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Signs Of Obsessive Love Disorder





Obsessions are a symptom of an underlying anxiety disorder and materialize as a result of great stress such as a severe emotional injury during childhood. In order to escape a world of intolerable psychological pain, the person suffering from obsessive love disorder escapes into a world of fantasy and obsession.

The disorder can come about as a result of having experienced a childhood in which the sufferer had chronically emotionally unresponsive parents, and, thus, did not have his/her emotional needs fulfilled when young. In essence, then, the sufferer has, in childhood, frequently been starved of emotional nurturance, love and acceptance.

However, the object of the ‘obsessive love’ is idealized and misperceived as someone who can supply the emotional nurturance that the sufferer was denied as a child.

A typical dysfunctional childhood the sufferer of the condition may have experienced is to have been rejected early on in life by his/her mother, causing intense psychological pain, and, very often too, to have had a father who was critical and disapproving.

As a result of this, the neglected child grows up feeling worthless and inadequate. Indeed, so great is the experience of childhood trauma that psychological and emotional development has frequently become arrested at an early stage (so that, as an adult, the individual still has the emotional needs s/he did at the time his/her development became arrested).

Therefore, as an adult, the emotionally damaged individual is very likely to experience constant failure when trying to form close relationships. Due to the instability of his/her relationship with his/her parents when a child, s/he will tend to be anxious and fearful in relation to attempts to form intimate bonds with others.

A preoccupation with ‘ideal love’ may then develop and the sufferer of the condition can then become fixated on unavailable and emotionally inaccessible objects of this idealized love.


– the sufferer experienced lack of nurturing and attention when young – the sufferer feels profound inner emotional pain – the sufferer is frequently isolated and detached from the rest of his/her family

– the sufferer mistakes ‘intensity’ for ‘intimacy’ in connection to relationships

– sufferer compartmentalizes relationship, thus keeping it separated from, and integrated with, other aspects of his/her life

– the sufferer has a driven, desperate, and intense personality and is prone to being ‘dramatic’ – the sufferer has a need of others to relieve his/her psychological pain – the sufferer is prone to severe depression

– the sufferer has an insatiable need for close emotional attachment as s/he was denied this when young and is likely to be developmentally emotionally arrested at a stage in childhood when the close, dependable emotional attachment was desperately needed (so the need remains unfulfilled).

– the sufferer feels an inner rage over the lack of emotional nurturing s/he received as a child – sufferer very likely to have other addictions/obsessions – the sufferer has a deep inner sense of worthlessness

Signs of suffering from obsessive love disorder:

Experts involved in the study of the phenomenon of obsessive love disorder have identified the following possible signs that we may be suffering from the condition:

– finding that people who used to be important to us, when compared to the desired one, no longer seem so important to us anymore; instead, they seem to pale into insignificance.

– the desired one completely fails to reciprocate our feelings; instead, s/he is indifferent, cold, or hostile

– feelings of awkwardness, self-consciousness, and interpersonal discomfort when in the presence of the desired one. Terrified of saying something ‘dumb’

– as a result of the above, when with the desired one we become tongue-tied, our mind goes blank, our voice may shake or change the tone, we may stutter and find conversation becomes very stilted or quickly grinds to a (from our perspective) premature stop

– we feel isolated and alienated from society, exacerbated by the fact that we believe that nobody could ever possibly understand the ardency of our passion nor the agony that accompanies the permanently abiding knowledge of our intense feelings remaining resolutely, stubbornly, adamantly, inflexibly and insurmountably unrequited.

– related to the above, we may hold the firm belief that ‘no one could ever possibly love, as much as [we] do’ the object of our desire – find that we cannot stop thinking about the person

– believe that whether we feel ecstatic or despairing, both now and in the future, lies entirely under the control of the desired one and that, in relation to this, we have no, or, at best, severely circumscribed, control over our own destiny.

– feelings of lightheadedness/dizziness/faintness when in the presence of the person

– feelings towards that desired one can quickly fluctuate between love and hate

– seeing the desired one as having ‘transcended normal humanity’, almost as if s/he is, in fact, a kind of demi-god – feeling that our own sense of personal identity is gradually becoming eroded away

– the object of desire is a person that we don’t know on a personal level or is someone we have never actually met (such as a film star) – the person is, by any objective and realistic viewpoint, unobtainable

– we delude ourselves that falling in love will solve all of our problems

– feelings of wanting to ‘possess’ the object of desire, even involving fantasies of capturing and locking him/her up (as occurs in the novel called ‘The Collector’ by the brilliant writer John Fowles)

It’s Just An Illusion.

Sigmund Freud suggested that our IDEALIZTION of the desired one is a PROJECTION of our ideal self. In other words, we create in our minds a fantasy figure who possesses the ideal traits, characteristics, qualities, and values that we ourselves would like to have and project these onto the desired one.

Therefore, the desired one, as we perceive him/her, is an illusion/fantasy figure created by our own emotional needs. Freud pointed out that this was an immature form of love and that, if mature love were to develop for the desired person, then our fantasy image of perfection of this person would need to be discarded and replaced by a more realistic (‘warts and all’) image of him/her.

It should be noted, however, that even within relationships based on ‘mature love’, partners often see each other through, as the expression has it, ‘rose-tinted glasses’; this acts, unconsciously, as an adaptive psychological mechanism to help cement the relationship and, in evolutionary terms, provide a better environment in which to raise children


Often, people who suffer from this tortuous condition have suffered significant childhood trauma in one way or another. This may have included:





– being made to feel unlovable/unworthy of love.

Such experiences, in turn, may lead to us, as adults :

– feeling deeply inadequate

– feeling intensely insecure

– having very poor self-esteem (having a low sense of self-worth can make us feel dependent upon being intimately connected with another who can make us feel validated as we are unable to validate ourselves).

– becoming emotionally and psychologically dependent upon others

All of the above correlates with the likelihood of any given individual developing obsessive love disorder.

Counter-Productivity :

Unfortunately, of course, if the object of our desire is aware of the desperate intensity of our feelings s/he is very likely indeed to feel repelled by us, or, in extreme cases (e.g. due to being texted a hundred times a day, etc.) unnerved or, even, (e,g, if the obsession leads to stalking) frightened.

Self-Help :

One way to help oneself break free from the shackles of obsessive love is to develop an identity that does not revolve around desperately hoping or attempting to form a relationship with the ‘perfect’ partner.

This may involve setting goals that have nothing to do with romantic love as well as developing a supportive social network.

It is also necessary to reduce the tendency to unrealistically idealize others as it will be impossible for another to live up to such an idealized image (nor could s/he possibly be expected to); in this way, our unachievable expectations of others will simply doom us to a life of perpetual disappointment and disillusionment.



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David Hosier BSc Hons; MSc; PGDE(FAHE).

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