Hey, Psych2Goers! I hope everyone is having a wonderful start to their week. We’ve been talking a lot about relationships – signs of strong ones, signs of false love, and even how to know if someone wants to be with you. One thing we haven’t talked about is obsessive versus healthy love. Sometimes, obsessive love can fool us. It feels good to have someone putting effort and attention towards you, but where is the line between healthy love and being legitimately obsessed with your partner?
Let’s figure it out together. Here are 9 signs of obsessive love as opposed to a healthy love between partners.
Side note: Please keep in mind this article is meant for informative and entertainment purposes only. It is not meant to attack any individual. If you have concerns about your relationship and/or partner, please reach out to a qualified mental health professional to help you explore those thoughts and feelings.
#1: Your partner has an unhealthy relationship with their parent(s).
In Psychology, we have four types of attachment styles that we will develop towards our parent(s). This attachment style from childhood tends to follow us into adulthood. One of these styles is called Ambivalent Insecure Attachment Style. The American Psychological Association defines this as having both positive and negative responses towards a parent. An example would be both loving and being afraid of a parent. In 2015, Honari and Saremi concluded that individuals with an Ambivalent Insecure Attachment Style are more likely to develop obsessive love towards a partner. The unhealthy relationship with a parent becomes the individual’s baseline for how to have a relationship, both romantic and platonic.
#2: Your partner has low self-esteem.
When you think about your partner, do they ask for your opinion on everything? Do you always have to be complimenting them? Those could mean that your partner has low self-esteem. This causes them to constantly need reassurance and validation in their thoughts, actions, and choices. If you notice this in your partner, it could be building an obsessive love in your partner.
#3: They push the relationship along quickly.
We all have a friend you got engaged and/or married very quickly and tells you “When you know, you know!” I’ll be honest, I have some friends that it just happened to work out that way. I also have others who got engaged and married within six months and regret all the things. If you’re in a relationship, you both need to discuss the pacing of the relationship and be sure you’re both okay with it. Did your SO introduce you to parents within the first few weeks? Say “I love you” on the first date? Pop the question within a few months? This could be obsession.
#4: They don’t like the idea of you having independence.
When you’re in a healthy relationship, you want your partner to be the best version of themselves, support them in their dreams and goals, and help them (within your means) to achieve their goals. When obsession is present, it’s the opposite. Your partner doesn’t like you bettering yourself or growing, even hanging out with friends. All of this grows the potential that you might leave them, and that can’t happen. This is a major sign of obsessive love in a relationship.
#5: Your conversations are only surface level stuff.
When you and your partner talk, what do you talk about? Do you just talk small talk? Is it a lot of flirting? Do you talk about your thoughts, feelings, and goals? The future with each other (if you’re there)? All of the above? All of the above is definitely a good sign of a healthy relationship. However, if you start to notice that the conversation never goes deeper than how your day was and some sexts, this may be a sign of untrue, unhealthy love.
#6: Your partner wants to spend all the free time with you.
Let’s say you and your partner work Monday through Friday and have the weekend off. It is totally reasonable to say you will both hang out on Saturday and do your own thing on Sunday. An obsessed partner will want to spend time together after work every day, on the weekends, and any time you’re not otherwise occupied. Having someone who wants to be around you is wonderful, but it can be possessive and obsessive if you’re only allowed to hang out with them.
#7: They like knowing where you are all the time.
Whenever I go out without my fiancé, I like to let him know what my plan is for the day. That way, if he needs something that I’m near, he knows. It’s also something that was engrained in me in self-defense classes – make sure someone knows where you are. He doesn’t ever ask me where I am. I offer the information. Once in a while is cool, but if your partner is always asking where you are or worse using GPS apps (like Life360), this is a red flag of obsession.
#8: The feelings are short-lived.
When you’re in love, those feelings are there to stay (whether you want them or not), but when you’re obsessed, the feelings are like a roller coaster. They’re super intense, but they only last about two minutes. If you notice that your partner is super intense and then all of the sudden pulls away, this could be a sign of obsession.
#9: They love you conditionally.
Unconditional love is the goal. No matter what you do, within reason, you want to know your partner will be there for you. When you have obsessed love, there are conditions to their love. Usually, you must be perfect to earn their love. If not, they may move on to the next love target.
Being in a relationship is a special thing you found with someone else out of all the billions of people in this world. Showing that person healthy love is a great way to a strong bond. Did you recognize any of these signs from your past or current relationships? What can you do to show positive, healthy love to your partner? Let us know in the comments below; we love hearing your thoughts, too! As always, keep your eye on Psi for more Psych2Go content!
Need to know more signs of fake love? Check out 7 Signs Someone is Obsessed With You, Not Love.
The references used in and to compose this article are listed below.
Dodgson, L. (2018, February 27). Love and obsession are two different things – here’s how to tell them apart. Business Insider. Retrieved April 25, 2022, from https://www.businessinsider.com/how-to-tell-if-youre-in-love-or-just-obsessed-2018-2
Dryden-Edwards, R. (2019, June 26). Obsessive love disorder: Behavior, symptoms & treatment. MedicineNet. Retrieved April 25, 2022, from https://www.medicinenet.com/confusing_love_with_obsession/views.htm
Fellizar, K. (2018, October 26). How to tell the difference between love and obsession. Bustle. Retrieved April 25, 2022, from https://www.bustle.com/p/how-to-tell-the-difference-between-love-obsession-13000434
Honari, B., & Saremi, A. A. (2015). The study of relationship between attachment styles and Obsessive love style. Procedia – Social and Behavioral Sciences, 165, 152–159. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.sbspro.2014.12.617
Schwartz, S. (2018, December 1). Obsession vs love: 12 critical differences you should know. Her Norm. Retrieved April 25, 2022, from https://hernorm.com/obsession-vs-love/