How to stop being obsessed with someone? If that’s your point of concern today, it means we need to decode unhealthy obsession. Because by no means an obsessive behavior would do you any good in everyday life or in a relationship. No matter what pop culture says, having somebody live in your head ‘rent-free’ is not cool. Obsession can spiral in a short span, causing manifold problems for the obsessed individual as well as their object of admiration.
You tell us. When you are constantly thinking (or are you the stalker?) about a certain someone who may or not feel the same way, where does that leave your self-esteem or your personal life? Having conversations about this subject is becoming more important by the moment in our fast-paced digital era, which unknowingly fuels addictive behavior. So, what are the signs of having an obsessive fixation on another person?
In this article, we will discuss the different facets of obsession with insights from psychologist Nandita Rambhia (MSc Psychology), who specializes in CBT, REBT, and couple’s counseling. Let’s embark on this journey of knowledge and recovery. While a few things might be difficult to come to terms with, do read till the end to learn how to stop obsessing over someone. We promise to make it worth your while.
what is obsessive love disorder?
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Obsession can take different forms. It is basically a state where some fear, a memory, or a crush captures one’s attention and mind to an extent where the person becomes incapable of concentrating on anything else. In the romantic context, it pertains to being besotted with and addicted to this ‘crush.’ The line between love and obsession seems to get blurry and one takes these obsessive feelings for true love.
Such a mental state of being romantically obsessed with someone to the point that it causes emotional instability is also called limerence. However, Obsessive Love Disorder (OLD) isn’t categorized as a mental health condition as it’s not listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th edition (DSM-5), a handbook published by American Psychiatric Association. Researchers have found it’s a pretty rare condition as less than 0.1% of people experience this and for some unknown reasons, OLD is more predominant among women than men.
Psychologists can’t put their finger on a particular reason behind this condition. However, it’s connected to many other mental health issues. So, what causes obsession with a person?
- This obsession usually begins with an overwhelming desire or an intoxicating infatuation with one person in particular
- The causes of this obsessive behavior usually find roots in a person’s attachment style and childhood experiences. Studies show that ambivalent attachment style is often predicted as OLD
- Other causes include past trauma, fear of abandonment, personality disorders, and other mental health conditions that distort a person’s thought patterns and turn them obsessive in their relationship
- Certain social and cultural norms could also be responsible for a person having obsessive thoughts about someone else
- If you grew up believing that love is ownership and that your partner should be able to do anything to prove their love to you, then it’s possible that you are an obsessive lover in a clingy affair
What Are The Signs Of Being Obsessed With Someone?
Before we discuss different ways to stop obsessing over someone, it’s essential to understand what obsession means and looks like. It is characterized by some hallmark behavior and thought patterns. From disrupting daily activities to spending too much time on social media to living with low self-esteem and intense jealousy – Obsessive love disorder hits people differently in each case.
Nandita explains, “There are a few preliminary signs one can watch out for. It all begins with the amount of time you invest in thinking about them or being with them. Obsessive thoughts are very intrusive and hamper your health – They affect the way you eat, drink, sleep, and work. It’s best to be mindful of the warning signs of being obsessed with someone.”
And how true is that? Educating yourself about the psychology behind obsession vs. love is vital – It prevents you from slipping into unhealthy patterns and helps you regain control in life. Let’s take a quick look at these signs before we discuss how to stop being obsessed with someone you love:
1. Jealousy and controlling behavior
Who among us has not become a green-eyed monster once in our life? While jealousy is a natural feeling, obsession tends to make it ten times worse. For instance, the object of your admiration is speaking to an attractive person. You will immediately perceive a threat and imagine the very worst scenarios. Driven by a need to keep them to yourself, you will breach healthy boundaries, disrupt their life, and destroy your psychological equilibrium too.
This might manifest in small ways initially – Provoking them against other people or spreading a rumor. But with time, this can take an ugly turn with you forbidding them to speak to others. In a nutshell, intense jealousy and a need to control the other’s life are among the biggest signs of being fixated on someone.
Related Reading: Is Limerence Toxic Love? 7 Signs That Say So
2. Stalking and monitoring their activity
With the widespread use of social media, people get obsessed with things easily. Feeding into your worst tendencies, the internet is a boon for your addiction. This leaves more and more people asking, “I am constantly thinking about the first person I met on a dating app. Why am I obsessed with someone I barely know?”
Nandita says, “Monitoring someone is so easy these days – Their location, activity, photos, etc. are a click away. These reinforce obsessive thoughts and don’t let the person break away from the cycle. Cyberstalking is not to be taken lightly with regard to obsession.”
