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Obsessive Love: How & Why It Happens, 34 Signs of Obsession & the Bad Effects

Maybe you’re the one obsessed or maybe they’re obsessed with you. Until you know the signs of obsession, you won’t realize it.

signs of obsession love

When you first fall for someone, it’s natural to think about them a lot. You replay conversations, eagerly anticipate the next meeting, and maybe even doodle their name during a boring lecture. But there’s a huge leap between these butterflies in your stomach and tracking their movements via GPS – one’s cute, the other, not so much. Recognizing where we draw the line between affection and overstepping is crucial. In the early stages of a relationship, it’s exciting to feel connected and involved in each other’s lives. However, it’s vital to understand the signs of obsession, which indicate when involvement turns into intrusion. It’s essential to be aware of these signs, not just in others, but in ourselves too.

Being vigilant about the signs of obsession helps in maintaining healthy boundaries in a relationship. It prevents the kind of over-involvement that can turn a romantic comedy scenario into a thriller.

The Psychology Behind Obsessive Love

Love is like a rollercoaster, isn’t it? Sometimes thrilling, sometimes terrifying, but always a ride. But when does that exhilarating ride start spiraling into an obsession? Let’s decode the science behind this, shall we?

Picture this: You’re in a relationship, and everything’s peachy. You’re happy, they’re happy, the world’s a better place. But then, things start getting a bit… intense. [Read: 23 intense signs of unspoken mutual attraction between two people]

Suddenly, it’s not just about sharing milkshakes and long walks. It’s 24/7 texting, a barrage of “where are you” messages, and an uneasy feeling that you’re being watched more closely than a cat watches a laser pointer. That’s when you start wondering about those obsessive love signs.

So, what’s the science saying?

First off, our brains are wired for connection – thanks, evolution! But sometimes, this wiring goes a tad haywire, especially when our attachment styles *think of them as your relationship blueprints* get involved.

Some folks have a secure attachment style – they’re like the chill, Netflix-and-chill kind of lovers.

Others might have an anxious or avoidant style, which can lead to the signs of obsession in love.

Then there’s our old frenemy, low self-esteem. Imagine your self-esteem as a tiny cheerleader inside your head. If she’s feeling good, she’s cheering you on, and you’re feeling confident and secure in your relationships.

But if she’s a bit down in the dumps, suddenly every text left on “read” feels like a personal critique, and you start double-guessing your partner’s affection. This is where the line between enthusiastic love and obsessive love starts to blur.

You see, when self-esteem takes a nosedive, it often invites jealousy and possessiveness to the party – those classic obsessive love signs.

It’s like having a little gremlin in your head that constantly whispers, “Are they really into you? Better check their phone when they’re not looking!” Not exactly the healthiest mindset, right?

Now, let’s sprinkle in a dash of neuroscience. Our brains, those squishy commanders of our bodies, release all sorts of chemicals when we fall in love – dopamine, serotonin, the works. It’s like a natural high. [Read: Chemistry of love: How hormones make you feel love the way you do]

But in obsessive love, it’s as if your brain’s on a never-ending sugar rush, constantly craving more attention and affection to keep that high going.

This chemical cocktail can lead to behaviors that tick off those boxes in the ‘signs of obsession’ checklist.

You might find yourself constantly seeking reassurance, or your thoughts might be as clingy as a pair of wet jeans. It’s not just about loving someone; it’s about needing them for your emotional survival.

So, when does the switch flip from ‘head over heels’ to ‘head over obsess’? It’s all about balance. Like a teeter-totter, a healthy relationship has its ups and downs but generally stays level.

Obsessive love, on the other hand, is like a teeter-totter hijacked by a hyperactive toddler – wildly up and down and all over the place.

The Subtle Signs of Obsessive Love to Watch Out For

Maybe you don’t think you behave obsessively, maybe you think calling them 50 times a day is normal—it’s not.

