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How to Overcome Obsession in a Relationship

Two Parts:Understanding the Pitfalls of ObsessionOvercoming Obsession

Obsession can kill a relationship. Wanting to be with a person 24/7, never letting this person out of your sight or out of your mind, can be the very thing that snuffs the love. Ironically, this can mean that you lose the very relationship over which you obsess. Learn how to overcome this challenge and find real, authentic love.

Part 1
Understanding the Pitfalls of Obsession

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    Be aware of the dangers of obsessing over another person. Obsession also prevents your personal growth and individuation. It isn't possible to get all that you need in life from another human being and trying to do so will smother the other person and will leave you feeling dependent and helpless. These are all negative outcomes for both you and the person you're in the relationship with.[1]
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    Search for authentic love. You love a person because of who you are, not because of who they are. This person cannot fulfill the things that lack within you; only you can do that. Being in love is a choice, not something that is visited upon you as some sort of salvation. Love isn't an excuse or a distraction from the challenges you're facing in life. Love isn't a way to hide from the hard task of growing up, maturing and finding your own pathway in life.[2]
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    Be aware that obsession can close your opportunities. While you are obsessing over one person, it is possible that you are failing to see the limitations of the relationship and its use-by date. Meanwhile, the person who would actually be more compatible with you might walk right on by while you're enslaved to an obsessive, one-sided relationship. By not obsessing over any person in your life, you free yourself to know that the relationships you are in are right for you, and if not, to start extricating yourself and looking for healthier connections.
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    Remember that timing is important and everyone is different. The person you're with may have priorities in his or her life that you just don't understand. Becoming obsessed and hoping like crazy that your mere existence will be enough to change these priorities reveals a lack of understanding and suggests that you're in need of a reality check. People who change plans because of someone pushing them tend to end up really resenting that person. It may not show now but it will surface eventually, and it often happens when you're so deeply embedded that losing this person is like losing a part of yourself.[3] It is better to be wise to the possibilities from the start rather than to fantasize, cajole and pressure this person into loving you.
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    Relax more. If you think this is the right person for you, remind yourself that they may not be in the same stage of the relationship as you are. Relax and be yourself instead of trying to make things happen faster. Adjust your pace. Not everyone falls in love at the same rate and if you turn the heat down a little, you will feel better and they just may miss you enough to make a deeper commitment.

