5 mins

How to stop obsessing over someone (and where this stems from)

It’s normal to get swept away in the early stages of dating. The excitement of meeting someone new. Butterflies in your stomach, a pounding heart and sweaty palms… The rush of hormones… It can feel intoxicating, almost like an obsession.

But for most people, this “obsessive” stage passes. Either the relationship moves forward into a more steady, grounded space or you both realise that it wasn’t meant to be and go your separate ways.

However, sometimes neither of these things happen. The relationship gets left in limbo. Maybe communication starts to drop off, they start taking longer to get back to you, or worse, you end up ghosted.

And so the obsession ramps up. Maybe you find yourself dissecting every last detail of each interaction. Or you start frantically calling around friends seeking their interpretations. You read your texts over and over again, wondering if you might have said or done something to cause this shift.

Being treated this way never feels good. And it’s normal to feel hurt and confused. 

But unfortunately, no matter how much we obsess over someone, it doesn’t change the situation. We can never know someone’s inner world – or their reasons for wanting to end a relationship – if they’re unwilling to share it with us. Playing things over and over again will never bring us the answers or closure we crave.

The only thing we do have power over is how we respond – both internally and externally. 

If you find yourself obsessing over someone who’s clearly demonstrated a lack of care, it may point to something deeper worth exploring.

Obsessing over someone – what does it mean?

Overthinking – and obsessive rumination – is a form of hypervigilance. In other words, it tends to be a coping mechanism, with its roots in childhood. 

This kind of hypervigilance can develop when we’ve grown up with a lot of unpredictability. 

Perhaps one of your parents was consumed by their work and rarely around. Or maybe they struggled with their own mental health difficulties (depression, addiction etc) which meant that their love and attention was inconsistent and hard to predict. Or perhaps you moved around a lot and went to multiple schools. Whatever the case, you learnt that your connections could be severed at any moment. By focusing on other people, and what they might be thinking or feeling, you managed to secure what little connection you could.

If you think about it, this was smart. It enabled you to survive in the chaos and confusion. But you don’t have to make these choices now. You aren’t reliant on anyone anymore. Now you’re an adult, you can choose to put your energy into people who demonstrate that they are reliable and consistent, and who don’t make you second-guess. You can change this pattern once and for all.

How to stop obsessing 

Build self-awareness – think back to your childhood. What were your connections with your parents and siblings like? Did you feel connected, safe and cared for? Or was there anything lacking? And what kinds of stories does your mind like to tell today? Can you notice any themes or patterns?

Refocus on yourself – instead of focusing all this energy on someone else, become self-obsessed instead! What nice things could you do for you? How could you be taking better care of yourself? What feeds your soul that you could be doing more of?

Remind yourself of your value – How someone treats you has everything to do about them, and nothing to do about you. No one’s behaviour can ever take away from your inherent value and worthiness. We are all worthy of love, regardless of where we are in our journey through love and life. Never forget that.

Surround yourself with the people who love and care about you – instead of giving your attention to someone who isn’t making you a priority, give it to those who do. Spend time with family and friends – the people who have your back and genuinely care about you. 

Practise radical acceptance – radical acceptance is the practice of wholeheartedly accepting a situation for what it is, even though we might not like it. Because rejecting reality doesn’t make things better – it only prolongs our suffering. Obsessive thinking can leave us stuck ruminating on the things we have no control over and can’t change. When we accept a situation, we give ourselves the opportunity to find a way forward.

As we’ve already explored, these types of patterns – and coping mechanisms – tend to be deep-rooted. For this reason, they usually require the support of a professional to overcome. Therapy will provide you with a safe space to unravel where this pattern stems from so that you can heal the wounds of your past and prevent them from interfering with your present.

Dr Elena Touroni

Dr Elena Touroni

16 June 2023

"Dr. Elena Touroni is a skilled and experienced Consultant Psychologist with a track record of delivering high-quality services for individuals with all common emotional difficulties and those with a diagnosis of personality disorder. She is experienced in service design and delivery, the management of multi-disciplinary teams, organisational consultancy, and development and delivery of both national and bespoke training to providers in the statutory and non-statutory sector."

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Athena Lazaridou

Athena is a Pilates instructor with 8 years’ experience in the field. After completing a Power Pilates Mat Certification in Athens, she went on to complete the Full Comprehensive Classical Pilates Certification with Equinox in Kensington.  She has been teaching Pilates at Equinox for the past 6 years in addition to her own private clients who she trains both face to face and virtually.

Athena has a passion for helping people get stronger and fitter as well as helping those recovering from injury regain their strength and mobility.  Over the years, she has worked with athletes to incorporate Pilates into their training and improve performance. Athena has also worked with prenatal and postnatal women who may be experiencing depression or other mental health difficulties and used Pilates to facilitate a positive impact on their mental health.

Athena is very passionate about improving physical and mental well-being and has recently incorporated Sound Healing into her work, as she believes it to be one of the best ways of ‘letting go’ and releasing stale energy whilst increasing greater self-awareness.