If you think getting approval for what you wear out tonight is them exercising their styling techniques—it’s not. So, whether you’re the one obsessing or someone is obsessing about you, you need to know the signs.

Obsession is picture-perfect… in the beginning. Pay attention to these signs of obsession and take care of your heart.

1. You Feel Something is a Little Off

If you read this, you already know that something isn’t right. You already feel a little off with the entire relationship, which is great.

If you feel it, then you know it’s happening. Now, all you need to do is get yourself out of it because this feeling won’t go away. [Read: How to let go of a relationship that’s bad for you]

2. You Don’t Have Any Personal Space

In healthy relationships, you don’t need to see that person every day. Sometimes, you just want a day to go to the beach alone or read a book in the bathtub.

But they need to be around you all the time. They need to know every single thing you’re doing and make sure it doesn’t go against their plan. [Read: 7 secret and revealing signs of a bad relationship]

3. Privacy? What privacy?

They have your passwords for your social media and email because they need to know what you do at all times. They need to make sure that you’re not cheating on them.

You no longer have any privacy, they own you. Your privacy, if you’re lucky, is going to the bathroom alone.

4. Jealousy to the Max

Jealousy is an understatement to how they feel. They don’t like when people look at you, they don’t like if you dress too sexy. In all honesty, they just want you locked up at home in a potato sack.

If you have friends of the opposite sex, that’s not gonna work for them. They’re insecure and cannot handle any threats.

5. They Pull You Away From Friends and Family

They’re cool around your friends and family in the beginning, but after a while, they start to pull you away from them. They don’t like your friends, your family annoys them, or they feel like your parents don’t like them.

This is all an act. They just play the victim so that you feel bad and stand by their side. This means to abandon your friendships for them.

6. They Assume You Cheat on Them

If you don’t answer their text after fifteen minutes, you cheat on them. If you call them back an hour after you’re done with work, you’re cheating. They don’t trust anything you say, really.

In the beginning, they’re cool. Everything’s fine, but after a while, they start to ask you for your passwords, start to question who you talk to. They don’t trust you. [Read: 20 things happy couples don’t do in a perfect relationship]

7. They Say “I Love You” Too Soon

Oh, yeah, sure, they’re in love. It’s been a day, but they know it. They feel that this is true love. You don’t even know how they like their eggs in the morning, but they love you.

If they pop out this phrase like it’s nothing, that’s a problem. Some people actually do feel love. However, if you’re on edge then it’s probably not true love.

8. It’s All About Protecting You

All they want to do is protect you. They don’t want you to go out with your friend tonight because they want to keep you safe.

They must go to the shopping mall with you because they don’t want you harassed. It’s all sweet sounding, but it’s bullshit. You can do anything you want, and you don’t need to be protected unless you ask for their assistance.

9. You’re Perfect… But

There’s always a but. They tell you all the time about how perfect you are but also criticize you for small things. Maybe you’re beautiful, but you should lose ten pounds.

These types of people look for your weaknesses. By finding them, they use them against you to control you and make you insecure so that you don’t leave them. [Read: 18 signs you’re being coerced into a controlling relationship]

10. You Feel Like You’re Going Insane

This shows you they try to manipulate you and control you. If you feel like you’re not yourself anymore, it’s because you’re not. They try to suck everything out of you and turn you into their personal slave.

11. They Will “Never Let You Go.”

Awww, so sweet, right? Picture this: You’ve just had a wonderful date, and the goodnight texts are rolling in. One message pops up saying, ‘I’ll never let you go.’ Initially, it seems like the ultimate romantic gesture.

But as the relationship takes a turn, those words start to echo with a different tone. It’s no longer just a sweet promise; it becomes a literal scenario.

Your partner insists on being a part of every aspect of your life, unwilling to give you space. ‘Never letting you go’ transitions from a line in a love song to a red flag waving in the wind, signaling an unhealthy level of attachment

12. Their Dating History is Blurry

Usually, when you ask them about their dating history, they always talk about how their exes were crazy. Don’t fall for that.

