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Love can be a joyful or sometimes euphoric emotion, but many people have also experienced the agony of heartbreak and the fervor of infatuation. In addition to these feelings, obsessive love leads someone to fixate on their romantic partner as if they were a possession or an object.

Obsessive love, or “obsessive love disorder,” is not typically recognized as a mental health issue by health professionals.

Currently, it is not included in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th edition (DSM-5). Yet, obsessive love may be indicative of other mental health issues and disorders.

If the individual experiencing sentiments of obsessive love do not get therapy and treatment for the common signs, they may struggle to control these feelings. In extreme situations, this may even prompt an individual to engage in violent or abusive acts.

This article describes obsessive love, including its causes, symptoms, and potential treatments.

Obsessive Love Disorder

Obsessive love disorder (OLD) is an overpowering need to be liked or to dominate a loved one. Individuals with this disorder override trust and companionship. It is comparable to an addiction that gradually takes over a person’s life, beginning with butterflies in the stomach and progressing to severe jealousy and dominating behavior. As a bottomless hole of need, an individual with OLD wants excessive contact and validation from the people they are obsessed with; nonetheless, it is never sufficient for them. It impacts an individual’s employment, family life, and physical and mental health.

Obsessive love is characterized by recurring thoughts and the longing to spend every second with the object of affection. A healthy romantic relationship develops over time without the desperation and passion of infatuation. It involves friendship, commitment, trust, and consideration for the other person’s time, space, and uniqueness.

However, OLD often breeds possessiveness and painful suffocation. An individual with OLD desires to be the top priority in the other person’s life; the infatuation becomes toxic and severe. Knowing your partner’s personality and way of life is vital to a strong romantic connection. It is a hallmark of OLD to doubt their loyalty and scrutinize their every move.

The symptoms of obsessive love disorder differ based on the underlying cause of the obsession. An individual with delusional disorder, for example, may experience altered reality or exhibit odd behavior, whereas an individual suffering from depression may have suicidal thoughts or low self-esteem.

In general, the following are symptoms of obsessive love:

  • An obsessive relationship that is unreasonable and out of proportion to the period of time the partners have known each other
  • “Falling in love” instantly with different and new partners or even strangers
  • Extreme attempts to exert influence over another
  • Threatening the partner if they try to leave
  • Refusal to pay attention to the feelings of the other person or respect any limits or boundaries they try to set
  • Insisting on specific unreasonable conduct from the other party.

Other signs may include wider implications of jealousy.

Obsessional jealousy

Obsessive jealousy is characterized by excessive jealous thoughts and compulsive activities. People with obsessive jealousy may identify their erroneous beliefs. Symptoms of obsessive jealousy are more intense than those of regular jealousy, and include the following:

  • It may be tough to quit having invasive and overwhelming jealousy-related thoughts.
  • Restricting a partner’s freedom
  • Observing a partner’s conduct

Delusional jealousy

Based on a 2018 article, delusional jealousy arises when an individual is certain that their partner is being sexually disloyal, but has no evidence to back up this notion. Delusional jealousy is a form of the psychotic condition that is also known as Othello syndrome.

Among the signs of delusional jealousy are:

  • False but certain suspicion of infidelity
  • Persistent fantasies regarding a partner’s infidelity
  • Obsession with a partner’s cheating
  • Irrational and paranoid thoughts and feelings
  • Inappropriate or violent behavior

There are numerous causes of obsessive love, including delusional disorders and mental health problems.

Erotomania

Erotomania, also known as de Clérambault’s syndrome, is a mental disorder in which an individual has a deluded notion that another person, typically someone of a higher position, loves them.

There are both primary and secondary types of erotomania. In primary erotomania, erotomania is caused by no other medical problem, and erotic fantasy, hallucination, or delusion is the only symptom.

Secondary erotomania may be associated with illnesses like major depressive disorder or schizophrenia. Erotomania may also be associated with brain trauma, pregnancy, alcoholism, and some medications, including amphetamines.

One case study from 2017 revealed that social media may exacerbate erotomania. This is because it permits individuals with obsessive inclinations to study others from a distance and feel more connected to them than they would otherwise.

Borderline personality disorder

Individuals with borderline personality disorder (BPD) may fear abandonment profoundly and struggle to maintain emotional control. They may enter connections rapidly, or they may have intense ties with others.

Individuals with BPD may exhibit impulsive behavior and extreme mood swings. The disorder may affect a person’s relationships negatively. A person’s feelings of strong affinity to another person may abruptly flip to detest.

Individuals with BPD may lack a stable sense of self or self-image. This may exacerbate obsessive tendencies since individuals may find it difficult to perceive themselves as real or worthy apart from their connections.

Nevertheless, each individual with BPD experiences unique symptoms and varying degrees of severity.

Attachment disorders

The ability to develop good relationships with others begins in early life. People with abusive or unstable caregivers or parents may develop aberrant attachment patterns. In their relationships, they may become obsessive, domineering, or scared.

The attachment patterns that a person develops as a kid can affect their behavior in adult relationships.

Individuals establish a secure attachment type if they were raised by a steady and attentive caregiver. This indicates that the individual is likely to be self-reliant, able to regulate emotional experiences, and appreciate close relationships.