If you find a spike in activities on your social media accounts, don’t be too surprised. These are the most accessible avenues for information on the individual you like. Besides the virtual setting, having obsessive thought patterns can even trigger more overt stalking activities like following people around or trying to talk to them incessantly.
3. An intense emotional impact is a sign of obsession
Virginia Woolf wrote, “All extremes of feeling are allied with madness.” Obsession tends to adversely impact your emotional health. Your emotional state gets linked to the other person’s actions. If they dismiss you in a group setting, you sulk for the next few days. If they happen to send a text, you are jubilant at their attempt to communicate. When your happiness relies on someone else completely, it is a recipe for disaster.
The biggest problem in being obsessed with someone is that it makes you lose control of yourself. You can’t stop thinking about them for a second, feel lonely when they are not around, and consequently, your emotional health goes for a toss. You forget how to love yourself independently. In such situations, it becomes imperative to figure out how to stop being obsessed with someone who doesn’t like you.
4. Constant attempts at communication
Did you bombard them with texts? Or make up an excuse to see them by yourself? You just can’t wait to see them, can you? I hope you realize how unhealthy (and uncomfortable) this is. You are putting your own well-being and your personal and professional life at stake. A big sign of obsession, constant attempts at communication are harmful to both the propagator and the receiver.
Nandita explains, “When someone is on your mind constantly, you can’t function optimally. You try to contact them or find ways to be with them. When this doesn’t happen, when they don’t meet your unrealistic expectations, a lot of frustration arises. But they aren’t obliged to fulfill your hopes or keep you happy.” A great way of understanding this sign of obsession is by recalling the popular show, You. Joe Goldberg is a shining example of a liking gone too far.
We hope this has helped you assess with substantial knowledge on what causes obsession with a person, and how to spot the symptoms of OLD. Are you exhibiting any of these? Well, you can rest assured now – The next segment does some serious troubleshooting and gives you 11 tips on how to stop obsessing over an ex or a crush or a romantic partner. Some of them are bound to click with you.
Related Reading: 8 Sensible Ways To Deal With Rejection In Love
How To Stop Being Obsessed With Someone – 11 Expert Tips
Now that you’ve grasped the meaning of obsession, we can proceed toward the damage control section. There’s one question on our minds: How to stop obsessing over someone? As you read through these ways of recovery, remember that there’s no ticking clock in place – You can implement them at your own pace and time. Healing is rarely linear and never neat.
Don’t approach these mechanisms from a place of self-hatred in your relationship. Hold on to the intention of wanting better things for yourself. Shift the priority from someone else to yourself. Then, go through these 11 ways that teach you how to stop being obsessed with someone you love, hate, or barely know. Take a deep breath and let’s strive toward healthy love from unhealthy obsession:
1. Set aside those rose-tinted glasses and take that person off the pedestal
Your answer to “Why do I get obsessed with people?” lies in the fact that there is a two-pronged tendency to glorify and romanticize the individual in question. They become flawless in your mind’s eye and you get a little star-struck. Their mistakes are rationalized to a large extent because they’ve become an invincible God. You don’t stand any criticism against them.
- Hence, a good way to stop obsessing over someone you love is by viewing them from an objective lens
- See them as mere mortals who err like the rest of us
- Are they rude to waiters or cashiers? Do they have anger issues? Or are they addicted to social media?
- Paying attention to their flaws or ordinariness will help you perceive them on an equal footing
- Stop justifying the red flags of this emotionally unavailable person whom you think you are in love with. If they hurt you, they’re not worth spending time on
- Are they always too busy to take your call? Do they cancel on you very frequently? Take the hint. They are not overly committed to their work; you just haven’t made it to their priority list
2. To get rid of obsessive thinking, look into your emotional baggage
Another tip on how to stop being obsessed with someone by Nandita: “Obsession is a reflection of deeper problems within yourself. It becomes easy to stop obsessive thoughts about a person when you take stock of your emotional baggage. It could be a case of low self-esteem, unresolved trauma, or bad experience from past relationships. The root of your obsession lies elsewhere and it is imperative to introspect and find out what it is.”
- Instead of directing your energy toward someone who isn’t reciprocating your feelings, look within and figure out where things are going wrong
- No one places undue importance on other people for no reason – Try to answer the ‘why’ of your obsession in order to stop thinking about this ‘crush’
- How to stop being obsessive in a relationship? Sit by yourself and look at your behavior patterns or tendencies
- Resort to your support system, your friends, and loved ones. As someone seeing your condition from a distance, they might shed some interesting insight into your struggle
- Conducting a self-assessment and getting to know your inner being is a wise step forward. This is one way to stop being obsessed with someone who doesn’t like you
3. Maintain physical and virtual distance
A reader from Milwaukee wrote, “He was a classmate since middle school but we only knew each other from afar. I had always been into him big time. When I ran into him at a recent event, I realized I’d never really gotten over the crush. In the coming weeks, I stalked his Instagram, located his place of work, and frequented the café to run into him. Why am I obsessed with someone I barely know? Is there a guidebook on how to block someone from your mind?”
