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Obsessive Love Disorder: What Causes It, 21 Signs & How to Get Over It

Sometimes, love can turn into an obsessive love disorder. What is it, what causes it, and what are the different types? Here’s everything you must know.

obsessive love disorder

We’ve all heard the saying, “Love is blind.” And while that may be true in some cases, there is such a thing as loving someone too much. In fact, there’s even a psychiatric condition called obsessive love disorder (OLD), which is characterized by an obsessive need to be with and please the object of your affection.

People with obsessive love disorder will go to great lengths to get attention from the one they love, and they may feel anxious or even depressed if they’re not able to be around them or get reciprocation from them.

And most importantly, while it feels like love, OLD is a borderline personality disorder and can be very harmful to both the person suffering from it and the object of their affection.

[Read: Oneitis – The unhealthy effects of falling madly in love with someone]

What is obsessive love disorder?

Obsessive love disorder is a mental health condition characterized by an excessive and uncontrollable obsession with another person.

People with obsessive love disorder become emotionally and psychologically dependent on their partner *or the one they love*, often to the point where their well-being depends on the relationship.

They may experience intrusive thoughts about their partner, feel a need to constantly be around them, and become extremely jealous and possessive.

People with obsessive love disorder often have low self-esteem and feel unworthy of their partner’s love. As a result, they may do anything to maintain the relationship, even if it means sacrificing their own happiness or well-being. [Read: Martyr complex – How to recognize the signs of this syndrome in yourself]

Obsession vs Love – Where love ends and obsession starts

Love and obsession are both powerful emotions that can have a profound effect on our lives. While they may share some similarities, there are also some key ways in which they differ.

One difference is that love is often based on mutual respect and understanding, while obsession may be one-sided and driven by a need for control.

Love is also typically associated with positive feelings like happiness and joy, while obsessive love disorder is accompanied by negative emotions such as jealousy and fear.

Finally, love is usually healthy and sustainable, while obsession can be all-consuming and destructive. Ultimately, the difference between love and obsession comes down to how these emotions make us feel and how they impact our lives. [Read: How to stop obsessing over someone – The 22 things you MUST do]

What causes a person to get obsessed with someone?

We’ve all heard about obsession, and most of us have even experienced it firsthand. But what exactly is obsession, and what causes someone to become obsessed with another person?

In its simplest form, an obsession is an intense and irrational attachment with someone or something.

It’s not uncommon for people to become obsessed with celebrities or fictional characters, but it’s also possible to become obsessed with real people, even if you don’t know them personally.

So why does someone get obsessed with someone else? [Read: Selfless love and the 18 ways it separates itself from obsessive selfish love]

There are a number of reasons why people become obsessed with others, but one of the most common is the notion of unresolved emotional issues. In other words, if we have unresolved feelings towards someone in our past *such as an ex-partner*, we may become obsessed with them in an attempt to resolve those issues.

Another possible explanation is that people become obsessed with others as a way of coping with their own emotional problems.

When we’re feeling overwhelmed or insecure, it can be comforting to focus all our attention on another person. This can eventually lead to obsessive love disorder, as we become increasingly obsessed with getting closer to that person and making them a part of our lives.

Whatever the reason, it’s important to remember that obsession is not healthy or sustainable in the long run. If you’re experiencing an intense obsession with someone, it’s important to take a step back yourself if possible, or seek professional help.

What are the signs and symptoms of obsessive love disorder?

While love is often associated with happy feelings and butterflies in the stomach, it can also be all-consuming and overwhelming.

Obsessive love disorder, which can also sometimes be called relationship OCD, is an obsessive compulsive disorder that is marked by intrusive thoughts, excessive doubt, and controlling behaviors.

If you’re wondering whether your relationship or love for someone might be impacted by this disorder, here are the subtle signs to look out for. [Read: Relationship OCD – What it is and the big signs of a partner with OCD]

1. You can’t think of anything else

You can’t stop thinking about your partner, even when you’re supposed to be focusing on something else. You feel the need to constantly be around your partner, and you become extremely jealous and possessive if they spend time with someone else.

2. You need updates on their life

You frequently check in with your partner to make sure they’re okay, even if they don’t ask for your help. You may also call or text them multiple times throughout the day, just to make sure they’re still thinking about you.

3. Jealousy

When you suffer from obsessive love disorder, you get jealous easily, even when there’s no reason to be suspicious. You may accuse your partner of flirting or cheating, even if there’s no evidence to support your claims.

4. Unfair comparisons

You regularly compare yourself to other people in your partner’s life.

