In the days and weeks after a breakup, it is normal to grieve the lost relationship. You might go through phases of crushing sadness interspersed with times when you feel relatively normal. In most cases, intense feelings gradually subside and life goes on. For some people, however, the normal grief process gives way to a cycle of obsession that prevents healing. Here follow a few signs that you might be obsessed with your ex-boyfriend.
Anxiety and Fear
According to relationship coach Yangki Christine Akiteng, who runs the Toronto Love Doctor website, people who are obsessed feel paralyzing anxiety and fear at the thought of living without a loved one. You might be unable to picture a future without him or worry that you can’t manage your daily life on your own.
Akiteng also notes that utter desperation is a common sign of obsession. You might feel that you would do or say anything, or tolerate any behaviors, if your ex would simply take you back. You might stalk your ex, either literally or figuratively, searching for signs that he still cares or evidence of any new relationships in his life.
In the article "Obsession" for "Psychology Today," Dr. Alex Lickerman notes that relationship obsession has a great deal in common with other forms of addiction. You might spend hours or days reliving the happy moments of your relationship, making you feel fulfilled and intoxicated. When the reality of your current situation sets in, however, it invariably bursts your bubble, leading to feelings of worthlessness, depression and loneliness. Living in this unbalanced state is tough. Over time it could cause other dimensions of your life to collapse, furthering your anxiety and depression.
Inability to Function
While people going through the grieving process are generally able to function, at least after the first days or weeks, obsession can lead to an almost total shutdown of normal daily living. You might find yourself consumed with thoughts about your ex, wallowing in sadness or mired in anger. Your grades might slip, you might lose interest in extracurricular activities or you might get in trouble at work. In extreme cases, you might have trouble performing even the simplest tasks, such as showering or eating.
Managing the Obsession
According to Dr. Lickerman, the goal is not to get rid of your obsession, but merely to learn to manage it. Rather than trying to force yourself not to feel what you feel, focus on distracting yourself periodically. Try getting involved in a movie, chatting with a friend about something other than your breakup or going out to dinner with your parents. Focusing on a task can also help by giving you a sense of accomplishment. Write a chapter of your novel, finish your laundry or do your math homework. You will feel more in control of your life and better able to push away your obsessive thoughts for a short time. Other suggestions include finding an activity to ground yourself, such as yoga or karate, and paying attention to your larger purpose in the world. Anything that helps you get outside your own head can help you learn to work through your obsession.
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