6 Songs That Show Why Toxic Love Is So Addictive

As these songs show, more than a struggle with someone else, leaving a toxic love is a struggle with yourself.

From an outside perspective, toxic relationships don't make any sense. Why would anyone stay with someone who lessens, abuses, and makes them suffer? Well, it's not that simple: most of the time, our feelings aren't logical. When we’re in love, our brain releases hormones such as dopamine (the hormone of pleasure) and serotonin (the “mood stabilizer” par excellence), so being in a toxic relationship is like being addicted to a drug: you know the “side effects” can destroy you, but you remain dependent because of the few benefits. There are also other personal factors that can determine whether someone stays in a toxic relationship or not. For instance, some of the thoughts that can make someone stay are that they won’t find anyone better, that they can work things out, that they can “change” them. Or sometimes it's just the fear of being alone.

That’s what makes toxic relationships so difficult to walk away from. More than a struggle with someone else, it's a struggle with yourself, as well as your beliefs, feelings, and even fears. Because when one person is about to leave the relationship, the toxic person might become even worse in an attempt to keep their partner by their side. This is when you need to gather the strength to cross that line between the “comfort zone”– if we may call it that– and a new life.

Many artists, no matter what genre, have described the many sides of this struggle, as well as the main fear behind the addiction: is it possible to live without that person?

“Love On the Brain,” Rihanna

Oh, and baby I'm fist fighting with fire

 Just to get close to you

 Can we burn something, babe?

 And I run for miles just to get a taste

 Must be love on the brain

 That's got me feeling this way (feeling this way)

 It beats me black and blue but it fucks me so good

 And I can't get enough

 Must be love on the brain yeah

 And it keeps cursing my name (cursing my name)

 No matter what I do, I'm no good without you

 And I can't get enough

 Must be love on the brain


In this song, RiRi takes a look at the roots of toxic love, tracing addiction to them. The soulful tone and melody of the song goes hand in hand with the realization of toxic love. It messes up with your life, your integrity, your emotions, and yet, how can you struggle against it when your brain, the one that practically controls your every action, is addicted to suffering?


“Back to Black,” Amy Winehouse

He left no time to regret

 Kept his dick wet

 With his same old safe bet

 Me and my head high

 And my tears dry

 Get on without my guy

 You went back to what you knew

 So far removed from all that we went through

 And I tread a troubled track

 My odds are stacked

 I'll go back to black

We only said goodbye with words

 I died a hundred times

 You go back to her

 And I go back to

 I go back to us


Of course, we can't forget Amy Winehouse, who explored the many faces of love in her songs, including the addiction to a smothering relationship. In “Back to Black,” Amy talks about the inequality in a toxic relationship. While the other person doesn’t really care about you, your fixation on them raises your hopes that the relationship will work. You end up becoming a weaker and smaller version of yourself, the one they can take for granted.


“I Miss the Misery,” Halestorm


I miss the bad things,

 The way you hate me,

 I miss the screaming,

 The way that you blame me!

 Miss the phone calls,

 When it's your fault,

 I miss the late nights,

 Don't miss you at all!

 I like the kick in the face,

 And the things you do to me!

 I love the way that it hurts!

 I don't miss you, I miss the misery!

This song by Halestorm explores another variation of toxic love: masochism. We’re not talking about masochism as a philia, but rather the need to suffer in your relationships because you believe fighting is another way of communicating or literally fighting for the love of the other person. In this sense, the addiction is not to the partner but to the suffering, the fights, and even the abuse, because think it makes the relationship seem even more passionate.


“Bleeding Love,” Leona Lewis


Trying hard not to hear, but they talk so loud

 Their piercing sounds fill my ears, try to fill me with doubt

 Yet I know that their goal is to keep me from falling

 But nothing's greater than the risk that comes with your embrace

 And in this world of loneliness, I see your face

 Yet everyone around me thinks that I'm going crazy

 Maybe, maybe


But I don't care what they say, I'm in love with you

 They try to pull me away, but they don't know the truth

 My heart's crippled by the vein that I keep on closing

 You cut me open and I

 Keep bleeding

 Keep, keep bleeding love


This song by Leona Lewis deals with another issue in toxic loves that is not talked about that often: other people. As I mentioned previously, from an outside perspective it’s easy to criticize the person in an abusive relationship or simply tell them to end it because you see problems that they might not be seeing. If they do see the problems, you point out how they’re dealing with them in an unhealthy way. In this last case, no matter what other people say and how a toxic love messes up their life, the addiction is so strong, that they’d rather suffer only to get that small dose of affection they call love.


“Please Don’t Leave Me,” Pink


I don't know if I can yell any louder

 How many time I've kicked you outta here?

 Or said something insulting?

 I can be so mean when I wanna be

 I am capable of really anything

 I can cut you into pieces

 When my heart is broken


Please don't leave me

 Please don't leave me

 I'm always saying how I don't need you

 But it's always gonna come right back to this

 Please, don't leave me


This song by Pink shows another side of the toxic love: when you’re the one ruining the relationship. In this song, she apparently blames the other person for making her act in a toxic way. When you have a toxic attitude, you feel a need to keep your partner close. In fact, many times, the abusive person is just afraid that their partner will leave them, so they’ll do anything they can to keep them close, even if it’s hurting them. 


“S.O.S. (Anything but Love),” Apocalyptica ft. Cristina Scabbia

Bound to your side and trapped in silence

 Just a possession

 Is the sex or only violence

 That feeds your obsession?

You send me to a broken state

 Where I can take the pain

 Just long enough

 That I am numb

 That I just disappear

 So go on and fight me

 Go on and scare me to death

 Tell me I asked for it

 Tell me I'll never forget

 You could give me anything but love

 Anything but love

This song by Finnish band Apocalyptica is about another important reason that stops people from leaving abusive relationships: fear. This song shows how you know the relationship is dangerous, but you're so hurt and so broken from the abuse, that you can't leave, to the point that you can’t think of a life without that person. This is rock bottom, but at the same time, it's also the time to make a change, gather the strength to face your abuser, and leave.


Music has expressed how difficult this kind of relationship is through many heartbreaking songs. However, as many of these songs imply, part of the real change comes from realizing you're in a toxic relationship. Once that happens, all you need is to do is gather the courage and be brave enough to continue a life free from that addiction. It might be really scary at first, but things will be so much better in the end.


Here are other songs about the many faces of love you can check out:

 This Song Will Tell You Why You Cling To A Hopeless Love

 8 Songs That Will Show You That Waiting For Someone To Love You Back Is Not Worth It

 4 Types Of Love Explained Through Amy Winehouse's Beautiful Lyrics


Cover image by Jesse Herzog