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Have you heard of the term “obsessive love disorder?”
When we are attracted to a guy or girl, it is normal to have persistent thoughts about the one we are attracted to. It’s not surprising that we’d want to spend every moment with that person.
A healthy relationship actually thrives on these thoughts that help partners become closer by spending as much time with each other as possible. Over time, these thoughts and feelings evolve into deeper respect, maturity, and commitment.
However, if we feel that the person we are attracted to is not that into us, our unrequited love can sometimes trigger obsessive thoughts. Or even worse, if you are obsessing over a crush or ex-boyfriend / ex-girlfriend that you can't be with, then these obsessive thoughts will prevent you from moving on in life.
(Side note: That said, if you still feel like there's still a chance to be with a guy that you like, then you can try the “devotion sequence” that's mentioned in this brief video.)
What You Will Learn
- What is Obsessive Love Disorder?
- 9 Symptoms of Obsessive Love
- #1. Constantly thinking about the person
- #2. Feelings of being unworthy of love
- #3. Feeling possessive (he/she is mine!) towards the person
- #4. The desire to “protect” the object of obsessive love
- #5. Feelings of jealousy when you see this person interacting with members of the opposite sex
- #6. Tend to not accept rejection from object of affection
- #7. Repeated phone calls and text messages
- #8. Diminished contact with family members and friends due to obsession over one person
- #9. Exhibiting the halo effect, where the object of obsessive love is put up on a pedestal
- Reasons Why We Obsess Over Someone
- 9 Ways to Stop Obsessing Over Someone
- Final Thoughts on Obsessing Over Someone
What is Obsessive Love Disorder?
Obsessing over someone compels us to do the following:
- Modifying our behavior with hopes that, by doing so, we can make the other person more interested in us.
- Constantly analyzing their every gesture or word toward us to assess the depth of their feelings.
- Monitoring their activities.
- Exerting effort to ensure that we are constantly in touch with the object of our obsession (this includes constant texts and calls, flooding their emails with our messages, and even downright stalking them).
It’s a case of “I want you to desire me the way I desire you,” and this obsession can blindside even the best among us.
Obsessive love can occur when you’re currently in a relationship and/or you just have a crush on someone. Our exes can also be objects of obsessive thoughts.
As you can see, it can be very unhealthy.
The infographic below shows the difference between what occurs in a healthy relationship versus an unhealthy one. You can use it as a guide to assess which type of relationship you currently have (or have had before).
And now we come to the inevitable question: How do you stop obsessing over a guy or a girl?
Let's get to it…
9 Symptoms of Obsessive Love
First, let’s talk about the obsessive love concept we briefly explored. If you're wondering if your strong feelings toward this guy or girl is not healthy, then it's important to know if you're displaying symptoms of obsessive love. Here are 9 common signs:
#1. Constantly thinking about the person
Someone who suffers from obsessive love usually wants to spend an excessive amount of time with the other person, to the point that they are always thinking about them and behaving in ways that put them in touch with the other person.
Because people who love obsessively spend so much time thinking about the object of their affection, they don't give enough attention to their friends, family, or career to maintain a high quality of life. They may limit their engagement in recreational activities or other relationships, even to the point of being unable to function in a normal manner.
#2. Feelings of being unworthy of love
Falling in love is the most vulnerable thing we do as humans. Falling in love means opening up to the possibility of being left or rejected. If you don't feel worthy of that love, you will feel insecure in your relationship, constantly believing that you will get hurt.
Now, if you're struggling with feelings of unworthiness, then take a few minutes to read these 13 strategies on loving yourself more.
#3. Feeling possessive (he/she is mine!) towards the person
If you have obsessive love disorder, you don't want to imagine the thought of this other person even considering being with anyone besides you. You also don't want other people seeing this person as a possible object of affection because you believe they belong to you and only you.
This may lead to jealous outbursts toward strangers or even friends who interact with the object of your obsession. It can also lead to making inaccurate assumptions about an interaction between this person and someone else that ends in possible embarrassment for overreacting.
And if you feel like jealousy is holding you back as a person, here are 10 strategies that can help you stop being a jealous person.
#4. The desire to “protect” the object of obsessive love
You claim to want to protect the person from others who may harm them, but you are really just isolating them from the rest of the world. You may try to limit the number of people they hang out with, convincing this person that their friends and family are toxic.
Creating limits for them in “their best interest” is a form of control that is a result of obsession.
#5. Feelings of jealousy when you see this person interacting with members of the opposite sex
This is a factor of the feelings of possession that you have over this person. You don't want anyone to think that this person is available or get the idea that they like someone else as more than a friend. Also, you don't want the object of your obsession to find someone they think they will like better than you.
