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12 Subtle Signs of Obsessive Love Disorder You Must Know

Love is quite a familiar emotion for most of us. Come to think about it, we feel love for our pets, friends, but also family members. However, when intense feelings of love or what seems like love for someone is also accompanied by a fixation or a deep desire to control someone else, this might slowly transform into an obsessive love disorder.

Obsessive love disorder is a serious condition that makes you experience all sorts of obsessive feelings you could easily mistake as love for someone else. Someone with obsessive love disorder will definitely indulge in intense and destructive feelings, no matter if they are reciprocated or not.

For now, obsessive love disorder isn’t classified as a mental health condition, and the reason for that is that there are still ongoing debates on whether obsessive love disorders can be seen as a mental health condition.

Even if there are not enough criteria so far, it’s still a life-debilitating condition that can easily interfere with your day-to-day schedule if left untreated. Worse, it leads to dysfunctional relationships with the ones you’re in a relationship with. On top of that, it seems that obsessive love disorder is way more likely to occur in women than men.

obsessive love disorder
Photo by ShotPrime Studio from Shutterstock

Signs of obsessive love disorder

Even if it’s not classified as a mental health condition, obsessive love disorder has a series of very specific characteristics that could help you identify the disorder. The main signs of obsessive love disorder differ from one person to another, and it can look wildly different in two people who are experiencing it. Here are some tell-tale symptoms:

  • the constant need for validation from someone you’re in love with
  • obsessively keeping in contact with the subject of your affection
  • ignoring your own (and the other person’s) boundaries
  • behaving in quite a controlling manner with the one you love
  • feeling utterly jealous of other relationships your partner might have with other people
  • expressing extreme protectiveness
  • being overwhelmed by your own emotions about someone, up to the point it messes with your daily functioning
  • experiencing low self-esteem, especially when it seems like your love isn’t quite reciprocated
  • refusing in attending any kind of activities that don’t involve your significant other
  • feeling very possessive of the other person’s time, space, and especially attention
  • experiencing a constant need to control the actions and behaviors of the subject of your affection
  • dealing with relationship-caused anxiety

Identifying obsessive love disorder

There’s no specific criteria when it comes to identifying obsessive love disorder. But if you constantly display symptoms of the condition, your doctor will try to first identify other mental health disorders.

In most cases, obsessive love disorder is a symptom of a greater condition. If there aren’t any other mental health conditions, it can be quite difficult to identify this particular disorder. While some researchers strived to make obsessive love disorder widely recognized as a mental health condition, others don’t believe that the definition of a mental health disorder fits here.

Causes of obsessive love disorder

And because we can’t currently classify it as a mental health condition, it becomes increasingly hard to find its causes, too. Nevertheless, some specialists link it to other mental health disorders like post-traumatic stress disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and even borderline personality disorder.

Attachment disorders have been widely linked to triggering obsessive love disorder. When someone can’t form proper and healthy attachments with someone, this might affect the quality of relationships they experience and especially how they act with other people.

For someone with an attachment disorder, the condition could make them feel distant from potential and current partners. For others, an attachment disorder could cause them to become obsessive with people they have a connection with.

How is obsessive love disorder treated?

If you suffer from obsessive love disorder, doctors will mainly focus on treating other preexisting conditions in order to alleviate the symptoms. In some instances where the condition can’t be properly linked to any other mental health conditions, a doctor or even a medical professional will have to tailor a proper treatment plan for you. This can also involve medication, some forms of psychotherapy, or both.

If you don’t know what to expect from psychotherapy, it’s worth noting that a therapist will try to identify the underlying cause of the obsession. In most cases, it has something to do with traumatic relationships with family members or a really difficult breakup.

Then, the therapist will identify your obsessive thoughts and behaviors and try to implement a series of techniques that could help you overcome them.

worst mistakes couples make after a fight obsessive love disorder
Photo by fizkes at Shutterstock

How to cope with it?

Coping with obsessive love disorder is quite difficult. But in most cases, if you happen to notice symptoms of obsessive love disorder, it could mean that you’re also dealing with a mental health condition.

The last thing on you need is to feel embarrassed to speak with a medical professional about it. You should prioritize accessing all the help you can get. Moreover, try not to dismiss your feelings. If you have noticed that your affections to other people start to feel slightly obsessive, don’t ignore them hoping they might go away.

In the wide majority of cases, they won’t, and it could only lead to more intense displays. Let’s say you or someone you love is dealing with obsessive love disorder. In this case, they might benefit from group therapy, especially if the condition triggers can be easily linked to attachment issues they had with their family and friends. If you are in the early stages of treatment, here are a couple of things you could to do cope with such exhausting and difficult condition:

  • when it comes to obsessive love disorder, the first and probably most important thing you need to do is admit to yourself that you have a problem and need help.
  • communicate with the one you love about what you are going through and try to create some distance until you have a better grasp of your emotions.
  • spend quality time with your loved ones, whether it’s family or friends, to remind yourself of what healthy love feels and looks like.
  • engage in beneficial and productive distractions, like exercising frequently or even picking up a brand-new hobby. You can try painting, reading, and even knitting!

How do you treat obsessive love disorders?

The exact treatment plan for such a disorder solely depends on its underlying cause. But in most cases, it involves a combination of medication and psychotherapy. Medications can be administered to adjust brain chemicals. In return, it reduces the symptoms of this disorder.

Your doctor could even recommend anti-anxiety medications, like Valium and Xanax, antidepressants, like Prozac, Paxil, or Zoloft, antipsychotics, and other mood stabilizers. Moreover, it can take a lot of time for your medication to work, and that’s why you should alternate and try various types until you find the one that works for you.

Make sure you consult with your doctor about some of the side effects you might experience, like appetite changes, dry mouth, fatigue, headaches, insomnia, loss of libido, nausea, weight gain, and other worsening symptoms.

Therapy is also highly efficient when it comes to OLD. In most cases, it’s particularly helpful for families that are willing to try therapy sessions, in case OLD comes from issues initiated in childhood. Depending on how serious the disorder is, you could engage in individual or even group therapy. Sometimes, a mental health professional might advise you to try both. If you’re dealing with anxiety, we recommend trying the methods enlisted in this book: “Rewire Your Anxious Brain: How to Use the Neuroscience of Fear to End Anxiety, Panic, and Worry.

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