Dawn Cove Abbey
Klaas Tuinman MA
Deerfield, Nova Scotia 2009 (Rev: 2010)
An obsession is a compulsive over-whelming excessive preoccupation, or unreasonable idea
or emotion that has a fixed idea focused on, or toward another person, or thing, and is
often accompanied by symptoms of anxiety; sometimes obsession consists of unwanted
feeling or emotion, which also produce anxiety.
This page is about the reality of “obsession”, and provides examples of obsessive behaviour
through an introduction to this all-too-common reality, with detailed characteristics. Then in
comparison, it contrasts Love to obsession by describing and discussing healthy, genuine,
Love versus Obsession
Obsessive Love - outline: The early stage of obsessive love is characterized by an
instantaneous and overwhelming attraction to another person. It is at this point the
relationally dependent person becomes "hooked" on a romantic interest, usually resulting
from the slightest bit of attention from the person they are attracted to.
- That should be the first “warning flag”.
More detailed descriptions, symptoms and behaviors of obsession follow below.
How do you know if it is really love or simply an obsession? “Love” involves many things,
with trust being the most important (a discussion on "love" is provided further
below). You may wish to read further on trust and trusting: click HERE.
Deeply insecure, controlling people try to defend their jealous or even violent actions
by claiming that they are in love. But the reality is that Love is a beautiful, giving and
trusting action between two people, and Obsession is an action of one person towards
Love and Obsession have some similar qualities, but are very different: here are some
guidelines to distinguish them:
- Obsession results in a constant or frequent fear of infidelity.
- Obsession results in constantly demanding that s/he tell you where s/he has been,
and what s/he has been doing.
- Obsession wants to control who s/he sees and insists they drop all former friends.
It is importantly to understand that those who do not trust the other when they do
account for themselves, are not really in love.
When there are infidelity issues – it is time to reevaluate your relationship.
Where there is no trust, love does not stand a chance of survival.
Another obsession indicator is having a constant fear that s/he will leave you,
and you wonder if you can even begin to survive on your own without her/him.
No one wants to begin to think about what would happen if they lost their true love,
but constantly obsessing over this fear is - - - obsessing.
Where there is a need to be in constant contact with the one you “love”, it is unhealthy
both for both. Being constantly afraid of losing him/her, feeling depressed at the thought,
and even provoking arguments because of that fear, indicates that this is not really love –
but obsession instead.
Love is a beautiful thing.
It should bring with it no fear,
no worries of desertion
and certainly should produce a trust between two people;
if it doesn’t,
it isn’t love.
Any relationship that does not have this peace and trust – is at the verge of disaster.
Obsession has another dimension, too - compulsiveness.
- If you frequently call your special person at home or work just to see if s/he is there
or even worse,
- if you drive by their home or workplace just to see their car then you should be
- Accusing him/her of cheating,
- demanding to know every single detail of his life away from you
- and trying to control him/her at all times - points to obsession.
Being obsessed with someone will only get you hurt
– having someone who is obsessed with you will get you hurt.
Indicators of Obsession:
- An instant attraction to romantic interest, usually occurring within the first few
minutes of meeting.
- An immediate urge to rush into a relationship regardless of compatibility.
- Becoming "hooked on the look" of another, focusing on the person's physical
characteristics while ignoring personality differences.
- Unrealistic fantasies about a relationship with a love interest, assigning "magical"
qualities to an object of affection.
The beginnings of obsessive, controlling behaviors begin to manifest.
Other aspects, after having made an initial commitment include:
- Unfounded thoughts of infidelity on the part of a partner and demanding
accountability for normal daily activities.
- An overwhelming fear of abandonment, including baseless thoughts of a partner
walking out on the relationship in favor of another person.
- The need to constantly be in contact with a love interest via phone, email, text-
messaging, or in person.
- Strong feelings of mistrust begin to emerge, causing depression, resentment and
The continuation and escalation of obsessive, controlling behaviors.
Eventually, it escalates to the following:
- The development of "tunnel vision," which is a situation where the relationally
dependent person cannot stop thinking about a love interest and required his or
her constant attention.
- Neurotic, compulsive behaviors, including rapid telephone calls to love interest's place
of residence or workplace.
- Unfounded accusations of "cheating" due to extreme anxiety.
- "Drive-bys" around a love interest's home or place of employment, with the goal
of assuring that the person is at where "he or she is supposed to be."