We mean, they probably were crazy because this person made them go literally insane with their manipulative behavior. If this is the only word they use to describe their partner, this is a huge red flag. In other words… run.

13. They Stalk You

On social media, they know every single thing about you. They know who commented on your profile photo, who likes your pictures the most, what you post, when you post things—they know it all. This is one of those big signs of obsession you can’t ignore.

In person, they go to the classes you’re in, eat in the places where they know you’re going to be. You somehow see them everywhere even when you never told them. [Read: How to know if your relationship is toxic so you can get out fast]

14. They Make Threats to You or Themselves

Because they’re insecure, they feel they won’t be able to do anything without you. If you try to break up with this person, instead of saying, “Okay, I understand,” they switch and talk about how they want to kill themselves or they’ll never allow you to break up with them.

That’s not love. If it was, they would, of course, be sad and confused, but they would let you go.

[Read: The unhealthy effects of falling madly in obsessive love]

Now you know the signs of obsession, are you obsessed or in love? Is your partner obsessed or in love? If you or your partner is obsessed, you need to take the steps in getting out of the relationship because this won’t end well for anyone.

How Do You Know When a Lover Has Become Obsessive?

It can be difficult to recognize the signs of obsession because you can mistake it for normal relationship behavior. Of course, your partner can get jealous. They can also be overprotective.

When a person starts becoming obsessive, the signs usually come out when it’s too late to control their impulses. They can become paranoid, aggressive, and irrational. They will start to question everything you do. They will impose strict rules that were unnecessary before.

The sudden change in your relationship dynamic can throw you for a loop. Instead of acknowledging the problem of obsession, your first instinct will be to defend yourself and lash out. When that happens, an obsessive lover will take your defensiveness as a sign of guilt, and they’ll increase the intensity of their possessiveness. [Read: 66 early signs of an abusive relationship]

Why Do People Become Obsessive About Their Partners?

Some people are susceptible to obsession because of their past experiences. How we react is shaped by how we were brought up or what we’ve been through in the past. Here are some of the most common reasons why people become obsessive:

1. Trauma

When a person experiences heartbreak, betrayal, or humiliation, they will develop different defense mechanisms that can help them cope.

Obsessive people will try to control their partners by fixating on non-existent issues or transgressions because it gives them some semblance of control.

2. Social Influences

Society also contributes to the paranoia and assumptions of obsessive people. A person can become possessive if he or she bases their thought processes on how society views relationships.

They end up expecting the worst because society says it’s inevitable.

3. Conditioning

How we are raised can also influence our tendencies towards obsession. If you grew up thinking that you’re supposed to react this way, you will undoubtedly apply it to your relationships in your adult life.

4. Psychological Problems

Most of the examples above can go past the extremes when coupled with a personality disorder or a different underlying psychological problem.

Obsession is not considered normal behavior. It can never be used in mild contexts because it denotes an overly intense fixation on a person, situation, or mindset.

The Impact of Obsessive Love on the Obsessor

You’ve seen the signs: your partner’s obsessive love is more intense than your grandma’s interrogation about why you’re still single. But what happens when you’re the one with the binoculars? Let’s explore the less-than-rosy side effects of being the obsessor.

1. Hello, Paranoia, My Old Friend

Being the obsessor often means welcoming paranoia into your life. You might start reading hidden meanings into every ‘seen’ message and every unreturned call.

This constant vigilance can lead to anxiety and trust issues, as per studies linking obsessive tendencies to heightened stress levels.

2. Social Circle? What Social Circle?

Obsessive love can shrink your world faster than a bad laundry cycle. You might find yourself ditching friends for your beloved, or constantly checking your phone during hangouts.

This can lead to social isolation, a key factor in deteriorating mental health. [Read: 41 honest reasons why you Have no friends that care & steps to fix it ASAP]

3. Self-Esteem on a Roller Coaster

As you fixate more on your partner, your self-esteem might start resembling a yo-yo – up one minute, down the next. It’s a tumultuous ride, where every little thing can send your confidence soaring or plummeting.

