Home Relationship How Love Turns into Obsession

How Love Turns into Obsession

2
55
How Love Turns into Obsession

Love and obsession exist on a spectrum. While love is a feeling of deep affection, obsession takes it to an extreme that can become problematic and unhealthy.

This article will explore how the emotional and psychological processes that underlie love can sometimes tip over into obsession, without proper self-awareness and boundaries.

The Neurochemistry of Love and Attachment

To understand how love can turn obsession, we must first examine the biological mechanisms that drive intimate relationships and bonding. Three important neurochemicals are involved in feelings of love, attachment and reward – dopamine, oxytocin, and serotonin.

Dopamine is associated with motivation, reward and pleasure. When we are attracted to someone new and experience the euphoria of falling in love, dopamine levels spike in the brain’s reward system. This motivates us to pursue and spend time with the beloved as a naturally rewarding experience.

Oxytocin, nicknamed the “love hormone,” surges during intimate contact like hugging, kissing, sex and childbirth. It strengthens emotional bonds by creating feelings of trust, empathy and compassion. Oxytocin release helps cement the early stages of attachment between lovers.

Serotonin, commonly called the “contentment chemical,” promotes satisfaction, well-being and tranquility. Maintaining optimal serotonin levels contributes to long-term relationship stability and commitment as the initial infatuation period fades.

How Infatuation Becomes Addiction

For most people, the dopamine and oxytocin highs of early romance gradually decrease as the relationship settles into a more relaxed and secure partnership supported by serotonin. However, for some individuals prone to obsession or addiction, constantly seeking that “high” can lead down a dysfunctional path.

Much like people become addicted to drugs, gambling, porn or social media due to disproportionate dopamine spikes, an obsessive infatuation hijacks the brain’s reward system. The beloved becomes associated with intense rushes of pleasure, motivation and reduced anxiety – similar to the “rush” of a substance. Over time, the obsessive becomes dependent on the other person in an addictive way to feel normal or happy.

They chase after any attention, affection, sex or quality time to “get their fix.” The slightest hint of rejection, disappointment or separation triggers uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms like anxiety, anger or sadness due to reduced dopamine and oxytocin. This neurochemistry drives obsessive thinking, desperate behaviors and boundary issues as the individual tries to maintain that addictive high.

Warning Signs of Unhealthy Obsession

There are several common traits and behaviors that indicate infatuation may be tipping over into an unhealthy obsession:

ALSO READ:  How to Manipulate a Manipulator in a Relationship

1. Excessive idealization – The object of obsession is placed on an unreasonable pedestal and seen only in a perfect, romantic light without acknowledging any faults or red flags.

2. Preoccupation – Thoughts about the other person dominate daily functioning. It’s difficult to focus on anything else or spend time apart without anxiety.

3. Needing constant contact – There is an intense longing for interaction through frequent texts, calls or social media engagement to feel connected.

4. Jealousy and insecurity – Episodes of irrational jealousy, distrust and controlling behaviors emerge due to fears of abandonment or rejection.

5. Stalking behaviors – Snooping online profiles, following social media posts, driving by their home and workplace repeatedly without consent crosses appropriate boundaries.

6. Ideas of love at first sight – Believing you’ve found your “soulmate” or “twin flame” after just meeting based on superficial factors rather than getting to truly know someone over time.

Distorted Thinking Patterns

At the root of unhealthy obsession are often distorted and irrational patterns of thinking that escalate normal infatuation into something pathological. Some of the most common include:

Magical thinking – Believing you share a psychic or metaphysical connection without evidence.

Believing thoughts are facts – Taking intrusive anxious thoughts about the relationship as foregone conclusions rather than possibilities.

All-or-nothing thinking – Viewing the relationship in extremes of perfect love or catastrophic failure with no middle ground.

Personalization – Interpreting any neutral or ambiguous actions as having special meaning or specifically regarding you.

Emotional reasoning – Believing your intense feelings reflect objective reality rather than subjectivity.

Fortune-telling – Making inaccurate predictions about the future based on fears rather than evidence.

Overcoming these toxic thought patterns requires challenging their factual basis, assessing alternative realistic perspectives and accepting uncertainty. Counseling can also help provide coping strategies and cognitive restructuring.

Emotional Vulnerabilities

Another element that often fuels obsession is underlying emotional vulnerabilities or unmet needs from the past. Potential contributors include:

Avoidant attachment style – Fear of intimacy leads to clinging behaviors once closeness is achieved due to childhood experiences.

Codependency – Relying on others for one’s self-worth and regulating emotions instead of developing inner independence.

