Words and language seem to have been used very loosely in today’s generation, in this world of Millennials and Gen-Zers. This internet age and “everything on social media” has also made petty and not-so-worthy things the center of our lives. Obsession is one of them, and mind you, signs of obsession often come disguised as love, care, and affection.
When you are obsessed with someone, everyone but you can see it. Moreover, obsessive love disorder is a mental health issue that may just creep up and affect the quality of your life for the worse before you even realize the damage it is causing.
The romanticized idea of an all-encompassing love may often lead to people not realizing they’re actually obsessed. With the help of clinical psychologist Shincy Nair (M.Phil., forensic psychology), who specializes in anxiety, depression, and is a certified life coach, let’s take a look at what the signs of obsession in a relationship are and why we need to be able to spot them.
What Causes Obsession With A Person?
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First, let us know what is an obsession. An obsession is when one person has something in their mind that they can’t stop thinking about, pausing everything else that is going on in his/her life. It affects everything they do since they’re too fixated on this idea/thing that they’re obsessed with. An obsession can often be dangerous and lead to worsening mental health.
At times, love is equated with obsession and vice versa, especially on the big screen. Obsession is not something that one feels once in a while but is a persistent feeling, for someone or something. Your world revolves around that one person who you feel is your “knight-in-shining-armor” or your “lady with the glass shoes”.
It starts with developing a crush, where you believe in magic, unicorns, and miracles; eventually bursting your bubble with the reality that holds. Of course, a person can be obsessed with almost anything. But when there’s an unhealthy obsession with a person, things can go from bad to worse very quickly. Let’s take a look at what obsessive love disorder is.
What Is Obsessive Love Disorder?
“Obsession with a person can be defined as obsessive love disorder (OLD) wherein the obsessed person goes to an extreme level of being possessive about their partner. This person can also suffocate and enslave a relationship,” says Shincy.
According to Medicinenet, obsessive love disorder is when a person feels an insatiable and overwhelming need to protect the person they are with as though they’re an object. They can often become controlling, to the point of trying to control everything their partner does.
It doesn’t always accompany love, sometimes the person may just think they’re in love. The unhealthy obsession with a person may lead them to believe that they are, but the primary motivating factor behind such behavior is a possessive attitude and treating the other as an object they can control.
According to Healthline, some of the symptoms of such a condition are:
- Not being able to stop thinking about a person
- Overwhelming attraction
- Low self-esteem
- Delusional, anticipated and irrational jealousy
- Possessive thoughts and actions
- Constantly monitoring this person’s actions
- Controlling the activities the person engages in
- A constant need for reassurance
- Difficulty maintaining other relations with friends or family
The causes of being obsessed with someone to such an extent can depend on a number of environmental and individual factors. For instance, the family dynamics a person experiences while growing up can shape the way they act in romantic relationships.
If their primary caregiver was an ambivalent one, i.e., they were inconsistent in their approach toward being a parent, the child hence develops an anxious-attachment style. This, in turn, leads them to become clingy, possessive, and often have problems with low self-esteem. Studies have proven that the existence of an ambivalent attachment style may signal OLD.
Other causes of obsession with a person can include a mental health illness like borderline personality disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, erotomania, or obsessional jealousy. Though studies have found that OLD affects more women than men, the reason behind it is still unknown.
As you can see, this issue can cause major damage to the way a person navigates their life and even the health of their relationship with their partner. This is exactly why catching the early signs of obsessions becomes all the more important.
What Are The Signs Of Being Obsessed With Someone?
“Signs of obsession can be something along the lines of being unable to perform normal daily tasks due to constant thoughts about someone. Feel depressed, enraged, or suicidal in extreme cases, when the person of interest doesn’t respond as intended. They might not like the partner spending time with his/her family or close friends they knew before the relationship,” says Shincy.
To the person who can’t see anything but the person they think they’re in love with, these signs are most probably going to go unnoticed. That’s exactly why it’s so important to take a look at 13 warning signs that tell you either you are obsessed with someone, or someone is obsessed with you.
1. Classic sign of obsession: Incessant stalking
To know more about your crush – you check out his/her Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and oh, so many other social media apps. You might even talk about him/her to your mutual friends. But once such activities take up the better part of your day, you’re on the cusp of being obsessed.
“As they say, excess of anything is poison. Similarly, an urge of stalking someone on social media can stem from a crush, infatuation or love interest. But doing it excessively is one of the signs of obsession. Checking their profiles on every social media platform, gathering info related to the person and those who are close to him/her is a dead giveaway. Also, the obsessed person would try to befriend the friends of the person of interest to get more information,” says Shincy.
2. Your friends are his/hers
The cyberstalking in this dynamic leads you to know all about the other person’s friends and you may befriend them on their social media handles. Though it may not look like one of the signs of being obsessed with someone at first glance, the deeper a person gets into it, the creepier it gets.
The state of being obsessed with someone makes you want to be the only person they communicate with. By befriending all their friends and hence making sure you’re at least a part of the conversation there or even in charge of it, you’re basically trying to infiltrate this person’s life completely.
Related Reading: 12 Signs That You Are Dating A Stalker And Need To Breakup
3. Friends of the opposite gender are disliked
This is one of the major symptoms of being obsessed with someone to the point of wanting to control their actions. You may feel threatened by every person of the opposite gender in your person’s life. It can get exhausting, very quickly. You may want to control the people they meet and the time they spend with friends of the opposite gender, all because of an obsession.
One of the most common signs of an obsessed man is feeling extensively threatened by every male friend his partner may have. Healthy jealousy is normal and expected but when he doesn’t let his partner meet friends of the opposite gender because he’s threatened, it’s a huge cause for concern.
