Love is a weird emotion, isn’t it? Being in love can make you feel euphoric, as if you’re in paradise. It can make you feel like the happiest person in the world. At the same time, the lack of it causes lovesickness, leading to misery and heartbreak. It is unbelievable how much love affects our physical and mental health.
A lot has been said about love, but little about lovesickness. What is it? Is lovesickness real? What are its symptoms? Can one cure lovesickness? To answer all of your questions, we spoke to psychologist Anita Eliza (MSc in Applied Psychology), who specializes in issues like anxiety, depression, relationships, and self-esteem. She elaborated on the lovesickness definition, what causes it, its signs, and how to cope with being lovesick.
What Does Being Lovesick Mean?
To understand this phenomenon, let’s begin by looking at the lovesickness definition. Anita explains, “Being lovesick is a condition in which you love and miss someone so much that, in their absence, you find it almost impossible to function effectively. This person is constantly on your mind. You tend to daydream and fantasize about them all the time. It is not just restricted to thoughts but also affects you psychologically and physically. You tend to be so obsessed with your crush that it affects your sleep, mood, and appetite.”
She adds, “When you are genuinely in love with a person, you don’t obsess over them. You have a realistic view of who they are and accept them with their strengths and weaknesses. But when you are lovesick, you see the other with rose-tinted glasses. According to you, this person is perfect. You don’t even notice or acknowledge the negative or toxic traits of the person. This state is common in the initial phase of an infatuation, but if this obsession continues, you are likely to be suffering from lovesickness.”
So, is lovesickness real? Yes, it very much is. Lovesickness, even though not a clinically recognized mental health issue, can affect your ability to act normally because the romantic feelings you have for your crush consume your mind, body, and soul, making it next to impossible to concentrate on anything else. You begin to obsess over this person. Lovesickness is usually about the unpleasant, troublesome, and distressing aspects of love where a person experiences unwanted feelings that cause pain.
Just like heartbreak causes pain, and emotional turmoil, and tends to affect your heart health, lovesickness affects your daily routine and your physical and mental well-being. Someone who is lovesick does not care whether the person they have a crush on knows about their feelings or even likes them back. All they know is that they like this person and feel a strong, obsessive, and intense sense of yearning for them, making it difficult to think about anything else.
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What Causes Lovesickness?
Lovesickness finds mention in some of the earliest writings, ancient medical texts, and classical literature, albeit by different names. You can find descriptions of the concept in Greek philosophy and in the works of Shakespeare and Jane Austen. Hippocrates believed that being lovesick was the result of an imbalance in the body and its emotions while French physician Jacques Ferrand published a study called A Treatise on Lovesickness (name shortened) to define, diagnose, and eventually cure lovesickness.
Before we discuss lovesickness symptoms, let us first understand what causes lovesickness. According to Anita, “Lovesickness can stem from different situations. If you love someone, but they are unable to build an emotional connection with you, you can feel lovesick for that person because you have been rejected by them. You feel like you are not good enough. Another possible reason is the belief that the lovesick person “needs” the love and attention of their crush and unless they get it, they feel insecure about themselves.” Below are a few reasons or situations that can make you feel lovesick:
- A longing or yearning for romantic love
- Loss of a partner by either a breakup or death
- A sense of limerence or unrequited love
- Failing to connect with someone on an emotional or physical level
- Feeling helpless or worthless without the love and affection of their special one
- Missing your partner who is away from you (in case of a long-distance relationship)
- Missing someone so much that it makes you physically sick
- A person can also feel lovesick if they have never experienced love in their life
- Obsessive thoughts about a special person
Lovesickness can make you feel both happy and miserable. It causes chemical imbalances in the brain triggering physiological and emotional responses similar to the reactions of someone dealing with a drug addiction. To help you get a better idea, let’s understand the different signs of lovesickness.
