Love and obsession at their surface might seem to share a lot of similarities. However, they are at their core very different things.
Love is positive and healthy, whereas obsession is negative and toxic.
When a relationship first starts out, however, infatuation can blur those lines.
In fact, infatuation and obsession are quite similar. That’s usually a good thing, though.
Who hasn’t, when they’re first dating someone, been a little bit obsessed? You can’t get them out of your head, you pine to spend every waking moment with them.
In other words, you can’t get enough of them. It’s even more exciting when your boyfriend feels the same way, showering you with affection and attention.
However, things could change pretty quickly. His infatuation with you might quickly turn to obsession.
So what can you do? How can you know he’s obsessed? And what can you do about it?
This article will help you identify toxic behaviors that point to obsession. It will also teach you the best way to handle an obsessive boyfriend.
So, let’s get started.
The difference between obsession and love
For some guys, it’s not just infatuation. They have a distorted idea of love, romance, and relationships.
What does that mean?
It means that their infatuation will quickly become a fixation.
And while infatuation is dreamy, euphoric, and exciting, his fixation on you won’t be.
Fixation will never feel good, even if it starts out disarmingly dreamy.
With that in mind, here are some big signs he’s obsessed with you — that he’s actually toxic.
Signs he’s obsessed
1) He’s really clingy
Has it started to feel like he needs to be around you all the time?
Or does he always insist on going with you to places, even inviting himself?
If he’s showing signs of being extremely clingy, it could point to his obsession.
Now, some people are just naturally a little bit clingy, and there’s usually nothing wrong with that. They need a little extra attention and reassurance to be happy: a healthy balance can be found in the relationship.
However, if his clinginess infringes on your personal space, it could be worse than normal. It could be that he’s obsessed with you and toxic.
A boyfriend who’s extremely clingy will not be able to be left alone. He’ll be overly upset when your attention is not on them.
Beyond that, he’ll be demanding of your time, energy, attention, and companionship.
So keep an eye on his clingy behavior.
At first, it may just be a symptom of that “butterflies-head-over-heels” kind of love we all have at the beginning of a relationship. But if it intensifies into something that strains your relationship or seems unhealthy, it probably is.
2) From criticism to love-bombing (and back again)
Obsessive people tend to have their own version of reality.
In other words, it doesn’t matter who you really are, because they already have an idea of you, and what your role is in their life.
This kind of projecting leads to controlling and obsessive behaviors in relationships.
What would that look like?
Well, he will be easily upset when you don’t fit into his idea of what you’re “supposed to be,” and he might belittle you, call you out, or get very angry.
Then, like a switch, he’ll try to appease you with calming words, love-bombing, reassurance. He might even buy you excessive gifts, take you to nice dinners, offer to pay your expenses.
It’s because he doesn’t want you to leave him: he showers you with love and affection to make sure you stay.
It’s manipulation, and it’s a big sign that he might just be obsessed with you.
Here are some more things that manipulative people do, and how you can handle it.
3) Constant stream of texts and calls
Keeping in touch with your significant other is an important aspect of healthy communication.
However, that’s no excuse for pestering, constant contact, frequent check-ins, and obsessive behavior on his part.
If your boyfriend is constantly texting you to see what you’re doing, where you are when you’ll be back, and so on, it’s likely he’s showing obsessive behaviors.
Furthermore, if he freaks out when you don’t respond to his texts or calls, then it’s a big sign that he’s being obsessive.
It shows that he doesn’t trust you and feels a need to control you.
These traits will lead to an unhealthy, unhappy, and even damaging relationship. Trust issues can be a huge obstacle in any relationship.
Make sure to keep a sharp eye out for this kind of obsessive behavior.
4) Fixation on the moment “when you leave” him
For someone who’s obsessive, there’s a lot of fear that you’ll leave him. How does that work?
Well, obsessive behavior can stem from abandonment issues, and so there’s constant worry around the idea of you leaving him.
Hence why he’s obsessed with you and with keeping you around.
He might be very persuasive in keeping you in the relationship. Don’t be surprised to find that he holds the idea of you leaving him against you.
He’ll use it as a guilt tactic. He’ll talk about it like it’s already happened.
In other words, he wants to guilt you into staying with him, to make you feel bad for even thinking about leaving him.
It’s a form of emotional abuse, and an obsessive boyfriend might try to use it against you.
Here are some pointers to help you break up with your significant other.
5) He gives you no privacy
Every person deserves the right to their own privacy. (Google, Facebook, Amazon, and other greedy corporations don’t agree, but…)
When your boyfriend is constantly invading your personal space and refusing to give you privacy, it’s because he’s obsessive. He can’t stand the thought of you having your own autonomy.
What does that mean?
It means that you aren’t allowed to be your own person when he’s not around. He has to control who you are, what you’re doing, and what’s going on at all times.
