How To Tell The Difference Between Love And Obsession
When it comes to relationships, many people want to find someone who is committed, loyal and devoted to them only. But there is a fine line between devotion and obsession. So how do you know if your partner is actually in love or just obsessed?
To be fair, it's easy to confuse the two. As Mark B. Borg, Jr,. Ph.D, clinical psychologist and author of Relationship Sanity tells Bustle, "Most of us start out our love relationships in a heightened state of insecurity and anxiety."
Falling in love takes a lot of risk. In order to be in a truly emotionally fulfilling relationship, you need to be able to be vulnerable and allow another person in. For a lot of people, that can be pretty scary when you don't know how your partner feels. This state of the unknown can create a feeling of anxiety that won't really go away until you know for sure that your partner reciprocates your feelings, Borg says.
In a healthy relationship, both partners will be able to say how they're feeling and that anxiety should go away. But if that feeling of anxiety is still there, it can lead to obsession. So if your partner does any of these things, experts say it may not be love but obsession.
1. They Will Move The Relationship At A Fast Pace
When someone is obsessed and not in love, Dr. Borg says the actions they take will most likely be driven by an anxiety that's caused by their obsession. "In obsession, we take that jumble of mixed or anticipatory anxiety emotions and shift it into our thinking," he says. For instance, if someone has a fear of losing you, they're going to act in ways that ensure you're not going to leave them. That may include asking for exclusivity or commitment fairly early on in the relationship. More often than not, Dr. Borg says, people are unaware it's happening. They're more likely to associate those anxious feelings of needing someone with love.
2. They Do Things In Order To Get Your Approval
Love is reciprocal, relationship expert Marni Kinrys, tells Bustle. There should be a pretty equal amount of give or take. But when someone is obsessed, they're more likely to give more than they take. According to Kinrys, their motivations behind their giving will come from a place of wanting to please and be approved rather than love.
3. They Can't Seem To Start Or End Their Day Without Talking To You
Keeping in communication with your partner isn't necessarily a bad thing. But if they can’t begin or end their day without talking to you, Katie Leikam, LCSW, therapist and owner of True You Southeast, tells Bustle, it might be obsession and not love. "It's easy to mistake love for obsession, but the difference is how far you take your interest in the other person and when it becomes unhealthy," Leikam says. You'll know it's obsession if they act in irrational ways if they aren't able to talk to you on any given day. For instance, they may keep calling over and over until they finally get in contact with you.
4. They Like Knowing Where You Are At All Times
It's good to have a partner who cares and is concerned enough to know what you're doing and where you're going. But there's a fine line between being caring and being controlling. For instance, if they need to know where you are at all times and who you're with, that can be obsessive behavior. "It's love when they are considerate and caring about your needs," Leikam says. If their "care" starts to feel overbearing, it's probably obsession, and definitely something you should talk to them about.
5. You Get The Feeling That They Don't Completely Support You
"When someone is obsessed with you, they [might not] like the idea of you growing as a person or having any independence," Rori Sassoon, Relationship Expert and CEO of VIP elite matchmaking service Platinum Poire, tells Bustle. For instance, if you get a promotion at work, they may not seem as happy and excited for you because they're thinking about how your promotion might change your relationship. "But in healthy love, each partner empowers one another to be the best version of themselves," Sassoon says. Your partner will be excited for you and will support you as you grow as an individual.
6. You're Always Right
When someone is obsessed with you, everything you do will be "right" even if they don't actually agree with you. According to Sassoon, they may just agree with everything you say and do just to keep you in their life. When it's love, your partner will be able to be honest with you about their own feelings. They won't worry about whether or not they'll lose you for telling the truth.
7. They Can't Seem To Get Enough Of You
"When a person is controlled by their passion, it's really more of an obsession," Sassoon says. That means, they'll forget about their life before the relationship and will keep their focus on you. Basically, you will become the center of their universe. But as Sassoon says, this is neither healthy, nor is it love. "This is an obsession," she says. "If someone is thinking about your every move, picking your words and actions apart, and persistently overanalyzing everything, this is not normal nor healthy." In a healthy dynamic, both you and your partner will be secure enough to do your own thing and come back together with no problem at all.
It's so easy to confuse obsession for love because according to Sassoon, obsession mirrors love. But again, obsession comes from a place of anxiety and fear. Even if someone doesn't realize it, that fear will show through their actions. So if your partner's behaviors are making you feel uncomfortable, have a conversation about it. Sometimes people are just unaware of the things they're doing. Having that open communication can make your relationship much healthier.