13 Signs You Are Lovesick
Those butterflies in your stomach feel amazing when you’re in love but, when the feelings flip and make you feel sick in your gut to the extent that you lose control over your mind and body, then there’s a problem. These are lovesickness symptoms that you need to know and be careful about. When a person is consumed by thoughts of romantic love so much so that it becomes an obsession, they’re probably suffering from lovesickness.
Uncertainty, rejection, longing for love, receiving mixed signals from the person you love, or limerence are some of the most common motivators of lovesickness. Such feelings or obsessive thought patterns can prove detrimental to your lifestyle and happiness because they can cause serious physical and mental health issues. Here are a few signs of lovesickness you should watch out for:
1. Mood swings or irrational behavior
Behaving irrationally or experiencing extreme mood swings is a sign of lovesickness. Love triggers certain changes in your brain that eventually affect your mood and behavior. Irritability, anger issues and outbursts, frustration, nervousness, anxiety, and feeling sad and depressed are all signs. Sometimes, you might not even understand why you are experiencing such extreme negative emotions. At times, you might feel happy without being able to understand why.
Anita explains, “A lovesick person may exhibit irrational behaviors like following their crush secretly or spending a long time getting ready just in case they bump into their love interest somewhere.” You might also keep track of your love interest’s whereabouts, show up at their workplace or wherever it is that they are hanging out, or have imaginary conversations and prepare yourself to talk to them in case you meet them somewhere.
Anita explains, “Isolation is a possible sign of lovesickness. A lovesick person tends to disconnect with others because their mind is always preoccupied with thoughts of their love interest.” Sometimes, those experiencing lovesickness might want to be alone instead of socializing or being around their family, friends, and loved ones. They do not feel the need to be with people except the person they love. They are not concerned about what is happening around them. They prefer to shut everyone out because they feel nobody understands them.
3. Increase or decrease in appetite
Anita says, “Lovesickness may cause an increase or decrease in a person’s appetite because all they do is think excessively about their crush.” Observe your eating pattern and appetite. If you think it is unstable, unhealthy, or different from what it used to be, you might be experiencing lovesickness symptoms. If you are barely eating, overeating, consuming a lot of junk, or binge-eating as a result of which you find it difficult to do other things, it could be a sign you’re lovesick.
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4. Stalking your love interest
Trying to get information about your crush online and offline is standard behavior. But if you reach the point of being obsessed with what they are doing, where they are going, whom they are talking to, or if they are dating someone, then it’s a matter of concern. If you are secretly following them, trying to keep track of their activities online and offline, know that you’re going down a slippery slope.
According to Anita, “A lovesick person will keep going through the messages their love interest sends them and try to read between the lines. They will keep checking their inbox to see if they have received any message from them.” They might just want to find out if their crush likes them back or has feelings for them. They will hold on to their crush’s belongings and carefully store all the photographs, videos, recordings, or any other material that they might find because it means a lot to them and it’s their only way of feeling close to the person they love.
5. Overanalyzing everything
Lovesick people tend to overanalyze the most normal or smallest of things that their love interest says or does for them. They always try to read and analyze their crush’s body language and see things from a different perspective. They will never believe or read the surface meaning of anything that their object of interest does. Nothing is taken at face value.
Anita explains, “Lovesick people tend to read the hidden meaning of what their object of interest says or does for them. Since they tend to fantasize and daydream, they begin to imagine scenarios in their mind and if those thoughts even partly match with what their crush does or says, they believe their imagination of what their object of interest is like, to be true.”
6. Erratic sleeping pattern
According to Anita, “Being lovesick can affect your sleeping pattern. You might not be able to sleep at all because you are constantly and excessively thinking about your object of interest.” You might struggle with insomnia or a sleep disorder because the thoughts of your crush keep you up at night, leading to fatigue, exhaustion, irritability, and tiredness the next day. It might further aggravate your mood swings, causing you to behave irrationally.
Anita says, “One of the major lovesickness symptoms one can notice in a person is restlessness and facing difficulty in focusing on other aspects of their life. This happens because the person cannot get their crush out of their mind.” You might also find it hard to control your temper. You jump from one task or activity to another without completing them. Productivity at work or in other spheres of life goes for a toss.
