Can’t Stop Thinking About Him? – 4 Relationship Experts Reveal Incredibly Powerful + Effective Strategies
“A busy, vibrant, goal-oriented woman is so much more attractive than a woman who waits around for a man to validate her existence.”
~ Mandy Hale
Obsession or obsessive thinking about the person you are dating can be a sign that you are seeking to fulfill a developmentally-based unmet need through your relationship.
All of us experience some form of developmental wounding. We come from families in which parents, in some form or another, do not mirror our needs fully. While often unintentional and unconscious, it does not take away from the reality that it shapes our beliefs about who we are and about what we can and cannot bring to relationships.
For example, if as a child you were not allowed to express certain feelings such as anger, you might play nice or express anger indirectly in your adult relationships in order to belong and be loved. You may be operating from a root-level belief that your anger is unwanted, unloveable, or not welcome.
In another example, you might have experienced a situation in which a parent was intermittently emotionally available or even rejecting, creating a need for attention, acceptance, and belonging that plays out in your relational dynamic.
You may enter relationships feeling a sense of safety and completeness that you do not feel when you are on your own, thus activating fear that if you lose the person, you will lose your sense of completeness and safety as well. In more intense cases of developmental wounding, our parent’s inability to receive us exactly as we are can be traumatic to a vulnerable child’s developing relational models.
Developmental wounding creates splits in the psyche, or spaces within us that yearn to be healed.
Because of how we are conditioned to think and feel about love, we go through our lives attempting to heal these spaces with something outside of ourselves, often another person, because we have come to believe our own love is simply not enough.
And, because our thinking minds and feelings bodies are wired and shaped based on past experiences, we can fall into repetitive relational patterns that can be hard to break out of.
Healing happens within YOU, whether or not you are in a romantic relationship.
It is only through getting to know yourself that you can begin the process of transformation. Below are are four ways to become conscious about the feelings and needs that are driving your obsessive thinking.
1. Get quiet with yourself.
Take a walk in nature or meditate. Notice the obsessive thoughts. Create a space between you and the thought, in which you can observe the thought either with compassion or without judgment. Notice what the content of the thoughts are, as well as when and where they arise.
Ask yourself if there is something you want, or if you have an agenda. Do you want to be loved? Seen? Accepted? To belong? Get to learn what the triggers to these thoughts are as well.
2. Really follow the feelings in your body when you are thinking about the person you are dating.
Notice if there’s are subtle needs or deep longings inside you. Perhaps you can even locate them at a certain place in your body. Do you feel an ache in your heart? Fear in your diaphragm? Again, in the inner quiet, ask this part of you what it needs and wants from you.
3. Whatever you locate and connect with, learn to hold this part of yourself lovingly.
What this means is that instead of shaming or disowning the need, you learn to care for it by first developing a loving relationship with it. This may take journaling, guided visualizations, or letter writing in order to get clear what is getting in the way of you loving the part that seeks external validation.
4. Finally, It is always good to explore our stories about love.
From before the time we are able to read, most of us are fed fairytale stories or false ideas of love. Those images and beliefs are powerful and can seep into our adult relationship expectations and desires in an unconscious way. Using journaling or letter writing to the self, you can get clear about what these stories are and how they are getting in the ways of experiencing true partnership.
Ingrid V. Rodriguez, PhD – www.embodiedquest.com
Obsessing over men is behavior encouraged by social media — sports figures, musicians, movie stars, even politicians.
Obsessing from a distance can give us something to do when we would rather not be doing something more important – like studying or cleaning or exercising. The object of our obsession doesn’t even know we exist, so our behavior only affect us, not them.
If we are paying attention, we recognize that this behavior feels similar to eating candy – a little bit is fun, but too much makes us not feel good.
But what happens when we obsess about someone we are in relationship with? Our out-of-balance behavior definitely affect us in a negative way, but it also affects the other person and often damages our relationships.
Obsession indicates stirred-up stress; it is a band-aid covering an underlying issue.
Anytime we “overdo” something, it is filling a space that is empty, a need that is not being met. Am I afraid of losing his affection? Am I fearful of what he is doing when he isn’t with me? Am I avoiding doing my own hard personal work?
To get to the underlying issues, consider asking yourself these questions:
1) How does it feel when I obsess about the person I’m in a relationship with? Where (in my body) do I feel it? What is my body telling me?
2) What empty space is my obsessive thinking filling?
3) When have I experienced this behavior at other times in my life?
4) What patterns do I recognize?
5) How do I want to fill my empty space?
Getting to the root of our own behavior provides us with liberating clues that can help us determine next steps… as you answer the above questions, sit quietly and listen to the answers that come “up” for you. Write them down, think about them. Then decide on next steps and notice how that feels.
Ricka Robb Kohnstamm, M.A. NBC-HWC – www.alignwholehealth.com
Relationship partners most often obsess over an intimate partner when a relationship is new and at any time when they feel there is a threat to an existing relationship.
When it is continuous and intense, obsession can be an enslaving, self-absorption that can fill people’s minds and hearts, immobilizing their ability to endure what feels like certain loss. People who worry excessively about the future of their relationship often feel literally consumed by their anxiety.
Not every intense concern, even if temporarily obsessive, is harmful to a relationship.
All intimate partners are likely to obsess at some time, or over specific situations. If and when those disruptions are resolved, they easily return to normal watchfulness. Sadly, though, there are some people who are innate worriers. Those people may constantly focus on what might have gone wrong in the past, or what could be an upset in the future.
They are typically anxious people who live more in the past and the future than they are able to stay in the present. They must maintain their hyper-vigilant “radar-blippers”, counting on the fact that their preoccupation with watchfulness will somehow keep bad things from happening.
