Dating, starting a partnership, and meeting someone you are attracted to is a fantastic feeling. it is a feeling driven by your neurotransmitters to rev up your hormones.  it’s euphoric and as a result, you obsess, analyze each interaction, imagine what life is like once things work out, and it makes you happy! now, there is nothing inherently wrong with this feeling and process. your hormones are overpowering. excitement is good for your spirit, but there is a boundary that you have to erect so that you aren’t leaving healthy infatuation to be with romantic obsession.
The lines between a healthy infatuation and an unhealthy obsession is a blurry one, especially when you are still battling childhood trauma, self-worth issues, and an unhealthy attachment style. your fear and your pain are deeply entangled in how you go about romantic relationships. you hold tight because you've been left before when you were a child. you fear to be alone because you've seen how divorce or separation destroyed your parents’ sense of self. these things insert themselves in your conception of romantic relationships and instead of healing that part, you expect your partnerships to heal it for you.
you feel the fuzzy feelings, but understand that love and romantic relationships are choices. you choose to be with someone, instead of being uncontrollably led by some force that needs to be reassured at all times.
you feel the fuzzy feelings but can distinguish between reality and projection. though you enjoy your partner's company, you do not make excuses for your partner's behavior. what he shows you, you take for face value. when he does not show up, you take that as disinterested. when he decreases his communication with you, you take that as disinterest. you aren’t creating stories to feed the feelings you are feeling. you are seeing the reality of the situation and acting accordingly.
healthy infatuation requires you to keep your boundaries. though you are excited and are creating space for this new partnership, dating experience, or “talking” stage, you will have to keep your day-to-day routine because that is what is essential for your health. you decided that this kept you alive and healthy when you were single, why on earth would this change once you get partnered?
keep dating until a commitment has been discussed. whatever feeling you are currently feeling can be felt with another person during the honeymoon stage. don’t get caught up in that feeling and isolate yourself so fast that you only have one focus.
romantic obsession is characterized as a relationship born out of fear. according to helene phillipsen, a life transformation specialist, it is “an obsessive, whirlwind romance is essentially a big distraction from personal pain.”
you distract yourself from personal pain by projecting your hopes, dreams, and needs onto this blank canvas. it is also characterized as an imbalance where “the person who is “in love” will have a very weak sense of self, which may manifest as neediness, clinginess, or a lack of opinion. they may agree with everything their partner says, even without knowing their partner very well.”
the obsession part of this is all about the payoff. you push, pretend, become who that person wants and needs you to be in hopes that you will be rewarded. this results in addiction or addiction-like symptoms where you will do anything to get the desired reward (attention, commitment, love, vulnerability, & marriage). so instead of seeing the reality of this person, you see and feel the excitement of possibly being rewarded and so you keep holding on.
Two things are driving your obsession, the need to heal someone else so that you will be deemed as irreplaceable or the need to be saved from your boring, dull, or painful life.
· when your focus is on being irreplaceable you tend to find broken men, who are emotionally unavailable or incapable of making a deep connection.
· when your focus is on being saved from your life, you find active men who have a life, but you misinterpret their actions as a threat to yourself.
· both will not fulfill you or your partner, but will only keep you in a cycle of addiction with a partner who does not feel like they have to reciprocate.
Are you filling in the blanks? he hasn’t opened up to you. he may have provided you some small stories. however, when he does something wrong you create a reason why using the little anecdotes he’s provided you.
the reality is every hetero man alive has been trained to date since they were 11 maybe earlier. they've trained men on how to perform, how to get attention from women, how to do the bare minimum to get what they need, and how to properly date. if you are creating stories as to why he isn't doing something essential to building a healthy relationship, then more than likely you are projecting and eventually you will obsess.
Do the small rewards he provides you sustain your obsession? for example, you never get a text back or he never calls, but he decides to call one week and you take that as a sign that he is finally giving in to your desires. another example, when you decide to leave or threaten to leave does he finally meet your requirements? if this is the case, you are the gambler and he is the slot machine. you give away your money in hopes of receiving something but statistically, you will not receive anything.
Be clear about your current emotional state. when my dad passed away, I was very unstable and clung onto anyone who would give me attention. so, I saw any attention as dedication or interest when it was not. sometimes, your emotional state creates more than what is there.
Value and enjoy your independence. why is your life boring up until you meet someone who looks cute and checks off your list? what can you do or should you do to make your life exciting so that a romantic relationship won't be the highlight of your life? are you lonely, how can you change that so that his life won't be your life?
Stop writing yourself in the story. he did not ask you for help nor state explicitly that he needs help, so why are you acting like his savior, therapist, or banker? he does not need you. he does not need your help in healing, that is what therapists, parents, coaches, and pastors are for. so stop lying to yourself and making yourself more important in his life then you are.
Define yourself. your feeling of powerlessness is created and dictated by you. you feel lowly because you have unstable self-worth and allowed someone else to define you. think about it, you've lived 24 years. you've been okay with yourself, and you meet one man who went out on four dates with you. are four dates and a couple of text the requirements to destroy your self-worth? is that all it takes for someone to take what you think about yourself and turn it upside down?
Are you playing in your damaged psychology? our childhoods dictate our trajectory, whether we acknowledge it or not. what dynamics have your parents shown that presents itself in romantic relationships? for example, I was raised by a charismatic dad who was unfaithful. as a result, I used to be obsessed with men who were charismatic but unavailable because it was what I was used to.
You have to see your reality. currently, you are obsessing about the picture that you’ve created. write down what you are actually seeing vs what you are projecting. one of the biggest signs that you are in love with a projection and not the truth is that you are making up stories for why he is doing something. for example, he does not communicate because his parents once condemned him when he was a child and he never recovered.
if you are concerned about compatibility and not filling the holes in your life, why on earth would you want to make a connection with someone who isn’t good at communicating? if he told you he isn’t great at communicating, does that make for a healthy relationship?
here is a prompt to help you see the reality of the object of your desire:
· does he respond to your messages days after you texted him?
· do you feel awful around him?
· do you get off on rescuing him?
o what about that makes for a healthy relationship?
· does he take you on dates or suggest them?
· does he attempt to meet you halfway?
· is he demonstrating his worth?
· is he asking you if you are available at times other than the night?
· can you call him at any time and he will answer or at least get back to you at a reasonable time?
· if you have been dating him for more than 2-3 months can you ask him to help you if you are in a bind?
those questions should help you see what he actually contributes to your life.
remember, you break your contract with yourself when you place hope in romantic relationships where you have to constantly lean in. when you lean in, what parts of yourself are letting go? when you give your all, what are you letting go? when you do everything to be someone else’s everything, what are parts are you removing of yourself? everything for him comes at an expense of you so train yourself to stop!