- Like we’ve said before, obsession has become easier in our tech-savvy world. Isn’t this why people say you should block your ex?
- Steering clear of the individual’s online accounts is a wise choice
- It prevents you from having recurring thoughts, making rash choices, or acting on your obsession
- How to stop obsessing over a guy/girl if you live close to them? You need to let go of the irresistible urge to bump into them casually or follow their movements from afar
- You can’t stop obsessive thoughts about a person unless you put some distance between them and yourself
4. Rely on your social circle to stop being obsessed with someone you like
Your friends and family can contribute to your recovery significantly when you are trying to figure out how to not fixate on someone. Nandita explains, “Talking to your close ones always helps. Speak your heart out to a friend or parent. Let them console you while simultaneously providing rational feedback. Being around them will give you a sense of security and comfort even in bad times. A good reminder that there are other things in life besides the person of interest.”
Furthermore, you will be receptive to the advice given by a loved friend or family member. Your guard will be lowered and you might actually see the point they are trying to make. Have a heart-to-heart conversation and tell them what the real problem is. They will be your rock as you navigate these stormy seas. For all the committed individuals wondering how to stop obsessing over an ex or how to stop obsessing over a fling, this is a good starting point to solve your dilemma.
5. Channel your energy elsewhere
There are so many things one can do with one’s time – Taking up new hobbies, learning a language, meeting new people, exercising, gathering new experiences, and so on. Instead of clouding your head with thoughts like “I hate you but I love you. I can’t stop thinking of you,” you ought to change the course of your energy and direct it toward activities that make you grow. If something doesn’t make you a better person, don’t do it. Here are some things you can try instead:
- Spend time reading classics or listening to great music
- Focus on your fitness and health
- Learn a new life skill
- Practice your favorite hobbies or develop a new one
If you get obsessed with things easily, use it to your advantage. Concentrate on becoming the best version of yourself. This will accomplish two things. Firstly, you’ll be occupied with something other than your object of affection. Secondly, as you explore new things and areas, you will become more centered on yourself. After all, there are so many awesome advantages of being single! Do you see what we’re saying?
6. Seek professional help for a positive change
The best way forward is therapy – Couple’s therapy if you want to strive for an obsession-free healthy relationship. It is less of a helping hand and more of a guiding one. Ask your doc, “I’m obsessed with someone I can’t have. Why do I torture myself with negative thoughts?” Since an obsession is a dysfunctional thought process, breaking away from it is difficult. Because if not treated at the onset, obsession might lead to severe depression, anxiety, personality disorders, or other mental health issues.
Nandita says, “If you want to know how to stop being obsessed with someone, counseling or Cognitive Behavioral Therapy can be quite helpful. The therapist helps you identify your obsession and where it comes from. Slowly, you work on the areas together. The professional gives you a few techniques you can adopt. If you keep at it steadily, you will overcome it.” Just so you know, skilled and licensed counselors on Bonobology’s panel are always here for you.
7. Be kind to yourself
This is a very important thing to remember, especially if you often find yourself wondering “How do I stop being obsessed with my girlfriend?” or “How to move on from someone you still love?” While you try to get over your obsession, there might be relapses and other moments of weakness. So, can you stop being obsessed with someone completely? When you put in the effort, the answer is a near-certain “yes.” Nandita suggests the following:
- Don’t direct negative commentary at yourself or be extra critical of your actions
- It is okay to make mistakes as long as you try to rectify them and learn from them
- Don’t lose hope. You will emerge from this phase in your life, even if the prospect seems bleak right now
- Cut yourself some slack when you’re trying to stop being obsessed with someone you like
- No one ever got better while hating themselves
- Go easy on yourself and be persistent in your efforts
- Be proud of the progress you’ve made, however minimal
8. Practice mindfulness to let go of your obsession
The key to quit obsessive love is hidden behind the mystery of mindfulness. Being at peace with yourself is integral to healing. There are so many options at your disposal like art therapy or creating music. Anything that helps you strike that inner balance is important. Here are a few things you can try if you’re struggling to stop loving someone who doesn’t love you and not obsess about them:
- Find a calming ritual and stick to it for a month
- Try meditation or yoga
- Practice journaling every day
- Try art therapy to calm your mind
These days, we’ve got journals that ask one question every day (like ‘What are you most grateful for?’ Or ‘What do you want to tell your parents?’). These questions give you a lot of food for thought and make you more self-aware. They will lead you to answer a crucial question – “Why am I obsessed with someone I barely know?” As Socrates wisely said, “Know thyself.”