#6. Tend to not accept rejection from object of affection
If the other person walks out on you during a fight, hangs up on you, or rejects you in any other way, you may have a very strong reaction. Any hint of rejection that you get from this person sends you into a panic, thinking that you might lose them forever. You have an inability to accept failure or rejection.
#7. Repeated phone calls and text messages
Not only do you need to check up on this person during the day, you also want to constantly be on their mind. Interacting through texts and phone calls allows you to know where they are at all times during the day and make sure that they are paying attention to you.
If you text or call and don't hear back for a while, you probably get extremely upset and frustrated, and end up coming to the worst conclusions, thinking that they are with another person or doing something behind your back.
#8. Diminished contact with family members and friends due to obsession over one person
You give up time that you would otherwise spend with your friends and family to be with this other person. You make them a priority over everything else, and you never want to suggest that you are unavailable to be by their side.
Holiday dinners at your parents' house might be cut short and nights out with your friends may become few and far between as you spend all of your time with this one person.
#9. Exhibiting the halo effect, where the object of obsessive love is put up on a pedestal
Any and everything this person does is perfect to you. And everything you do for them has to be perfect as well. You may have an article of their clothing in your home that you always sleep with or a picture by your bed that you often stare at until you fall asleep.
Why do people experience these symptoms? And how do people get to this point of obsession where their world is revolving around someone else so much? Let's look at a few reasons why this could be happening.
Reasons Why We Obsess Over Someone
Thus far, a specific cause of obsessive love has not yet been identified. However, it is usually present in some mental disorders, such as in borderline personality disorder (BPD). It can also be present in people diagnosed with obsessive-compulsive disorders (OCD).
People with BPD and OCD have underlying symptoms of obsession, and love is certainly not the only place where this symptom can manifest itself. However, it is one area of a person's life that other people can easily notice, especially the object of the affection.
In this 10-minute video, clinical psychologist Steven Phillipson defines what relationship obsessive compulsive disorder (ROCD) is, describes the symptoms of ROCD, and gives suggestions for the treatment of the disorder.
This subset of OCD causes sufferers to be consumed with doubts regarding their relationships. They question their love and attraction for their partners, their compatibility with their partners, and how much their partners love them.
While it is normal to have doubts or concerns about your partner, people suffering from ROCD have irrational thoughts that are unfounded and detrimental to their lives.
9 Ways to Stop Obsessing Over Someone
If your obsession over someone is causing havoc in your life, here are some tried-and-true ways to stop the unhealthy attraction.
1. Take them off their pedestal.
It is so easy to overlook someone’s flaws when we are attracted to them. Consciously putting a spotlight on their shortcomings can help you get over the obsession. Look at everything this person does that you don't like or wouldn't prefer in a partner. Highlight these areas a bit more so you can see that there is a balance, and that the person is not perfect.
Also, think about the bad times that you have had with this person. Think about the times you were stressed out about what they were doing, or that night that they walked out on you during a fight. These are the moments in which this person showed their true colors, so don't only focus on the positive from the past.
2. Do not let their opinions define who you are.
When we’re obsessed with someone, we usually think highly of his or her opinion, no matter how absurd it is. If this person belittles you through hurtful words, it is high time to get them out of your life. You deserve love and respect. You are not a victim of your past, and it does not define you unless you allow it to.
Don’t let someone tell you that there is no opportunity to create a positive change and grow in a new direction, because there always is. Doing so will make you feel confined, limited, and in despair. Anyone who wants to keep you thinking in this way is likely to use this tactic because they're uncomfortable with the positive change in your life, and afraid they will lose you as you make progress and move on to better things.
You have to be the ultimate decision maker in your life. You do the things that are best for you in the long term, and don't listen to anyone who tries to limit you or your potential.
3. Get a support system.
Enlist the help of your friends to help you cope and get over a person you’re obsessed with. Your friends and family are probably very aware of the situation, and they can give you that ever-so-important outsider's perspective. Their perspective helps you understand things not only about yourself, but also about the other person. Maybe you looked past some red flags or negative traits that they saw. If you need to, get an accountability partner that you can contact when you feel overwhelmed by feelings of obsession.
Additionally, they’ll be able to comfort and support you during this period. When you get a chance, go out. Call your friends up and go out to dinner or grab a drink. Don’t sit alone at home, drowning in your sorrows. Go out and keep living your life, because the other person is still living their life.
And if you don't have a large social circle, then here are 35 ideas to help you meet new people. My favorite idea is to join or create a Meetup group related to your personal interest.