Imagine stumbling upon something unexpected – a text, a comment, anything that raises an eyebrow. Suddenly, your self-esteem takes a nosedive. You find yourself agonizing over every detail, questioning your worth and your place in the relationship.

This constant need for reassurance becomes a vicious cycle. You confront them, seeking clarity, and for a moment, their assurances lift you back up, only for you to spiral down again at the next sign of ambiguity.

This pattern of constantly seeking approval and reassurance can severely erode your sense of self-worth. It’s crucial to recognize this as one of the signs of obsession, where your emotional stability becomes heavily dependent on your partner’s actions and affirmations.

4. Obsession, the Time Thief

Think of all the hobbies and passions you could pursue if you weren’t busy over-analyzing your partner’s last text. Instead of hitting the gym or putting the final touches on your masterpiece, you find yourself falling into the rabbit hole of obsession.

Hours that could be spent on self-improvement or leisure are consumed by scrutinizing their social media, deciphering the tone of their messages, and mapping out their last seen online status. [Read: Big reasons to quit cyber stalking your guy’s ex]

The Impact of Being the Object of Obsessive Love

It’s not exactly fun being the apple of an obsessive eye. If your partner’s showing obsessive love signs, you might feel like you’re starring in a reality show you never signed up for. Here’s how it can affect you:

1. Feeling Trapped in a Love Cage

When someone’s love feels more suffocating than supportive, it can lead to feelings of being trapped or controlled. This can take a toll on your mental health, leading to anxiety or depression.

2. Privacy? A Long-Forgotten Concept

When you’re with an obsessive partner, the idea of privacy might start to feel like a distant memory. It’s like living in a reality where your every move, message, and moment is up for scrutiny.

This relentless monitoring can lead to a profound loss of autonomy, making you feel like you’re constantly under a microscope.

In such a relationship, trust issues often surface. It’s challenging to feel secure and valued when your partner seems more invested in controlling your activities than in understanding and trusting you.

The erosion of privacy is a glaring sign of obsession, where the boundaries that are essential for a healthy relationship are blurred or completely disregarded.

3. Social Life in Shambles

An obsessive partner might demand all your time and attention, leading to strained relationships with friends and family. This can result in social isolation, which is linked to various mental health issues.

4. Walking on Eggshells

Constantly trying to appease an obsessive lover can feel like you’re walking on eggshells. You find yourself in a perpetual state of caution, reflecting on whether every action, word, or even a casual glance might upset them. It’s a relentless balancing act, where you’re always on edge, trying to predict and prevent any possible conflict or dissatisfaction. [Read: Walking on eggshells in your relationship? Signs & how to fix it]

This persistent stress can lead to emotional exhaustion and a sense of being emotionally trapped. Your actions become less about expressing your true self and more about managing your partner’s reactions. It’s a draining and unsustainable way to live, where you’re constantly policing yourself to keep the peace.

Is Breaking Up the Only Solution?

Breaking up with an obsessive lover is a last resort. If you really care about that person, it’s understandable that you would want to fix things first. You can talk about it with your partner or ask for help from your friends and family, or even a professional. [Read: 16 ways to handle a controlling partner and help them change]

If you’ve exhausted all your options in trying to change the way your partner is handling your relationship, it’s not just okay, but necessary for you to break up with that person. If they don’t want to fix themselves, there’s no point in staying.

It will be difficult, especially considering that your partner has become obsessive. Just know that your separation will benefit both of you. Functioning as an individual is what you both need. Your partner will need to fix their problems on their own, while you need to recover from being in a toxic relationship.

For those of you who are reluctant to let go of the ones you love, don’t lose hope. After you and your partner have healed, you still have a second chance at making things work. At least by that time, both of you can enter into the relationship without any more trepidation. [Read: How to break up with someone you still love]

How to Break Up With an Obsessive Lover

When worse comes to worst, you have to start thinking about cutting your losses. A breakup might be inevitable if your partner’s obsessions persists. Here are some tips on how you can remedy that problem.

