Obsessive love treatment

Symptoms, What It is, Causes, and More

What is obsessive love disorder?

“Obsessive love disorder” (OLD) refers to a condition where you become obsessed with one person you think you may be in love with. You might feel the need to protect your loved one obsessively, or even become controlling of them as if they were a possession.

While no separate medical or psychological classification exists for OLD, it can often accompany other types of mental health illnesses. Talk to your doctor if you think you or a loved one may have the disorder. Treatment can help decrease the symptoms while also preventing complications with relationships.

Symptoms of OLD may include:

  • an overwhelming attraction to one person
  • obsessive thoughts about the person
  • feeling the need to “protect” the person you’re in love with
  • possessive thoughts and actions
  • extreme jealousy over other interpersonal interactions
  • low self-esteem

People who have OLD may also not take rejection easily. In some cases, the symptoms could worsen at the end of a relationship or if the other person rejects you. There are other signs of this disorder, such as:

  • repeated texts, emails, and phone calls to the person they’re interested in
  • a constant need for reassurance
  • difficulty having friendships or maintaining contact with family members because of the obsession over one person
  • monitoring the actions of the other person
  • controlling where the other person goes and the activities they engage in

There’s no one single cause of OLD. Instead, it may be linked to other types of mental health disabilities such as:

Attachment disorders

This group of disorders refers to people who have emotional attachment issues, such as a lack of empathy or an obsession with another person.

Types of attachment disorders include disinhibited social engagement disorder (DSED) and reactive attachment disorder (RAD), and they both develop during childhood from negative experiences with parents or other adult caregivers.

In DSED, you might be overly friendly and not take precautions around strangers. With RAD, you may feel stressed and have problems getting along with others.

Borderline personality disorder

This mental health disorder is characterized by a disturbance with self-image coupled with severe mood swings. Borderline personality disorder can cause you to be extremely angry to extremely happy within a matter of minutes or hours.

Anxious and depressive episodes also occur. When considering obsessive love disorder, personality disorders can cause switches between extreme love for a person to extreme disdain.

Delusional jealousy

Based on delusions (events or facts you believe to be true), this disorder is exhibited by an insistence on things that are already proven false. When it comes to obsessive love, delusional jealousy can cause you to believe the other person has reciprocated their feelings for you, even if they’ve made it clear this is indeed not true.

According to a 2005 study, delusional jealousy may be linked to alcoholism in men.


This disorder is an intersection between delusional and obsessive love disorders. With erotomania, you believe that someone famous or of a higher social status is in love with you. This can lead to harassment of the other person, such as showing up at their home or workplace.

According to Comprehensive Psychiatry, people with erotomania are often isolated with few friends, and they may even be unemployed.

Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)

Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is a combination of obsessive thoughts and compulsive rituals. These are severe enough to interfere with your everyday life. OCD can also cause you to need constant reassurance, which can affect your relationships.

Some people are said to have relationship OCD, where obsessions and compulsions are centered around the relationship. However, this isn’t an officially recognized subtype of OCD.

Obsessional jealousy

Unlike delusional jealousy, obsessional jealousy is a nondelusional preoccupation with a partner’s perceived infidelity. This preoccupation can lead to repetitive and compulsive behaviors in response to infidelity concerns. These behaviors resemble OCD more so than delusional jealousy. This can cause significant distress or impair everyday functioning.

OLD is diagnosed with a thorough evaluation from a psychiatrist or other mental health professional. First, they will interview you by asking you questions about your symptoms, as well as your relationships. They’ll also ask you about your family and whether any known mental health illnesses exist.

A medical diagnosis from your primary doctor may also be needed to rule out other causes. Since obsessive love disorder intersects with other forms of mental health disabilities, it’s not classified on the American Psychological Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM).

For unknown reasons, OLD affects more women than men.

The precise treatment plan for this disorder depends on the underlying cause. However, it often involves a combination of medication and psychotherapy.