4. Realize that you don’t need them in your life.
This could apply to a new crush or an ex-partner. You may want this person, but they do nothing positive in your life. Believe that you are better off without someone who does not appreciate or cherish you. Believe that you shouldn't have to convince someone to stay or to want to be with you. And think about how well you lived your life before you met this person.
It will be difficult to recognize at first that you don't need this person in your life. However, as time goes by, it will get easier and easier to understand. After enough time has passed, you will realize that you are actually better off without them.
In the video below, which runs for five minutes, several suggestions are offered on how to cope when you are experiencing unrequited love.
5. Practice mindfulness.
If, every time you start to think about this person, you do nothing to stop your thought patterns, you will be trapped in your obsessive behavior. So every time you think about this person, stop. Realize that you are giving into an obsessive thought process. Once you are able to recognize the thoughts as they form, you can start to control them.
Mindfulness takes practice, but once you get the hang of it, you will reap the benefits. It will allow healing of your brain and body. Mindfulness has been used for centuries, and has stood the test of time. Experiment with mindful meditation and be open to the possibility of it helping you change your mindset.
And if you want to learn more about this topic, then here are a few articles and resources you can use to get started with mindfulness:
- How to Practice Mindfulness: Step-by-Step
- 15 Mindfulness and Meditation Apps
- 71 Mindfulness Exercises to Live in a the Present Moment
- 20 Mindfulness Books to Find Your Inner Peace
- 17 Mindfulness and Meditation Podcasts
6. Distance yourself.
Distancing yourself helps you shift your focus from the object of your obsession to your own life. It might mean temporarily relocating to another city or avoiding places where the other person tends to hang out. We are creatures of habit who live in a routine that hardly varies from week to week.
Habits and routines are comfortable and create a sense of safety. But at this point, you’re looking to get out of that routine so you can stop obsessing. If you are doing things that remind you of this person, you’re not trying to get them out of your mind — you’re trying to have them stay in your life.
It is time to create new habits. When you change up your habits, you're telling your brain to wake up and be present, which is the type of brain patterns that you need. And if your obsession levels are extreme? Then you have to take control and move.
This will help you restart your life in a new area. You will be ready for the future instead of being tied down to the past. For people who are prone to obsessive behaviors, staying in the same place for a long time can add a lot to your feelings of repetition. Changing your environment will change your perspective and your thought patterns.
7. Trace the source of your obsession.
This could mean exploring within and asking how your relationship was with your primary caregivers. It will probably help shed light on the reason you are obsessed with someone now, and help you understand why you seek a relationship with someone who is emotionally unavailable.
Look into attachment styles, and try to determine what kind of attachment style you have. This could explain your behavior in relationships and your need to hold onto people even if they are not showing you the same feelings in return.
8. Find something new to do.
Commit to learning new things in the coming weeks. It equips you with new abilities, as well as giving you something else to focus on rather than just the person you are obsessing over.
Maybe exploring new hobbies seems like a generic solution to many of life's problems, but that's just because it is very effective. Learning a new skill can wake up your brain and shift your perspective to get you out of your obsessive rut. (To learn more, here are 22 benefits of starting a new hobby.)
For example, if the object of your obsession always hated going to museums or watching documentaries, take the time now to dive into these pastimes that you have had to avoid recently for that person's sake. Or, if you are interested in a certain subject, pick up some learning materials and make yourself an expert.
If you're interested in learning a new skill, then I recommend checking out one (or all of) these platforms:
- Skillshare (You can read the review of it here.)
- Udemy (You can read the review of it here.)
- Coursera (You can read the review of it here.)
And if you something simple, here is an app where you can read or listen to a summary of the best books in under 15 minutes.
9. Seek professional help.
If your obsession over someone is affecting the overall quality of your life, it would be a good idea to consult a health professional to determine if a medical intervention is necessary. Talking to friends and family can be very helpful, but it isn't always the best solution for people with a serious case of obsessive thoughts.
Talking to a professional can help you explore what is causing you to think about this other person, what is it about them that is holding onto your thoughts, and how can start changing your thought patterns. You will discover your triggers and learn about redirection. A professional can lead you down a road to recovery. Don’t feel bad about yourself for reaching out for professional help.
And if you're looking for a simple way to connect with a licensed professional, then try the Talkspace app, which connects you with an online therapist that you can immediately message.
Final Thoughts on Obsessing Over Someone
Today, we’ve learned that obsessions can be triggered by unrequited love. Obsessive love can have many causes, but the main takeaway from this article is that being in a relationship with someone who does not reciprocate your feelings is very unhealthy.
I hope that the 9 strategies that we covered gave you a few ideas that you can use to stop obsessing about someone and move on with your life.
And, if you still feel like there's still a chance to be with a guy that you like, then you can try the “devotion sequence” that's mentioned in this brief video.