Addicted to love

Local author’s new memoir about sex addiction’s silent sister

By Tara Pettit

Photo: “Insatiable: A Memoir of Love Addiction” is available on, Barnes and, and in all major bookstores

Crazy in love. Fool for love. Addicted to love. We’ve all heard, seen and even experienced from time to time the intense emotional highs and lows associated with romantic love—so much so that these phrases are ingrained in our culture. They show up in our conversations, in songs we hear on the radio… and even in our own relationships.

But it’s normal, right? It happens to everyone. It’s natural. But does everyone have the same experience in love and heartache and to the same degree?

Believe it or not, for some the pursuit of romantic love is an outright addiction.

While not a new form of illness by any means, the idea of love addiction has never really been explored as an addiction in itself. More recently, however, psychologists and behavioral professionals are beginning to dig deeper into the nature of social addictions like the extreme craving for romantic love, finally recognizing it as a disorder with unique diagnosable addictive triggers after being lumped in the category of “sex addiction” for so long.

Shary Hauer spent the beginning years of her adult life in a series of failed relationships; the first of many having started in her home city of Dayton—where she begins her recently-published memoir, “Insatiable, A Memoir of Love Addiction,” published by SheWrites Press. Her life story, marked by what she came to discover as under the influence of a true addiction, unfolds with a scene from that first intense relationship, developed while working for a Dayton company, and igniting her never-ending quest and insatiable desire for love.

Through her more recent navigation of what is a real psychological, even physical, illness, Hauer discovered the destructive reality of love addiction, realizing that sometimes the best things in life, even in love and romance, can go very, very wrong.

“I knew I wasn’t normal,” Hauer says. “I knew my obsessiveness in relationships wasn’t typical, but it wasn’t until I saw there was something actually called love addiction that I knew what I was experiencing was real.”

The biggest misconception about love addiction?

“The biggest misconception about love addiction … is that love addiction is sex addiction,” Hauer says. “However, love is not about sex … you will find a lot of sex addicts who are also love addicts … they are both under the umbrella of what we consider intimacy disorders because both love and sex addicts really fear and avoid intimacy.”

The latest research in the addictive properties of romantic love and social attachments reports findings in the correlation between romantic rejection and physical addiction, neurochemical withdrawal and even the neural effects of social rejection manifested as physical pain.

Hauer defines the disorder as a “compulsive, chronic craving in pursuit of romantic love” referring to it as a “preoccupation of the mind” in varying degrees from mild to the extreme.

Similar to sex addiction, love addicts are essentially a victim of their fantasies, but the channel for achieving the intimacy craved by indulging in fantasy is very different.

“I like to call love addiction the silent sister of sex addiction,” Hauer says. “Everyone knows about sex addiction because it’s always in the headlines! But when it comes to love addiction, people dismiss it and make fun of it, saying it’s ridiculous because everyone gets infatuated in love. It’s not considered a serious disorder or illness.”

Researchers in neuroscience are taking part in studies that measure the brain wave activity of someone considered love addicted in comparison to the waves of someone addicted to heroin.

What they’ve discovered is that there’s virtually no difference in the chemical interactions that take place in the brain when it comes to the cravings and withdrawals experienced by either addict, Hauer says. As with any addiction, there is a particular brain pattern that queues the chemically induced craving and crash associated with and motivated by the object of craving.

“There is an actual withdrawal period that occurs in the breakups,” Hauer says. “For me, it was like literally, physically coming off a drug.”

In her book, Hauer documents her life’s relationships from the time she was a child, seeking attention from her mother, to some of her most traumatic experiences clinging to a significant other in a relationship grown cold.

After Hauer’s many failed relationships and traumatic heartbreaks, she began asking the tough questions about her relationship with love itself, evaluating her devastation along the way to get to the bottom of what she saw as a life slipping out of control and into a spiraling cycle of serial romances. She sought solace in putting pen to paper—the only thing that allowed her feelings to be validated outside of herself.

“When processing on paper, I just knew there had to be so many other women out there in my shoes,” Hauer says. “Even if we can’t yet quantify it, I know there are a lot of women out there suffering.”

Hauer’s memoir, a pioneering piece and one of very few books written on the topic of love addiction, serves as a source of knowledge, validation and encouragement for the person trying to make sense of their own relationship to romantic love.

“Insatiable: A Memoir of Love Addiction” is available on, Barnes and,, and in all major bookstores. For more information, please visit

Reach DCP freelance writer Tara Pettit at

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Tara Pettit is a regional journalist and communications specialist with a focus on the arts, social/environmental justice issues, and community activism. She is passionate about cultivating intentional community and engaging in collaborative creative projects that make healthy community possible. Reach her at

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