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
By Harini Natarajan, Certified Emotional Intelligence Practitioner

We all need a real loving, caring, and committed person in our lives. But do you know there is a fine line between love and 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. 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 extreme possessiveness 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. 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

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If you are in love, you will invest time and effort 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 surprise you with gifts now and then, write poems for you, and do other things 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.

3. They Will Be Extremely Clingy

An obsessive partner will be extremely clingy

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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 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

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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.

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.

Obsessive lovers will ignore their family and friends for you. They will find it difficult to maintain other relationships due to their obsession. 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 your loved ones over them.

7. They Will Rush In A Relationship

An obsessive partner will rush in a relationship

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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 an obsession, they hide their true feelings and only say things that make their partner happy. Sugarcoating becomes natural for them. As a result, they become unreal rather than honest.

9. They Will Abuse You

An obsessive partner will abuse you

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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.

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

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  • 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

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  • 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. 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. 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.

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.

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.

References:

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]
    https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/15757223/
  2. Facets of morbid jealousy: With an anecdote from a historical Tamil romance
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/labs/pmc/articles/PMC2990838/
  3. Obsessional Jealousy: A Narrative Literature Review
    https://sites.kowsarpub.com/ijpbs/articles/7273.html
  4. Attachment Disorders
    https://www.jpedhc.org/article/S0891-5245(19)30011-2/fulltext
  5. Erotomania or de Clérambault Syndrome
    https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamapsychiatry/article-abstract/491469
  6. “Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD): In the Midst of Vulnerability” “Chaos” and Awe
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/labs/pmc/articles/PMC6266914/
  7. Obsessive–compulsive disorder
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/labs/pmc/articles/PMC7370844/
  8. Mental Health Medications
    https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/mental-health-medications

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As Head Of Content Operations, Harini sets the tone and editorial direction for StyleCraze to deliver engaging, interesting, and authentic... more

Michele Waldron

(Psy.D, LADC-I, CSCT)
Dr. Waldron is a licensed clinical psychologist, certified couples counselor, licensed alcohol and drug counselor, and sex therapist. She received... more

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