About Love Part 2: The love-Addiction
The hunt for the rose-colored glasses
Welcome to Part 2 of my series about love. If you are interested in the first Part and introduction be sure to read it beforehand.
I want to introduce you to something I call “the addiction to the rose-coloured glasses”, or rather to strong emotions caused by the drama and joy of love – but that doesn’t sound to catchy, does it?
Here is a graph I sketched with my catastrophic drawing skills when I tried to bring that theory to a paper:
So, in the left corner we have a start of a relationship, its like both of you are on a romantic high during that time, you put the other person before yourself (Self-worth < Admiration), because after all your significant other is awesome and everything you ever hoped for.
But as time passes, those magical moments becomes routine, the sparks in the air burn up and stuff appears that’s not cute and sexy at all (Self-worth = Admiration) and that’s not a bad thing at all. During this time the relationship is at his unexciting peak but this is where most relationships are put to the test and show their true potential – and it’s the nightmare for Addicts of the rose-colored glasses, but I’ll get to that in a minute.
Unless you’re in one of those “happily ever after“-relationship there’s going to be a moment where things get ugly (Self-worth > Admiration) and if that happens, hearths break, people scream, cry, throw stuff around and leave embarrassing voice messages. This is where the Stockholm-Syndrome of those who are addicted to strong emotions kicks in, they begin to tell themselves: “Maybe it wasn’t as bad as I thought“, “if we just could have another start at it, it might work out“.
And that’s because they just discovered the green stained cousin of the rose-colored glasses that delivers them those much-needed strong feelings to finally end the emo-withdrawal that settled in, while the relationship was ready to settle down.
The addiction to Strong Emotions
When I was in my early 20ties I had a very intense relationship, we lived not that far apart but far enough so that it would require some planing for the weekends, and we loved to argue who’s investing more into the relationship than anything else. We wrote actual E-Mails (SMS would have been to expensive) over three pages on daily bases, just blaming the other why it’s not working out the way it should be.
It was extremely entertaining and engaging for both of us. During that time I was taking the final exams of my secondary school, which would decide the universities I could choose from in the near future: pretty exciting and scary stuff.
Except it wasn’t bothering me at all, because I was so entangled in my relationship – I can still remember very clearly, how I wasn’t nervous at all during my first test but more frustrated because my new-found girlfriend wouldn’t come this weekend because she wants to meet her grandmother! “What is she thinking dammit, I got nee – oh yeah here is your stupid test, now excuse me I got a three pages angry E-Mail to write!” It had strange freedom to it, since most other stuff didn’t really bother me at all.
This is what makes strong emotions so addictive. And guess what, you, me or any other ape descended on this planet is no exception – we all crave those strong emotions.
That’s why bungie jumping, slot maschines, horror-, drama-, or eroticmovies are a thing. Dopamin and emotions are the fuel to our actions, what keeps us getting out of bed in the morning and those who battled mental illnesses like depression in their life, know how it feels when those two key-factors are missing.
Having strong interpersonal relationships with others can fuel our needs for strong emotions, deliver constant drama and joy for years – that can be a reason why people in abusive relationships are having such a hard time getting out of them, or might get into another one right after they’ve finally got out and realized on their own they are just bored. But boredom is just one side of the coin, intense relationships are also very useful when it comes to avoiding other important stuff in our lives (like other addictions, responsibilities or self development). It’s the ultimate form of long-term procrastination.
To sum it up, pretty unromantic, there are two sides to relationships one is supportive and one is distracting.
love is not an emotion
At some point in your life you might try to describe love itself: “it feels like butterflies are swarming in your stomach, while you feel high and invincible” or a little more down to earth “it makes me get out early in the morning with a huge smile on my face” and some time later it may sound like “it feels like 1000 needles are piercing my hearth every time I think at you” – “it’s like a constant kick into your bullocks!” – you get the idea, just search for 20 Most Romantic Quotes Ever or 50 Quotes That Best Describe Painful Love and feel like an edgy teenager again.
So is love an emotion? Depending on the stage they’re in, people confuse love with happiness, compassion, desire, hate, jealousy, pain or even nostalgia. So here is the catch: If it can feel so different varying from person to person just how can it be an emotion?
Here is another guess what love is: a Multiplication.
So let’s assume that love itself does not exist – caught your breath yet – good. Love is simply an emotion that got multiplicated and then falsely called love – instead of “You make me so extremely aroused right now“, we just say “I love you“. Again, as unromantic as it can get, let’s simplify it to a simple calculation:
(normal emotion) x (Intensity of “love”) = (multiplied emotion we simply call love)
With the emotional wheel involved:
(Interested) x (love factor) = Highly curious
(Guilty) x (love factor) = Very ashamed
And that sweet, sweet love factor is not a fixed number – that would be terrifying and amazing at the same time – it changes mostly into the lower digits. That’s where a relationship shows its true potential.
If the couple build enough trust, companionship and respect for each other – let’s call it a good foundation – the partnership stays intact.
And if the foundation is bad – they split up.
But if love is a factor that multiplies emotions it’s similar to something else we all love and consume: Drugs.
Conclusion: The love addiction
Which brings me back to the statement on the beginning of this post and don’t get me wrong, I don’t think love is a bad thing. It’s a powerful force able to bring out the best as well as the worst in us. It allows us to feel strong emotions, can motivate us to completely change who we are and give us strength to endure so much, climb up to places we’ve never even dreamed to achieve.
And of course as powerful as it is, it can also be highly addicting and turn people into junkies on a withdrawal not giving a single fuck to get what they want.
When it comes to what is right and what is wrong, I prefer Immanuel Kant. His second formulation of his Categorical imperative states: “Act in such a way that you treat humanity, whether in your own person or in the person of another, always at the same time as an end and never simply as a means.“
Basically, that translates to: “Don’t let yourself be used by someone just so that someone can get what he wants, and at the same time, don’t use others just for the sake getting something you want.“
If you find yourself in a state in life, where you crave love just to procrastinate more difficult and harder tasks, stop it – stop right now and face them, and if you decide not to – don’t get upset about smokers, alcoholics or other drug addicts because you are not better than them, even worse, you hurt others in a much deeper, emotional level, than second hand smoke ever could.
And quitting the love addiction is hard, I know, but you are not alone – there is a reason why there are dozens of bestselling books with titles like “love yourself“, “find true happiness by marrying your mirror” etc.. I’m not saying those help, they didn’t help me that’s for sure, but with time it gets easier nevertheless. It gets easier to be alone, it gets easier to actually face stuff that you can only face when you are alone and it helps you to actually find someone you truly want – instead of desperately need.
Well that’s pretty much my take on love as an emotion and the pretty – I admit it – unromantic, sober attempt to simplify it as a calculation.
I hope you enjoyed reading through it and have a great day. As always I would love to know your opinion on the topic.