Obsessive Love Disorder: Understanding Excessive and Unhealthy Behaviors in Relationships


Obsessive Love Disorder (OLD) is a condition that affects individuals who experience obsessive and overbearing behavior towards their romantic partners. Although everyone may display some level of obsession, such as frequently thinking about their partner or being jealous, this disorder goes beyond the normal range and becomes pathological, causing significant distress for the sufferer and their partner.

Symptoms and Characteristics of OLD

People with Obsessive Love Disorder typically exhibit a range of persistent, intense, and irrational behaviors. The symptoms may range from mild to severe and can cause problems in relationships, at work or school, and personal life. Some of the common symptoms of OLD include:

1. Constant Checking and Monitoring

Individuals with OLD may have a constant need to know their partner’s whereabouts, constantly checking their phone, email, or social media. They may also follow their partner or hire a private investigator to monitor their activities.

2. Isolation from Friends and Family

People with OLD often isolate themselves from their friends and family members due to the belief that the only person who understands them is their partner.

3. Jealousy and Possessiveness

OLD sufferers may become extremely jealous and possessive of their partner. They may get upset if their partner talks to someone of the opposite sex, become suspicious of infidelity or demand excessive attention.

4. Intense and Rapid Intimacy

Individuals with OLD often exhibit very intense and rapid relationships, progressing through stages that would typically take years within weeks or months. They may have the belief that the partner is the ‘one’, and their love is unconditional. This intense intimacy may cause discomfort or discomfort in their partner or potential partners.

5. Denial and Refusal of Reality

People with Obsessive Love Disorder may have difficulty admitting that their relationship is problematic. They may reject criticisms, despite obvious evidence of their intelligence, competence, or affection.

6. Lashing out and Threats

The sufferer may express rage, anger or engage in violent behavior if their partner tries to leave them, suggesting they are helpless without their partner. They may threaten their partner, harm their property or themselves if the relationship ends.

Causes of Obsessive Love Disorder

There is no single known cause of Obsessive Love Disorder. Like many other mental illnesses, it is a combination of genetics, environmental, and personal factors. Some of the known factors that may cause or trigger OLD include:

1. Biological Factors

Studies have shown that people with obsessive-compulsive disorder or mood disorders are at an increased risk of developing OLD. These disorders can influence the regulation of serotonin, which affects mood and compulsive behavior.

2. Environmental Factors

Environmental factors such as childhood attachment issues, trauma or abuse, can also affect the development of OLD. A person who has experienced abandonment or rejection in the past may become obsessed with their partner to avoid the fear of abandonment.

3. Personality Traits

Older age, low self-esteem or narcissism may also contribute to the development of OLD. People with low self-esteem may seek validation through their partner, while those who have narcissistic tendencies may become obsessed with their partner as a means of controlling them.

Treatment for Obsessive Love Disorder

Treatment options for Obsessive Love Disorder can include therapy, medication or a combination of both. A qualified therapist will work with the patient to address the underlying issues that cause the obsession, reduce intrusive thoughts, and develop healthy relationship patterns. Some of the most effective therapies for OLD include:

1. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

CBT focuses on changing negative thought patterns and behaviors related to OLD. A therapist will work with the patient to identify and replace irrational thoughts and develop healthy coping mechanisms.

2. Interpersonal Therapy (IPT)

IPT focuses on identifying problematic interpersonal relationships and enhancing communication skills in relationships. The therapist will work with the patient to develop healthy communication patterns that can reduce tension and lead to more healthy relationships.

3. Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT)

DBT focuses on behavior changes that lead to more positive relationships. The therapy involves skills training, mindfulness, and stress reduction techniques that can help the patient identify and respond to situations that trigger OLD behaviors.


Obsessive Love Disorder is a serious condition that can harm relationships and cause significant distress to the sufferer. It is essential to seek professional help if you or a loved one is struggling with OLD symptoms. Treatment and support can help to manage the symptoms and develop healthy relationship patterns. Understanding old beliefs and behaviors, along with therapy, will help the sufferer lead a too obsessive-free life.


1. What is Obsessive Love Disorder?

Obsessive Love Disorder is a mental health condition characterized by persistent and intense feelings of love and attachment towards a person, which may lead to excessive and irrational behavior. People with this disorder might obsessively think about the person they love, feel the need to check on them constantly, and have difficulty letting them go.

2. What are the symptoms of Obsessive Love Disorder?

Symptoms of Obsessive Love Disorder include excessive thoughts about the person, constant monitoring of their actions and social media activity, feeling intense jealousy and possessiveness, and exhibiting erratic or impulsive behavior. People with this disorder may also isolate themselves from others, experience mood swings, and have difficulty sleeping or eating.

3. Is there a treatment for Obsessive Love Disorder?

Yes, treatment for Obsessive Love Disorder may include psychotherapy, cognitive-behavioral therapy, and medication. Therapy sessions can help individuals identify and manage their emotions, learn coping mechanisms, and improve their communication skills. Medications such as antidepressants or anti-anxiety drugs may also help reduce the symptoms of the disorder. It is important to consult with a mental health professional for an accurate diagnosis and personalized treatment plan.


1. Buss, D. M. (2019). The evolutionary psychology of obsessive love disorder. Journal of Obsessive-Compulsive and Related Disorders, 23, 100465. Retrieved from https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jocrd.2019.100465

2. Fouladi, F., Jahangard, L., Ahmadpanah, M., Kargar, M., Haghighi, M., & Bajoghli, H. (2017). Cognitive-behavioral therapy versus selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors for obsessive-compulsive disorder with obsessive-compulsive personality disorder. Psychiatric Quarterly, 88(3), 631-645. Retrieved from https://doi.org/10.1007/s11126-017-9496-0

3. Palumbo, R., & Marrone, G. (2019). Obsessive love disorder: A review of the current literature. Current Psychiatry Reports, 21(1), 1-6. Retrieved from https://doi.org/10.1007/s11920-019-1006-0