If you’re a regular reader, you might have noticed that I’ve taken a bit of a serious turn as of late to focus on the subject of romantic obsession: from how to know if she’s obsessed to how to know if you are.
Perhaps you’re wondering what gives? Well, the truth is, for the past number of months I’ve been striving to overcome a romantic obsession of my own. It’s been a challenging undertaking, and it’s also ushered in an intense period of life-altering growth that I don’t regret for a second.
I’m no expert on the topic of obsessions, but I have gained experience with the process of moving on that I would like to share with you.
Gather Your Supports
A path has been burned into your brain and learning to redirect it will take time and patience. When I started the process, it felt as though I was grabbing at a massive plant and pulling it out by its roots, dirt and all. Over the years, these roots had grown through every part of my mind, and I didn’t know who I’d be without them.
I sought the advice of a therapist and even attended some 12-step meetings for sex and love addiction. I spoke to long-time friends and told them of the path I was taking. At first I felt embarrassed, but I soon realized the benefits of talking things out and voicing my intentions to change.
Recognize the Pain It Causes
At first you might fear that pulling at that thread will unravel all the work you’ve put into hiding your true feelings. You might feel ashamed of how nonreciprocal the relationship has been and how long you’ve been willing to accept it. It will hurt, but in order to break free, you’ll need to be completely honest with yourself about the ways in which the obsession has affected your life.
Think of all the things you’ve sacrificed: self-esteem, other chances at love, opportunities for personal growth. Get angry if you need to, and grieve the death of your romantic fairy tale. Sitting with your pain will allow you to process it and eventually come out the other side.
Restrict Contact with the Object of Your Obsession
This could mean going cold turkey, or simply placing restrictions on how often you contact them. Depending on the severity of your obsession, you might choose to set tighter restrictions at first, then loosen them off as you feel you can. In a perfect world we could all completely remove ourselves from the objects of our obsession, but this isn’t always practical—maybe you work together, or run in the same group of friends.
The idea is to set restrictions that make sense to you and your situation, then to honor them over time. I use one of those sobriety apps to keep track of my progress and to gain motivation, but you might find that telling your friends and family is enough to keep you accountable.
Keep Committing to Reality
Over time you’ll find yourself falling back into old thought patterns. Obsessions are stubborn and sneaky; they’re like OCD but with opposable thumbs. In other words, they’re cunning and will try to outsmart your healing strategies at every turn.
I suggest that you learn to recognize when the obsessive arguments are taking hold, then counter them with a cold dose of reality. Try something like “she doesn’t want what I want, and she never will” or make a list of all the concrete evidence to that effect that you can look at when you’re really questioning your resolve.
With time and consistent effort, you will find yourself thinking less about your obsession and more about the happy future that awaits you. I promise you, it gets better.