Obsessive Love Disorder—Can You Be Obsessed With Love?

Yes, but treatment can help.

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Love is a familiar emotion for most people. We feel love for our pets, friends, and family. When feelings of love or what seems like love for a person are accompanied by a fixation or a desire to control another person, this could be obsessive love disorder. 

Obsessive love disorder is a condition that causes you to experience obsessive feelings you might mistake as love for another person. A person with obsessive love disorder will indulge in these feelings, regardless if they are reciprocated or not. 

Obsessive love disorder isn’t currently classified as a mental health condition under the
"The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders" (aka the DSM-5). This is because there has been some debate about whether obsessive love disorder can be considered a mental health condition.

While the DSM-5 doesn’t currently provide criteria for obsessive love disorder, it’s a real-life debilitating condition that could interfere with one’s daily functioning if left untreated. It could also cause them to have dysfunctional relationships with the people they are in love with.

In some extreme cases, it could also pose a threat to the object of a person’s fixation, especially when feelings are not reciprocated.

Some research shows that obsessive love disorder is more likely to occur in women than in men.

Signs of Obsessive Love Disorder 

Although it isn’t classified as a mental health condition, obsessive love disorder has specific defining characteristics that can help you identify the disorder.

The signs of obsessive love disorder vary from person to person, and the condition can look very different in two people who are living with it:

  • A constant need for validation from the person you are in love with
  • Obsessively keeping in contact with the subject of your affection 
  • Ignoring the personal boundaries of the subject of your affection 
  • Behaving in a controlling manner with the person you love 
  • Feeling extreme jealousy of other relationships the person you love might have with other people  
  • Feeling overly protective of the person you love 
  • Becoming so overwhelmed with emotions about a person that it disrupts your daily functioning 
  • Feelings of low self-esteem, especially when it seems like your love isn’t being reciprocated 
  • Refusal to engage in social activities that don’t involve the subject of your affection 
  • Feeling extremely possessive of the other person’s time, space, and attention 
  • Feeling a need to control the actions and behaviors of the person you supposedly love 
  • Experiencing anxiety over your relationship with this person

Identifying Obsessive Love Disorder 

There are no specific criteria for identifying obsessive love disorder. However, if you display symptoms of the condition, your doctor will first conduct a series of tests and interviews to rule out other mental health disorders.

In many cases, obsessive love disorder could be a symptom of a mental health condition.

However, in cases where it doesn’t coexist with another mental health condition, it can be tough to identify. While some researchers have been clamoring to get obsessive love disorder recognized as a mental health condition, others believe it simply doesn’t fit into the definition of a mental health disorder.

Causes of Obsessive Love Disorder

Since obsessive love disorder is not classified as a mental health condition, it is hard for it to have an identifiable cause. However, it has been linked to other mental health disorders such as post-traumatic stress disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and borderline personality disorder.

Obsessive love disorder has been identified more as a symptom or sign of the existence of a preexisting condition in people with these disorders. 

Attachment disorders have been most strongly linked to triggering obsessive love disorder. When a person cannot form healthy attachments with other people, this affects the quality of relationships they have and how they act with other people.

For some people with an attachment disorder, the condition might make them feel distant from potential or current partners. For others, an attachment disorder can cause them to become obsessive with people they form a connection with.

How Is Obsessive Love Disorder Treated?

If you have obsessive love disorder, doctors will focus on treating any preexisting conditions to help alleviate symptoms.

In instances where the condition can’t be linked to any other mental health condition, a doctor or medical professional will need to tailor a treatment plan specifically for you. This could involve medication, a form of psychotherapy, or a combination of both.

In psychotherapy, a therapist will first attempt to identify the underlying cause of your obsession. It could be because of a past traumatic relationship with family or a really bad breakup.

The therapist will help you identify your obsessive thoughts and behaviors and teach you techniques that will help you overcome them. 

How to Cope With Obsessive Love Disorder 

Coping with obsessive love disorder can be tricky. However, in many cases, if you notice that you are experiencing symptoms of obsessive love disorder, it could signify that you are living with a mental health condition. Please don’t be embarrassed to speak to a medical professional about it so that they can help you get the help you need. 

Don't Dismiss Your Feelings

If you’ve noticed that your affections towards another person are beginning to feel obsessive, don’t ignore these feelings hoping that they’ll go away. In most cases, they won’t and will only intensify the longer you ignore them.

Suppose you or someone you love is living with obsessive love disorder. In that case, they could benefit from group therapy, especially if the condition triggers can be linked to attachment issues they had with family or friends. 

If you are in the early stages of treatment, here are some things you can do to cope with the symptoms of the condition: 

  • With obsessive love disorder, the first and most important step is admitting that you have a problem and need help.
  • Communicate with the subject of your affection about what you are going through and create some distance until you have a firmer grasp of your emotions.
  • Spend quality time with other friends and family to remind yourself of what healthy love should look like.
  • Engage in productive distractions such as exercising frequently or picking up a new hobby like painting.
3 Sources
Verywell Mind uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Bogerts B. Delusional jealousy and obsessive love: Causes and forms. MMW Fortschritte der Medizin. 2005;147(6):26, 28-29.

  2. Vahidi A, Iran D, Maram G, Maryam M, Soroush S. Prevalence of obsessive love and its association with attachment styles. Procedia - Social and Behavioral Sciences. 2013;84:696-700.

  3. International Board of Credentialing and Continuing Education Standards. Obsessive Love. 2021

By Toketemu Ohwovoriole
Toketemu has been multimedia storyteller for the last four years. Her expertise focuses primarily on mental wellness and women’s health topics.