The First Step: Communicating With Your Obsessive Lover

Being honest is the best possible way for you to express to your partner that you need some time apart. Lying will only make things worse because it won’t help anybody.

If you don’t acknowledge the problem implicitly, you and your partner won’t learn from the mistakes that led you to this point.

1. Acknowledge the Problem

Tell your partner that the problem exists. Make them see that their behavior is unacceptable. Obsessive behavior isn’t normal. When your partner understands that, it will be easier for them to accept the situation.

2. Make Them Understand

Explain how their behavior is hurting you and your relationship. Don’t be vague about it. Enumerate some examples of when they were being obsessive, and explain to them how it negatively affected you. [Read: 14 ways controlling people manipulate their lover]

3. Tell Them What You Need

Make it a point to list down your expectations. Make sure that they are reasonable, so your partner will see that what you are asking for is fair.

Be specific, and elaborate on how they can act on it. Don’t ask for something that they can’t provide, like an overnight reversal in their attitude.

4. Ask Them if They Can Provide it

It will be a long and difficult process, but your partner has to agree to make the changes needed. They have to be willing to make an effort to make the relationship work, as well as acknowledge and fix their problem.

5. Cut All Ties, if They Won’t

When it comes down to it, your partner may not agree to your stipulations. Obsessive people can be very stubborn, even more so when their paranoia kicks in.

This is the time where you have to decide whether or not you’re ready to give up your toxic relationship. [Read: How to take a break in a relationship]

The Emergency Procedure

When your partner becomes obsessive to the point of hysteria and harassment, you have no other choice but to call in the cavalry. Dealing with an obsessive person can be emotionally taxing, and a person can only take so much before they start realizing that they need help.

1. Know When to Ask For Help

Don’t take on more than you can handle. If it gets too much for you, start exploring your options. Who can you ask help from? If your first choice doesn’t work, who else can you call?

2. Ask For Your Partner’s Friends or Family for Help

Your family and friends are the most powerful influences in your life. Your partner will need all the support he or she can get from the people who love them most.

Talk to everyone who can help, and schedule a one-on-one interaction or a full-on intervention, if necessary.

3. Call the Authorities

When there’s nothing left for you to do, and your obsessive partner has crossed all boundaries because of their attitude problem, it’s time to call in the big boys. Before you do this, make sure that you know who to call, and you can provide evidence that your partner is exhibiting alarming behavior.

If you think there’s no crime being committed, call a mental health facility. If your partner has hurt you or is harassing you, you can call the police. They have protocols in place that can help people with mental disorders.

Dating an obsessive lover is no laughing matter. It might sound flattering, and it can give you a tiny ego boost, but the consequences outweigh those trivialities any time.

[Read: 10 important things to do after a breakup to feel better]

Anything in Excess is Bad

In life, and particularly in love, the adage ‘anything in excess is bad’ rings true. Being aware of the signs of obsession in your partner is not just about safeguarding the relationship, but also about protecting your own emotional health. It’s essential to recognize when passionate love crosses the threshold into obsessive territory.

If you find that your partner’s affection is morphing into an obsession, or if you’re noticing these tendencies in yourself, the tips provided could be crucial in maintaining a balanced and fulfilling relationship.

[Read: Obsessive love disorder: What causes it, 21 signs and how to get over it]

Ultimately, learning how to deal with obsessive love is about finding equilibrium – where affection doesn’t suffocate, and attention doesn’t overwhelm. Whether it leads to mending the relationship or preserving your sanity, acknowledging and acting upon these signs of obsession is a vital step towards a healthier, happier love life.

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Vinod Srinivas Serai
Vin Serai
Vin Serai is the founder of LovePanky.com, and has delved deep into the working of love and relationships for almost two decades. Having dipped his feet in almo...