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. 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 fixation? And how do you stop being obsessed with someone?
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 couples counseling. A mental health professional is the best person to guide you through this tumultuous phase in your life. We appreciate the first step you have taken by acknowledging your obsession – healing begins with acceptance.
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. We promise to make it worth your while as you learn how to stop being obsessed with someone.
What Causes Obsession With A Person?
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’, who one begins to see as the love of one’s life. Such a mental state of being romantically obsessed with someone to the point that it causes emotional instability is also called limerence.
This obsession usually begins with an overwhelming desire for or a bewitching and intoxicating infatuation with another person. The causes of being obsessed with someone usually find roots in a person’s attachment style and childhood experiences. Your formative experiences in early childhood shape your attachment style (secure, avoidant, anxious, or disorganized) and the kind of people you are attracted to.
Other causes include past trauma, fear of abandonment, personality disorders, and other mental health conditions that distort a person’s perspective and turn them obsessive in their relationship. Certain social and cultural norms could also be responsible for a person becoming obsessed with someone. 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.
What Are The Signs Of Being Obsessed With Someone?
Before we talk about how to stop being obsessed with someone, it’s essential to understand what obsession means and looks like. It is characterized by some hallmark behavior patterns and thought processes. 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 the obsession is vital – it prevents you from slipping into unhealthy patterns. Let’s take a quick look at these signs before we discuss how to stop being obsessed with someone you love or hate:
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 makes one act on it in unnatural ways. For instance, the object of your admiration is speaking to a person of the opposite gender. You will immediately perceive a threat and imagine the very worst scenarios. If that person is known to you, you will try to control their actions as much as possible. You won’t know how to deal with jealousy in a relationship.
Driven by a need to keep them to yourself, you will breach healthy boundaries, disrupt their life, and destroy your psychological equilibrium. 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 obsessed with someone.
2. Stalking and monitoring 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, “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. Virtual stalking is not to be taken lightly with regard to obsession.”
If you find a spike in your Instagram or Facebook activity, don’t be too surprised. These are the most accessible avenues for information on the individual you like. To confirm whether you are obsessed with someone, keep an eye on your cyber patterns. They will reveal all you need to know. Besides the virtual setting, being obsessed with someone can even trigger more overt stalking activities like following people around or trying to talk to them incessantly.
Related Reading: Is Limerence Toxic Love? 7 Signs That Say So
3. Intense emotional impact
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 somebody 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. If you notice your mood changing as per your interest’s behavior toward you, be on high alert – this is extremely inadvisable. Your emotional health goes for a toss in such a situation. 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 or you don’t like.
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. 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 is by recalling the popular web show You. Joe Goldberg is a shining example of a liking gone too far.
We hope this has helped you self-assess. Are you exhibiting any of these symptoms? Well, you can rest assured now – the next segment does some serious troubleshooting and gives you 11 (yes, 11!) tips on how to stop being obsessed with someone. Some of them are bound to click with you. Get ready to detox your mind with these phenomenal guidelines.
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 being obsessed with 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. There’s no pressure to check these items off a to-do list. Don’t approach these mechanisms from a place of self-hatred in your relationship. Hold on to the intention of wanting to get better for yourself. Shift the priority from another individual to yourself. Then, take a look at these 11 ways that teach you how to stop being obsessed with someone you love, hate, or barely know:
1. Set aside those rose-tinted glasses and take them off the pedestal
When you are obsessed with someone, 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 starstruck. 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 being obsessed with 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? Concentrating on their flaws will help you perceive them on an equal footing.
2. How can you stop being obsessed with someone? Look into your emotional baggage
Nandita says, “Obsession is a reflection of deeper problems within yourself. It becomes easy to overcome obsessive thoughts when you take stock of your emotional baggage. It could be a case of low self-esteem, unresolved trauma, or past experiences. 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 and answer the ‘why’ of your obsession. Sit by yourself and look at your behavior patterns or tendencies. Conducting a self-assessment through the red flags of obsession 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 café years later, 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?”
Like we’ve said before, obsession has become easier in our tech-savvy world. 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. Isn’t this why people say you should block your ex? You can’t stop being obsessed with someone unless you put some distance between them and yourself.
4. Rely on your social circle
Your friends and family can contribute to your recovery significantly when you are trying to stop being obsessed with someone you hate, love, or hardly know. 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. 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 reading, this is also how to stop being obsessive in a relationship.
5. Channel your energy elsewhere
There are so many things one can do with one’s time – take up a new hobby, learn a new language, meet new people, level up at work, exercise, and so on. 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:
- Listening to music
- Focusing on your fitness and health
- Learning a new skill
- Practicing your favorite hobbies or developing 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. And secondly, as you explore new areas and things, you will become more centered on yourself. After all, there are so many awesome perks of being single! Do you see what we’re saying?
6. How to stop being obsessed with someone? Seek professional help
The best way forward is therapy; it is less of a helping hand and more of a guiding one. Since an obsession is a dysfunctional thought process, breaking away from it is difficult. A mental health professional can show you the correct path in this tumultuous time. Because if not treated at the onset, obsession might lead to severe depression, anxiety, personality disorders, or other mental health issues.
Nandita says, “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.” You can get professional help at Bonobology; we have a panel of licensed therapists and counselors who can help you get an even-handed assessment of your situation.
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 get over my obsession with my boyfriend?”. While you try to get over your obsession, there might be relapses and other moments of weakness. 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.
Cut yourself some slack as you’re trying to stop being obsessed with someone you like. No one ever got better while hating themselves. Nandita says, “Don’t lose hope. You will emerge from this phase in your life even if the prospect seems bleak right now. Go easy on yourself and be persistent in your efforts.” When you put in the right effort, the answer to “can you stop being obsessed with someone” is a near-certain “yes”.
8. Practice mindfulness
Being at peace with yourself is integral to healing. There are several things you can do to practice mindfulness. There are so many options at your disposal like art therapy or creating music. Anything that helps you strike that inner balance is important. How to stop being obsessed with someone, you ask? Here are a few things you can try if you’re struggling to figure out how 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
- 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 very crucial question – why am I obsessed with someone I barely know? As Socrates wisely said, “Know thyself.”
9. Use grounding techniques
How can you stop being obsessed with someone you love when you can’t help but think of 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 the water and bring yourself to focus on the sensation
- You can also try savoring food
Shifting focus from the imaginary to the real is a great tactic. 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 focus on the latter. Other techniques include stretching, listening to your surroundings, and deep breathing.
Related Reading: 8 Sensible Ways To Deal With Rejection In Love
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 to stop being obsessed with my girlfriend?” or “How to get rid of obsessive thoughts about my boyfriend”, 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.
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.
11. Think rationally to stop being obsessed with someone you like
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 easier to move on from it. Think critically to avoid emotion-driven decisions. You won’t stalk them online 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 attempts to communicate with them, feeling jealous, and trying to control them
- You can get over your obsession by 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
Here we come to the end of this wonderful list. You now know how to stop being obsessed with someone you hate, love, or who doesn’t like you. Hard work, time, patience, and perseverance will bear fruit and you will never complain that you get obsessed with things or people easily.
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 who they like.
It is a possibility. There’s a condition called Obsessive Love Disorder 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 your 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.