In other words, if he’s not around, he can’t keep tabs on what you’re doing. And when he doesn’t know what you’re doing, he’s not in control anymore.
For an obsessive person, that’s unacceptable.
Don’t be surprised if you find him violating your privacy in more ways than one.
6) He hounds your social media platforms
Most everyone is guilty of some innocent internet stalking.
Whether we’re curious about an ex, interested in getting “the dirt” on an old rival, or creeping on people we knew in school, there’s little harm in curiously checking up on someone’s social media.
However, this isn’t the kind of internet stalking that proves to be dangerous.
When your boyfriend is hounding every aspect of your online social life, it’s a big red flag.
For example, how quickly does he view your stories, open your Snapchats, and like your photos? If it’s pretty much immediately, no matter the time of day, what he’s doing, or what you’re doing, it points to obsession.
It also proves that he really doesn’t have anything better to do.
And here’s the thing: it’s always a bit of a worry if you get the impression that your significant other doesn’t really have much of a life outside of your relationship.
At the least, it signifies someone who’s insecure and clingy. Paired with these other signs, it could mean that he’s worryingly obsessed with you.
Here are some ways to handle a clingy boyfriend.
7) He’s counting on you to be his soulmate
Some people fall in love faster than others, plain and simple.
For me personally, it doesn’t take very long. I tend to get pretty smitten pretty fast.
On the other hand, it might take some people several months to fall in love and start to feel secure in a relationship.
So where do obsessive people fit into that timeline?
Well, more often than not, they’re the ones who tend to fall in love very quickly. It might make you a little bit uncomfortable, almost like he’s rushing things.
Maybe he says I love you too quickly, talks about a long-term future with you, brings up things like moving in together, or starts calling you his soulmate.
Here’s the thing: the faster he gets you to commit, the faster he can use that commitment against you.
Remember, since he’s obsessed, he has a strong reason to keep you around. And that’s easier when “you owe him”.
The bottom line is this: He’ll count on you to be his soulmate, so he can use it to pressure you into staying with him.
There really is no doubt that a really obsessive boyfriend is a danger to your mental health and well-being.
8) He checks your phone without permission or asks for your passwords
This ties into an obsessive boyfriend’s tendency to invade your privacy.
Maybe you’re an inherently trusting person, and you have no problem letting him see your phone, or even know some of your passwords.
That in itself isn’t an unhealthy thing to do.
However, it’s a very polarizing subject — most people value their privacy too much to let them access something so personal as their phone.
Whatever your stance, it’s valid.
But, it’s different when it comes to an obsessive boyfriend.
When he checks your phone and reads your messages without your permission, it’s not only an invasion of privacy, it’s also a breach of trust. He’s proving himself untrustworthy by his actions, and he clearly doesn’t trust you.
There are so many reasons why trust is so important in a relationship.
Furthermore, there’s not really a practical reason why he would need your phone passcode or social media login info.
If he’s asking and insistent, he wants that info so he can keep tabs on you.
It’s a really big red flag. He’s likely obsessive and can’t stand the idea of not knowing exactly what you’re up to, who you’re talking to, and where you are–at any given moment.
9) He’s manipulative
Obsessive boyfriends and manipulative behavior go together hand-in-glove.
Many of these points are not only signs of obsession, but signs of manipulation, too.
In other words, be on the lookout for any kind of manipulative behavior.
What are some things to look out for? It could be anything from guilt-tripping, giving you the silent treatment, various forms of entrapment, withholding sex, belittlement, and so on.
There are, unfortunately, countless ways that obsessive boyfriends could try to manipulate you.
Use introspection to help identify your feelings about the relationship. What makes you uncomfortable about his actions? Do you really feel safe in the relationship?
10) He’s possessive of your time
With an obsessive boyfriend, he’s going to want to spend every waking minute with you. The idea of being apart is really unbearable for him.
Of course, at first, that might seem flattering and romantic, but the reality is that a healthy relationship involves independence.
For example, he’s always complaining about how little time you’re spending with him compared to other people.
Or, he’s always bringing up how late you are and expecting you home at exact times. If you’re not, there are consequences — whether that’s an argument, a breakdown, or a guilt-trip.
These are all things an obsessive boyfriend will be doing.
11) You’re always to blame
The blame-game doesn’t really get anyone anywhere in life.
While it’s so easy to get caught up in assigning blame, the fact is that it really doesn’t accomplish anything. Frankly, it doesn’t matter — not really.
Your obsessive boyfriend won’t think so. In fact, he will somehow always find a way to make things your fault.
No matter what the situation is, you’re always to blame.
It’s just how obsessive people operate. They can’t be to blame. It’s also a big sign of narcissism.
12) A caustic reaction to other men
An obsessive boyfriend is likely to be threatened by anything that could take you away from him.
In his mind, he owns you. Therefore, he deserves your time, attention, and respect.