4. Their happiness becomes your priority
Sure, making each other happy is a basic essential in a relationship, but in this dynamic, every small thing is evaluated in detail to ascertain whether it made you happy or not. And, if not, mending things and focusing on your happiness becomes a primary vocation. Never would you have thought that this would be a sign of obsessing with someone, right?
5. Didn’t keep posted about your whereabouts
“Obsessive individuals have a controlling temperament. This makes them feel responsible for every decision or situation of that relationship. Any uncertainty creates a sense of loss of this control and can lead to verbal or physical abuse. The urge to know about every moment and every thought/action of the partner makes them lose focus of their own life and they make the partner their focus of life, wherein suffocating the relationship for both.
“Every innocent behavior of the partner can lead to a histrionic reaction trying to make them feel guilty for it. Trying to control every action and wanting to know what the person is doing is one of the biggest signs of obsession in a relationship,” says Shincy.
You either missed out on informing about where you were going at what time or it was an immediate plan and your phone died and you couldn’t do anything about it. This would turn into a major fight, which would take a humongous effort to resolve. Such a lack of personal space will ultimately end the relationship.
6. Constant validation and reassurance needed
“People with a dependent personality disorder may also show signs of obsessive and clingy behavior. This behavior arises from the fear of losing out or feeling insecure around others who are close to the partner. They need constant reassurance like compliments and “I love you”, and a portrayal of having a perfect relationship. To polish this off, such individuals can stage helpless and vulnerable personalities to manipulate the partner,” says Shincy.
When there’s an obsession with a person, they would need to hear “I love you” more often than you would have thought and all their discussions would lead to how very important they are for you and your life.
7. Dislikes your plans with your friends
They would want to be included in the plans that you are making with whoever – be it an old school friend, a bunch of office colleagues or just catching up with an acquaintance. They’d feel left out if such plans materialize and they are left behind to do their own thing. As a result, they’ll not only dislike the plans, they may forcefully include themselves in them. In cases where there is bipolar obsession with a person, there may even be emotional or physical abuse involved.
Related Reading: 13 Signs You Are The Selfish One In Your Relationship
8. Surprises you at your get-togethers
Due to the uncomfortable emotions that they go through, they would need to barge in on your plans, in the name of “surprising you”. It would put you in a very awkward situation when hanging out with your group of people.
“An unhealthy obsession with a person can be termed as continuous thoughts about them. The obsessed person is gripped by a constant need to be with ‘the person of interest’. They crave instant response, attention, constant conversation, and sharing opinions. This can be noticed in surprise visits to offices or other places, checking of phone and emails, and drop-ins at places where they are not invited by the partner,” says Shincy.
As one of the early signs of obsession, this one may often slip by unnoticed, since all your friends will think of it as cute. But if it happens one too many times, know that it might just be one of the signs of an obsessed man.
9. Always in touch (24/7)
They wouldn’t leave you alone one bit and would want to chat/talk with you constantly. It’s as easy as whenever you look at your phone, it would either be pinging with their messages or you would be notified with a missed call when you just stepped outside for some fresh air.
10. You must reply instantly
“An obsessed person would want that their calls or text messages are attended to without delay and can become highly unsettled by even the slightest delay. The partner has to adjust their professional and personal life to accommodate the wishes or plans of the obsessed partner; they’ll always be walking on eggshells,” says Shincy.
In this tech-driven world, they’d constantly keep a check on when you are online, and if you are and don’t reply to them immediately, it ticks them off. Whatever the explanation be – receiving documents from your boss, messaging your colleague how you think the coffee at work sucks, or looking for music to lighten up the mood at work, they won’t understand.
Related Reading: What is Double Texting And What Are Its Pros And Cons?
11. Exclusivity as soon as you are together
One of the signs of obsession is when a person immediately expects exclusivity in dating, even though you might have just been on a couple of dates together. You might even have planned to eventually become exclusive with this person, but the rushed moves they’re making might just make you think if a relationship with this person is a good idea or not.
12. They don’t get upset when they should
If you did something that is a big “no-no” in a relationship and your significant other doesn’t get upset with you, then he/she is obsessed with you. Missing out on a family dinner or not turning up for that movie that you were planning for weeks, just to be a couch potato at home are upsetting matters and they overlook these.
13. Always ready for last-minute plans
If you are the obsessed one, then last-minute plans are always agreed upon with a positive nod and a wide smile on your face. This can be sometimes used against you. Based on your partner’s free time or availability, plans are made with the understanding that you won’t ever deny them.
If you can relate to any or all the above-mentioned points, bring your A-game on now. Make sure that you have a keen eye on moves and control the obsession by:
- Trying to keep your insecurities at bay: Let them not crawl in, as that might result in ruining what you have going on right now with your significant other
- See-through your person: If he/she comes across as the obsessive kinds and pushes you to plan outings with his/her friends rather than always planning it with you
- Returning texts immediately is not a necessity: If, a busy schedule doesn’t allow you or him/her to return calls or reply to texts immediately, don’t ponder over it and do that the first thing as soon as you get a chance
- One can’t always be in the ‘honeymoon phase’: So make sure that you don’t end up always choosing him/her over your friends and other commitments. Always is the emphasized word here
- Introspect and learn: You might be avoiding your insecurities with the recent obsession – either your crush or the significant other
These are just a few that might help you overcome your obsession or make you aware of someone obsessing over you. When an unhealthy obsession with a person gets in the way of life, it’s important to ascertain the signs right away. If you’re currently struggling with obsessive thoughts for someone, Bonobology’s panel of experienced therapists can help out.