You’re constantly worried that you’re not good enough, and you feel like you have to compete with other people in order to keep your partner’s attention. [Read: Insecurity in a relationship – How to feel more secure and love better]

5. People pleaser

You’re always trying to please your partner, even if it means sacrificing your own needs and wants. You’re so afraid of losing them that you’re willing to do anything to make them happy.

6. You’re afraid of losing them

You’re always worried about losing your partner, and you feel like you can’t survive without them. You may even experience extreme anxiety or panic attacks if you think your partner is going to leave you.

7. Trust issues in a relationship

You have a hard time trusting your partner when you suffer from obsessive love disorder, even if they’ve never given you a reason to doubt them. You may constantly interrogate them about their past relationships or where they’ve been, and you refuse to give them any privacy.

8. You’re convinced they’re cheating

You’re always questioning your partner’s motives, even if there’s no evidence that they’re cheating or lying.

9. Love feels like control

You feel like you need to control your partner in order to feel secure in the relationship. You may constantly be asking them where they’ve been, who they’ve been talking to, and what they’re doing.

10. Bad thoughts

You frequently have intrusive thoughts about your partner being unfaithful or leaving you. These thoughts are often accompanied by intense anxiety, fear, and doubt.

11. You avoid arguments

You feel like you’re constantly walking on eggshells around your partner, always afraid of upsetting them.

You even go so far as to avoid discussing any controversial topics, and you’re always willing to compromise on your beliefs in order to make them happy.

12. You’re clingy

You’re uncomfortable with being separated from your partner for any length of time.

When you have obsessive love disorder, you may feel like you’re going through withdrawal symptoms when you’re not able to talk to or see them. [Read: 37 ways to stop being so clingy and holding on tight that you push them away]

13. Anxiety

You experience physical symptoms like chest pain, rapid heart rate, or nausea when you think about breaking up with your partner.

14. You change plans

You’ve canceled or postponed important plans even when you had no plans, just in case this person you love decides to call you and ask you out. You’ve also sacrificed important relationships or opportunities because you didn’t want to be away from them.

15. You’re codependent

You’ve lost touch with friends and family members because you’ve been spending all your time with your partner.

You no longer have any interests or hobbies outside of the relationship, and you’ve stopped doing the things that used to make you happy. [Read: 23 codependent traits that make you clingy and how to break out of it]

16. Your relationship is everything

You feel like your life revolves around your relationship, and everything else is secondary. You may even have a hard time remembering what your life was like before you met them.

17. You snoop

You’re constantly checking your partner’s phone, email, or social media accounts to see if they’re cheating.

You’ve resorted to stalking or spying on your partner in order to get information about their activities. You may be following them, calling them multiple times a day, or checking their social media accounts obsessively.

18. You’re scary in love!

You’ve threatened or harmed yourself or others in order to keep your partner around.

19. And you’re needy

You’ve begged, pleaded, or harassed your partner for love and affection. When you have obsessive love disorder, you’re always looking for reassurance that they still want you, even if there’s no reason to doubt them. [Read: How to stop being needy – Why people get clingy and 32 ways to fix it]

20. You’re lost

You’re always worried about what will happen if you lose your partner. You’ve become completely consumed by your relationship to the point where you’re no longer able to lead a normal life.

21. You’re incapacitated

You feel like you can’t function without your partner in your life. You’ve become so dependent on your partner that you can’t make decisions without them.

You’re unable to think for yourself, and you’ve stopped doing the things you used to enjoy.

If any of these things ring true for you, it’s possible that you’re struggling with obsessive love disorder and need some help soon.

Is obsessive love normal?

It’s pretty normal to experience obsessive love early on in a relationship. You know the feeling: You can’t get your partner out of your head, and you obsessively check your phone for their texts or calls.

Although it might feel intense, this phase usually doesn’t last very long. It’s generally called the honeymoon phase, and it’s an accepted truth that this intense stage of infatuation simmers down into a more, mellow but stronger kind of love over time. [Read: The honeymoon phase and how to calculate how long it’ll last for you]

For people suffering from obsessive love disorder, though, this frenzied stage of love does not go away. If you find that you’re still fixated on your partner long after the initial infatuation has worn off, it might be a sign of a bigger problem.

It could either be that they aren’t treating you well and making you feel insecure *which leads you to cling harder*. Or you’re suffering from obsessive love disorder because of your own past issues and insecurities from your formative years. [Read: 30 signs of a one-sided relationship and how to fix it before it ends]

Can obsessive love ever be positive?

