Why am i obsessed with my ex

If You're Too Hung Up On Your Ex, You Could Have A Mental Disorder


by Sheena Sharma


Still being in love with the guy who broke your heart is one thing, but being outright obsessed with him is something entirely different.

According to research conducted by psychologists Albert Wakin and Dorothy Tennov, you actually can be obsessed with your ex to the point where it becomes dangerous. It's called "limerence."

Limerence is, according to Wakin and Tennov, when someone spends a large amount of time trying to get over their ex, but, for whatever reason, are completely unable to move on. It's more than just a bad heartbreak; it's a pathological problem.

This problem isn't recognized by a large community, but Wakin is hoping one day, limerence will actually be included in the DSM (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders) so specific treatment plans can be made for it.

But because it's so difficult to quantify, Wakin isn't sure if it will ever be classified as a disorder.

Social psychologist Elaine Hatfield believes passionate love and limerence are "much the same." That is, they both create a sweeping "high" effect.

It's a widely known fact that whenever the pleasure centers in our brain light up, they create dopamine (the chemical that makes us feel that euphoria). This dopamine-induced euphoria is the same kind of high we get when we get the first taste of a food we like — and fall in love.

Notably, dopamine triggers a craving in our brains, and with it, a desire to fulfill said craving. So when we're falling in love, we feel lovesick and obsessed. We constantly crave our significant other.

With limerence, the sensation is similar, but it's so much worse.

After you break up with an ex, your brain still needs to fulfill the craving that it felt in the beginning of your relationship when you were falling in love. But you don't get the reward because you never get to see your ex again.

The craving isn't satisfied, which makes you miserable... and can give you limerence.

Wakin told New York magazine, “If a person is addicted to alcohol, you don't worry if alcohol will be available. When you're addicted to another person, you can't control whether they'll be there for you. It drives you nuts.”

When you're addicted to another person, you can't control whether they'll be there for you.

It turns out that limerence is a universal feeling, despite not being very scientifically understood. In fact, there are entire internet forums dedicated to people confessing their limerence, saying things like “What's the point of living if 1) I can never have him and 2) I can never get over him?”

Wakin and Tennov wanted to know: Why do some people get over breakups relatively easily, while others dwell on their exes for months (or even years) following a breakup?

In a regular relationship, passionate love calms down and turns into companionate love anywhere between four to six months after the relationship takes off. In limerent relationships, though, the need for the other person only becomes stronger with time, even when a breakup happens.

In limerent relationships, the need for the other person only becomes stronger with time.

Wakin and Tennov noticed from their research that people in "limerence" suffered from obsessive thoughts, mood swings and the need for the person they were obsessing over to get back to them. The people Wakin spoke with told him they think about their partners or exes as much as 95 percent of the time.

Wakin and Tennov also noticed those feelings abnormally lasted more than a year for their subjects, and those feelings always negatively impacted their romantic relationships.

Wakin also says the OCD-like tendency to long for someone isn't as uncommon as you'd think it would be. This could explain why you just can't stop thinking about "the one that got away," or why your best friend continues to Facebook stalk the guy she swears she loves, despite the fact that he never responds to her outreach.

I believe I've personally fallen victim to limerence. I once spent an incredibly long time trying to get over someone, and I never thought I would. The time spent trying to get over someone can be dangerous, indeed, but I found erasing any and all traces of this guy from my life (both over social media and IRL) was the most effective way to gradually quell my thoughts of him.

Wakin says, “We are confident of this: It can happen to anyone.”

Why am I obsessed with my ex and how do I stop it? 10 tips to get out of that loop

Sometimes when a breakup happens you’re able to detach physically but not mentally.

What keeps you holding back is the fear of rejection, abandonment, and that you’ll never be good enough.

The obsession is not manifested only with intrusive thoughts. 

– You’ll fantasize about your reconciliation;

– You keep scrolling through their social media;

– You constantly check if they’re dating someone else;

– You reread your old conversations;

– You feel confused and not focused on your life;

– You’re convinced your ex is stalking you too;

– You keep comparing your new partner with them;

– You insist on staying friends with them;

You feel like you’re not doing it and that no one can understand what you’re feeling. That’s pretty normal.

Start with acceptance to turn the situation around. Then the progression will happen slowly.

Here, you will find a middle way to change your situation. First, let’s spot the root of the obsession!

Why am I obsessed with my ex?

Being delusional after the breakup is normal.

That’s because you’re still attached to the relationship and intrusive thoughts keep coming in waves.

1. You weren’t ready to end the relationship.

The moment the breakup comes abruptly and catches you off guard that’s when you start being obsessive about it.

You’re not able yet to process the breakup and you are in denial. 

That sudden breakup will leave you puzzled and you constantly think about why it happened.

2. They have made you feel safe and secure.

If you felt safe and secure with your ex, you want to go back to experience that one more time.

Once you’re not with them you feel insecure.  

You feel like only thinking about them or stalking them will make you feel like yourself again.

