Do you fall in love too easily?
You’re hopelessly romantic. You keep falling in love only to wind up hurt.
Emophilia is the psychological term for people who fall in love too easily, too quickly, and too often. Emophilia is not a diagnosis or a mental illness. It is simply a term to describe those who repeatedly and easily fall in love.
By “fall in love,” I mean the emotional rush of a crush, of being smitten. The feeling feels overpowering. You feel swept off your feet, starry-eyed, enamored. You feel as if you could no more help falling in love than you could gasping in awe at the Grand Canyon.
Falling in love feels good. Everything seems brighter and happier. One person described it as “a feeling you feel when you feel a feeling you’ve never felt before.” It’s the stuff of ecstasy and hot sex. Every day is Valentine’s Day.
But, there’s a downside. People who very easily fall in love are especially vulnerable to getting repeatedly involved in toxic relationships. Recent research indicates that people high in emophilia are quite likely to be attracted to those in what psychologists call the “Dark Triad.”
What is the Dark Triad?
The Dark Triad consists of Machiavellianism, psychopathy, and narcissism. Machiavellianism, psychopathy, and narcissism are not psychiatric diagnoses. They describe traits.
Machiavellianism describes a person who uses manipulation and gaslighting to deceive others for their own benefit. The name comes from the writings of 16th century philosopher Niccolò Machiavelli.
Psychopathy describes a person who lacks empathy and sees others as objects, as means to an end, as existing only for the psychopath’s benefit. People with psychopathic traits are most often diagnosed with either Antisocial Personality Disorder or Narcissistic Personality Disorder.
Narcissists are self-centered, feel entitled, have an overblown opinion of themselves, and are egocentric. They are often dashing, attractive, and poised.
Machiavellianism, psychopathy, and narcissism are called Dark because they are toxic. They are referred to as a Triad because they often overlap and occur in the same person.
All too often, a person high in emophilia falls in love with a person in the Dark Triad. They are vulnerable to the manipulations of Dark Triad people. Longing for genuine love, they settle for a toxic substitute. They often have difficulty extracting themselves from those relationships. Sometimes, a Dark Triad person will also be high in emophilia, repeatedly falling head over heels in love with another Dark Triad person.
Healthy relationships are entered into slowly, thoughtfully, carefully, advisably, and purposely. Divergent beliefs and behaviors are identified, openly discussed, and resolved with compromise. Initial euphoria may lead to the deliberate growth of healthy love, but the emophiliac never lets that happen. Instead, they go from one high to another, one relationship to the next. Each relationship crashes and burns in disappointment and pain, then is quickly replaced with another relationship.
Tragically, our culture too often encourages emophilia. These people are considered the life of the party – fun, outgoing, gregarious, exciting.
So, where does emophilia come from?
Because we live in a less than perfect world, all of us carry woundedness from childhood. Some of us were severely wounded; others slightly.
It appears that most people high in emophilia, those who fall in love too quickly and too often with toxic people, carry deep feelings of loneliness – a fear of always being alone, coupled with a fear of intimacy and interior inferiority, most likely as a result of real or perceived lack of parental nurture. To compensate for low self-esteem and fears of being unlovable, a person over compensates by rushing into euphoric feelings.
What to do about it.
1. Take responsibility and control. For a season, stop dating, stop surfing relationship sites, stop reading romance novels, stop going to bars and clubs, stop listening to romantically themed music, stay away from church single’s groups, and stop writing, emailing, or texting people you find attractive.
2. Get into therapy, relationship coaching, or legitimate counseling. Stick with it. With the help of a professional, explore where you lacked nurture as a child, uncover why you feel lonely and unlovable, and why you fear intimacy.
3. With a spiritual director, develop a richer understanding of who you are at your core, what the purpose of your life is, and how to love yourself.