There’s a predictable roadmap to normal relationships: for about the first six months you’re thrilled to see one another, the chemistry is sizzling, you’re fascinated with your partner and always thinking of them in a happy way. This progression is something you have to experience, it can’t be determined by a background check and a few sessions on facetime. While aspects of compatibility might show up “on paper” including education levels, hobbies, and other interests, there’s much to be learned about a person in the flesh.
Relationship Progression: Normal vs. Abnormal
Those who study people and relationships will tell you this initial stage can last for up to a year, then you should naturally slip into a comfortable routine as hormones subside and your body clocks are telling you to make a home together and start a family. However, issues can arise if one person is adamant about pursuing the relationship when the other is unsure. If one partner is trying to hold on too tightly to that infatuation it can turn into an obsession, and often dangerous desire to control the outcome of a relationship.
These can be signs of Obsessive Love Disorder, and it’s not a compliment, it’s an indication of poor mental health. Symptoms include:
- trying to speed the relationship up, such as talking about moving in together way too soon;
- jealousy about relationships that don’t include him;
- a tendency to be over-protective, such as needing to know where you are all of the time;
- frequent calls or texts for reassurance that can be disruptive;
- low self-esteem; and,
Red flags in a Relationship
When a relationship is not right, we should know it: the chemistry isn’t there, conversations never really flow, and your partner’s quirky little habits and personal preferences irritate rather than amuse you. These are the first red flags that perhaps you should bail out and move on rather than start “nesting” with this partner. But if your partner tries to control you, needs to dominate your time, and starts to deny you contact with your friends and family, something is seriously wrong.
- skipping fun evenings out with friends because you don’t want to explain or lie to your boyfriend or girlfriend that you need a social life beyond them;
- avoiding family functions and parties because your significant other probes family members for information about your past and your previous relationships;
- when friends tell you that you’ve changed and try to warn you that your relationship seems out of control;
- an edgy, anxious feeling that someone is watching you, that your partner is about to step out from behind the next cubicle at work or rack in a store;
- intuition that something is wrong but your partner keeps you off-balance so much that you can’t settle down and accept that things aren’t going well.
Possessiveness and a desire to hold onto the euphoria of the first few months of a relationship are normal when put into context, but if signs of obsessiveness enter the picture, you may want some help breaking away permanently. Obsessions can be dangerous and destructive – and signs of mental disorders.
Signs of Obsession in a Relationship
Signs of obsession are stronger than a simple obsessive love disorder. If any othese danger signs that an obsessive relationship is taking over your life, you may want to move, change your phone number, get a roommate, or seek a protective order (find out what the threshold is in your state) – especially if there’s any hint of threatening behavior or violence involved. These can include:
- demanding behavior, such as extreme jealousy and accusations that you’re seeing someone else or that you’re lying about texting your sister;
- showing up at odd times in intrusive ways, such as checking on you at work, sitting in your driveway when you get home, or “coincidentally” shopping in the same store;
- throwing you off-balance with manipulative conversations that make you defensive;
- not taking “no” for an answer or allowing you to have other plans;
- hacking your email, your social media accounts, including becoming “friends” with all of your friends, or checking your text message history when you leave your phone unguarded.