The Love Delusion: Imagining connection where there is none


Some people see connections everywhere. When does that become delusional love?

"Never allow someone to be your priority
while allowing yourself to be their option." —unknown

Some people see connections everywhere. They perceive feelings and relatively insignificant interactions and events in the world to be signs of significant meaning—signs that something is “meant to be.” In some cases, this kind of thinking can translate into a delusional love.

Delusions are generally misunderstood. When we think of delusions, we usually think of what are known as “bizarre” delusions, such as those that coincide with psychotic disorders. “Aliens are stealing my thoughts.” That’s bizarre.

But without those severe psychotic symptoms, delusions can be more benign and non-bizarre. What the person believes could actually be real. His wife actually could be cheating on him. That person actually could be in love with her. German psychiatrist, Emil Kraepelin, tells us that people with this less severe and fairly uncommon type of delusional disorder tend to be coherent, sensible and reasonable. In other words, these people aren’t crazy. They aren’t talking to themselves or seeing things. They’re highly functioning just like you and me. And they believe whole-heartedly.

The delusional side of love

Some of us know people like this in our daily lives—women (or men) who are “in love” with someone who doesn’t seem to love them back in the same way. These aren’t purely fantasized relationships. These are relationships that may have started, but never really got off the ground. There was probably some dating and “hanging out.” Most definitely, there was probably sex. Usually, there was never any talk about actual commitment beyond an ambiguous conversation. But at some point, she feels connected to him on a higher level she might describe as “meant to be.” And he is not on the same page.

So she starts to spin. The messages she receives from him don’t fit with what she is feeling—what she knows to be true. She can list the evidence—all the signs that prove that she is right. She interprets his words, his tone of voice and body language, the way he looks at her, all in ways that give credence to her belief that the relationship was meant to be. She construes coincidences or otherwise irrelevant events in the world in ways that add to that belief.

She might initially shower him with empathy and understanding for his inability to see what she sees. That empathy gradually fades to frustration and often results in angry outbursts. She is up all night writing long emails expressing every feeling, every thought, crafting every plausible explanation that might trigger his understanding to match hers. She leaves him messages. Texts. She finds ways to influence him through other means… his friends and family. Social media. Sometimes, women go so far as to drive by his home, his work, or “run into him” accidently (on purpose)— en route to stalker-like behavior. As time goes on, she continues to have little success. She vacillates between the role of thoughtful and patient spiritual superior (“he’s going through a lot and isn’t ready yet, but I’ll be there to see him through it) and breaking down into the rejected lover.

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This article was originally published at Bobbi Jankovich. Reprinted with permission from the author.


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