Love Vs. Obsession What Are The Differences?

Knowing how they differ can help you make the right choice and get the help you need.

Reviewed by Michele Waldron, Psy.D, LADC-I, CSCT Michele Waldron Michele WaldronPsy.D, LADC-I, CSCT facebook_iconlinkedin_iconinsta_icon
Written by , Integrated MA, Certified Relationship Coach Sneha Tete Integrated MA, Certified Relationship Coach Experience: 4 years
Edited by , MA (English) Subhrojyoti Mukherjee MA (English) linkedin_icon Experience: 4 years
Fact-checked by , Integrated MA (English) Gazala Firdos Ansari Integrated MA (English) linkedin_icon Experience: 2 years

We all need a real loving, caring, and committed person in our lives. But do you know there is a fine line between the heat of love and the fire of obsession? If you are in true love, your partner will always want you to be happy and give the best, whereas if there is an obsession, you may feel insecure, and your partner cannot think affectionately. As per studies, obsessive love is a mental issue that needs diagnosis and treatment (1). You may feel suffocated and trapped in your relationship when your partner is just obsessed and wants to control you at every step. This article explores the facts and differences between love and obsession. Scroll down for more information.

Love Vs. Obsession

Love is a healthy emotion that enables the two people involved in the relationship to grow in life and appreciate each other’s differences with equal ardor. On the contrary, obsession is an unhealthy sentiment where the obsessive partner does not allow the other person to grow and pursue their interests. They always feel insecure about their partner and experience jealousy and paranoia.

An obsessive person is likely to spend excessive time thinking about their partner and trying to please them. They exhibit an intensity of possessiveness that is extreme and often objectify their significant other. Obsessive partners are controlling and demanding and can even become abusive over time.

Love can turn into obsession due to excessive attachment, low self-esteem, and mental health conditions. When someone is “obsessed in love,” it means they are consumed by their feelings for a particular person, to the point where it may be unhealthy or detrimental to their well-being. So, if you think your partner is obsessive about you or leaning towards obsessive behavior, it is time to take appropriate action.

Given below are some traits generally observed in obsessive partners.

Symptoms Of Obsessive Love Disorder

1. They Constantly Make You Feel Special

An obsessive partner constantly make you feel special
Image: Shutterstock

If you are in love, you will invest time and effort with enthusiasm to make your partner feel special. However, when it turns into obsession, the partner will constantly pamper their significant other to keep them hooked in the relationship. They may bomb you with gifts now and then, shower adoration, write poems for you, and do other things constantly to woo you.

2. They Show Extreme Possessiveness

The difference between love and obsession can be measured by the extent of your partner’s possessiveness. In love, a little possessiveness is natural. But obsessive love does not work that way. An obsessive partner will show over-possessiveness and constantly feel scared of losing you to someone else. Their possessiveness can grow to an extent where you may feel smothered in your relationship.

Epiphany, a blogger, vividly recounts her experience of dating a jealous and possessive man, saying, “He had expectations of me as his girlfriend that felt suffocating. He wanted to be the only man in my world — my lover, my best friend, my handyman, mechanic, plumber (did he know anything about plumbing? Nope, but god forbid another man enter my house) (i).” His desire to control reflects a level of possessiveness that is unhealthy and toxic.

3. They Will Be Extremely Clingy

An obsessive partner will be extremely clingy
Image: Shutterstock

It feels great when your partner tries to know about your whereabouts when you are not with them. But what if they irk you by sending a barrage of messages every time? Their constant longing to be around you is a sign of unhealthy obsession and addiction, and not love.

4. They Are Very Controlling

An obsessive partner may exhibit a controlling nature. They will act as the sole decision-maker in the relationship. Obsessive lovers are also very demanding and will want you to fulfill their every small need.

5. They Will Keep Track Of Your Online And Offline Behaviors

An obsessive partner will stalk you online and offline
Image: Shutterstock

It should not be surprising if your obsessive partner often pays you surprise visits at your office or when you are with your friends. They may stalk you on social media and get infuriated when you talk to someone else or like their pictures or posts. In other words, obsessive lovers constantly monitor the actions of their partners.

protip_icon Quick Tip
If your partner insists you share all your passwords, it is a clear sign that you are dating a person who is very insecure and who can turn into an obsessive person.

