My pet name for love addiction is Affection Deficit Disorder. I crave affection. I long for affection. There's never enough affection to fill the aching emptiness inside. I feel the same way about appetizers; Sit me down at an all-you-can-eat buffet and you won't see me for a week. The appetizers, however, have never left me curled up in fetal position on the floor, staring at a phone that refuses to ring.
Perhaps you have found yourself in that position. If you are 16, this is perfectly normal and you are free to go. If you are, say, 42 ... not so much.
Here are a few telltale signs and symptoms of affection deficit disorder: You might be a love addict if ...
● You check your crush's daily horoscope in the morning along with your own. Especially if you check theirs first. Ditto for their Facebook page.
● You leave a second (or third, or fourth) voicemail message before the first message is returned, just in case, a) she didn't hear it properly or, b) he's shy and needs encouragement or, c) maybe you dialed wrong or, d) maybe you forgot to leave a callback number or, e) maybe she called and you missed it or ... or ... or ... Pick a letter. I've got a whole alphabet.
● You changed your route home to pass your love object's house -- especially if you park outside the house and wait. (Standing across the street counts if you live in a big city, particularly if you are standing in the rain.)
● You can develop an instant fondness for a hobby or musical genre you found abhorrent only days before just because he likes it.
● You know your lover's email password or voicemail password.
● You have read your lover's email or listened to their voicemail.
● You have read your lover's journal. Especially if you flipped through it first, looking for your own name.
● You have checked your lover's underwear.
● It hurts a little when you learn that an attractive person -- any attractive person, even persons you don't actually know -- has gotten married or engaged to someone who is not you.
● You rearrange your desk so your coworkers can't see what's on your monitor.
● Your Life List of sex partners is in the three figure range. (For rock stars and professional athletes, make that four figures.)
● You keep a Life List of sex partners.
● The only phone numbers you know by heart are your mother, your latest crush and your psychic. Mother is optional.
● You really believe that you can save that [stripper, convict, biker, serial philanderer, suicide survivor, alcoholic] with the depth and purity of your love.
No, that's not a real test. That's just a little pop quiz based on my own experience. I'm the kind of love addict who can walk into a room filled with admirers, find the one person who is not interested and fall in love instantly. It's their very unavailability that makes them desirable. If you could only get him (or her, or him/her, or wherever you sit in that church), it would prove, dammit, that you're not the unlovable dweeb you know yourself to be.
Why do women love bad boys and men love bad girls? Well, they're dangerous, and that's exciting. We tend to confuse excitement with happiness and fear with lust. But mostly, it's because they treat us like dirt, and so we feel like dirt around them.
This gnawing low opinion of ourselves makes love addicts great groupies. We gravitate to stars like planetary bodies circling a sun, only in stiletto heels. Sometimes, we take it all the way to becoming an actual star. If I'm famous, then they, whoever they are, will have to notice me! I once asked a television personality at the height of his fame whether he was finally getting the attention he craved, whether it finally filled that aching black hole. "Not really," he said. "It's always the wrong kind of attention, or from the wrong people, or at the wrong time."
Affection deficit disorder. It's a lot like alcoholism: one's too many and a thousand's not enough.
Follow Ethlie Ann Vare on Twitter: www.twitter.com/LoveAddict_Book