11 Ways To Stop Obsessing Over Someone

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Ways To Stop Obsessing Over Someone

Are you constantly thinking about someone to the extent that everything else in your life has come to a grinding halt? And has that left you wondering how to stop obsessing over someone who rejected you? People might talk about being ‘obsessed’ with a new K-drama, but that’s not the same as being obsessed with a crush or a lover. You probably started reading this because the title seemed to offer you hope, which means you are perhaps in the throes of an unhealthy obsession for someone.

That’s exactly what we’re here to help you with. Together, we’ll figure out ways to stop obsessing over a crush or an ex, with insights from counseling psychologist Kavita Panyam (Masters in Psychology and international affiliate with the American Psychological Association), who has been helping couples work through their relationship issues for over two decades.

What Causes An Obsession With A Person?

“I must get my soul back from you; I am killing my flesh without it.” Sylvia Plath rightly captures the essence of obsessive love, and we can assure you, it’s not a hyperbolic poetic expression. As far-fetched as it may sound, this is how a person feels when they are a victim of Obsessive Love Disorder, a psychological term for wanting what you can’t have. For them, this obsession with a particular romantic partner or interest is equivalent to love.

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Instead of viewing a person as an equal, obsessional love may emphasize ownership over them. People with obsessive tendencies love the other person for their own needs. Numerous elements might contribute to obsessive love:

  • Delusional disorders, such as erotomania (the delusional belief of being loved by another person, like a celebrity) or BPD
  • Insecure attachment style due to abusive and traumatic childhood
  • Cultural conditioning that vilifies boundaries

According to Kavita, there is a correlation between obsession and compulsion. She explains, “Obsession is when thoughts repeat themselves in your mind, while compulsion is the action we choose to take to ease the obsession.” This is when the warning signs of becoming obsessed with someone start becoming apparent. So, the feelings you’ve got for this person — is it love or obsession? How do you tell?

What’s the difference between love and obsession?

There is but a thin line between genuine love and fixation. And that is an urge to win and have control over someone by hook or by crook.

Let me explain. If you are in true love with someone, you would want to see that person happy and accomplished, even if that means letting go of them. But with obsessive thought patterns comes a sense of possession, an extremity that leads to a highly dysfunctional relationship. And the situation becomes more messed up when you are obsessing over someone who doesn’t want you back, because then it’s clear that you are unable to deal with rejection in love gracefully.

As you understand, this kind of unhealthy attachment can’t be very easy to live with. Obsessively thinking about or constantly trying to hold on to your object of affection, as if to keep them safe in a box so they can’t leave or betray you, can be mentally and physically exhausting. It’s just as suffocating for the person at the receiving end.

According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), Obsessive Love Disorder still doesn’t fall under the category of a mental health condition. Rather, it can be labeled as a branch of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and Borderline Personality Disorder. Here are the signs of being obsessed with someone:

  • No respect for personal space and boundaries of the person you love
  • Obsessing over someone not replying to your text messages and trying to contact them despite their reluctance
  • Trying to control their everyday life  – whom they work with, whom they are meeting, how they are spending alone time
  • Being overprotective and possessive about this person even when they don’t feel the same way
  • Spending time stalking their social media accounts. This can lead to trust issues in the relationship
  • Constantly seeking validation and reassurance of their feelings for you when you can’t stop fixating on someone
  • Trying hard to be in their good books
  • Losing your sanity from obsessive thoughts when you feel that the person is getting out of your clasp

So, how to stop someone from messing with your head? To learn more, read on.

Related Reading: 8 Ways We Stalk Our Exes

11 Ways To Stop Obsessing Over Someone

Are you unable to give your loved one enough time for themselves or any personal space, and end up stalking them relentlessly? Does it leave you wondering how to stop obsessing over someone who is ignoring you? The first step would be to acknowledge the problem.