Medications can be used to adjust brain chemicals. In turn, this can reduce the symptoms of the disorder. Your doctor may recommend one of the following:

  • anti-anxiety medications, such as Valium and Xanax
  • antidepressants, such as Prozac, Paxil, or Zoloft
  • antipsychotics
  • mood stabilizers

It can take several weeks for your medication to work. You may also need to try different types until you find the one that works best for you. Talk to your doctor about possible side effects, such as:

  • appetite changes
  • dry mouth
  • fatigue
  • headaches
  • insomnia
  • loss of libido
  • nausea
  • weight gain
  • worsening symptoms

Therapy is also helpful for all forms of OLD. Sometimes it’s helpful for families to be involved with therapy sessions, especially if obsessive love disorder stems from issues during childhood. Depending on the severity of the disorder and your personal preferences, you might engage in individual or group therapy. Sometimes a mental health professional will recommend both types.

Therapy options include:

  • cognitive behavioral therapy
  • dialectical behavioral therapy
  • play therapy (for children)
  • talk therapy

While OLD is gaining more attention, it’s relatively rare. It’s estimated that less than 0.1 percent of people have the disorder.

If you or a loved one has possible symptoms of obsessive love disorder, you should see a doctor. They may refer you to a psychiatrist to help determine whether you truly have OLD. You may also have another mental health illness.

When diagnosed and treated, OLD may have a positive outcome. The key, however, is to not quit therapy or treatment if you think you’re feeling better. Suddenly stopping your treatment can worsen symptoms, or make them return.

Can You Treat Obsessive Love Disorder?

Published: September 22, 2022

Updated: October 5, 2022

It may seem romantic in movies, and television shows when someone says to the one they love that they cannot live without them and that they are all they have. In reality, it is very unhealthy to have an obsession with one person, especially if the feelings are not returned. Learning to establish independence and close yourself off from that person is essential before your mental health worsens.

Bayview Recovery understands these behaviors signal the need for bipolar disorder treatment in Tacoma, Washington. Call us at 855.478.3650 if you or a loved one needs help.

What Is Obsessive Love Disorder?

Obsessive love disorder is when you are obsessed with someone you think you love. It can entail being overly protective over that person, which can mean controlling them. It can mean telling them where to go, what to do, what to eat, etc. Real love is respecting the choices of others and giving them space when they ask for it. If you do not respect a person’s boundaries, that is when your infatuation for that person becomes an unhealthy obsession.

The symptoms can include an overwhelming attraction to someone that takes over your thoughts and actions. It can also mean extreme jealousy whether they are spending time with someone of the opposite sex, friends, or family. You do not want the one you are infatuated with to share their attention with anyone but you. If the one you are obsessed with is spending time with someone else, this causes you to question that person’s motives or why you were not invited.

Obsessive love disorder can also manifest as repeated text messages, emails, phone calls, and many messages as to why there was no immediate response. With that one person on your mind, it can mean that you’re willing to close off your friends and family to devote all of your love and attention to the one you are infatuated with.

Furthermore, you may feel like controlling where that person goes and dropping any commitments that can get in the way of you spending time with that person. With all these obsessive behaviors, that person could refuse you, and you will still refuse to listen. As a result, there may be legal ramifications like a restraining order or being arrested.

What Causes Obsessive Love Disorder?

This disorder can be the result of several mental health disorders. It can be a symptom of:

  • Borderline personality disorder
  • Narcissistic personality disorder
  • Histrionic personality disorder
  • Bipolar disorder
  • Delusional Disorder
  • Erotomania

Borderline Personality Disorder

Borderline Personality Disorder is when your mood switches from one minute being extremely happy to the next being extremely angry. This can make your relationship unpredictable, where you act in love with someone to want to hurt them next.

Narcissistic Personality Disorder

Narcissistic Personality Disorder is when you love yourself more than anything and anyone. You will want all the attention on you, and if you are not getting it, you will become obsessed with getting it. This can result in an obsession with the one you are infatuated with because you will want them to love you as much as you love yourself.

Histrionic Personality Disorder

Histrionic Personality Disorder is when you are always the center of attention, and you need to be constantly surrounded by people. If you are not, you will become bored, which can lead to an obsession with someone.

Bipolar Disorder

Bipolar Disorder is when your mood changes from one extreme to another, similar to Borderline Personality Disorder. This can result in an unhealthy obsession because you will either be in love with that person or want to hurt them.