3. You find comfort in the idea of obsessing over them.

Sometimes, after the breakup, thinking constantly and obsessing over your ex can feel like an escape place. 

Even if your relationship was good or toxic, your mind tricks you to go back to that “happy” place.

4. You’re afraid of rejection and abandonment.

According to studies, limerence is a result of being afraid of rejection and abandonment.

You keep ruminating and obsessing over your ex because only that way you won’t feel anxious or lonely.

5. You think that you won’t find the one ever again.

Whereas, psychologists define the fear of never finding love again as a product of obsessive-compulsive behavior.

It’s pretty normal to feel that way if you were in a long-term relationship and found a compatible person.

The fear of losing that type of partner can lead you to have obsessive thoughts.

6. You were cheated on.

The reason why you’re obsessed with your ex when you’re cheated on is that you feel rejected and in denial.

Your self-confidence is crushed and you keep constantly comparing yourself with other women or men.

You have mixed thoughts that will keep always linking your self-worth with the validation of your ex.

7. You’re still trying to heal.

After the breakup as you process all the pain and try to heal, you’ll find yourself thinking constantly about your ex.

8. Your relationship dreams were shattered.

If you wanted this relationship to work and put in a lot of effort then that’s what will fuel your obsession.

It seems like your ex took your chance to be happy or create a special bonding.

9. This is a result of past relationships.

If you had attachment trauma in your childhood or any time in your life that is an indicator of obsession.

If you felt abandoned alone, isolated, or unloved during those times and you’ll feel the same again with your ex.

It feels like you’re being treated the same as a familiar person.

Here are 10 tips on how to stop obsessing over your ex:

1. Discipline your mind

The first thing that you should do to disrupt the obsession loop is to discipline your mind.

To do this, you need to break the pattern of obsessive thoughts by implementing a positive routine in your life.

You can only distance yourself from bad habits just by creating a daily routine.

As Brian Tracy cited: “ Bad habits are easy to form but hard to live with”.

You can’t start healing and interrupting that pattern until you form new habits.

  • Wake up early and start the day fresh.
  • Try a new morning routine, try a new breakfast meal, a new type of coffee, new playlist.
  • Turn off your phone, and try to not check it as soon as you wake up. Instead, take a walk or read just simple motivational quotes.

2. Don’t restrain your thoughts

To keep thinking the same thing over and over again isn’t a pleasant feeling.

Yet, you can’t let these obsessive thoughts go if you force the process.

Just let them be. You might think, is this how I stop obsessing over my ex?

Well, yes. The moment you accept these thoughts, you won’t be afraid to experience these thoughts again.

With time, you’ll get used to having them and at the same time, you’ll continue with your routine.

If you don’t feel ready to face these thoughts, don’t analyze them. That will fuel ruminating even more.

3. Focus on who you want to be

During this period it is very easy to get caught up in the idea of your ex and forget about yourself.

To stop obsessing over your ex, you need to shift the mindset. 

I understand that it’s not easy to turn the ship around when you feel in pain. Yet, you can start with small steps.

  • Accept that your idea and effort of making the relationship work wasn’t successful.
  • Reflect on your flaws, and write down how you can make them change.
  • Write down and search about how you can work to be a better partner.
  • Don’t regret your decision, try to learn from past mistakes.

4. Be a part of the circle of the grief

After the breakup men and women tend to react a little bit differently from one another.

Men are more likely to suppress their feelings whereas women try to ruminate. 

In both cases, it’s better to process the feelings rather than deny, reject or suppress them.

The moment you embrace what you’re feeling, that’s one step closer to not having obsessive thoughts.

If you don’t cry, feel sad, or shout, you’ll end up going back to the source of pain. 

When your brain is out of balance and looping in trauma, that’s not usually a normal brain function.

As studies have shown, you keep repeating an action: you keep turning on and off the light or you wash your hands multiple times.

5. Write down everything that you’re feeling

Journaling is one of the best methods to pour out what you’re feeling.

As you write down, you can acknowledge your feelings.

If you don’t acknowledge your feelings you’re going to wake up every day feeling the same.

The obsessive thoughts and behavior will always be present and it would be hard to find a way out.

You need to understand that it is not you that is obsessing over your ex.

It is you that is obsessing over the feeling that is underneath that you’re dealing with.

That’s why writing even little phrases or just a word can help you distance yourself from those thoughts.

6. Clarify what you need to do to feel nourished

Especially, after you’ve been dumped or cheated on, you have a hard time feeling valuable again.

The fear and anxiety that you experience after being cheated raises the level of obsession or getting hinged.

Try to seek ways to feel nourished again. Yet, do not ever do it just to escape reality or to distract yourself by force.

~ If social media is a source for being obsessive over your ex then start by muting, blocking, or deleting your ex.

~ If you have mutual friends, try to distance yourself from them too.

This will disrupt the vivid memories or familiar emotions that are created by being with people that remind you of him.

7. Be present and try to live in the moment

To disrupt the obsessive behavior you can try to engage yourself in calming activities.

