Most people are hardwired to love. We have an innate desire to be loved, nurtured, and accepted from infancy. Countless sonnets, plays, books, movies, and songs espouse the joys of love as well as the heartbreak it can cause. These works romanticize obsessive love, but they can keep us from experiencing fulfillment, balance, and truly healthy relationships. Below is more on obsessive love disorder, whether it’s real, and how it can be addressed.
Is Obsessive Love Disorder Real?
Obsessive love disorder is a psychological condition that refers to an overwhelming, obsessive desire to protect and possess another person. This condition often stems from an inability to accept rejection, which further contributes to an unhealthy love relationship. Healthy relationships create supportive and caring environments where individuals can grow and thrive. Obsessive love is more about control and extreme thoughts and emotions.
Health professionals don’t widely diagnose obsessive love disorder, as it’s not in the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM). Even so, obsessive love disorder is real. Moreover, showing signs of obsessive love disorder can indicate other mental health problems the individual may be struggling with.
What Causes Obsessive Love Disorder?
Specific obsessive love disorder causes are difficult to pinpoint. Still, many psychologists believe that certain risk factors increase a person’s chances of developing it. Common risk factors of obsessive love disorder include:
- Abuse: A history of physical or emotional abuse can lead to long-term feelings of emptiness, pain, and a mental illness that causes these symptoms. Love disorder symptoms seem to be coping mechanisms for dealing with an emotional void created by past trauma and response to behaviors or situations that remind the individual of that past trauma.
- Attachment disorder: Insecure attachment styles develop during childhood, and while they’re more common among children, they can progress into adulthood. When in a relationship, the individual with the attachment disorder may constantly be waiting for the “other shoe to drop,” which can lead to obsessive and controlling behaviors in relationships.
- Borderline personality disorder (BPD): Borderline personality disorder is a mental health disorder that impacts the way you think and how you feel about yourself and others. BPD is marked by issues with self-image, difficulty managing emotions and behavior, and a pattern of unstable relationships. People with borderline personality disorder have an intense fear of abandonment or instability, which can make being alone or single difficult and make it a common co-occurring disorder with obsessive love disorder.
- Erotomania: Erotomania is a rare psychiatric syndrome characterized by the delusion belief that one is loved by another person of a higher social status. People with this disorder believe that a specific person is their destiny, whether they’ve met them or not. Obsessive love can intensify these delusions of healthy or non-existent relationships. Many people who stalk celebrities suffer from this condition.
- Low self-esteem: Persistent feelings of worthlessness or lacking a solid sense of self and confidence can make it more likely that a person will blur boundaries and “bend rules.” These individuals might also do things they normally wouldn’t feel comfortable doing in an attempt to feel loved.
- Neglect: Childhood neglect can hinder a person’s ability to form healthy attachments later in life. Neglect can lead to anxiety, insecurity, and passiveness surrounding relationships, which can worsen obsessive love disorder symptoms.
- Obsessive-compulsive disorder: People with OCD can develop a condition called relationship OCD. This type of obsessive-compulsive disorder involves unwanted repeated thoughts (obsessions) and uncontrollable routines or repeated behaviors (compulsions) related to these thoughts. Someone with relationship OCD may struggle with thoughts like “Am I a good enough partner?” or “Do I really love my partner, or am I just going through the motions of a relationship?”
For those struggling with their mental health, whether it’s due to obsessive love disorder or any other condition, our Pompano Beach treatment center offers a variety of mental health services that can help.
Signs of Obsessive Love Disorder
Since it’s linked to other more widely-known mental health disorders, it can be challenging to diagnose obsessive love disorder. Symptoms may also vary for people, as mental illness can affect everyone differently.
Common obsessive love disorder signs and symptoms include:
- Blurring or crossing boundaries to sustain the relationship
- Controlling behavior
- Extreme jealousy
- Falling in love quickly with new people
- Feeling the need to “protect” the person you’re with, even if it means lying, stealing, or engaging in other risky or harmful behaviors
- Inability to tolerate time away from someone
- Intense preoccupation with a relationship
- Low self-esteem
- Monitoring the other person’s actions
- Overwhelming attraction to one person
- Possessive thoughts and actions
- Repeated messaging via text, email, or phone calls
- Threatening the other person if they leave
If you notice that someone is displaying symptoms of obsessive love disorder, encourage them to seek a professional opinion. They may have a more serious underlying mental health problem that needs to be treated.
Obsessive Love Disorder Treatment
Currently, there is no set program for obsessive love disorder. However, our Pompano Beach drug rehab does offer mental health programs for various types of disorders as well as therapy modalities designed to address various symptoms. Considering that obsessive love disorder is usually associated with other mental health problems, our facility can help.