However, that doesn’t necessarily ease your woes. Once your brain acknowledges that you have obsession for someone, it probably goes in a constant state of flux, trying to break this pattern without really understanding where it’s stemming from. Here are some tools and tips to help you stop obsessing over someone you’re dating or are friends/acquaintances with, and hopefully regain control over your sanity:

1. See them for who they are

There are reasons we develop unhealthy obsessions with a person. “Maybe you think that this person is amazing, so losing them would cause you acute pain. Maybe you are under the impression that they are the only one who can understand or love you. Maybe they’re breadcrumbing you – sending out flirtatious but non-committal signals – but because you’re obsessed, you want to stay connected with them or ruminate on the connection,” says Kavita.

In that case, the best way to tame these obsessive and intrusive thoughts and feelings is to see the person for who they really are. They probably have attractive qualities, which led to the obsession in the first place, but you have to try to see them as a whole person with flaws and faults. This might help you move on and bring back your sanity. “How to overcome limerence before you start to deteriorate? Don’t just think of the good parts, look at the whole package – the fights, the disagreements, the toxic traits, all of it. Think, why am I obsessed with someone I barely know?” Kavita suggests.

Infographic on ways to stop obsessing over someone
This is how you stop obsessing over someone

2. How to let go of obsessive thoughts — laugh about it

Among other things, humor also puts things in perspective. If you find that you cannot hold a conversation without bringing up your unhealthy obsession with a person, learn to laugh at it. Remember, this is a slow and gradual process, so be patient with yourself. Laughter and humor will help put a little distance between you and your obsession.

Almost as though you’re a third person watching this obsession play out. Then, consciously make a decision to distance yourself from them in order to be obsessed with improving yourself rather than with them. If you’re seeing someone new, this will also help you stop obsessing over someone you just met. Besides, it will ensure that you move on from an infatuation that’s bordering on unhealthy.

Related Reading: 15 Clear Signs Your Crush Doesn’t Like You Back

3. Heal your past trauma

You might be at a stage of life where you feel that if you don’t stick with this one person, you’ll never find anyone else or anyone better. Everyone around you is getting married or engaged, and you are worried, “I will be the cat lady who lives and dies alone”. Or maybe you’re obsessed not with your partner but with someone else, and now you need to get over someone you never had.

You are probably thinking, “I’ve been obsessed with this person for years. How to get over someone who doesn’t want you at all?” People experience a plethora of emotions at these times. These unwanted feelings and desperate need to survive by holding onto that one person are coming straight from your unhealed emotions. It’s the insecurities and the fear of being left alone that your ex-partners or family or friends left you with. Perhaps, you need to work on letting go of the baggage of your past relationships to stop obsessing over someone you’re dating.

Kavita says, “Obsessive behavior often stems from a lack of self-alignment. You need to address your past trauma, or whatever it is that led you to this point. Ask yourself why you would stay in an abusive or non-existent relationship. The answer might lead further back than you think,” she adds.

4. Gather the willpower to put an end to it

Mariam, a writer from L.A., shares, “I went from ‘Why am I obsessed with someone I barely know?’ to ‘Why am I obsessed with a guy who rejected me?’ in two weeks. A lot happened during that fortnight: longing, confession of feelings, rejection, heartbreak, and obsession again.” 

They advise, “If you want to stop obsessing over a girl or a boy you can’t have, block that person on social media or deliberately avoid seeing them. It’s not going to be a cakewalk, and you may need to exploit every last bit of your mental strength. But make it a point to distract yourself whenever these stubborn, obsessive thoughts cloud your judgment and shift the focus to your own well-being instead.”

Learn how to love yourself. Start a new hobby or rediscover an old one, or do something that you have always wanted to do and never got a chance to. It could be taking a solo trip, learning a new language, or riding that bike that you always dreamed of. Start doing the things that interest you, or else your obsession will take over your life. These are great ways to get over someone who doesn’t want you.

How to stop obsessing
Do something that you have always wanted to do and never got a chance to do it.