- Physical or electronic monitoring activities, following a love interest's whereabouts
throughout the course of a day to discover their daily activities.
- Extreme control tactics, including questioning a love interest's commitment to the
relationship (guilt trips) with the goal of manipulating a love interest into providing
The final “stage”:
When those have basically resulted in destroying any possibility of keeping a relationship
going, the following tend to emerge:
- Overwhelming feelings of depression (feeling "empty" inside).
- A sudden loss of self-esteem, due to the collapse of the relationship.
- Extreme feelings of self-blame and at times, self-hatred.
- Anger, rage and a desire to seek revenge against a love interest for breaking off the
- Denial that the relationship has ended and attempting to "win a loved one back" by
making promises to "change".
- The use of drugs, alcohol, food or sex to "medicate" the emotional pain.
Love vs. Obsession - Loving Too Much? - One View
Many romantic relationships fall into these two formats:
an individual is either desperately trying to get someone to love them, or they are
desperately trying to keep the love of a partner by focusing an inordinate amount of
their attention on them.
Both are forms of "obsession” - neither of these has anything to do with genuine love.
Obsession is where we obsess over our own emotions.
This is characterized by expressing ourselves on an extremely selfish level.
In doing this, we really are not loving those we have feelings for because we want them
to be happy, even if it means they choose to live their lives without us.
In obsession, people are focused on things that are designed to make them happy by
doing everything they possibly can to get the other individuals to share their lives
exclusively with them. And they will often go to some very extraordinary lengths in
order to try to make that happen.
- They romantically chase, sometimes pursue, even physically stalk - those they
profess to "love."
- When they engage in relationships with new partners, they tend to be so
possessive in their manner of "loving" that the ones on the receiving end
inevitably tend to run for the door to escape what they perceive to be an
extremely oppressive and, essentially, unloving atmosphere.
When the “objects of desire” leave them,
- they continue to chase them and may even harass them with phone calls and
- They appear in desperation at their doors at all hours of the day and night.
- They confront their new partners in jealous rages, intent on venting their
emotions while making the lives of those they profess to love miserable in the
- They may even attempt to ruin their careers, reputations and the families, as a
form of retaliation for not being loved enough in return.
The "problem" or reason behind obsession.
People who are obsessed:
- have major Trust issues
- tend to suffer from major Jealousy issues
- have major esteem issues which leave them feeling totally insecure.
They might go so far as having fantasies of killing the object of their love in order to
prevent him or her from sharing a life with someone else.
That is not “loving”.
It is emotional obsession in its most dangerous and destructive form. It is so different,
and so far removed from genuine love that it can't even be categorized as obsession –
because it is a form of psychosis.
When people genuinely give love to others, they selflessly put their happiness ahead of
- They feel their pains, their sorrows.
- They also respect their own right to freedom, should that man or woman choose to
exercise that right.
- They extend themselves beyond their own wants and needs to encourage their
partners to enjoy rich, full lives for themselves, risking the possibility that they
won't be active participants in their lives in the future.
- They want these individuals to be genuinely happy as they live their lives - with or
without us - because they are capable of truly loving them that much.
Falling in genuine love is totally different:
We literally feel the urge to mate and be coupled with that individual.
This magnetism is an initial stage of loving,
but it is far from reaching its final and most meaningful stage.
- Falling in love only draws us toward an individual with whom we may develop a
relationship in the future, but the future depth and substance of that relationship
won't have a thing to do with sexual attraction experienced in the here and now.
- When we fall in love we feel entranced, dazzled, and downright captivated with that
individual who attracts us so intensely.
- We feel drawn, consciously or not, to selfishly gratify a deep, inner longing for
physical unity with another who characterizes an ideal mating partner for us at that
There's no denying our basic nature to be sexual beings, no matter how technologically
advanced civilization may have become. Human beings are drawn to one another
essentially to mate, propagate, and, in general, proliferate the species. It's basic human
nature, after all.
Loving, on the other hand, is an entirely unselfish act in emotionally extending
ourselves beyond our own wants and needs. Through such loving, we recognize that our
loved one is a wholly separate person who is traveling his or her own individual path in
life without our needing or requiring them to be there for us at any given moment.
When we say, "I can't live without this person in my life," we aren't expressing love but
instead, extreme dependency on another individual.
- We are obsessed and parasitic in the way we feel about that individual.
- We have focused the essence of our lives on the lives of our partners and are
basically feeding off them as they pursue their own happiness in life.
- We virtually have no identity for ourselves when we live this way.