And think about it: one of the biggest threats he faces is other men.
And, of course, due to things like his insecurity, he’ll feel extraordinarily threatened by any and all of them.
So, whether it’s your childhood friend, he’s queer, he’s an ex, or he’s a stranger, his reaction will be caustic.
In other words, he won’t react well to any kind of interaction you have with any kind of man.
13) He’s threatening
This is a more overt sign of an obsessive boyfriend.
It might seem extreme, but it’s not uncommon for obsessive men to suddenly become far more sinister. Sometimes it’s a deliberate process where you don’t even realize it.
If he threatens to leave you, threatens to withhold things from you (like sex or food or money), he’s exhibiting obsessive behavior.
If he threatens to hurt you in any way, it’s even more serious. He’s exhibiting abusive behavior, which is never acceptable — in any relationship.
14) You always “owe” him something
What starts out as very sweet, kind acts — buying you dinner, gifts, etc — will suddenly become contractual.
What do I mean by that? In a way, he’s saying “I bought you a nice gift, so therefore you owe me this.”
Whatever “this” ends up being.
It’s not kind, giving, loving, or healthy, and it’s a really big sign that he’s being obsessive over you.
15) Evidence of real stalking
Has your boyfriend ever shown up at an event he wasn’t invited to?
Maybe you’ve gone to meet up with your girlfriends and he mysteriously shows up.
You didn’t tell him exactly where or when, but somehow he knew.
Things like this are a big sign that he’s extremely obsessive, to the point of being a legitimate stalker.
While you’re in a relationship with him, it might be harder to spot, but once you break up, you might find that he just can’t leave you alone. He has to follow you around.
That’s because he’s obsessed with you.
Obsessive love disorder
While each person is different, and each boyfriend might be displaying behaviors that are more manipulative, narcissistic, or abusive than purely obsessive, there’s a recognized condition that leads to obsessive behavior. It’s called Obsessive Love Disorder (OLD).
Here are a few of the symptoms:
- An overwhelming attraction to one person, regardless of how well you know them.
- An excessive need to “protect” said person.
- Obsessive thoughts about that one person.
- Extreme jealousy
- Low self-esteem
If you notice these things in your boyfriend, it’s time to do something.
The thing is, that can be very overwhelming, and maybe even scary.
Here’s what you can do about it
1) Seriously consider leaving him
In these types of relationships, the idea of leaving your boyfriend might seem scary, or out of the question. Why is that?
A lot of times it’s because of his manipulation. You might not want to leave him because you feel bad for him, or you’re afraid of how he’ll react.
Everyone should feel safe enough in a relationship to frankly and directly talk about the need for something to change, and the need to separate.
So, for the sake of your mental health and well-being, maybe even your safety, consider leaving him.
If you think you’re in a relationship with a narcissist, here’s some really good advice.
2) Talk to him about codependency and independence
His codependency with you isn’t healthy for either of you.
These unhealthy habits and behaviors directly affect you and your happiness.
If you feel safe doing so, consider talking to him about codependency. Does he know what it is? If so, does he think he shows any signs of it? A constructive conversation might be what he needs to grow as a person.
Talk to him about your need for independence, too. Tell him what you need to feel independent and happy. He might be willing to meet you on your terms.
If he reacts badly, however, take it as a big hint to break up with him.
3) The importance of outside friendships
Having friendships outside of a relationship is something that most obsessive people don’t have.
Encouraging your boyfriend to branch out and meet new people might help him to break his obsessive habits.
Make sure you’re also keeping a healthy social life outside of the relationship, too.
Here are some common signs of a toxic friendship.
4) Push his boundaries back
If he’s consistently invading your privacy and pushing your boundaries, don’t be afraid to push back.
Note, only do this if you feel safe doing so.
You could make plans without telling him, to gauge how he reacts.
Here’s the catch: Don’t just do it once and let him “convince” you not to do it again. Try to make it a habit. See if he changes his behavior, knowing he can’t control you like that anymore.
You could also change your phone passcode without telling him. Change your social media passwords while you’re at it, too. This is especially useful if you suspect he’s reading your messages behind your back.
If he brings it up, even casually, you’ll know that he’s been spying on you.
5) Don’t let him control you — or your happiness
Put yourself first.
Seriously, no matter how much you love someone, it’s never okay for them to control you, manipulate you, or abuse you in any form.
If your boyfriend is obsessive and controlling, it might be time to put your foot down.
Don’t let him control you. You’re in charge of yourself and your own happiness, and even if it’s hard, you deserve to give yourself what you need to be happy.
Your well-being comes before anything else. His problems are his own, and if that means breaking up with him — don’t be afraid to do it. It might just be the wake-up call he needs.
In the end, obsessive boyfriends are often toxic and dangerous. Do everything you can to keep yourself safe and happy, even if that means ending things.
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