5. Stop obsessing over someone you just met by trying to stay grounded

When you observe signs of being obsessed with someone, try deliberately to live in the present. Encouraging your obsessive behavior is not a good way to live because it won’t allow you to live in your present. Look at yourself in the mirror and get a reality check. Remind yourself of the personal goals and responsibilities that you are setting aside in the process of obsessing over someone. 

Kavita advises, “Don’t neglect yourself spiritually and emotionally. Nothing is lonelier than that, so take a deep breath and keep your life up and going, even when it’s hard. Take help when you need it.”

6. Get out of the same loop and make new experiences

“I’m obsessed with someone I can’t have. He broke up with me and never told me the reason. The failed attempts to move on without closure have been eating me up inside all these weeks. Even today, I check him online first thing in the morning, I try to purposely bump into him at parties – literally anything to get him back. Obsessing over someone who rejected you is soul-crushing. I just need to know how to stop thinking about someone who doesn’t want you!” says Blair, a young management professional who is still struggling to get over her college sweetheart.

If you are also stuck in a similar situation and the same thoughts are circling your mind, it’s time to live your life despite these thoughts. Add new things to your life. Get some new hobbies. Learn a new skill. Meet new people. Go out for a walk, grab a drink, or visit your favorite used bookstore. If you don’t want to be alone with your thoughts, take a friend along. Have conversations about things other than your current obsession. Taking a small detour every day from the same old loop of romantic obsession will help you completely avoid that path over time.

Related Reading: 12 Signs It’s Time To Stop Pursuing The Girl You Like And Back Off

7. Taking back your power is the easiest way to get over someone

Considering yourself the most important person in your life and keeping yourself on the pedestal is exactly what you need to do at this moment. Our life is too short to remain consumed by the thoughts of a person who doesn’t show similar interest or enthusiasm, let alone strong feelings for us. Because if they did, this obsession won’t get a grip on you in the first place. The day you can tell yourself “I acknowledge that I’m obsessed with someone I can’t have. But now, I am done living for someone else. From now on, it’s all about me,” your problems will start to look surmountable.

Kavita says, “When a person or situation is not good for you, you realize you need to do something about it eventually. Look at the recent events. Do you glorify this person subconsciously? The power imbalance is the major underlying issue. When you put someone else on a pedestal, you are giving them unconditional love, and maybe expecting the same in return. Remember, functional people don’t look for unconditional love. They say no, accept no as an answer, and let things go gracefully without drama or revenge.”

8. Don’t let their opinions define you

Why do we obsess over certain people? If you’re seeing signs of an obsessed man or woman in yourself, there’s good reason for this question to weigh on your mind. Maybe they have a certain charm where everything they say matters to you way more than it should. Sure, you care about what they think of you, but living up to their desired expectations is a bit too much.

“Sometimes, your mind is stuck on the love bombing phase of the relationship, and you don’t realize when it tips over into emotional abuse,” warns Kavita. It’s possible that an emotionally unavailable person would use this to their advantage. If they know that you get affected by their opinions, they may purposely say things to put you down and see how you would change based on that. Don’t fall prey to such manipulative games. How to stop obsessing over someone who hurt you? The first step is to remember that you are not who they say you are.

stories on toxic relationships

9. Look at your thoughts objectively

Your thoughts are important and play a crucial role in your life, but as soon as they transcend into a spiral of overthinking, they can ruin relationships. Only you can have control over your thoughts and make valid choices about what you can and can’t control. Calmly sit down and talk yourself out of these addictive thought patterns in order to stop being obsessed in love. Remind yourself that you have a life beyond this particular person.

“Remember one thing, thoughts cannot be controlled, and you can’t stop the feelings from developing, whether they are functional or dysfunctional. But there is a difference between allowing a thought in and engaging with it. Lessen the intensity of the thought by not paying attention to it. Wait for these thoughts to pass. Let it happen, don’t put life on hold,” advises Kavita.