This method can be very cliche but exercises of every form, deep breathing, and meditation can help you detoxicate.

To soothe the anxiety that is followed by being obsessed over missing, thinking, and getting back to your ex do this:

  • Take an action:

Every time you think about your ex, write down what you didn’t like about your ex.

Next to it write a solution, what would you do in that situation, and how would you improve that flaw.

  • Engage yourself in activities that make you feel the opposite.

If you’re obsessed with your ex because they made you feel special, choose something else that makes you feel that way.

It’s quite understandable that this is a hard process and feelings are hard to process. Yet, it can be manageable.

1. Go outside and put your feet on the grass;

2. Read books on mindfulness;

3. Put on music that puts you in the good mood;

The main key to stopping obsessing over your ex is to accept the fact that the relationship is over.

You cannot do it unless you let yourself go through what you’re feeling at that moment

If you feel alone and want to cry then let yourself go through that roller coaster of emotions.

~ The first action that you need to take is to balance reality with hope.

You indeed keep replaying the good memories and you can’t accept the ugly side of that relationship yet.

Write down what you accept from the relationship and your ex.

Now, think if redeeming and reconciling are elements that you should consider at this moment.

Try this drill for at least 10 minutes per day. It keeps you grounded and it pushes you toward accepting reality.

~ You’re allowed to cry until you let all your feelings out. Crying is a process that helps you in releasing all your negative feelings and stress.

This way you can cope with your feelings and not suppress them. Grieving is another step that helps to embrace reality.

~ Accept the fact that it is okay to be obsessed with your ex after a breakup.

Once you acknowledge this issue, it will be easier for you to get out of this loop. 

Now, you won’t be confused about what’s happening with you because you’ve already targeted the issue.

9.  Distance yourself from ‘What if’

Obsessing over an ex and fantasizing is very common after a failed relationship.

When you’re experiencing the pain of a breakup it is not odd to keep ruminating on old conversations.

When you ruminate, this is your tool to soothe the anxiety after the breakup.

Fantasizing and romanticizing are two elements that lead you to obsession.

To stop thinking about what if remind yourself why you broke up in the first place.

At this point, it’s hard for your brain to recognize the flaws of your ex or your relationship. 

1. To solve it, vent to your friends or family to remind you why the relationship ended.

2. Remind yourself how you felt when you were part of this relationship.

3. Write down the actions both you and your ex took to make the relationship work.

This will help you to balance the situation and embrace reality at some point.

10. Don’t be afraid to seek help

To stop being obsessed with your ex the most crucial point is to seek and accept help from others.

You can vent to your friends and family, just to let your feelings out and not suppress your feelings. Talk about your ex and how you’re feeling.

Allow yourself to talk about it but without dwelling too much on the past. Avoid experiencing negative feelings that lead you to obsess even more.

Use these conversations to let your feelings out and reflect on the situation.

If you talk with your friends and family, draw some boundaries and know your stance. 

This will make it easier for you to have your opinion and accept needed advice.

In addition, you can seek help from different counselors or therapists that will give you professional advice:

  • RelationshipHero Platform;
  • Finding help for OCD after a breakup;
  • American Psychological Association;

My ex is obsessed with me: Let’s pin it down from another point of view!

If your ex is obsessed with you then you can sense it in different ways. The obsession can be mild and exaggerated.

They will text you multiple times, will ask your friends all the time about you, are still jealous of you, or will stay at your door 24/7.

This behavior is all due to them having a hard time overcoming their feelings.

Yet, there could be another reason that keeps them holding back to you.

1. You might have not given them a closure;

2. They are hurting badly after a breakup and this is their way of coping;

3. You let them know (mistakenly or not) there you might reconsider going back into the relationship again;

4. They’re not over you yet and you decided to stay friends;

5. Your ex wants to make you feel the pain that they’ve been through;

6. They are fixated on something that they can’t have;

How to deal with an obsessed ex-lover?

It’s not that easy to deal with obsessive behavior, not even within yourself or with your ex.

The first thing that you should do is make them clear that the relationship has ended for the right reasons.

Make them understand that what they’re going through is very common and could be fixed.

Furthermore, you might start No Contact. Since your relationship ended, you can delete their number and mute them on social media.

If that cannot work either, try to shut down your social media and change your number for a while.

To be more specific, at this moment you should also avoid the chance of staying friends. 

Being in contact will feed their obsession and it will cause a lot of problems for both of you.

If nothing from these pieces of advice doesn’t work and you’re put in danger, then you should consider a restraining order.

I am obsessed with my ex….

If you’re obsessed with your ex then you’re going to find yourself constantly thinking about them.

After heartbreak and an unfinished relationship, it’s very easy to fall into the loop of overthinking.

Especially, if you still have feelings for your ex. This keeps you creating fake scenarios and obsessing over your ex.

To get out of this dark hole start with No Contact, work on yourself, and seek help.

Nothing lasts forever, not even your pain and this rumination.

Hang in there.



Obsessed with an ex-lover for seven years!!



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