self-detox.

Shortly after the substance is reduced or stopped, it initiates the purge process, attempting to expunge the remnants of the substance from the system. Therefore, withdrawal can be viewed as the organism’s attempt to readjust to functioning without the substance.

How Does Love Addiction Withdrawal Work?

The withdrawal from love addiction is similar to that experienced with substance abuse. The difference is that the substances in question are the so-called “happy chemicals” that naturally occur in the body. As such, the love withdrawal process typically tends to err on the emotional side, with the three most prevalent symptoms being:

  • Intense feelings of emptiness due to the absence of a partner’s attention and affection can lead to an overwhelming sense of loss and despair.
  • Anxiety, resulting from the challenges of grasping the newfound solitude, may exacerbate the fear of abandonment. This may cause physical symptoms, such as restlessness, heart palpitations, and difficulty concentrating, among others.
  • Depression can sometimes develop as a result of love addiction withdrawal, mainly due to the sudden shift from intense emotional connection to solitude, leading to an overwhelming sense of grief and hopelessness.

While the aforementioned are the most common and prominent love withdrawal examples, it can also manifest in a variety of other ways, including:

  • Sudden/persistent bouts of crying or tearfulness;
  • Disrupted sleep patterns;
  • Appetite dysregulation;
  • Energy depletion and fatigue;
  • Intense relationship craving/emotional longing;
  • Separation distress (frustration, tension);
  • Emotional volatility (mood swings).

How To Stop Love Withdrawal?

As noted above, withdrawal is the body’s attempt to revert back to “factory settings” and adjust to a healthier way of functioning. As such, attempting to stop love withdrawal is not advisable. In addition, this is an innate, natural process that’s seldom within our control. However, it is possible to manage and lessen the intensity of the symptoms over time.

How To Deal With Love Withdrawal?

There are several effective ways that can help you face love addiction withdrawal and come out on top:

  • Acknowledge and accept that you’re dealing with love addiction without judging or blaming yourself;
  • Seek support from family and friends, as they can provide much-needed empowerment, as well as fresh perspectives;
  • Prioritize self-care above everything else. This includes regular exercise, healthy meals, and good sleep while also engaging in activities you love and enjoy.
  • Create space for emotional healing by setting healthy boundaries between yourself and the object of your affection;
  • Engage in constructive distractions, whether it be taking up a new (or old) hobby, reading and learning, or spending time with family and friends.

However, by far, the best way to deal with love withdrawal and its unpleasant side-effects is through professional guidance. Coaching, counseling, and psychotherapy can be instrumental in overcoming the challenges involved with this state and freeing yourself from the chains of addiction. The behavioral patterns that are not serving you were set in motion a long time ago. 

how to deal with love withdrawal

Turn To PIVOT For Help Managing Love Addiction Withdrawal

Dealing with love withdrawal and its symptoms is much easier with compassionate support and expert guidance. At PIVOT, that’s exactly what we offer. At our Glass House Retreat, you’ll find a variety of workshops, tailored to your individual needs and unique situation. 

Led by a team of experienced coaches, our group and one-on-one sessions promote healing, rediscovering your uniqueness and self-worth, and building sound, healthy foundations for future relationships. Reach out to us today and begin your journey on how to stop love withdrawal for a better tomorrow!

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