Delusional Disorder

Delusional Disorder is when you have false beliefs about someone. For example, you may believe that the person you are infatuated with loves you in return, even though their actions and words do not indicate this. This can result in an obsession because you will do anything to make that person love you.


Erotomania is when you believe someone loves you even though they have never shown interest in you; the person may even be a stranger. This can result in an obsession because you will do anything to make that person love you. It is very common for celebrities and high-status individuals to be the focus of this compulsion.

Additionally, the cause could also be due to an unhealthy attachment style that was developed in childhood. This can happen when a parent is overprotective or if the child was neglected. An unhealthy attachment style can also result from a previous relationship where the person was cheated on or abandoned.

There are also outside factors that can contribute to developing an obsessive love disorder. If you have low self-esteem, are insecure, or have trust issues, you may be more likely to develop this disorder.

Can This Disorder Be Treated?

Obsessive love disorder can be treated. You can take anti-anxiety medications like Valium and Xanax, antidepressants like Prozac, Paxil, or Zoloft, antipsychotics, and mood stabilizers. Medication should not be the only thing to rely on for this disorder, as you need to find out the underlying causes of why you are obsessed with that particular person.

You should also think about your relationships. For example, did you receive love from your parents or siblings as a child? You could be trying to compensate for those missing feelings in someone else.

Carefully identify your obsessive thoughts and behaviors:

  • Do you look at your phone to see how many calls you made to that person?
  • What things have you said?
  • What makes you upset by that person’s actions when they reject you?

How To Begin Treating Yourself?

Write down everything you discover, such as:

  • How that person makes you feel
  • How you feel when they are gone
  • What the causes of those feelings are

You can either tear or burn away your letter so that you can symbolically let go of these feelings.

Afraid of being alone? Then join a club or a class to meet new people. Or, give your friends and family some of your attention.

You should get rid of anything that reminds you of that person, like photos or personal belongings. Remove any posts from your social media newsfeed. In fact, unfollow them all together. This way, you don’t have constant reminders of that person’s existence. You also avoid the pain of seeing them converse with others.

If you feel these thoughts coming on again, you can do something about it. For example, you could wear a rubber band and snap it to “snap out” of your unhealthy thoughts. That may sound silly, but it can work.

Find healthy distractions to avoid thinking of that person, like:

  • Reading a good book
  • Listening to music
  • Playing video games or musical instruments
  • Draw or paint
  • Exercise

Meditative breathing can also be helpful by inhaling for four seconds, holding for another four seconds, and then exhaling for eight seconds. Visualize yourself in a place where you feel calm and serene. For example, when you go to the beach, you feel the ocean’s mist and the softness beneath you. You can also vent to a friend or relative and ask them what to do or speak to a therapist if these thoughts can more and more out of control.

Get Treatment Today

If you suffer from obsessive love disorder, you don’t have to fight it alone. At Bayview Recovery Center, we treat a variety of mental health disorders, including:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Substance abuse disorder
  • Borderline personality disorder
  • Bipolar disorder

Call 855.478.3650 today or contact us online to learn more about our treatment programs.

Obsessive love - how to get rid of it for a man and a woman

Love is a wonderful and inspiring feeling. When a person loves and feels loved, he immediately feels better. However, it's all good when it's a healthy feeling, because sometimes it turns into obsessive love. It may go unnoticed. Obsessive love is a very strong feeling that gets out of control. Sometimes it's hard to tell whether the feeling that binds certain people in love remains or whether it can turn into an obsession. nine0003

Love and obsession are feelings that are sometimes hard to tell apart. It's easy to miss the moment when love attachment becomes an obsession - unhealthy, and eventually even dangerous - for both your partner and yourself.

Although love and obsession have some characteristics in common, they are quite different. Sometimes it's just hard to see the differences. Love is a positive feeling: it strengthens a person, helps him gain self-confidence and allows him to build equal relationships based on mutual understanding, partnership and trust. What then is obsessive love? nine0003

Possession is not positive - it destroys and suppresses. Even if the person thinks he is getting the most out of it. In this sense, possession can even be seen as a certain addiction to love attraction. Addiction tells a person to forget about himself and his desires, and also causes constant stress, sadness and feelings of tension. In such circumstances, one cannot speak of a healthy, equal relationship based on a solid foundation.


