Being in love can be a rush. It’s new, exciting, and it makes you feel like you can walk on water! We’ve been there, too. It feels like you want to be around this person all waking hours of the moment! Pause. In new relationships, this is totally normal and called the “honeymoon phase”. According to the Cleveland Clinic, this “unicorns and rainbows” feeling fades over time, and this is normal. However, there is something called Obsessive Love Disorder. New fear unlocked, amiright? The Integral Life Center defines this disorder as “… psychological condition that presents as an overwhelming, obsessive desire to protect and possess another person.” So, is your partner showing healthy or obsessive love? Let’s find out with these six signs.
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.
If you’ve been watching Psych2Go for a bit, we know a lot of our struggles in life are from something negative in our childhood. As children, we develop a specific attachment style to our parents, and this tends to follow us into our adult years and into our romantic relationships. One of these styles is called the Ambivalent Insecure Attachment Style which is having both positive and negative responses towards a parent, according to the APA. An example would be loving your parent but fearing them, too. 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. If you can’t tell if your partner is loving you in a healthy way, ask about their parents. It may be a sign of obsessive love.
Have you ever had a teacher or boss hovering over your shoulder asking what you’re working on a few times every hour? This is micromanaging, and it can make you feel like you’re under a microscope all hours of the day. I don’t know about you, but that’s not how I want to feel when I’m at home with my partner. I want to feel comfortable enough to walk around in my fuzzy Chewbacca onesie, sipping on my cup of noodles, while singing show tunes with no judgment! Medical author and psychiatrist, Roxanne Dryden-Edwards, MD, agrees, too. In her article about obsessive love on MedicineNet, she explains how a partner who loves you obsessively can attempt to control what and when you eat, what you spend your money on and how much you spend, sometimes where you go and who you’re hanging out with. This controlling behavior shows codependency tendencies and can be a good indicator of obsessive love.
Okay, we can’t front. It feels amazing when you have someone telling you how awesome, smart, funny, and attractive you are. It can feel so good, but you know what they say about too much of a good thing. When obsessive love is present, a partner may over saturate the relationship with these seemingly sweet nothings. Sex therapist and licensed social worker, Janet Brito, Ph.D., LCSW, CST states in her Healthline article that love bombing doesn’t even have to be words. It can be showering you with gifts, fancy dates, blowing up your phone with calls and texts, convincing you that you were meant to be, or even pushing the relationship forward. Not saying this is the case for everyone, but does anyone have a friend who met someone and was engaged in six months or less? This could be love bombing, and this could be a sign of obsessive, not healthy, love.
The honeymoon phase is filled with puppy love and lots of being together. Like we said, this is totally normal, but it’s also normal for these intense feelings to fade. Like Lily and Marshall from How I Met Your Mother. As they “mature”, the relationship matures with them (or so they think). In a healthy relationship, instead of having that need to go be with your partner, you’re able to prioritize and get your to do list checked off THEN go be with your partner. If you and your partner are out of that honeymoon phase, a craving to be together may be a sign of obsessive love. Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist and writer for PsychCentral, Jennifer Litner, Ph.D. explains that many symptoms of Obsessive Love Disorder, such as ignoring others’ boundaries, intolerance of distance between them and their loved one, need for constant contact in person or digitally.
Have you ever heard the phrase “the crime fits the punishment”? Well, emotions should fit the situation. If your partner accidentally ate your leftovers that you were thinking about all day, sure, being frustrated and annoyed is understandable. However, this shouldn’t be enough fuel to fire up an all out screaming match. When someone is experiencing Obsessive Love Disorder, they’re emotions regarding their loved one can be just as disproportionate. If they’re unable to be with or speak to you, this might bring out really intense emotions, like anger, jealousy, or emotional outbursts according to both Hanori and Saremi and Dryden-Edwards.
Other Mental Illness
Now, let’s be very clear. Having one mental illness does not mean you have them all. They’re not Pokemon. However, sometimes, having one mental illness can increase the potential of having another or multiple other illnesses. With Obsessive Love Disorder, this is centered around one’s emotions towards someone else. Other mental illnesses that have a similar focus can cause Obsessive Love Disorder as a symptom. Let’s take Borderline Personality Disorder, or BPD, for example. Timothy J. Legg, Ph.D. and Psy.D. at Healthline reminds us that BPD is characterized by severe mood swings and a negative self-image based on a chemical imbalance in the brain. These mood swings can be directed solely at your partner if you feel inadequate in the relationship which may cause you to feel “good” one day, then angry at anything they do another day. Again, just because you already have a diagnosis doesn’t mean you also have Obsessive Love Disorder, but it could be something to explore with a mental health professional.
Healthy, nurturing, and positive relationships are the goal for everyone. Sure, we want our partner to be a liiiitle addicted to us, but clinical obsession can be serious. Have you ever been in a relationship where your partner may have been experiencing Obsessive Love Disorder instead of a healthy love? Were there any signs you saw that we missed? Let us know in the comments below! As always, keep an eye on Psi for more Psych2Go content. Until next time!
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.
Cherney, K. (2018, September 18). Obsessive love disorder: Symptoms, what it is, causes, and more. Healthline. Retrieved October 8, 2022, from https://www.healthline.com/health/obsessive-love-disorder#causes
The Cleveland Clinic. (2022, March 25). What is the honeymoon phase and how long does it last? Cleveland Clinic. Retrieved October 8, 2022, from https://health.clevelandclinic.org/what-is-the-honeymoon-phase/#:~:text=This%20feeling%20of%20euphoria%20is,%2C%20in%20some%20cases%2C%20years.
Dryden-Edwards, R., & Conrad Stöppler, M. (2019, June 26). Obsessive love disorder: Behavior, symptoms & treatment. MedicineNet. Retrieved October 8, 2022, from https://www.medicinenet.com/confusing_love_with_obsession/views.htm
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
Integrative Life Center. (2022, August 22). Symptoms of obsessive love disorder. Integrative Life Center. Retrieved October 8, 2022, from https://integrativelifecenter.com/symptoms-of-obsessive-love-disorder/#:~:text=What%20is%20Obsessive%20Love%20Disorder,to%20an%20unhealthy%20love%20relationship
Legg, T. J., & Cherney, K. (2019, December 17). Love bombing: 10 signs to know. Healthline. Retrieved October 8, 2022, from https://www.healthline.com/health/love-bombing#excessive-communication
Litner, J., & Gillette, H. (2021, August 9). Obsessive love disorder: Symptoms, causes, and related conditions. Psych Central. Retrieved October 8, 2022, from https://psychcentral.com/health/obsessive-love-disorder#symptoms