Here’s How To Tell The Difference Between Love And Obsession

Updated on May 8th, 2020
obsessive love disorder

The infatuation stage of romantic love generally happens in the primary stages of a healthy love relationship. It can involve relentless thoughts of the love object and wanting to enjoy each second with that person. A healthy love relationship usually evolves such that it no longer consists of the fervor of infatuation and near desperate intensity.

Healthy love tends to develop over the years to include friendship, commitment, and mutual admiration for the other individual as a human being and of their requirements. Healthy relationships allow both people to feel cared for, loved,  and respected and allow for each person’s individuality and pursuit of their recreational activities, own professional lives, and bondings outside of the love relation.

Unfortunately, obsessive love has been eulogized in literature for eons, as well as by the media, once the press came into existence. From the double suicides of Romeo and Juliet to even many of the most recent romantic flicks, being obsessed with the object of one’s love is often held up as something to achieve rather than having the potentially deadly aftermath of the behaviors when the movies fade to dust.

What’s the Difference Between Standard and Obsessive Love?

The difference between mutual and obsessive love is that with the latter, those feelings of infatuation become severe, expanding to the point of becoming delusional.

Jealousy and obsessive love and that are delusional is a symptom of mental health issues and is a symptom that happens in around 0.1% of grownups. People who suffer from delusional jealousy often decipher little experiences like a coworker saying hi to their wife or aromantic partner looking at a passerby as positive proof that their loved one is promiscuous(1). Male boozers have been found to be specifically vulnerable to developing delusional jealousy. Females are more prone to create obsessive love toward people they know rather than toward a stranger.

The objects of desire for women who love obsessively are often people who have been in the role of a helpmate in their lives. In extreme instances that obsessive love involves violence, women, and men and seem to be executioners of such violence at similar rates. Risk indicators for developing obsessive love include a lack of permanent employment as well as having family members who have psychiatric issues, specifically a delusional disorder.

What Are the Signs of Obsessive Love?

Besides delusional jealousy, obsessive love can be detached from a healthy love relationship by having addictive qualities. For instance, the person who suffers from obsessive love tends to want to spend excessive time with their love object, such that they overthink and engage in behaviors that put them in touch with their love object to a severe degree.

They can limit how much they engage in recreational activities or other social relationships, even becoming damaged to the point of not being able to work. A person who obsessively loves might engage in escalating tools of psychological control, or other forms of power, to keep their love object close. Instances of that include controlling food or money and, in severe cases, using violence or stalking.

The person who is obsessively in love, as well as the object of that love, maybe codependent or dependent on each other, respectively. The individual who loves obsessively may behave as if addicted to their love object. In turn, the purpose of obsessive love may have difficulty setting clear limits and boundaries on obsessive behaviors.

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What Causes Obsessive Love?

The procedure that mental-health practitioners engage in to assess obsessive love includes evaluating the person to ensure that mental issues that may present with this symptom are considered and treated if present.

Examples of some such disorders include bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, delusional disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, a personality disorder, or organic (caused by a medical disorder) brain syndrome. Warning bells that a person is suffering from obsessive love can include the following:

  • Low self-esteem/a tendency of requiring excessive reassurance
  • Obsessively boasting about their loved object
  • Making repeated texts, calls, and faxes to the love target
  • Unnecessary intensive attention to the love object
  • A tendency to have extremely bad or good (imbalanced) feelings about someone
  • A tendency to focus on only the negative  or the positive aspects of their loved one
  • Trouble concentrating on socializing, work, recreation,  or other aspects of their lives outside of the target of their love
  • Attempts to control  or otherwise monitor their love object’s activities and life
  • Excessive happiness, to the point of solace, when able to get in touch with or be with their love object

Is There Any Treatment for Obsessive Love?

Treating obsessive love usually involves psychotherapy for the patient and their love object, mainly if the couple is currently in a relationship with each other. Counseling can help and may include assisting both people in visualizing their involvement in a healthier manner, as well as employing affirmations and other methods to boost their self-esteem.

Any lurking mental illness should be treated with medication if relevant. If the person with obsessive love has begun to manifest threatening or otherwise dangerous behaviors, then legal procedures like involving the police and implementing restraining orders and safety plans may be necessary.

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