Obsessive love in men and women is an unwanted feeling. It can act destructively and negatively affect loved ones. Each person has his own baggage of experiences and problems - sometimes they are so great that you need to seek help from specialists. Anyone can develop obsessive love, and there are many such people. But all of them have common features, which will be described below.

They have low self-esteem. Only a healthy feeling allows men and women to raise their self-esteem to a healthy and stable level. However, in the case of obsessive love, the self-esteem of this person is initially low and decreases even more. People with low self-esteem who believe they don't deserve love may turn their feeling into an obsession - they will only focus on their partner and be willing to do whatever it takes to keep them from leaving. nine0003

Fear of loneliness - some people cannot and do not want to live alone, so much so that the prospect scares them. They are ready to get stuck in any of the most toxic relationships, because for them it is better than loneliness. They are attracted to people with problems, and they perceive balanced, healthy and calm people as boring. They feel the need for complete control in relationships, because in childhood they did not experience a sense of security and affection from their parents.

People who are prone to obsessive love and get into toxic relationships very often carry over their problems from childhood. Such people are statistically much more likely that their love will develop into an obsessive relationship or a healthy relationship will turn into a toxic one. nine0003


People with obsessive love are afraid of being abandoned. Then they will do everything for their loved one - devote all their time and energy to him. No task will be too difficult or time consuming for them. They will do whatever the partner wants or thinks to make him happy. The partner is their center and the most important moment in life - they are ready to sacrifice everything for him.

Obsessive feeling interferes with relationships with other people. Relationships are built as impenetrable - everything that is outside of them ceases to matter, and any attempts to go beyond these boundaries are undesirable. nine0003

A person who is overcome by obsessive love often loses himself - he ceases to be important to himself, since everything is replaced by a partner. This, in turn, is associated with low self-esteem - a person is not interesting, not worth the time or love for himself, so he transfers all his feelings to his partner.

It also happens that a person overcome by obsessive poisonous love ceases to perceive a partner as a person - a real person who has his own feelings, character and life goals. He begins to treat it like property. There is no partnership - this is a subjective relationship in which the toxic partner uses the other person only to get what he or she lacks. In such relationships, too, there is no place for healthy, open communication. A person can also manipulate their partner to get what they want. nine0003

In the second case, the obsessively loving partner will give in to everything, pretending that he has no problems and that they have no problems in the relationship. He will avoid confrontation at all costs, fearing loneliness.

How to get rid of

Love can improve the quality of life and help a person become a better, stronger version of himself. True feeling is completely different from obsessive love. Fortunately, treatment for obsessive, toxic love is possible. This can be difficult, because such people usually do not see the problem and strongly deny its existence. Therefore, awareness of its existence is the first, very important step towards recovery. nine0003

Psychotherapy will help both men and women to get rid of obsessive love, but a person must, first of all, want to change himself, without this nothing will really be achieved. In the process of treatment, people suffering from obsessive love gradually learn to speak directly about their problem and that they are not in control of the situation.

Over time, they also learn to remember themselves and their needs - they build their lives in a completely new way. They learn that it is possible to live alone - it is also a full and happy life, and their happiness does not depend on another person. It also greatly affects their self-esteem. nine0003

Therapy can teach people who were previously consumed by obsessive love to take responsibility for their actions and not blame everyone around for their failures.

In addition to individual psychotherapy, which can improve the quality of life, couples psychotherapy awaits people in relationships where there is a love addiction problem. If you feel like you want to try and build relationships and build healthy relationships, you must learn to set boundaries, communicate, and open up to each other. nine0003

Sometimes this therapy also allows the person to realize that the best thing he can do for himself is to leave his partner and continue living separately. In time, the pain will subside and the person will be able to start a new chapter in their life. Obsession, obsessive love never allows such a thought, and the pain itself does not go away. Therefore, even if you make a joint decision to break up during therapy, this will be a step towards mental health and building the right relationships in the future.

Author : Practical psychologist Vedmesh N.A.

Speaker of the Medical and Psychological Center "PsychoMed"

How to get rid of obsessive love for a man or woman

Love can be a euphoric feeling. But it can also cause immense devastation when the other person doesn't reciprocate. Many people experience intense infatuation and heartbreak pain. But obsessive love pushes these emotions even further, causing a person to fixate on a loved one as an object or some kind of property. nine0003

Health professionals do not always recognize "compulsive love" or "compulsive love disorder" as a mental health problem.