9. How to stop obsessing over a crush? Use grounding techniques
How can you stop being obsessed with someone you love when you can’t stop thinking about them all the time? That’s the thing about obsession; it leads you down the rabbit hole of recurring, intrusive thoughts. And escaping from them is the first thing you should do. Grounding techniques help you be present in the moment, in the here and now. These are a few you can try:
- Pick up a few objects near you and feel their texture, weight, and temperature
- Look at the color of the objects and the function they serve
- Put your hands in water and bring yourself to focus on the sensation
- You can also try savoring food more slowly
Shifting focus from the imaginary to the real is a great tactic to solve the problem of “How to stop obsessing over a guy/girl?” When you find yourself thinking about the other person, try to shift your focus to other things. Try to differentiate between imagination and reality, and gently focus on the latter. Try other ways like stretching, listening to your surroundings, and deep breathing techniques.
10. Change your environment
Our surroundings are a reflection of ourselves. Getting a change of scenery can be helpful in calming your mind and hitting refresh on the system. So, if you came here wondering “How do I stop being obsessed with my girlfriend?” or “How to get over someone you love that hurt you?”, a change in environment could be the answer you’re looking for. Here are a few things you can try:
- Take a vacation, travel solo, or visit someone in another city
- Spend a substantial amount of time in a new location like a gym, library, or park
- Stay over at a friend’s place for a few days and revel in the newness of things
- Change the décor of your house by painting a wall or hanging up a few photographs (not of that person’s)
This will give you a fun project as well as a much-needed change. We just want you to introduce some sort of novelty in your routine, for this is a great tip on how to stop being obsessed with someone.
Related Reading: Casual Dating Vs. Friends With Benefits – 10 Key Differences
11. Think rationally to get over someone who doesn’t like you back
You probably often think about how to stop obsessing over a crush or someone you can’t have, to be specific. It’s happening to you simply because that person has denied you their love and attention. Now, why does rejection cause obsession? Studies have shown that romantic rejection activates a part of your brain that is associated with craving, addiction, motivation, and reward which leaves you wanting more.
And only you can fix this obsession by rationally breaking down the situation. Nandita says, “Your logical thinking gets distorted when you’re in an obsessive cycle. So strive to regain that rationality. Be concerned with practical matters and questions. Ask yourself how sustainable this is. Is this particular person interested in you? What kind of a person are they? Is your life going for a toss in this process? What is going to come out of it?”
Once you see the sheer irrationality (and potential to cause damage) of your obsessive love and clingy affairs, it will be a little easier to move on from it. Think critically to avoid emotion-driven decisions. You won’t stalk them on social media for three hours if you know how harmful blue light is for your eyes. If you want to know how to stop being obsessive in a relationship, scrutinize your behavior from a third-person perspective.
- Being obsessed with someone usually has its roots in a person’s attachment style and childhood experiences. Fear of abandonment, personality disorders, and other mental health conditions can be other causes
- A few signs of obsession include stalking the object of admiration, making constant attempts to communicate with them, feeling jealous, and trying to control them
- How to stop being obsessed with someone? You can get over your obsession by blocking them, practicing mindfulness, looking into your emotional baggage, focusing on yourself, and changing your environment
- Rely on your friends and maintain distance from your object of admiration if you want to stop being obsessed with someone
You now know how to stop being obsessed with someone you hate, love, or who doesn’t like you back. Hard work, time, patience, and perseverance will bear fruit and you will never complain that you get obsessed with things or people easily.
This article has been updated in August 2023.
When you’re in love, you want the best for that person. You want to see them happy even if it means that you won’t be a part of their life. On the other hand, being obsessed with someone makes you jealous and possessive. You want them only for yourself. You don’t care about what they want or whom they like.
It is a possibility. There’s a condition called Obsessive Love Disorder (OLD) in which you are obsessed with the person you love. You want to protect them and control their lives to the point of obsession. You begin to treat them like an object that has no feelings or freedom.
No. Being in love and being obsessed with someone are not the same things. When you’re in love, you trust your partner and give them the space and freedom to live their own life. But when you’re obsessed with someone, you try to control them and want them only for yourself. You only care about what you want, not their feelings or choices.
Mostly, no. Obsession cannot turn into love because the latter puts the happiness of the other person above their own, while the former is only bothered about their own desires. When you’re obsessed with someone, you might feel you’re in love with them, but that’s usually not the case. You can be obsessed with someone you love, but an obsession turning into love is usually not a possibility.