Related Reading: 8 Subtle Signs Of Insecurity In A Relationship

10. A strong support system can help you overcome your obsession

You need the company of your friends and family in times of crisis and happiness. Spend time with them while dealing with a phase of obsession because they can offer you a neutral third-party perspective. They may even help you in your journey to stop obsessing over a crush by offering you welcome distractions when you need them the most. Most of all, their love and care of your friends and family is a reminder that you deserve so much better.

However, if the state of being obsessed in love is getting out of control and taking a serious toll on your mental health, you may need more than just the support of your loved ones. When you feel lonely all the time, visiting a therapist or even getting online therapy is strongly recommended. This gets you to the root of this pattern and gain control over it. If, at any point, you need skilled and experienced counselors, Bonobology’s panel of experts can help you stop being obsessed with a person.

11. How to channel your energy? Follow self-affirmative mantras

Including self-affirmative mantras in your daily activities can help you focus on yourself and make yourself a priority over anyone else. Let your anger flow, especially if you’ve been in a toxic relationship, but for getting over obsessive love, use mantras like:

  • I am awesome!
  • I am happy and fun
  • I am enough and sufficient for myself

Chant these multiple times with conscious effort, and if required, make some small changes in your life – using a different route to work, taking your dog to a different park for a walk, spontaneously going for a haircut/tattoo, etc. Many people turn this obsession into their creative muse and get something artistic out of it. Paint a beautiful picture, write that poem, or record a song maybe. 

“An obsession is like a child wanting to play with something sharp. They are told it’s not good for them and that there are better things to do, but they still stubbornly want it. So, how to get your mind off of someone or something? Obsession and compulsion go together, so you’ll need to let them fade away. It won’t happen overnight, so be patient and keep working on yourself. Practicing mindfulness, doing yoga and meditation, and making positive changes can help. Above all, don’t allow yourself to be devalued,” Kavita concludes.

Key Pointers

  • A person with Obsessive Love Disorder can’t help but think incessantly about the object of their affection
  • A sense of control and possession comes along with this obsession which makes it different from a loving and healthy relationship
  • Obsession in love stems from unhealed trauma, failed relationships in the past, or low self-esteem
  • The best way to overcome these obsessive thoughts is to see the person as they are instead of idolizing them as an epitome of perfection. Let go of that glorified image
  • You have to stay more grounded, focus on your own purpose and life goals, and distract yourself with small, productive actions to stop overthinking
  • Positive affirmations work wonders in retracting from Obsessive Love Disorder and moving toward good times

It isn’t easy to learn that you are obsessed. It’s even more difficult to get out of that obsession. Try these tactics and let us know if they helped in the comments below. Stop obsessing over a girl or boy, or anyone at all, and start obsessing over yourself. That’s the only way to get out of these bad times.

The article has been updated in July 2023.

FAQs

1. Is obsessing over someone normal?

While being obsessed in love is definitely a cause for concern, you are not the first person to have experienced it. This is not to say that you can give yourself a free pass and keep going down the rabbit hole of this unhealthy behavior pattern, but just a reminder that, while unhealthy, obsessive thoughts about a person you love are not uncommon. And it’s possible to catch this tendency by its horns and rein it in.

2. What does it mean when you can’t stop obsessing over someone?

When you obsess over someone, it can mean having an extreme preoccupation with that person to the point where it takes over your life. What causes an obsession with a person? Often, when you can’t stop fixating on someone, it can suggest an insecure attachment style or a need for love that is based on external validation. In some cases, it could be Obsessive Love Disorder, a psychological condition that leads to dangerous beliefs in the validity of possessive love.

3. How long does it take to stop obsessing over someone?

The time it takes for someone to fix their obsession can vary from person to person, depending on the strategies they use and the inclination they have toward it. The easiest way to get over someone is to acknowledge that you do have a problem. You can stop being obsessed with a person if you acknowledge that this is not healthy love and is not good for either of you. You can actively decide to pursue methods to curb the obsession and move forward. Alternatively, you can also seek professional help or online therapy.

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