You may not realize this, but falling in love is actually a chemical experience much like any mind-altering experience. Once caught in the throws of passion, you are actually “high” as if you were drugged. This is why it is such a powerful experience and can lead to love addiction in some cases when there is a desperate need to heal unmet longing.
Like any drug, withdrawal from what Soren Kierkegaard calls “preferential love” is eminent if the connection between lovers is broken.
Withdrawal from love is one of the most painful withdrawals because there is a unique connection between the person affected and his or her need for love as a child. During withdrawal people psychologically go back in time and feel all the losses they have felt. The more neglected they were as children, the more they suffer in the process of withdrawal.
Sometimes the symptoms of withdrawal are also physical. Lovers experience depression, anxiety and even flu like symptoms just like withdrawal from drugs.
People have many theories about how to treat withdrawal. There is the moderation theory like they practice for food addiction, but in most cases complete abstinence works better. In Love Addicts Anonymous, for instance, lovers engage in what they call “no contact.” This works well unless you are one of those who carry a torch for year after year. Such people need more help turning their passion into a sentimental experience rather than a painful addiction.
It is also important to note that in most cases one cannot go through withdrawal without help. PIVOT recommends that the support you seek must be specific. When reaching out to peers, refrain from contacting those that will minimize or rationalize the withdrawal symptoms because they have a level of understanding about what you are going through. It’s also important that those peers can hold you accountable to the healthier path you are choosing.
In conclusion, if you think you are in withdrawal from romantic love and that unique connection it creates between two people, (1) admit you have a problem, (2) reach out for help, (3) initiate “no contact,” (4) distract yourself with activities when the obsession reaches overload, (5) treat your anxiety and depression in a way suited to you, and (6) give yourself time to heal. Whether your withdrawal is short or long things will get better in time. This would also be a good time to build up your confidence and self-esteem. Inspirational reading, trying new activities, changing your routine are helpful with changing our perspective. Some people blame themselves for the end of the relationship and this only prolongs withdrawal. Most of all be optimistic and know that with the right support – secure attachment and healthy love are possible.