If a kid’s primary caregiver is unstable, the child may develop an insecure attachment style. This can cause anxiety, avoidance, and fear in relationships. Individuals with insecure attachment styles may exhibit greater emotional expression and greater dependence on others.

Trauma and abandonment phobias

Childhood trauma or events that result in an insecure attachment style may result in abandonment anxiety. A phobia of being abandoned may lead to the development of compulsive behaviors.

People who fear being alone may make threats or act impulsively in an attempt to keep their partner from leaving.

Other mental health problems

A variety of mental health disorders can distort or modify a person’s perspective, causing them to become more anxious, obsessive, or unhappy. This may raise their chance of developing an obsession with their romantic partner.

Individuals with a dependent personality disorder may be possessive of a spouse, require frequent encouragement from others, and feel helpless while alone.

Social and cultural customs and values

Some societal and cultural conventions require a partner to provide more than the other. This could imply that some caregivers and parents expose their kids to these harmful obsessive relationship practices while raising them.

For instance, being exposed to different relationship “norms” as a child may drive some individuals to grow up feeling that love means ownership or that their spouse must do everything they desire to prove their love.

These thought processes are characteristic of damaging or toxic masculinity. Individuals with this characteristic may believe that it is appropriate for men to emotionally or physically abuse their partners.

Those that exhibit toxic masculinity could also be controlled and may expect more from their relationships than they are ready to offer, or may abuse partners who violate their “rules.”

Recognizing the fundamental root cause of why a person acquired an unhealthy style of relationship with affection and love is the first step. Children who have undergone trauma have been shown to respond with affection differently as children and as adults. Some children who experience terrible events may be diagnosed with obsolete love syndrome or post-traumatic stress disorder.

A child with delusions will grow under harsh conditions; they may perceive or believe illusions.

The trauma could be physical, sexual, mental, or emotional in nature. Whatever form of trauma a child may have encountered might influence how they interpret love, trust, and affection. The sensation typically changes into fear owing to past interactions. Survivors frequently believe they can’t trust anyone and that connection and love are risky or require a practical exchange, so they may avoid them.

Child abuse should never be neglected as a source of obsessive-compulsive and post-traumatic stress disorders. Several case report studies suggest a strong association between OCD in children which is the reason why behavioral sciences urge us to pursue a treatment regimen that’s focused on obsessive disorders.

As a parent, it may be hard for teens to identify any signs of obsessive-love illness. How do parents evaluate their family’s health? A symptom may be an unhealthy relationship, especially with adolescents. If this happens in a child with an obsessive love condition, it may be prudent to get professional assistance.

Before prescribing or recommending treatment, it is possible that a doctor or mental health expert would do an evaluation to identify whether mental health concerns or other mental health difficulties, like a mental health disorder, are related to obsessive love disorder. Upon establishing a medical diagnosis, if the occurrence of other health conditions is identified, a plan of care may be implemented to manage or treat that issue or underlying cause.

There are numerous therapeutic strategies available at inpatient rehab treatment centers to treat the symptoms of obsessive love. Typically, treatments are based on how the symptoms manifest and any underlying causes.

To overcome love obsession, consider the following:

Psychotherapy

Several therapies can be useful in the treatment of obsessive love disorder. These consist of:

Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT)

According to experts, pathologic love styles are sustained due to flawed thought processes, like the notion that your lover would abandon you if you are not possessive. Cognitive-behavioral therapy can assist individuals with obsessive love disorder in altering these tendencies and reorienting them toward healthy behaviors and coping techniques.

Dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT)

Dialectical-behavioral therapy was initially developed as a treatment for borderline personality disorder but is now commonly employed for other conditions that involve partner-directed aggressive and controlling behavior. DBT can help individuals with obsessive love disorder better regulate their emotions.

Psychoanalysis treatment

As per psychodynamic theories, an obsession with a romantic partner might result from the inadequate presence or total absence of an “object” of attachment during early development. Short-term psychodynamic therapy has proven to be highly effective at identifying the likely early origins of this maladaptive behavior.

Luxury residential treatment programs provide high-end therapeutic strategies for managing obsessive love disorder with access to upscale luxury amenities. You can have full privacy and confidentiality throughout the treatment process and enjoy your stay at an upscale treatment center around world-renowned therapists and counselors for obsessive love disorder. 

Medication

Medication is typically not the first therapy option for obsessive love disorder. However, if the disease is caused by severe personality abnormalities, medicines may be more effective.

Popular practice frequently incorporates the following medications in treatment strategies for obsessive love disorder:

  • Antipsychotics
  • Antidepressants
  • Anti-anxiety drugs
  • Mood stabilizers

  1. Obsessive love disorder: Symptoms, causes, and related conditions. Psych Central. Available at: https://psychcentral.com/health/obsessive-love-disorder#symptoms.
  2. Obsessive love disorder: Symptoms and treatment. Medical News Today. MediLexicon International. Available at: https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/327098#causes.
  3. Obsessive love disorder. Mindful Prism – Redirecting Light Inward. Available at: https://mindfulprism.com/obsessive-love-disorder.
  4. Obsessive love disorder: Symptoms, what it is, causes, and more. Healthline Media. Available at: https://www.healthline.com/health/obsessive-love-disorder#outlook.

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