Sometimes relationship obsessiveness is a legitimate reaction to the kind of partner who triggers it.
These kinds of partners can cause anxiety in anyone. They deliver double messages, aren’t traceable in their exploits, keep their phones turned off when they are with you, aren’t open about where they are when they’re not, and disappear from time to time without sufficient explanation.
Sure, they could just be private people who need separateness to be able to bear intimacy, or, too often, genuinely non-trustable in the things they say or promise. If the partner on the other end is also a basically anxious worrier, there is a high probability of a potential disaster.
On the other hand, there are relatively authentic, honest, and open partners, who are, unfortunately, in relationships with obsessive mates.
They can try to repeatedly reassure their partners, but will eventually wear down. Deeply insecure people may tell their partners that they are the “only ones” who have understood and can make them feel safe.
Sadly, over time, that is unlikely to happen. There can never be enough reassuring words or behaviors that can quell the depth of that level of fear.
Disillusionment most often comes from expecting something that is not likely to happen.
Many daters have started off trusting each of their new partners but, over time and experiencing too many losses, become untrusting, cynical, and pre-defeated. As a result, they are understandably afraid to ask crucial questions that might turn a new partner away.
Yet, relationships that are not challenged early on too often mask crucial information about past partnerships that could possibly signal what is likely to happen again. Because so many people fail to learn from past encounters, they are doomed to repeat patterns in each sequential relationship.
Nagging, constant questioning, pleas for reassurance, paranoia, skepticism, anxiety, and general pushiness too often accompany obsessive worries.
Those behaviors keep relationships immobilized in repetitious interactions that do not foster deeper trust or growing love. They become self-fulfilling prophecies, rendering the people who live those terrifying predictions helpless and hopeless.
It is crucial that people learn to separate out legitimate concerns from obsessive worry. If you have found yourself obsessing in your intimate relationships, begin by courageously examining the roots of your plaguing concerns about losing love.
Look to your childhood upbringing, traumas of loss in the past, whether or not you are realistic about what to expect in a partner, and what is keeping you from developing trust in another.
Ask yourself if you have been accurate in your past relationships when you have been suspicious of your partner’s behaviors, or if your concerns were not based on reality.
- Do you pick partners who are “out of reach,” because they are more intriguing to begin with, but ultimately hard to trust?
- Are you afraid of intimacy, and use your reactivity to suspected betrayal as a way of pushing your partner away?
- Are you an anxious person across the board and your intimate relationships are simply part of an overall pattern of constant worry about everything?
- Are you unconsciously trying to control your partner by continuously asking him or her to prove that you are important?
Whatever you can learn about your obsessive thoughts and behaviors will help you take the next step to quieting them down.
If you conclude that your anxiety is based on fears of loss, you will feel better if you do not make a practice of prioritizing your intimate relationships above all others. Focusing on only one relationship to fulfill all of your needs will not give you the fallback comfort of knowing that there are other people who care for you in times of self-doubt or actual loss.
If you suffer from innate anxiety, know that emotional reactivity is very responsive to mindfulness techniques, and to professional help. Many of my patients who learn to quell anxious responses automatically are more confident and comfortable in their intimate relationships.
Obsessive thinking can actually be more painful to the person experiencing it that to the partner on the other end.
Calm and non-reactive people who deeply love an anxious person can often weather that person’s distress without feeling the need to fix it, or responsible for having caused it. It still wears on a relationship because it takes away from the joys that cannot co-exist with it. It is crucial to the success potential of any relationship, that it is recognized and healed.
Here are some of the other articles I’ve written on Psychology Today Internet Blogs that might further help:
The 10 Rules of Love
20 Questions That Can Bring You Closer Together
Should you Rush into a Relationship?
The Myth of Romantic Expectations
Is This True Love?
Ten Important Questions You Should Ask a Potential Partner
Emotional Reactivity – The Bane of Intimate Communication
What Keeps Me From Changing?
Are You Controlled by Love?
Nagging or Avoiding Won’t Help you Find Love Again
When Should I have Told You? – Negative Surprises that Hurt Relationships
My book, “Relationship Saboteurs,” in the chapter titled, “Fear of Intimacy.”
Dr. Randi Gunther – www.randigunther.com
New relationships are so intoxicating that you’d have to made of stone to refrain from obsessing about him.
It’s fun to let the imagination run wild, and as long as you can remind yourself occasionally that you are obsessed with a fantasy, I say go for it!
In the beginning it is a fantasy.
You simply don’t know enough to rationally evaluate the relationship potential. You are basically running on hormones. Hormones are a good predictor of mating, but a bad predictor of relationship success.
Your thinking brain has to be engaged for that one. So let your emotions take you on that passionate early lust experience; just don’t make any promises or commitments to him or to yourself.
Obsessing beyond lets say the first 6 months could be a red flag.
Ask yourself if obsessing is the extent of the relationship. Have you not gotten enough buy-in from him to take the relationship to the next level?
By this time you should know him well enough to determine if there is real relationship potential. If you don’t know, you may be having this relationship alone in your own head.
Sit down with yourself and review your criteria for a serious relationship.
Ask yourself if he can meet most of those criteria. Be brutally honest about this. “No but…” is a red flag. Admit to yourself that while there is great chemistry, there isn’t enough more than that to proceed with any reasonable chance of creating a committed relationship.
If he’s not the one, move on. You will be able to look back fondly over those sexy good times you had, and avoid the pain and regret that comes when you ignore your head and let yourself go with wrong guy.
Sally LeBoy, MFT – www.sallyleboymft.com
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