While obsessive love does sound like a recipe for disaster, obsessive love can actually be quite positive sometimes. The key is to make sure that it does not become all-consuming.

Obsessive love can lead to a healthy relationship and positive outcomes if it is managed in a healthy way, with a partner who expects the same kind of intimacy from their partner.

For example, it can lead to increased levels of intimacy and closeness when both partners love spending time with each other and showering each other with lots of affection all the time. It can also motivate both partners to pursue their goals and make positive changes in their lives. [Read: 35 signs a man is emotionally attached to you and ready to get closer]

However, obsessive love can also have negative consequences if it is not managed in a healthy way.

When obsessive love becomes all-consuming, it can lead to problems such as stalking, anxiety, and depression. It can also damage relationships and cause people to isolate themselves from others.

If you’re experiencing obsessive love disorder, it’s important to be honest with yourself about how it’s affecting your life and the person you’re in love with. If it’s causing you distress or problems in your relationship, it clearly isn’t a positive influence for you or the person you love.

Types of obsessive love disorder

Everyone knows what it feels like to be head-over-heels in love. But for some people, this feeling can become all-consuming, leading to unhealthy levels of obsession and control. There are three types of obsessive love: erotomania, claustrophobic love, and toxic love. 

1. Erotomanic obsessional love

This is when one person believes that another is in love with them, even if there is no evidence to support this belief. This can lead to stalking behavior and intense jealousy. 

2. Claustrophobic obsessional love

This kind of obsessive love disorder is marked by a fear of being apart from the object of one’s affection. This may manifest as constant text messaging, calling, or ‘checking in.’ People with claustrophobic obsessional love often feel like they can’t survive without their partner. 

3. Toxic obsessional love

This kind of obsession is the most harmful type of obsessive love. It’s characterized by emotional control and manipulation, as well as verbal and physical abuse. If you’re in a relationship that feels toxic, it’s important to get help. [Read: What is a toxic relationship? 53 signs to recognize love that hurts you]

Examples of obsessive love

Think you have obsessive compulsive disorder when it comes to love but you’re not sure? There are many examples of obsessive love in movies and literature that can help you see yourself or your partner from a new perspective.

Sometimes, movies even project this sort of pursuit as romantic and endearing. But clearly, in real life, this is very unhealthy and even wrong. *ahem… Noah and Allie in the movie Notebook, anyone?*

In Shakespeare’s Othello, the title character becomes consumed by jealousy and suspicion, leading him to commit murder.

In the movie, Fatal Attraction, a married man has a brief affair with a woman who then becomes obsessed with him, going so far as to stalk him and his family! And in Misery, an unhinged fan kidnaps her favorite author in order to keep him all to herself.

While these examples may be extreme, they illustrate the power that obsessive love disorder can have over someone’s life.

Obsessive love is a borderline personality disorder and these obsessions can take many different forms, such as an unhealthy preoccupation with someone’s physical appearance, or a need for constant control or approval.

If you’re feeling overwhelmed by your feelings for someone, it’s important to get help instead of using distractions to numb your obsession.

How to get over obsessive love disorder

If you’re struggling to overcome obsessive love disorder, you’re not alone. Many people have been in your shoes and come out the other side. While it may seem impossible to move on, there are steps you can take to let go of this unhealthy obsession.

First, it’s important to understand that love is not possessive or controlling. If you find yourself feeling jealous or angry when your partner talks to someone else, that’s a sign that your love is unhealthy.

Instead of trying to control your partner, focus on trusting them. This can be difficult, but it’s essential for any healthy relationship. [Read: How to build trust in a relationship and learn to be loyal and loving]

Second, don’t be afraid to lean on your friends and family for support. They can help you weather this tough time and remind you of your worth.

Finally, don’t neglect your own needs. Make sure to take time for yourself, whether that means going for a run, reading a good book, or spending time with loved ones. When you’re healthy and happy on your own, it will be easier to have a healthy relationship.

On the other hand, if you’re in obsessive love with someone who doesn’t love you *or even know you exist!*, it’s time you start replacing their thoughts with other things. You need to start by accepting that what you’re doing is not healthy, for you or for your life ahead. [Read: Unrecirpocated love – How to get over someone who does not and will not love you]

And if you’re not able to do it yourself, make sure you get the professional help you need to guide you in the right steps.

As exciting as it may feel to obsess over someone all day, at some point, you need to understand that obsessive love disorder is unhealthy for you, and will push away the person you love – not because they hate you, but because you’d scare them away. Is that what you want?

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