I use the phrase "psychological demons disguised as love" when I talk about people who have disturbed romantic beliefs. You'd be surprised to know the number of people who've felt trapped in unhealthy relationships at some point in their lives. In my work with clients and when in casual conversations, I've noticed certain behavioral patterns of tainted lovers, who I refer to as obsessive, game and monstrous lovers.
When I get into conversations about love, dating or romance, people want to know the red flags of trouble. I tell them that trouble brews when emotion trumps reason in relationships. You listen to what your heart feels and not what your mind screams when something goes wrong in your relationship. Why? The surge of love hormones drowns reason. You dismiss the tiny little warning telling you that something isn't right. You make excuses such as they're tired, stressed, or sick to explain their bad behaviors. You convince yourself that you're misreading your partner's intentions. When emotions override reason you may find yourself sinking in a sea of tainted love. If you don't recognize the signs, then you just may end up drowning. In this article, I want to focus on obsessive lovers.
Take the following scenario as an example:
Intense is the word Jake used to describe his relationship with Katie. After their first date, they were inseparable; they spent crazy amounts of time together. Within a couple of months she moved into his condo. When they were apart, she constantly sent him text messages, left him voicemails, complimented him, and showered him with attention.
At first, Jake loved the attention, but after some time he felt it was too much. Katie unexpectedly showed up at casual business events, hangouts with his brother and nights out with his friends. When they weren't spending time together, Katie barraged him with text messages and phone calls to "just check in." Even when she knew the answers, she questioned him about who he was going out with and where. Katie was jealous of his female friends and co-workers always finding some kind of problem with them. Katie got agitated on evenings when Jake had plans to go places without her. She started fights with him as though to put a damper on his fun. She was most relaxed when he canceled his plans and spent the evenings with her.
In the beginning of their relationship, Katie seemed to be patient and understanding about Jake's long and unpredictable hours as a medic. Somehow this changed and she became less understanding and more demanding of his time. She constantly complained about feeling lonely and miserable without him. When he'd have to work late or took on extra shifts, Katie became enraged and unreasonable in her demands that he find another job.
To dodge arguments, Jake withdrew from friends and family. He spent more time at home with Katie. While this made her happy, he felt trapped and suffocated. When he finally decided to break up with her, Katie told him that she couldn't live without him and threatened to kill herself if he left her.
Signs of an Obsessor:
- Barrages you with intense and constant attention
- Demands unreasonable amounts of your time
- Ignores other aspects of their life for you
- Shows jealously towards anyone and any activity that competes for your attention
- Follows you or checks up on you when you're not together
- Physically ignores personal space to show others that you're taken
Obsessive love begins with intense emotions, flattery and attention, but slowly turns into an unhealthy possessiveness of you. Initially, it's easy to confuse obsessive love for healthy love. In the beginning of romantic relationships, it's natural for you to be the sole focus of your partner's thoughts. You spend an incredible amount of time together or you're thinking of each other when you're not. After some time into your relationship, you'll notice that your partner doesn't support your independence any more. They'll want to spend crazy amounts of time with you. If you pursue outside interests and activities then your loyalties will be questioned.
You might hear variations of "Why do you prefer to hang with your friends over spending time with me?" "Why do you have to go back to the office tonight? Can’t you finish your work another time?" "You know I'm not comfortable in crowds, so make sure you stay by my side." When you attend events together, you'll notice that your partner won't leave your side or gets angry when you talk to someone else. The possessiveness, questioning and jealousy can shake your confidence in your partner and your relationship.
When you peel away your partner's obsessive layers, you'll uncover an insecure person who determines their self-worth from your relationship, your attention and your exclusivity. Many times your partner is trying to heal from past hurts and loss of previous relationships. They feel that if they can control you, then they heal from past loss. If you're not careful then you might find yourself wondering how you ended up isolated from your family and friends and controlled by your partner. Ultimately, knowing the signs of an obsessive partner can help you better navigate such a relationship.
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