Indeed, this disorder is not currently included in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. However, obsessive love can be a sign of other mental problems.

If a person experiencing feelings of obsessive love is not treated for common symptoms, they may struggle to emotionally regulate these feelings. In very extreme cases, it can even cause acts of violence or abuse. nine0070

In this article, we will tell you more about what "compulsive love" is, its causes and symptoms, and some possible treatment options.

The formation of a definition of "true" love has eluded philosophers for centuries. In addition, there is no single list of criteria that could distinguish obsessive love from real love.

Love is a powerful force. People with feelings of love experience a rush of dopamine and other powerful brain chemicals. nine0003

  • For some people, these feelings are so strong that they become obsessed with keeping and controlling the person they love.
  • They may sometimes worship their partner, but become angry or jealous at the slightest threat.

One of the distinguishing features of obsessive love is its orientation towards the partner as an "object for consumption" or perception of him as property.

Instead of loving a person and wanting the best for them, people with obsessive tendencies may love another person because of their own needs. This, in turn, may mean that they have little interest in the well-being of the other. nine0070

The following are some of the other hallmarks of obsessive love:

  • True love requires compromise and negotiation, while obsession requires the object of affection to obey the demands of his partner.
  • True love prioritizes the well-being of the other person, while obsessive love may involve physical abuse or emotional abuse.
  • True love implies acceptance of another person and recognition of his shortcomings. Obsessive love may include worship and refusal to acknowledge any shortcomings. nine0082
  • In some cases of obsessive love, "splitting" can occur. This happens when a person sees the object of his love one moment as something perfect, and the next - as something evil.
  • Obsessive love makes it very difficult for a person to let go. Although breakups are usually painful and can cause unhealthy behavior, people with feelings of obsessive love may refuse to acknowledge that the relationship is over.
  • Obsessive love sometimes involves relationships that don't really exist, such as with a celebrity or a stranger. nine0082


There are many factors that can cause obsessive love. The following sections discuss these factors in more detail.

Erotomania and other delusional disorders

Mental health conditions such as bipolar I disorder and schizophrenia, as well as alcohol use disorder symptoms, can cause erotomania delusions.

This is not the same as obsessive love, but it can be a symptom of a much more serious mental condition. nine0070

Erotomania is a rare delusional disorder that can make a person believe that destiny requires a certain relationship. The person may even be deluded into believing that a relationship that ended a long time ago is still going on.

  • Erotomania can also make a person believe that the other person loves him. Sometimes the object of their love can even be someone they don't know. For example, they may believe they are in a non-existent relationship with a celebrity. nine0082
  • Some delusions can be so extreme that they cause the person to engage in stalking, abuse, or violent behavior. Erotomania also includes symptoms of paranoia.
  • One 2017 case study argues that social media can exacerbate erotomania. This is because it allows people with obsessive tendencies to observe others from a distance and feel closer to them than they might otherwise feel. nine0082

It is important to repeat that erotomania is very different from obsessive love.

Borderline Personality Disorder

People with Borderline Personality Disorder may be very afraid of separation and have trouble managing their emotions. For example, their emotions may seem out of proportion to the situation, and they may obsess over their relationship.

  • They often view things in black and white, alternating between seeing a person as completely good or completely evil. nine0082
  • This can cause them to try to control others or manipulate partners into staying in a relationship.

People with this disorder may not have a permanent identity or sense of self. This can exacerbate obsessive tendencies as they may struggle to see themselves as real or worthy individually, regardless of their relationship.

Attachment disorders

A person's ability to form healthy attachments to others begins in early childhood. People whose parents or caregivers were unstable may develop pathological forms of attachment. This can lead to them becoming obsessed, controlling, or fearful in their relationship. nine0003

  • People with insecure or reactive attachments may feel fear of loss.
  • They may feel unable to cope with life without a relationship and be willing to do anything to keep their partner.

