Obsessive Relationships

What Is An Obsessive Relationship?

Although not a specific psychiatric disorder, an obsessive relationship is basically a specific type of unequal relationship.

One person tends to think about the other a lot of the time, and let the other person dominate their life, directly or indirectly.

You don't hear of too many relationships where both people are 'obsessed' and get along fine, as this is often called "love"!?!

How Do You Know If You Are In An Obsessive Relationship?

This is quite a tricky one to answer as most relationships have aspects of them that are unequal. However, in obsessive relationships, it is typically quite obvious to at least one of the people involved, that the relationship is not equal. One person, perhaps tends to like or love the other person more than the other person does.

The Obsessed Person

The obsessed person's thoughts are dominated by the other person. They tend to think of themselves as "totally in love", or "infactuated" with the other person.

They tend to arrange their lives around the other person, and act in ways that can have bad effects on both themselves and the other person. They may spend more money than they can afford on the other person, or allow themselves to be treated in ways which mean that they tend to lose their self-respect. You may hear the phrases:

Closely followed by:

Obsessed people are generally terrified that they will lose the person that they are 'in love with'. It is that fear that means they will do almost anything to not put the relationship at risk. This generally means backing down when both people disagree, or tolerating behaviour from the other person that they would not tolerate from anybody else.

Sometimes people can become 'obsessed' with someone whom they are not in a relationship with. This may be someone they know well, or vaguely, or even not at all, especially in the case of media personalities.

Many people in their teens develop 'crushes' or 'fancy' movie stars or pop musicians. This is perfectly normal. However, we have all heard of celebrity stalkers, people who develop obsessions with a particular star. These people often have complex psychological problems which may arise from forms of psychosis or personality disorder.

A History Of Obssessive Relationships?

Some people have a history of relationships whereby they are treated badly, or treat the other person badly. It seems to happen to them again and again.

If you see this pattern in your relationships then their is more than a chance that there is a problem in you. You are very unlikely to have just been unlucky.

In these circumstances the phrase "sado-masochistic relationship" is more appropriate.

Sado-Masochistic Relationships

Relationships are a two-way process, and there are circumstances when it suits both people to have a relationship in which one person dominates.

A Sado-Masochistic relationship isn't when people engage in kinky sex with whips etc (although this may be the case), but what the people 'get out' of the relationship is, either inflicting pain (the 'sadist'), or receiving pain (the 'masochist'). This 'pain' is usually mental, but can develop into actual physical pain as in domestic violence.

There are a few theories around about why people get themselves into sado-masochistic relationships, but most of the better ones (it seems to us) come from the psychodynamic school of thought.

Very basically explained, they suggest that the person has developed a 'need' to be hurt, or to hurt, which stems from a person's childhood. This can be as far back as when the person was a baby, and not just that they were brought up by bad parents, or were abused.

People with severe sado-masochistic tendencies are often categorised under the label of having a personality disorder.

What Help Is Available?

Unfortunately there is not a pill that you can take that will sort your relationships out, and although finding out information (like from this site) is useful, there is no substitute for dealing with relationships by interacting with people, as in therapy.

Recognising that there is a problem is the first step to being able to change your own behaviour. However, although you often hear that this is the biggest step to take, we disagree. There are a lot of people who know they have a problem but cannot or will not change.

The biggest step, we think, is to actively seek help for your problem. We are told nowadays that loads of people see a therapist and that it is perfectly normal, however, the vast majority of people have never seen a therapist before, and are scared of doing so. They may think that the therapist is going to read their mind, or brainwash them. This fear may be partly based on their own problem, because problems are usually attached to pain somewhere along the line, and facing up to pain is a very scary thought. Also, despite the politically correct times that we live in some people still consider you "mad" or "loony" if you see a therapist.

Counselling, and relationship counselling can be very helpful for obsessive relationships, although sometimes, in more severe cases, psychodynamic or group therapy may be necessary.

We are creating a SimplePsych factsheet on Relationships which goes into more detail while still using easy to understand English. If you would be interested at this service being offered to you please let us know by emailing us Click Here

Thank you.


If you are interested in going into even more depth, the following book(s), sold by Amazon.co.uk, are recommended by us. Each is followed by a rating for ease of reading (1-3).

1=Simple and Easy to comprehend.
2=More Complex but still a good read.
3=Very Complex, only for professionals/those studying to degree level.

Victim Of Love? : How You Can Break The Cycle Of Bad Relationships (Whiteman, Petersen & Whiteman)

RATING SCORE = 1  One of the better self-help books.

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