Loneliness – After going without fulfilling relationships for a long time, anyone that shows interest receives disproportionate focus.

ALSO READ:  Is It Okay to Date Without Commitment?

Low self-esteem – Not feeling whole as an individual drives seeking worth and validation through another’s love.

Abandonment fears – Trauma related to early parental loss or rejection primes the brain and mind to perceive threats that aren’t really there.

Obsessive tendencies represent unconscious efforts to cope with painful emotions and fill inner voids. But lasting change involves facing vulnerabilities instead of escaping through another person. Developing self-awareness and self-compassion can help reshape insecure patterns over time.

Maintaining Healthy Perspective

While the neurochemistry of attraction and attachment have evolved to bond couples for childrearing purposes, modern relationship dynamics differ greatly from ancestral times. In hunter-gatherer societies, people rarely drifted far from their tight-knit families and social circles.

Today, mobile lifestyles break from that context. We encounter many potential partners outside our immediate communities. The array of dating options via technology magnifies doubts and insecurities about measuring up or being abandoned.

It’s thus crucial to remember three things as infatuation blooms to keep love from twisting into obsession:

  1. People are multidimensional – No one is perfectly good or bad, and idealized projections are unlikely to match reality.
  2. Relationships take work – Initial euphoria will fade, disagreements will arise and compromise is needed to weather difficult times together.
  3. You are whole alone – Another cannot “complete” you or be solely responsible for your worth and happiness long-term.

Taking Preventive Measures

For those tempted by obsessional tendencies due to their wiring or past, certain proactive steps can help steer intimate relationships in a healthier direction:

  • Address emotional vulnerabilities through counseling, mindfulness or support groups.
  • Set boundaries regarding expectations for attentiveness, privacy and alone time to prevent codependency.
  • Validate your self-worth from inner strengths and accomplishments – not the other’s love.
  • Maintain interests, hobbies and friendships outside the relationship for balance.
  • Express needs respectfully without manipulation while also validating your partner’s individuality.
  • Check assumptions through open communication instead of magical thinking.
  • Tolerate uncertainty by accepting you cannot control outcomes or how the other feels.

With vigilance against distorting perceptions and an understanding of factors that can tip love askew, most well-intentioned people caught in the early glow can walk the line toward building something nourishing. But seek help immediately if obsession takes hold.

ALSO READ:  What Can We Talk To Your Girlfriend In A Long Distance Relationship

Getting Treatment For Pathological Obsession

When warning signs intensify into severe distress, preoccupation or delusional beliefs, professional intervention may become necessary to spare both parties from harm. An obsessive has essentially developed an addictive disorder fixated on another human target instead of a substance.

Therapy using techniques like cognitive behavioral therapy is the standard first-line approach. Medications such as antidepressants may aid by readjusting neurochemistry imbalances underlying symptoms. Support groups for obsessive-compulsive behaviors or obsessive love disorder can also help prevent isolation and normalize experiences.

Most importantly, complete abstinence from contacting, following or interacting with the object of obsession is crucial while in treatment. This disrupts dysfunctional thought patterns and withdraws the accessible coping mechanism that maintains the mental health issue.

Reframing the relationship into a more realistic perspective takes determined effort over months with a therapist’s guidance. Memory reconstruction may involve revisiting past interactions noting events accurately instead of only those recalled selectively. A thought diary identifies intrusions to target for restructuring.

As neuroplasticity permits the brain to form new neural pathways, obsessive individuals can learn healthier beliefs about control, perfectionism, danger forecasting and attachment through cognitive techniques. Affirming personal self-worth separated from another strengthens resilience against slipping into obsessive thinking in future relationships as well.

Support groups aid accountability and recognizing relapse warning signs. Skill sets from dialectical behavior therapy particularly help those with intense emotion dysregulation navigate distress without acting destructively.

Complete remission is attainable for most, but the obsessive disposition remains somewhat lifelong. Periodic check-ins with counselors aid maintaining improved coping mechanisms and catching potential issues early before escalation.

The transformative journey from obsession’s turmoil back to balanced, adaptive social functioning and connections shows immense courage. With time and dedication to treatment, even the most severe cases indicate that letting go is achievable. Remaining rigorously honest about progress prevents overlooking remnants of illness that could reemerge without adherence to self-care.

Overall, navigating intimacy’s neurochemistry and pitfalls demands patience, empathy and willingness to face difficulty head-on. While love itself is a universal desire, obsession stems from unresolved wounds demanding care for healthy relationships to blossom. With understanding and support, no one need suffer its grasp alone.

Also Read:

2 COMMENTS

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here