- We are so focused on that partner and what he or she does in an attempt to be
happy that we have no idea what it means to make ourselves happy.
- We are, plainly speaking, living our lives through the lives of others, which is a very
unhealthy way to live.
- Genuine love will never grow from such an unhealthy way of life, only greater
dependency and deeper unhappiness is fostered in the end.
If you worry that you might be obsessing rather than truly loving your partner, ask
yourself these questions:
- Are you afraid to allow the one you love the space and freedom in which to pursue
his or her own goals and dreams to grow and develop as a wholly separate
- Do you respect the privacy of the one you love or do you feel so insecure about
the relationship you share that you feel driven to be a participant in every facet of
- Are you overly suspicious of your partner's relationships with others -family
members, coworkers, and friends – and scheme to destroy these relationships so
he or she will ultimately "belong" only to you?
- Does the thought of your partner leaving you fill you with such fear that you think,
"I can't ever let that happen"?
I urge those who are yearning to better understand the difference between genuine love
and obsession to pick up a copy of "The Road Less Traveled" by M. Scott Peck, MD. This
book directly parallels the teachings of Personal Prophesy in terms of what constitutes truly
healthy, loving relationships.
- adapted from: Love vs. Obsession: Are You Loving Too Much? ~Deborah Leigh Ketner
Healthy / Unhealthy Love
A healthy love is when my heart is filled with happiness, joy, respect, and just pure
love -in actions as well as feelings:
- Unhealthy love is filled with stress, pain, frustration, doubt, and heartbreak and lack
- An unhealthy love is not happy - it's miserable.
- A healthy love is the sharing of two people, two souls, connecting together.
- An unhealthy love is one that has one being a Giver all the time, while the other is
always the Taker - the relationship is not equal in feeling, actions, etc.
- A healthy one is where two people are connected in healthy ways - supporting each
other, loving each other in feelings and actions, sharing a life together, each giving to
the relationship, and bringing out each other's best!
- A healthy love is one where each person grows and matures and yet knows they are
accepted for who they are. Each is given acceptance and has a SO that wants what is
best for them, and uplifting each other as well.
- In a unhealthy love there is one who dominates the relationship, condemns the other
and brings them down, takes power over the other, manipulates, abuses, takes
advantage, takes for granted, etc.
To sum this up:
- a healthy love is positives.
- An unhealthy love is negatives.
Really loving another person takes time, it takes perseverance
and it can’t be based on physical attraction alone.
Until you know somebody well you can’t really be in love.
|Dawn Cove Abbey
Roadside Assistance For Your Journey Through Life
- Dedicated to helping people return (and maintain) sanity and decency to life -
From the eBook: "One! The Journey hOMe", by Klaas Tuinman MA, © 2007-2017
Established in 1995, in commemoration of Abbey Dawn in Kingston, Ontario.
Questions and comments welcomed.
If all of your time and effort goes in to satisfying the needs of another or in chasing after
another person then you are at risk of becoming obsessed.
If one person is always trying to please the other person, or if the relationship is without
consideration and compromise then it could be based on obsessive feelings rather than real
Real love is nurturing and helps people grow
but obsession is debilitating and takes away from the psyche of the person caught up in it.
If you feel like you have lost yourself, if you are always striving to please your partner
without them doing the same for you, and if you find yourself making all your decisions in
your life based on the feelings and needs of the other person you are obsessed and not in a
real love relationship: and you've become codependent.
Love can’t be forced at will,
it must be found,
and that can only happen for real
when our hearts and minds are free.
-Adapted from Jessica Stevenson
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|The difference between Obsession and real, genuine Love.
|In Obsession, there are powerful "obsessive" feelings that are often mistaken for love,
because people rationalize that, “It must be love if I can’t think of anyone else.”
Obsession is misleading and destructive.
Obsession kills genuine love every time.
The more time and effort invested in an unhealthy obsession based relationship the more
intense the obsession can become and the more damage is done. Obsession in too many
cases - kills.
People in an obsessed state have a one-track mind where the other person is concerned to
the point where they often lose touch with who they are as an individual. This loss of
individuality creates a vicious circle of behavior where the obsessed person grows more and
more dependant on the other person and on the relationship in general (also see
Even so-called unrequited love (love that is not returned) can become an overwhelming
obsession. When one person believes they are in a relationship that doesn’t truly exist, or
when one person is investing more in an existing relationship than the other, the foundation
for an obsession has been laid.