6. They Ignore Others Because Of You

No matter how busy someone gets in life, they will always take time from their schedule to talk to or meet their loved ones. However, it is a different ball game altogether with an obsessive partner, where it manifests as intense devotion.

Obsessive lovers ignore their family and friends and show an emotional fixation with you. They find it difficult to maintain other relationships due to their obsessive preoccupation. Even if they are with their family or friends, they will constantly keep a check on you. They might even object when you choose to be with anyone, even your loved ones and family, over them, making you feel uneasy with the compulsion.

7. They Will Rush In A Relationship

An obsessive partner will rush in a relationship
Image: Shutterstock

When two people love each other, they want to give their relationship some time and let it flow at its pace rather than pushing things. On the other hand, an obsessive lover will always hurry to make the relationship official even if you aren’t there yet out of the constant fear of losing you.

8. They Will Not Give Genuine Opinions

Sharing opinions by speaking one’s mind is a part of healthy love. When love turns into a mania, people tend to hide their true feelings and only say things that make their partner happy. Sugar coating becomes natural for them. As a result, they become unreal rather than honest.

9. They Will Abuse You

An obsessive partner will abuse you
Image: Shutterstock

A healthy romantic relationship has no place for abuse – be it verbal or physical. Even in case of arguments or disagreements, a couple will not force or inflict their opinions on each other. However, obsessive partners will not take objections. They will try to indoctrinate your mind with the ideas they believe in. Obsessive lovers can also become abusive with their partners and physically harm their partners.

protip_icon Quick Tip
You should reconsider your relationship when your partner emotionally blackmails or threatens you to be with them.

Other Symptoms

  • Overwhelming attraction
  • Extreme jealousy
  • Low self-esteem
  • Dire need of reassurance

Causes Of Obsessive Love Disorder

  • Overwhelming attraction
  • Extreme jealousy
  • Low self-esteem
  • Dire need of reassurance

Obsessive love disorder goes hand-in-hand with certain mental health conditions.

Mental Health Issues Related To Obsessive Love Disorder

Causes of obsessive love disorder
Image: Shutterstock
  • Delusional Jealousy: It is characterized by believing something that is not true according to your partner (2).
  • Obsessional Jealousy: This is a constant fear that your partner is betraying or cheating on you (3).
  • Attachment Disorders: These result from emotional attachment issues during the childhood, such as obsession, abandonment, or lack of empathy (4).
  • Erotomania: This mental condition is a subtype of delusional disorder and involves the idea that someone might be in love with you even if you do not know them (5).
  •  Borderline Personality Disorder: It is characterized by self-image issues, mood swings, and fear of abandonment (6).
  • Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder: This disorder is characterized by obsessive behavior and uncontrollable thoughts (7).

Obsessive love can be treated in several ways, including both psychotherapy and practical solutions. However, if the sufferer starts exhibiting abusive or dangerous behavior, safety measures or police intervention may be required. Here are some ways to deal with obsessive love disorder.

How To Overcome Obsessive Love Disorder

How to overcome obsessive love disorder
Image: Shutterstock
  • Medications

Underlying mental conditions may often trigger obsessive behaviors. In such cases, the doctor may recommend antipsychotics, antidepressants, anti-anxiety medications, or mood stabilizers to address the underlying issues (8).

  • Therapy

If the affected person is committed to their partner, they may require psychotherapy to control the fervency of the infatuation. This solution is quite helpful and might require the involvement of family members, especially if childhood issues have contributed to the disorder. The treatment may involve talk therapy, dialectical behavioral therapy, and cognitive-behavioral therapy.

Seeking the help of a licensed mental health professional is the best resort in some instances. They will diagnose the root cause of the problem and take the best course of action to help you heal. Counseling usually involves working on the patient’s self-esteem, individual ideals, and other interpersonal problems.

  • Counseling

Seeking the help of a relationship coach is the best resort in certain cases. A relationship adviser will diagnose the root cause of the problem and take the best course of action to help you heal. Counseling usually involves working on the patient’s self-esteem, individual ideals, and other interpersonal problems.

  • Self-Help

Try to make your relationship healthy by giving your significant other some space. You also need to control your obsessive thoughts to prevent your relationship from ruining. Instead of constantly thinking of your partner, involve yourself in other tasks, especially your professional work.