Part 2
Overcoming Obsession

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    Admit to yourself that you have an obsession. That way, you can give yourself some space so you can work through it. Until you admit you have a problem, you will have a hard time overcoming it.
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    Love yourself first and foremost.[4] Do not mistake self-love for self-absorption; they are not related. Self-love is about respecting your own dignity and supporting it, recognizing and nourishing your own talents and caring for your own needs and wants. Having a sense of purpose that matches who you are is handy too, although it may take some people longer than others to truly work out who they are.
    • In contrast, self-absorption is about placing your own needs and desires before anyone else's. Self-absorbed people may be desperate for others' approval and not have a great opinion about themselves.[5]
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    Warn people you care about if you're still working yourself out. The more confused about who you are, the more you owe it to other people to not obsess over them and to draw clear lines in any relationship about how you are still "finding yourself".[6] This isn't the same as not wanting to commit; that too is a form of hiding from reality. This is about telling the other person that you're still finding your way in life, that you sometimes feel confused and to let you know if you ever start trying to blur the boundaries by over-relying on the support, love and attention from this person instead of standing on your own two feet. Honesty will help both of you steer through the challenges ahead with open eyes.
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    Dedicate yourself to activities, pursuits and goals that match who you are. One of the signs of an obsessed partner is that he or she drops everything and only does what the partner does, only loves what the partner loves and only focuses on what the partner focuses on.[7] A little of this is to be expected when first falling in love but not to such an extent that you replace your interests with those of your partner's. Find a good balance between taking part in your partner's interests out of curiosity, love or simply being affable, while still maintaining the things you love to do in life.
    • Keep your usual hobbies and sports going. Ask your partner along sometime to see what you do but don't expect a "forever commitment" to your interests by your partner either.
    • Start new interests as you continue to grow. Do not stifle your maturation because you fear that your partner won't like you changing or learning new things. A partner who feels this way is unhealthy to be around; all human beings grow and change over time, this is to be expected.[8]
    • Stay active with your passions. Your relationship is but one passion, not a complete replacement for the range of joys in life.
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    Keep seeing your friends, family and community.[9] Avoid making the excuse that your partner is everything to you and that you must always be with him or her at the expense of everyone else in your life. While the first few giddy months of a new relationship often contain an element of complete immersion in one another, it isn't good for this to continue for a long time. Make a dedicated effort to get back in touch with friends and family you've lost touch with, and get back into doing your community-spirited activities too. Even better, don't lose touch with anyone even at the beginning stages of the relationship; a good partner will see your commitment to others as part and parcel of who you are and respect it.
    • If you have a partner who demands that you don't see others and that you do nothing else but spend time together, be very wary. This is a sign of a controlling person who may well be manipulating you into obsessing about him or her and not letting anybody else into your lives. You may even end up convincing yourself that you made this choice, when you were actually manipulated into it.[10]
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    Enjoy your relationship more. Obsession squeezes the fun out of a relationship and turns everything into hard work, causing you to worry about every word and action, to feel jealous about anything and anyone that removes your partner from you.[11] This person may, or may not be, your one true love. Realize that a "one true love" is an ideal and it sets you up for obsession through wanting it to be so. If you both work out, it'll be because you've enjoyed one another's company, found it really easy to spend time together and have not fallen apart when apart. If it doesn't work out, then no amount of obsessing would ever have glued back together an incompatible pairing.
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    Make your social media exchanges pleasant and brief. Avoid hogging their time, wall or scrolling feed. In particular, do not leave snarky or snivelling remarks about their whereabouts, about people they're engaging with online or about your hurt feelings. Everything you type in and save is there for good and the more you obsess in the online environment, the faster it becomes clear to more than just your partner that you have a boundary problem that just isn't healthy. Instead, give each other space online, keep the messages simple and sweet and leave the deep talk for face-to-face time.[12]
    • Quit the Facebook/Twitter stalking. Do you really need to know what your partner is up to all the time? Avoid spending too much time on social media. Find distractions, such as reading a good book and walking in nature.
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    Avoid sitting around waiting for your partner to make your date happen. Consider your feelings when this person doesn't call, text or email you. If you're usually so crazy, angry or sad that you put off doing other things to wait and then end up making all sorts of excuses to explain this silence, it's probable that you're obsessed and that you're failing to get on with your life.[13] Don't ever think the other person is sitting around thinking about you. The reality is that, even if you are an incredible person, your partner is probably wrapped up in getting on with their own life. If they feel interested in you, they will take the initiative to contact you. Since they are not doing that, it means they are busy or think you've already connected enough lately or have other things to be doing that don't need your hand-holding. None of these reasons are about you or about leaving you out––they're each about getting on with everyday life in a normal human way.
    • Even if your partner fails to contact you because he or she doesn't much care or is doing suspicious things such as being unfaithful, this is not a reason to obsess. This is a reason to find a new partner!
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    Improve what is missing inside.[14] If you lack confidence, have low self-esteem, fear the future or are still dealing with the emotional outfall of a dysfunctional upbringing, seek appropriate help. If you don't seek healthy outlets and find ways of coping with the things that aren't sorted in your own head, there is a risk that you'll try to use your partner as a proxy for feeling better about yourself. Develop your self-esteem, deal with your feelings of loneliness, and learn to connect with other people outside of a romantic relationship. In this way, you are putting effort into building your sense of self worth rather than hoping to "catch it" from another person (it sure doesn't work like that!).
    • If you feel you "need" a partner, use that a warning bell to take a good look at yourself. Nobody "needs" a partner; we all need healthy social relationships, supportive people and love but a partner is only one source of that. It is certainly something many people would like in their lives but neediness shouldn't be the motivation to become involved with someone. Love is a choice remember, not an imperative. Pick wisely.[15]
    • Realize that the irony is that the more you care about yourself and others, the more likely you are to attract someone who will love you deeply. Focusing on being the best person you can be and caring broadly for all people are attractive traits in any person.
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    Move on if you're not feeling the love.[16] You cannot obsess another person into loving you more. The cliché "if you love someone, let them go; if they love you, they will come back" is never more relevant than when you feel a relationship is wavering. Make it clear that you love this person but that you are not going to put up with second-rate love, shenanigans, unkindness or any other negative behavior and actions. Tell your partner to get their act sorted without expecting your tolerance for misbehavior. If you're obsessive because of bad behavior--trying to "love someone" into loving you--it can be really hard to give such an ultimatum and to let go, which can lead you to cling to something that is plain unhealthy for you. You don't deserve incomplete love or a shadow of love; you deserve the entire commitment. So let go and see what happens. If complete love is not forthcoming, you too are free.


  • Keep a notebook. Write down your feelings. Over time, read back through it and see the patterns that emerge. This can help you to avoid repeating unhealthy relationship habits.
  • Don't have any friends? Get out and do things and meet other people without friends. You all need each other and can have each other's backs.
  • Loneliness is a big reason for obsession. The answer is to fill your life with more people––this is where volunteering can help if you truly don't know anyone else.
  • Build a supportive network or group of friends. Always have people you can turn to in time of need.
  • Be aware that no matter what you do, some people will not give you the attention you seek. This should be adequate warning to you to consider that the relationship is either not compatible or is simply one in which you have varying levels of needs. In the latter case, it's up to you to think through the consequences of trying to make it work.
  • "What ifs" are a way of stalling your life. Let them go. Some things won't work out perfectly, or at all. At least you tried; better than regretting not bothering at all.
  • Talk to someone if you're hurting from obsession. Doing it alone is hard and isn't necessary!
  • Look for friendship first. It can be a great deal more fun and kinder than a bad romance. Friendships tend to last longer than a string of romances too!


  • If you are depressed and no longer functioning in your daily life as a result of your obsession, seek professional help. If you are suicidal, call the Emergency Services or a suicide prevention hotline such as 1-800-273-TALK (8255).
  • Obsession can be a bad habit, a reflex action that lets you off the hook of having to think for yourself. Beware any such tendency.

Article Info

Categories: Former Relationships