When you’re starting a new relationship, it’s easy to obsess 24/7 over everything your new person is thinking. Whether it’s a kind of/almost relationship with a not-boyfriend/girlfriend, a hookup that could become regular, or you’re convinced you’ve met the love of your life, you’ll probably devote the same amount of time to overanalyzing everything. Here’s how obsession manifests, why it happens, and how to step back and stop obsessing over someone you only just met.
How obsession manifests in relationships
- You can’t stop thinking about them no matter what you do. It’s natural to have a crush on your mind a lot when you really like them, but if it comes at the detriment of everything else in your life — for instance, keeping you from working, sleeping, or having other relationships — then it’s clearly time to learn how to stop obsessing over your special someone.
- You start to question your self-worth/whether you’re good enough for them. When we put someone on a pedestal, we automatically downgrade ourselves in comparison to them. This means that you’re likely to begin questioning your own self-worth and whether or not you’re on their level. You are, of course, but the rabid insecurity that often comes along with obsessing over someone can be hard to stop.
- You become extremely jealous of everyone in their life. You feel extremely possessive of someone when you’re obsessing over them, like you need to be the center of their world and no one else belongs there. This leads to an irrational hatred or suspicion of anyone they talk to who isn’t you and seething jealousy that you find hard to control. Needless to say, this is extremely unhealthy.
- You think it’s your responsibility to “protect” them. In your head, you justify your behavior as being “protective” when in reality, that’s completely unnecessary. Obsessing over someone leads you to think that it’s your place and your job to shield them from things in life that are tough or unpleasant, and that’s just not the case and needs to stop. They were fine before they met you and they’ll be fine when they inevitably dump you over this outlandish behavior.
- You constantly track what they’re doing online and in person. Whenever you pick up your phone (which is more often than ever before), you immediately log onto their socials to see what they’re posting, who they’re talking to, and what’s up. If you live nearby, you might even swing by their work or go somewhere you know they hang out without announcing yourself to “check in” on them. If you can’t stop obsessing over someone to this degree, it may be time to seek professional help.
Why you might find yourself obsessing over someone
- You struggle with being alone. If you find that you can’t stop obsessing over someone you’ve just started dating, it could be down to being uncomfortable with your own company. The idea of being in a relationship is so attractive because it means you’ll have a partner and won’t be on your own. Because of this, you cling to anything that comes your way as you see it as a way out of singlehood.
- You’ve been single for a long time. It’s also possible that while you enjoy being on your own, you also miss the rush of being desired by someone. When you meet someone who seems to really like you and with whom you connect on a deeper level, you naturally tend to let those familiar feelings take over your life because you haven’t had them for so long. We all get a little carried away when we like someone, but make sure this isn’t going too far.
- You want to understand them better. Some of us are just deeper thinkers, and it could be that you struggle to stop obsessing over someone new because you want to figure them out. You want to know what makes them tick, what they’re really like both as people and as potential partners, so you overanalyze every little thing they do and say thinking it’ll give you a clearer picture. This is totally unnecessary and likely counterproductive. If it’s meant to be, you’ll naturally get to know them over time. Take a deep breath and go with the flow.
- You suffer from mental health issues. Conditions including depression, generalized anxiety disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and post-traumatic stress disorder can all contribute to obsessing over someone. While this is unlikely to be the case for most people, if you have a history of serious mental health conditions, this could explain your obsessive tendencies.
How to stop obsessing over someone you just started seeing
- Do something that doesn’t involve your phone. This is perhaps one of the easiest but most important ways to stop obsessing over someone. If you’re in the midst of yet another Netflix marathon, it’s easier than ever to stare at your phone. Do some kind of activity that requires you to focus 100% on what you’re doing instead of staring at your phone mindlessly wondering when you’ll hear that message come through. If you devoted the brain power you spend obsessing to something creative or interesting or different, you could learn a new skill! Master a language! Seriously, you could accomplish something truly epic in the time you spend deconstructing a dude — so do it. Stop obsessing over someone you really don’t even know.
- Realize that *you* can always send a text. (Shocking, I know.) Let’s be real here. As much as you want them to be the first person to text because they’re thinking about you constantly and you’re the only thing on their mind ever, it’s not going to always happen that way. That doesn’t mean you should blow their phone up. Nor should you drunk text or accidentally like their Instagram from 36 weeks ago. It does, however, mean that you should feel free to shoot them a text. If you’re tired of waiting to hear from them and have something you’ve been wanting to say, do it.
- Start thinking about dating other people. If you’re getting the vibe that this person is getting ready to ghost, it’s time to move on. It can be hard if you dread dating and actually found someone you like for once. Still, one of the worst things you can do is cut yourself off completely just because a prospect looks your way. You don’t have to Tinder tirelessly. But, you should give other people a chance until you lock this down. You might not end up wifed up, after all.
- Don’t track them like an animal. Despite what the Maroon 5 song of the same name says, tracking someone’s every move is kind of weird. As much as you want to know what they’re up to, using Facebook/Foursquare/Instagram to find out isn’t healthy. It’s easy enough to casually show up at the bar they just checked into because you were “planning on going anyway.” They’ll realize soon enough that you’re more stalker than suitor.
- Stop expecting to hear from them at any moment (even if that one friend keeps telling you he’ll text). This is one of the worst things you can do. You turn your phone volume up, keep it in hand, and still expect them to reach out. Yes, even when it’s been a hot minute since you last heard from them. Don’t wear an outfit he’d like when you go out because you’re hoping for a booty call. Don’t wait for a mid-week investment text that people love to send on Wednesdays to guarantee you’ll be available that weekend. See step one and find a fun activity. Then block out the fact that your phone is silent. Well, only sorta, since you still have plenty of texts from your girls. You can’t stop obsessing over someone if you’re always anticipating their next move.
- If it’s 100 years later and/or after midnight, you don’t have to engage. If they ghost and then try to reconnect months later, think before acting. Only connect if you want to. Don’t do it because you’re being polite/liked them so much when you hung out six months ago. If they ghosted before, there’s probably a reason for it. Maybe they realized you weren’t it for them. Or, maybe they were starting to see someone else. Whatever it is, it’s not your duty to get tangled up again if you’re finally over it. When you’re trying to figure out how to stop obsessing over someone, keep this in mind.
- Think about how pointless obsessing has been before. Admit it. You’ve never willed a guy into texting you (even though that would be the best). If you’ve been a tad bit obsessive when you’ve dated before, it’s easy to remember how pointless it all was. Sure, that doesn’t mean you’ll immediately move on. However, it does make it easier to cope with the Halloweentown ghost you’re dealing with.
- Check in with yourself. As licensed psychologist Anita Gadhia-Smith, PsyD, LCSW-C, LICSW, explains, when you’re obsessing over someone, it’s hard to stop because it’s not really about them at all. “If we have unfinished business with people from the past, other people can show up later in our lives in order for us to finish that business or heal old wounds,” she explains. “When an old wound gets triggered, it can hijack our minds in order to get our attention. This means that it is time to do some work.” If you feel like this applies to you, don’t ignore it. It may be worthwhile to talk to a professional to work through your issues.
- Realize that if they’re not into you, they’re not worth it. As easy as it is to start wondering what you did wrong and if making a different move would’ve led to marriage, it’s not right or real. If they’re not texting you, they’re not thinking about you. This is hard to accept, admittedly. However, the sooner you do, the easier it is to understand something really important. If they don’t get how cool you are now, they never will. Sometimes the easiest way to stop obsessing over someone is by realizing that they’re not obsessing over you.