Since we all have grown up in a society that confuses healthy love with “love” addiction, many of us find it difficult to know whether our feelings are based on healthy intimacy or addictive desire. Based on my work over the last 45 year\’s as a psychotherapist specializing in helping people develop and maintain healthy relationships, I offer the following comparison.

  • Healthy Love develops after we feel secure.
    Addictive Love tries to create love even though we feel frightened and insecure.

  • Healthy Love comes from feeling full. We overflow with love.
    Addictive Love is always trying to fill an inner void.

  • Healthy Love begins with self love.
    Addictive Love always seeks love “out there” from that “special someone.”

  • Healthy Love comes to us once we\’ve given up the search.
    Addictive Love is compulsively sought after.

  • Healthy Love comes from inside. It wants to give.
    Addictive Love comes from outside. It wants to take.

  • Healthy Love grows slowly, like a tree.
    Addictive Love grows fast, as if by magic, like those children\’s animals that expand instantly when we add water.

  • Healthy Love thrives on time alone as well as time with our partner.
    Addictive Love is frightened of being alone and afraid of being close.

  • Healthy Love is unique. There is no “ideal lover” that we seek.
    Addictive Love is stereotyped. There is always a certain type that attracts us.

  • Healthy Love is gentle and comfortable.
    Addictive Love is tense and combative.

  • Healthy Love is based on a deep knowing of ourselves and our lover.
    Addictive Love is based on hiding from ourselves and falling in love with an ideal “Image” not a person.

  • Healthy Love encourages us to be ourselves, to be honest from the beginning with who we are, including our faults.
    Addictive Love encourages secrets. We want to look good and put on an attractive mask.

  • Healthy Love flows out.
    Addictive Love caves in.

  • Healthy Love creates a deeper sense of ourselves the longer we are together.
    Addictive Love creates a loss of self the longer we are together.

  • Healthy Love gets easier as time goes on.
    Addictive Love requires more effort as time goes on.

  • Healthy Love is like rowing across a gentle lake.
    Addictive Love is like being swept away down a raging river.

  • Healthy Love grows stronger as fear decreases.
    Addictive Love expands as fear increases.

  • Healthy Love is satisfied with what we have.
    Addictive Love is always looking for more or better.

  • Healthy Love encourages interests to expand in the world.
    Addictive Love encourages outside interests to contract.

  • Healthy Love is based on the belief that we want to be together.
    Addictive Love is based on the belief that we have to be together.

  • Healthy Love teaches that we can only make ourselves happy.
    Addictive Love expects the other person to make us happy and demands that we try to make them happy.

  • Healthy Love creates life.
    Addictive Love creates melodramas.
  • Jed Diamond, PhD, LCSW Boomer Male Expert

    Jed is Founder and Director of the MenAlive, a health program that helps men live long and well. Though focused on men's health, MenAlive is also for women who care about the health of the men in their lives.