Feeling insecure is one of the most common signs of lovesickness. A lovesick person is constantly competing with those they think are worthy of their object of interest. They are always looking for competitors and trying to be better than them. If they feel like someone else is coming closer to their crush or they find someone cropping up repeatedly on their love interest’s social media, they might begin to fear losing the person they’re so besotted with, causing them to feel insecure.
9. Obsessive thought patterns
This is the most obvious characteristic of a lovesick person. Anita explains, “They experience constant obsessive thoughts about their crush. They just can’t get them out of their mind. They are always fantasizing about them, trying to find out more about their lives, and imagining happy or romantic scenarios with their object of interest due to which they have a hard time concentrating on other things.”
10. Attachment style
Anita elaborates, “An attachment style is formed early in life by observing our primary caregivers and continues to function as a working model for relationships in adulthood. When a person has a secure attachment style, they are confident enough to meet their own needs instead of depending on their partner to take care of them. But, if someone has an insecure attachment style, they tend to choose a partner whom they feel will fulfill their deepest needs all the time.”
To a large extent, this explains a lovesick person’s behavior and mindset. A person experiencing lovesickness symptoms tends to operate within an anxious attachment style where they always fear rejection and abandonment. They are scared they will lose the people they love. This makes them create a fantasy in their head where everything is happy and perfect. They attach themselves to it because it gives them a sense of control. Plus, in their fantasy, the person is in love with them and is always by their side no matter how different reality looks like.
11. Projecting fantasies
Lovesick people tend to project their fantasies on the object of their interest. Anita explains, “A lovesick person keeps fantasizing about their romantic love interest, tends to have imaginary conversations with them, sees only their positive side, and refuses to acknowledge their flaws and imperfections even if it’s pointed out by others.”
They create a false reality within which they live and function. They don’t really care about how their love interest is in real life. All that matters to them is their idea of who and how this person is. They don’t care about their crush’s toxic traits because, in their fantasy, this individual is the most perfect person they can find.
Related Reading: Attachment Styles Psychology: How You Were Raised Affects Relationships
12. You are confused and distracted
If you are always confused about things, have trouble building mental or emotional intimacy with people, find it difficult to interpret what others are saying, or are unable to recall past events or concentrate, know that it’s a matter of concern. Lovesickness can affect your attention span. You might find it difficult to talk about stuff other than this person you love or the relationship you want with them. It can cause you to lose focus on work, make you forget daily chores and errands, and distract you from your responsibilities.
13. Feeling of nausea and dizziness
One of the most common physical signs of being lovesick includes feeling nauseous and dizzy. You probably feel you’re about to faint. You might feel as if your head is spinning. You might also experience uneasiness, discomfort, dizziness, and nervousness – all of which make you want to throw up. Such physical symptoms usually arise out of mental health issues caused due to lovesickness.
A 2017 study by the National Center for Biotechnology Information concluded that physical lovesickness symptoms could also include running a fever, loss of appetite, headache, rapid breathing, and heart palpitations. Your brain becomes overloaded with chemical changes as a result of which you experience a range of emotions (usually negative) that affect your physical health. If you can relate to a few of the above signs, allow us to help you figure out ways to get rid of lovesickness.
How To Cope With Feeling Lovesick
How does one cure lovesickness? Well, there’s no quick fix to this. Dealing with heartbreak or obsession is not easy. It can take weeks, months, or even years to heal. Lovesickness can make you feel rotten inside and it’s not a nice place to be in. Having said that, the good news is that you can heal from it. It will take time and effort but it is possible to fight it. Here are a few ways to get rid of lovesickness:
1. Focus on their shortcomings
Being lovesick makes you obsess over the person to the extent that you fail to notice their shortcomings. In your eyes, they are perfect, which is why it becomes crucial that you consciously try to spot their flaws and imperfections. Focus on who they are as a person, their behavior patterns, any toxic traits that they might have, and their opinions and beliefs. Don’t try to find any hidden meaning in their words and actions. Take them at their face value.
