What is obsessive love?
The technical term for being obsessed with someone is obsessive love disorder or OLD. It happens when we become consumed by thoughts of someone we think we are in love with. Obsessive love disorder is not a medically recognized condition, but it often coexists with other mental health conditions and can be very serious. That’s not always the case, however.
Obsession varies in severity. We’ve all done it.
On the one hand, it’s perfectly normal at the beginning of a relationship to feel a little head-over-heels with your significant other. This is commonly known as the infatuation stage of a relationship.
Or what about your first crush? Remember those feelings of trying to interpret every word or gesture they made towards you? The hours lost to daydreaming about some impossible future?
It’s normal. We’ve all obsessed over someone or something we couldn’t have at one point or another.
However, we cross a line when infatuation turns into a compulsive obsession.
It’s important to understand obsessive love in order to know if you are truly suffering from obsessive love disorder or just a stubborn infatuation. You may also have concerns about another person’s intentions towards you.
Either way, we’ll break down the signs of obsessive love, behaviors related to obsession, and strategies you can implement to stop obsessing over someone.
Signs of Obsessive Love
You may be struggling with obsessive love disorder if you exhibit any of the following symptoms:
- An overwhelming attraction to someone that drastically impacts your day-to-day life
- Obsessive thoughts about the person
- Possessive thoughts and actions
- Extreme and irrational jealousy over this person’s interactions with others
- A strong desire to spend excessive amounts of time with this person
- Altering plans in order to be near someone
- Engaging in co-dependent behaviors
- Feeling a need to control the other person
- Falling “in love” too quickly
- Refusing to accept the other person’s boundaries
- A preoccupation with the relationship after a short period of time
As you can see, the range of behavior varies in severity. While you might not engage in some of the more serious stuff, if you find yourself nodding your head “yes” to any of these, it’s time to make some changes.
What does obsessive love look like in practice?
There are many ways obsessive love manifests in the real world. Here are some red flag behaviors that indicate you or someone you know may be struggling with obsessive love:
- Sending multiple texts, emails, or phone calls to this person
- Compulsively checking their social media (cyberstalking)
- Demonstrating a constant need for reassurance
- Checking the social media profiles of friends of this person
- Canceling plans with friends and family members in order to be with this person
- Monitoring the other person’s actions
- Trying to control where this person goes and which activities they do
- Losing friendships and becoming socially isolated from others in pursuit of this person
How to Stop Obsessing Over Someone
If there is a guy or girl in your life that you feel particularly hung up on there are things you can do to move on. Sometimes after a breakup or in dealing with a crush who doesn’t feel the same, we feel out of sorts. We’re not ourselves. That’s okay, but it’s important to get it under control.
Or maybe your feelings for a new paramour are too intense and entering into unhealthy territory, and you want to pull back.
Regardless of the situation, there are things you can do to stop obsessing over someone and get your life back.
1. Admit that you’re obsessing.
The first step when you want to stop obsessing over someone is to admit that you’re doing it. We are very good at rationalizing our unhealthy behavior. But that’s not helpful.
Acknowledge that you’re engaging in unhealthy behavior so that you can open yourself up to fixing it.
2. Understand your triggers.
What makes you start obsessing over this person? If there are particular feelings or situations that trigger your obsessing, stop and take note of them. What is going on the moment before you reach for your phone to send yet another text?
In order to move past your obsessive thoughts, you have to understand what triggers them. If you feel lonely or insecure in these moments, make a conscious effort to deal with these feelings. Get ahead of the obsessive thought. Call friends to hang out or find self-soothing solutions to avoid engaging in obsessive behaviors.
3. Get some distance.
Try to put some physical and emotional distance between you and this person. If it’s an ex or a crush you’re obsessing over, make a conscious effort to avoid places they are likely to be. If it’s someone you’re in a relationship with, establish new boundaries with them. Make plans to hang out with friends. The point is to get some mental separation so you can work on the underlying issues driving your obsessive behavior with this person.
4. Realize this person is NOT perfect.
Nobody is perfect and that includes the object of your affection. Putting someone on a pedestal can lead to obsessive behavior. Take them off.
Make note of this person’s flaws. Force yourself to see this person in a realistic light. It will help you make peace with whatever situation you have. If the person you’re obsessing over is an ex or crush, acknowledging their flaws can help you see the situation more clearly.
This is not the most perfect person who ever existed. There are other people in this world who can be a better fit for you. The world will not end if this person is not in love with you. It’s likely you’ll reach a point in the not-so-distant future when you’ll look back and think, “What did I see in him/her?”
5. Find healthy distractions.
One surefire way to tamp down obsessive thoughts is to find a healthy distraction. Choose an activity to engage in that can help you get your mind off things.
Whether it’s taking up a new hobby, starting a new fitness routine, or keeping your social calendar booked, find somewhere else to place your energy.
6. Figure out what is missing.
Sometimes obsessing over someone is a sign that something is lacking in your internal world. Are you projecting some unmet needs onto this person? Do you feel happy and lively in their presence, but the exact opposite in their absence?
It’s likely your obsession with this person is reflecting a sense of lack within yourself. Once you focus your efforts on self-healing and cultivating the positive aspects of yourself this other person brings out, you’ll be on a better path.
7. Try mindfulness.
Mindfulness is a great way to regain control over your thoughts and inner world. Obsession is an emotional black hole. Starting a meditation practice can help you develop a healthier relationship with your thoughts and become more in tune with your needs.
It’s especially good for times when you feel you lack control over your thoughts. It also helps you get some distance from the obsessive thoughts.
Mindfulness teaches us to observe our thoughts without attaching ourselves to them. Instead of getting consumed by our thoughts, we can learn to see them as separate from our identity. This distance helps us see our thoughts more objectively which affords us the space to change what we don’t like.
8. Stop blaming yourself.
When you’re stuck in a post-breakup obsession or a crush who doesn’t see you the way you see them, it is easy to blame yourself.
You may feel there is something flawed or inadequate about you. Internalizing those messages can fuel cognitive distortions that make you question your self-worth.
Did you make mistakes? Are you engaging in unhealthy relationship patterns? Take some time to critically examine your relationships and the feelings attached to them. What can you learn? What can you do differently in the future?
Do the emotional work necessary to move on.
9. Reach out to your support systems.
There’s no need to suffer alone. If you feel overwhelmed by obsessive thoughts and are struggling to get over someone, lean on your support systems.
Who are the friends or family members you can talk to about this? Sometimes being able to talk about and admit to your feelings are exactly what you need to diminish their power over you.
Your loved ones can offer a new perspective you may not have considered. They can also act as accountability partners as you try to find a new normal.
10. Get professional help.
Sometimes our obsession with others is indicative of underlying issues. If your quality of life is impacted, you may need to talk to a medical professional.
Talk therapy can also be beneficial because your therapist is an impartial third party who can see the situation more objectively than even your family and friends. Plus, they are trained professionals who are there specifically to help.
There’s no shame in getting counseling when you feel in over your head. A therapist can give you strategies to cope with obsessive thoughts and help you understand the root causes.
Final Thoughts on How To Stop Obsessing Over Someone
It can be hard to admit when you’re obsessed with someone, but it’s something you have to address. Obsessing is unhealthy, and unless you deal with the core problems driving your obsessive behavior, this pattern will only repeat itself in the future. Hopefully we these tips you’re able to regain control over your emotions and move on in healthy ways.