Are You ‘Lovesick’?

tammy-nelsonEditor’s note: Tammy Nelson, PhD, is the author of The New Monogamy and Getting the Sex You Want. Her continuing education presentation for, titled Couples in Recovery After Infidelity: Creating a New Monogamy, is scheduled for 9 a.m. PDT on September 6. The event is good for 1.5 CE credits and is available at no cost to members. For details, or to register, please click here.

“Lovesickness” means you have fallen hard. Or perhaps you love someone you can’t have. Or, worse, you have lost someone you desperately want back.

Being lovesick hurts and feels awesome at the same time. It is a romantic stage of love, a feeling so familiar because we see it in seemingly every movie, hear it in seemingly every song, and read it in seemingly every poem. Lovesickness is common in every culture in the world. In almost every story ever told, in every Disney movie, and in every vampire novel, there is an undercurrent of love or loss of love. Our longing for love and the “sickness” that comes from falling in and out of it are what make up our idea of romance.

Longing—the desire for another—and the terrible and obsessive feelings it brings are what we learn from an early age to expect when we fall in love. Wanting or longing is our cultural imperative. I want what I cannot have, either because you are from the wrong side of the tracks, the wrong family, I am alive and you are dead, or some variation on the theme. In the end, we find each other somehow. Love always prevails, and we are happy, even for a moment. When love is lost, we cry and the world cries with us. The loss of love is a universal pain, as is the joy of finding it.

New love can feel like addiction. If you put someone in an MRI machine when they are newly infatuated and look at his or her brain scan, the same portions of the brain light up as those that are triggered when high on cocaine. When in romantic love, or the limerence phase, the brain is overloaded with dopamine and norepinephrine production, which creates symptoms similar to obsessive compulsion. They include sleeplessness, restlessness, and obsession. Impulsive behaviors such as driving by the lover’s house, or sleeping with the phone waiting for a call, seem illogical. Longing to be with that person all the time, regardless of other responsibilities, precludes all logical thoughts. People with lovesickness often experience intense sexual feelings for that person and can feel desperate to see the person and to touch him/her constantly.

We may feel intense grief, frustration, and sadness when we can’t be with the person. When we get scared and worry we are losing our love interest, we might actually become physically ill. Depression can increase, and cravings for things such as ice cream or chocolate are common due to the serotonin levels changing in the brain. When our brain chemicals are disrupted, if our love object breaks up with us or if we are separated during this falling-in-love phase, we might become more obsessive and do things we never dreamed of, including parking in their neighborhood or outside their homes. At this point, those who are more unstable might even turn dangerous, breaking into homes, stealing belongings, or checking computers and phones. Jealousy, intense suspicion, and even violence can increase in people who have these tendencies.

If the relationship continues in a normal, happy way and real love kicks in, the relationship moves into the attachment phase. Dopamine levels in the brain begin to level off. Both people start to relax as levels of oxytocin and vasopressin increase. These chemicals make us want to bond, to cuddle, and to stay home. We stop wanting to see friends or even leave the house. Sex wins out over socializing, and if we’re not careful, we might get married and begin procreating.

Being lovesick can cause great surges of creativity. Some of the greatest songs in history are written at times like these. Creative urges are strong at times of real lovesickness; poets, writers, and artists have known this for ages. Sublimation means turning intense emotions into something else. If you are lovesick, now is the time to write, sculpt, sing, or even start a new workout routine. This will help you take all of the intense energy in your heart (and brain) and channel it into something that will benefit you. Start a journal and write about your feelings. Two years from now, you might read it and think, “Ugh … what was I thinking?” Or you may find you have a wonderful new romantic novel or beautiful new love song.

© Copyright 2013 All rights reserved. Permission to publish granted by Tammy Nelson, PhD, Featured Presenter

The preceding article was solely written by the author named above. Any views and opinions expressed are not necessarily shared by Questions or concerns about the preceding article can be directed to the author or posted as a comment below.

  • Leave a Comment
  • Yulanda

    July 25th, 2013 at 4:13 AM

    I guess we have all been there
    but far from feeling creative
    i felt silly and stupid

  • jasmine y

    July 26th, 2013 at 4:22 AM

    You do sort of need some sort of outlet for that little buzz that you feel at the start of a new relationship. You know that eventually things will veen out but while there is still all of that that is new, you need something to keep you focused on something other than that new little love you are feeling.

  • Wren

    November 16th, 2013 at 5:48 AM

    Lovesickness can be a chronic and dysfunctional style of attachment, where the individual is repeatedly drawn to emotionally unavailable partners, and the resulting fallout from such engagement can be psychologically devastating.

  • Papoo

    March 8th, 2019 at 12:34 PM

    This is so me right now!

  • John

    December 2nd, 2013 at 2:14 PM

    It huuuuurrrrrrrrrrtsss!!!! It hurts so, so much!

  • Vanissa

    November 4th, 2019 at 9:33 PM

    Its me ! I’m love sick my heart wants her bad I don’t know what to do but I can’t have her like I want

  • Anon

    November 9th, 2019 at 8:04 PM

    Being love sick sucks..

  • Reabetswe

    July 3rd, 2020 at 6:27 PM

    I can’t say why or don’t why but it seems that I have fallen love sick with her

  • Antony

    December 15th, 2020 at 4:05 PM

    I felt like that with a teacher who I really like. We get on well and what I think about her she’s smart, funny and attractive. I mean it’s natural to fancy someone who you really like but with my teacher she needs to be professional and I have to accept that she is my teacher and nothing can happen. I’am lovesick for her.

  • Javier

    April 20th, 2021 at 10:15 PM

    No kidding welcome to my world.

  • Rose heise

    December 18th, 2021 at 2:25 PM

    Believe me I’m in pain, my husband passed away September 11 2020, one month later I fall in love with a man from syria, it’s been one year, 4 months, we talk and have true love he writes me beautiful notes an poems of love to me, very sweet and thoughtful words. I love him, so much it hurts bad. He a doctor in syria, have pictures of him, an I believe he loves me. True love, but im in pain, wondering if I will ever see him an hold him my arms. I cry and cry for him, all the time songs kill me, im jealous of relationships. God when can I have him, I trust his words, but never seen him or heard his voice, im very scared, miss him so much our feelings are mutual respect. All I know other men love me as well just talking to them nothing else no contact what so ever. What do I do, how can I love anyone else, after all the love I have for him, I feel I will die of loving him,an can never love another man. True love is stronger, comes once in a life time, I was married to my husband Robert 49 years, but this feelings I have for a man I never met yet, his hurting me, my heart crying for him, im bring up a grandchild, of my son, who passed away December 23 2015 6 years soon, to this day, my grandchild has family, no mom believes in her drugs, sad. My Kaylee hates her mom. But with all this my life can not be the same without him, soon, please do I move on with someone else, or wait for the love of my life. Believe me I know he loves me, im almost sure. I can’t see him, an what’s goes on their, I know his beautiful pictures have been stolen from him, an found my self, speaking to the wrong man, possibly fraud . He I believe is not a fraud, but someone who found true love with me. God help us please, say amen that we will meet soon. From Rosetta

  • Rose

    December 18th, 2021 at 2:26 PM

    Women in love and painful to my heart, in love with him.

  • Ishaq

    January 24th, 2022 at 9:22 AM

    I love her since 2015 of to now
    now am not sleep well, eating too much,loss appetite

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