You can take up an interesting hobby and pursue things you love. Try to shift your passion and concentration to another activity you have always wanted to do. Surround yourself with your friends and family and take care of them. This way, you will be able to keep your mind off your partner. You can also take a break from your relationship by parting ways with your partner for the time being.

Infographic: Top 6 Signs Of Obsessive Love Disorder

Obsessive love disorder is often confused with genuine love and affection. Individuals with this disorder are very possessive and don’t respect boundaries and personal space, causing havoc in their relationships. Hence, if you want to protect yourself and those around you, it is important to identify these signs promptly. Check out the infographic below to know what they are.

top 6 signs of obsessive love disorder (infographic)

Illustration: StyleCraze Design Team

There is a key difference between the two when it comes to love vs. obsession. Love makes you happy and allows both partners to flourish in life. Obsession, on the other hand, can make you feel insecure. The symptoms of obsessive love disorder include extreme possessiveness, clinginess, and extreme jealousy. It may also be a sign of an underlying mental health condition that may cause obsessiveness in you or your partner. In such a situation, you or your partner should seek the help of a professional therapist for counseling and medication.

Frequently Asked Questions

Does obsession last forever?

There is no exact timeline for this. In some cases, obsession may last for years without proper diagnosis or treatment. That is why it is important that the individual seeks professional treatment to help them manage this issue.

Why do I obsess over someone who doesn’t want me?

Romantic rejections can motivate an individual to become more obsessed. This will push them to try to find every detail about the other person in the hope the outcome will be different this time.

Is it possible to move from obsession to love in a relationship?

Yes, it is possible to move from obsession to love in a relationship. Individuals need to address the underlying issues that are fueling their obsessive behavior. This often requires therapy, self-reflection, and communication with their partner.

Is it possible to love someone without being obsessed with them?

Yes. Loving someone without being obsessed means valuing their individuality, allowing them to have their own interests, and giving them space to grow and develop as a person. It means being supportive and caring without being controlling and trusting them to make their own decisions.

How can you maintain a healthy balance between love and obsession in a relationship?

Having open communication, setting boundaries with your partner, prioritizing your personal growth, engaging in hobbies, spending time with friends and family, and taking time for yourself will help maintain a healthy balance between love and obsession.

Can love be one-sided, or is that a form of obsession?

Love can be one-sided and is not always a sign of obsession. When one person develops romantic feelings for another who does not share those feelings, it is one-sided love. Although painful and challenging to navigate, it is not always obsessive. One-sided love is merely love that is not reciprocated. However, obsession generally entails possessive and controlling behavior.

How do social media and technology affect the line between love and obsession?

Social media and technology provide additional avenues for monitoring, manipulating, and obsessing over a partner. With the ability to constantly track a partner’s online activity, it can become easy to be consumed with thoughts of them and engage in controlling behaviors.

Key Takeaways

  • In love, partners feel free to be themselves within a safe and secure container, whereas obsessive love can feel suffocating and toxic.
  • Obsessive love manifests as stalking, controlling behavior, excessive clinginess, objectification and possessiveness.
  • Obsessive love can be likened to a mental disorder and needs to be treated as it can be detrimental to the health and wellbeing of not only the relationship but also the individuals in it.
love vs obsession

Image: Stable Diffusion/StyleCraze Design Team

Distinguish between love and obsession with five key differences. Understand the complexities of intense infatuation by watching the following video.

Personal Experience: Source


Articles on StyleCraze are backed by verified information from peer-reviewed and academic research papers, reputed organizations, research institutions, and medical associations to ensure accuracy and relevance. Read our editorial policy to learn more.

  1. [Delusional jealousy and obsessive love–causes and forms]
  2. Facets of morbid jealousy: With an anecdote from a historical Tamil romance
  3. Obsessional Jealousy: A Narrative Literature Review
  4. Attachment Disorders
  5. Erotomania or de Clérambault Syndrome
  6. “Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD): In the Midst of Vulnerability” “Chaos” and Awe
  7. Obsessive–compulsive disorder
  8. Mental Health Medications
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Michele Waldron

Michele WaldronPsy.D, LADC-I, CSCT

Dr. Waldron is a licensed clinical psychologist, certified couples counselor, licensed alcohol and drug counselor, and sex therapist. with 16 years of experience. She received her Psy.D from Antioch University, New England. She has a group practice that supports adults’ relationships and sexual health. Dr. Waldron is passionate about reducing sexual shame, which causes significant mental health challenges. She full bio

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