Sometimes insecure attachment keeps a person in an abusive relationship because he is afraid of loss. In other cases, it can lead to the person being abused in a desperate attempt to keep a partner. nine0003

Trauma and fear of being abandoned

Some people are so afraid of being abandoned that they develop obsessive tendencies. It can occur due to attachment disorder or appear after an injury.

For example, a person whose spouse has died may be horrified by the loss of their current partner. This may lead them to take unusual or harmful measures to "protect" them.

Other mental illnesses

A wide range of mental health conditions can distort or change a person's point of view, making them more intimidating, intrusive or depressed. This may increase their risk of becoming obsessed with their relationship. nine0003

For example, a depressed person may believe that they are lonely, or that the only worthwhile aspect of their lives is their relationship. This can cause obsessive feelings or behaviors.

Socio-cultural norms

Some social and cultural norms require more from one partner than from another. This may mean that some parents and caregivers expose their children to these unhealthy relationship styles during their upbringing.

For example, exposure to different relationship "norms" in childhood may lead some people to grow up believing that love means possession or that their partner should do whatever they want to prove their love. nine0003

  • These thought patterns are one of the hallmarks of "poisonous masculinity."
  • People with this trait may believe that it is acceptable for men to treat their partners in ways that cause physical or emotional damage.
  • Those who show signs of toxic masculinity may also control, demand more from their partners than they are willing to give, or abuse partners who break their "rules".


The symptoms of obsessive love vary depending on the cause of the obsession. For example, a person with a delusional disorder may experience a sense of altered reality or exhibit unusual behavior, while a person with depression may have low self-esteem or have suicidal thoughts.

In general, some signs that love is obsessive include:

  • an intense preoccupation with relationships that are out of proportion to their length
  • falling in love with new partners or even strangers
  • extreme attempts to control another person
  • threatening another person if he tries to leave
  • refusal to listen to the other person's feelings or accept any boundaries they try to create
  • requesting certain unreasonable behavior from another person


A mental health professional may decide that a person's relationship is intrusive based on the symptoms they exhibit and whether it negatively impacts the person's life. nine0003

There are no specific diagnostic criteria for obsessive love.

  • Because obsessive love is often a sign of another mental condition, the health care provider may ask questions about the person's mental health history.
  • Doctors may also recommend a psychological or medical evaluation to rule out other causes, especially if the person is exhibiting delusional behavior.


Treatment for obsessive love focuses on identifying the cause of obsessive thoughts and feelings and then eliminating that cause.

For example, a person with schizophrenia may need medication to control delusions and negative thoughts.

Treatment for delusional disorders typically includes medication as well as psychosocial psychiatric interventions such as family therapy or helping the person replace negative delusions with positive thought patterns. nine0003

  • For most people, therapy is the key to managing obsessive feelings and developing healthier relationships. A therapist can often help unravel trauma history, manage underlying conditions, and establish healthier relationship norms.
  • In the early stages of treatment, individual therapy is best, especially if the relationship is abusive. If each person in a relationship can set better boundaries individually, couples counseling can help them work together and overcome obsessive love. nine0082

There are also some basic management strategies that a person can try at home. They include:

  • recording all feelings for the object of obsessive love, and then breaking this page as a symbolic destruction of these feelings
  • deleting all links in social networks with the object of love
  • deleting all reminders of a person, including photos and gifts
  • wearing an elastic band on the wrist - the elastic band must be clicked when obsessive thoughts come to mind
  • finding useful and enjoyable distractions, such as reading, painting, or playing a musical instrument
  • spending time with friends

Some people wonder how long it takes to overcome obsessive love. However, there is no set time. It is a psychological and very individual experience that depends on many things, from the level of obsessive love to the underlying condition that may be causing it.

When to see a doctor

If the above strategies don't work, a more serious problem may arise and a visit to a mental health professional may be a good idea.

In addition, people with obsessive love may not see their behavior as problematic. Instead, they may view the object of their affection as not loving or loyal enough, seeing it as a problem.

This may mean that a person experiencing feelings of obsessive love may find it difficult to seek treatment. nine0070

People who are struggling to get out of a relationship or feel very insecure in a relationship should consider the possibility that their love is possessed and try to seek treatment.


Obsessive love can be a sign of a serious mental condition and if left untreated can destroy friendships and relationships.

Learn more