During the first few months of every healthy romantic relationship, both involved parties will experience an elating and electrifying period of infatuation. This period may include a persistent desire to be near the other person; though over time, as the relationship matures and progresses, this intense preoccupation will dissipate into something far more stable and deeply fulfilling. As healthy love matures over time, it will begin to revolve more around commitment, friendship, and a solid sense of respect for the other individual – an awareness of their needs as well as personal needs, and a willingness to fulfill both. In healthy romantic relationships, both partners feel loved, appreciated, cared for, and respected. Individuality is maintained, and each partner pursues career objectives, friendships, and extracurricular activities outside of the relationship.
Love addiction comes in many different forms, and obsessive love disorder is a lesser-known branch – at least as far as mainstream media is concerned. This is, in part, because obsessive love has been romanticized in literature for centuries. As soon as other media outlets came into existence, the same became true – obsessive love has essentially become normalized due to the way it is depicted in numerous mainstream media outlets. Tales as classic and well-known as Romeo and Juliet center around obsessive love, and being obsessed with an object of affection is often held as something to aspire to – rather than as a serious disorder with potentially devastating emotional and psychological consequences.
The difference between healthy love and obsessive love is that in the latter, the initial feelings of romantic infatuation only continue to increase as the relationship progresses. Both obsessive love and delusional jealousy are signs of an underlying mental health disorder, and these particular symptoms are known to affect roughly 0.1% of American adults. When an individual suffers from delusional jealousy, he or she will frequently misinterpret minor and everyday experiences as serious threats to his or her romantic relationship. For example, an individual who is experiencing delusional jealousy may get disproportionately angry when his girlfriend hugs an old friend that she runs into at the supermarket, or may view email correspondences with a male coworker as positive proof of infidelity.
It has been found that alcoholic males are particularly vulnerable to developing symptoms of delusional jealousy. And while females are more likely to suffer from obsessive love disorder when it comes to romantic relationships, males are more likely to develop obsessive love towards strangers. Those who do develop obsessive love disorder typically have some genetic predisposition towards mental illness – specifically in the realm of delusional disorders. In many instances, individuals who suffer from symptoms of obsessive love disorder will be diagnosed with another underlying psychiatric disorder upon professional evaluation. Amongst the most common co-occurring disorders are schizophrenia, obsessive compulsive disorder, bipolar disorder, and personality disorders.
Signs of Obsessive Love
Those who are suffering from obsessive love disorder will typically exemplify most of the following emotional and behavioral symptoms:
- Obsessively talking about their love object
- A tendency to focus exclusively on the positive or negative attributes of their love object
- Repeatedly calling, texting, or otherwise communicating with (or attempting to communicate with) their love object
- Attempting to control the activities their object participates in, and the people with whom they communicate or spend time
- Trouble focusing on other areas of life – instead, focusing almost exclusively on their love object
- A tendency to have either extremely positive or extremely negative feelings towards a love object – a clear lack of balance
- Disproportionate feelings of joy and elation when a love object is contacted, or when time is being spent with the love object
As previously mentioned, alcoholic men tend to experience the highest rates of both obsessive love and delusional jealousy. Because of the co-occurring nature of these disorders, comprehensive inpatient treatment (with a focus on mental health and addiction) is often necessary. We at Next Chapter specialize in treating love addiction of all varieties, as well as numerous other mental health disorders – including substance dependency. For more information on our comprehensive program for men, please feel free to contact us today.