2. How to get rid of lovesickness? Focus on yourself
A lovesick person finds it hard to focus on themselves and their life because they are so busy thinking about their object of interest. Therefore, attempt to shift the focus from your crush to yourself. Take care of yourself. Keep yourself busy with things that bring you joy. Get into a routine and involve yourself in activities during your free time.
Practice self-love. Set healthy relationship boundaries. You could try journaling, music, or any form of art. Anita explains, “To cure lovesickness, you need to focus on yourself, your needs, and your self-worth instead of blindly following your crush and placing them on a pedestal. Engage in hobbies, take care of your overall well-being, meet friends, or practice any creative activity that makes you happy. It’s a great way to manage and express difficult emotions.”
3. Snap all contact
Anita recommends, “Establish the no-contact rule with the person in question. This includes putting a stop to checking their social media activities.” You need to give yourself time and space to heal and this includes snapping all contact with your crush, no matter how difficult it seems. Avoid calling or texting them or constantly checking up on them. Delete all photos, videos, recordings, or any other media you have on them. Get rid of their belongings. Wait till you feel better. Until then, keep the memories and the person at bay.
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4. Seek help
According to Anita, “It may take a while to get over these unhealthy patterns of thoughts and behaviors. But, if they persist for a long time, seek professional help. Therapy can help because a trained professional will be able to help you get to the root of the problem, guide you to identify your irrational beliefs, and replace them with more effective and functional behavior patterns.”
Lovesickness can take a long time to heal depending on the seriousness of the problem and the person dealing with it. A therapist can help identify underlying factors and suggest coping mechanisms to get rid of lovesickness and build healthy relationships in the future. If you are stuck in a similar situation and are looking for help, Bonobology’s panel of experienced and licensed therapists is only a click away.
5. Notice your thought patterns
Anita says, “A lovesick person needs to first identify their obsessive patterns and thoughts. They need to realize and acknowledge that their feelings and behaviors are unhealthy for their overall well-being. Helping the person identify their triggers that keep them fixated on their crush is the first step of the healing process.”
Observe your thought patterns and actions. You need to be aware and mindful of your feelings and behavior patterns if you want to treat them. When thoughts of your romantic love consume your mind, make the effort to differentiate between fantasy and reality. Analyze your thoughts and feelings because it will help you heal yourself.
- Feeling lovesick involves obsessing over a person so much that it starts to affect your overall well-being
- Physical signs of lovesickness include nausea, loss of appetite, fever, dizziness, rapid breathing, and heart palpitations
- A lovesick person might feel restless, anxious, and even suicidal. They might struggle with insomnia and concentration issues
- Taking care of yourself, snapping all contact with your crush, and focusing on their flaws can help you get rid of lovesickness
You can’t cure lovesickness overnight, so don’t rush it. Take it one day at a time. Accept the fact that there is a problem and that you need time to solve it. Healing is a time-consuming process but a fruitful one. Once you start focusing on yourself, your feelings for your crush will eventually fade. Remember that true love should make you feel wonderful and good about yourself. It should not trigger feelings of anxiety, stress, and nervousness.
You cannot predict how long lovesickness lasts. Such a condition can take weeks, months, or even years to heal. It all depends on the gravity of the situation and the person dealing with the problem. However, if you notice lovesickness symptoms persisting for over a couple of weeks, seek help.
Feeling lovesick is not a good thing because it usually arises out of negative emotions. Heartbreak, rejection, longing for love, fear of abandonment, unrequited love – all of these situations can make a person lovesick. It might also lead to severe mental health issues like depression and anxiety.
Yes. Men also suffer from lovesickness. A survey by Elite Singles revealed that men tend to suffer the most as far as being lovesick was concerned. Out of the 95% of men who admitted to feeling lovesick, it was found that about 25% more men suffer from lovesickness than women after a relationship ends.
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