Understanding Pathological Love: Meaning & Treatment

Last Update on December 1, 2022 : Published on December 1, 2022

Have you ever come across someone who is ‘mad’ in love with someone that their love just terrifies you? Some people go overboard in love and do extremely toxic and harmful things in their relationship.

The definition of love and being in a relationship is very different for such people. Pathological love, in layman’s language, is when love becomes obsessive or when someone develops an addiction to love.

Being in a relationship where your partner is a pathological lover, is going to take a toll on your mental, emotional and physical health. Why someone turns into a pathological lover completely depends on the type of life they have lived.

Let’s uncover the true meaning of such pathological relationships together…

Pathological Relationship Meaning

Pathological Relationship

Pathological relationships are those relationships that are formed on pathological love. One or both partners in the relationship are addicted to love and have a very destructive love language. The love that is shared in such relationships is often obsessive and uncontrollable.

Isn’t it strange? Why would someone feel an undying need for love even when it is at the cost of their partner’s mental health? Perhaps it’s the addiction to love that makes a pathological lover behave in such a maladaptive manner.

Although there is no formal definition of a pathological relationship of love, some experts pointed out that love addiction or pathological love is a behavioral addiction and should be dealt with in a similar fashion.

Researchers who have been studying pathological love have found out that it shares its traits with mood disorders, impulse control, and obsessive-compulsive behavior. Some even say that pathological love can be described as reward-seeking impulsivity combined with a maladaptive attachment style.

What Causes Pathological Love?

There can be various reasons for one to turn into a pathological love. However, there is a prominent cause that has been heightened every time we talk about pathological love. And that is unhealthy childhood attachment.

The need for love, acceptance, self-esteem and belonging is common during childhood but when they are attached to maladaptive behaviors, it can be a problem. Maladaptive attachment styles in children, if not treated can show up in their adult life.

Here are some experiences of childhood that can lead to early attachment trauma eventually leading to the development of pathological love or relationship;

  • Parents leaving their children on their own at an early age (early autonomy)
  • When a parent and child have a co-dependent relationship
  • Physical, emotional abuse, or abandonment
  • When a child is taught to seek love and acceptance from others rather than themselves


Is Pathological Love Treatable?

Even though pathological love has not been considered a mental disorder, it surely is capable of doing some damage to your mental well-being. When it comes to treating such obsessive behaviors, there is no ‘one size fits all’ kind of treatment available.

However, the good news is that the obsessive behavioral pattern of a pathological lover can be reduced and managed with the help of some mental health treatment interventions. Since pathological love is a type of behavioral addiction, looking for the root cause of this addiction should be the priority for any treatment option you choose.

Once you have recognized the patterns of pathological love in your relationship, the first thing you do is visit a mental health professional. It is important to get yourself analyzed by a mental health professional because your obsessive and impulsive behavior can stem from anything that has happened in the past.

It’s important to know why you might have developed the behaviors of that pathological lover or why your relationship turned pathological. Once that information is achieved, your therapist can sit together and choose the best treatment approach for you.

Here’s a list of treatment options that might help you in treating pathological love;

That’s All Folks!

I hope you found this blog about pathological love interesting, informative and helpful. Do share this blog with your friends and family because we never know who is having problems in their relationship because of pathological love.

Thanks for reading.

Take care and stay safe.

About The Author

Kirti Bhati
Kirti Bhati

I am an English literature (major) and psychology (minor) graduate from St. Bede’s College, Shimla. Postgraduate in Clinical psychology from IIS University, Jaipur. She has published a Research paper on Music therapy in the military population and Workplace stress in a national seminar conducted by Fortis hospital (gurugram) and international seminar conducted by St. Bede’s College, Shimla, Respectively. Authored a dissertation work on ‘effect of social media addiction on the mental and physical well-being in adolescents’ Currently working at calm sage as a writer.

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