People are hardwired to love. From infancy, we show a desire, a fundamental need, to be loved and nurtured. Countless sonnets, plays, books, movies, and songs espouse the glories of love and decry the heartbreak it can cause. These works romanticize obsessive love, but they can keep us from experiencing fulfillment and balance in real life.
Love can become an ailment in unhealthy relationships. It’s essential to recognize the symptoms of Obsessive Love Disorder.
What is Obsessive Love Disorder?
Obsessive Love Disorder is a psychological condition that presents as an overwhelming, obsessive desire to protect and possess another person. Often an inability to accept rejection further contributes to an unhealthy love relationship.
Healthy relationships are caring and supportive environments where individuals can grow and thrive. Obsessive love is more about control and extreme thoughts and behavior.
Health professionals do not widely diagnose Obsessive Love Disorder. It doesn’t appear in the American Psychiatric Association’s “Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.” But obsessive love can signal other mental health challenges. The specific causes are difficult to pinpoint, but many psychologists agree certain risk factors increase a person’s chance of having it.
Risk factors for developing Obsessive Love Disorder include:
- Neglect. Childhood neglect can hinder a person’s ability to form healthy attachments later in life. Neglect can create anxiousness, insecurity, or possessiveness surrounding relationships, which can worsen love disorder symptoms.
- Abuse. Past physical or emotional abuse can result in long-term feelings of emptiness and pain. Love disorder symptoms seem to be a way to cope with a void created by past trauma.
- Low Self-Esteem. Persistent feelings of worthlessness or lacking a solid sense of self can cause a person to blur boundaries to feel loved.
- Borderline Personality Disorder. This mental health disorder impacts how you think and feel about yourself and others. It causes problems functioning in everyday life. It includes self-image issues, difficulty managing emotions and behavior, and unstable relationships. With BPD, you have an intense fear of abandonment or instability. You also may have difficulty tolerating being alone. It’s the most common disorder that co-occurs with Obsessive Love Disorder.
- Erotomania. This rare delusional disorder may cause a person to believe that a specific person is their destiny. Obsessive love can intensify delusions of healthy or non-existent relationships.
- Attachment Disorder. Insecure attachment styles develop during childhood. They can make people feel as if the “other shoe” is constantly about to drop. This feeling can cause obsessive and controlling behavior in relationships.
- Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder. People with OCD can develop a condition called “Relationship OCD.” It’s characterized by obsessive thoughts and behaviors toward their relationship.
Symptoms of Obsessive Love Disorder
Since experts link Obsessive Love Disorder to other, more widely-known mental health disorders, it can be challenging to diagnose. Also, symptoms may vary for different people.
Symptoms can manifest themselves in many ways, but they include:
- Overwhelming attraction to one person
- Possessive thoughts and actions
- Intense preoccupation with a relationship
- Threatening the other person if they leave
- Extreme jealousy
- Repeated messaging via text, email, or phone calls
- Monitoring the other person’s actions
- Inability to tolerate time away for a person
- Blurring or crossing boundaries
- Falling in love quickly with new acquaintances
- Controlling behavior
Treatment for Obsessive Love Disorder
The treatment plan for Obsessive Love Disorder focuses on the individual. It takes into consideration many factors. Customized plans focus on underlying causes for obsessive thoughts and feelings.
Treatment may include:
- No Contact. One of the first steps toward healing is to cut off all possible ties with the person you have obsessive feelings toward. This rule includes social media and phone contact.
- Stay Busy. Focus your energy on hobbies, exercise, or relationships with family and friends.
- Practice Mindfulness. Raise awareness of moments when you begin obsessive thinking. This mindfulness can help you create healthy habits.
- Therapy. There is no shame in seeking professional help for mental health issues. This treatment is how you get expert advice and the proper medical treatment you need.
Overcoming Obsessive Love Disorder with Integrative Life Center
Displaying obsessive love toward someone does not mean you don’t love them. But it can create significant barriers to building a healthy relationship. Integrative Life Center offers a variety of treatments for co-occurring and mental health disorders. If you or a loved one identify with symptoms of Obsessive Love Disorder and are ready to seek help, contact us today.