Can’t stop thinking about someone you’ve never actually met? Obsessed with that one person you passed by but never actually spoke to? Matched with someone on Tinder and find yourself fantasizing about them all the time? Got a celebrity crush that just won’t pass?
If you find yourself obsessing over someone you’ve never met (also known as obsessive love disorder), this article is for you. Obsession over anyone, whether you’ve met them or not, is an unhealthy behavior that can have a damaging impact on our mental health, so learning how to curb your obsession is a crucial practice to keep yourself mentally and emotionally healthy. Learn how to stop obsessing over someone you’ve never met today.
Why am I obsessed?
There are several reasons why you might find yourself obsessed with someone, even if you’ve never met them. Much of this type of obsession stems from a projection onto that person of how we want to be and/or how we imagine our ideal partner, friend or best friend.
If your crush is a celebrity, you might fantasize about being with this person romantically because you like the way they look, you like the characters they portray in movies, or you like how they sing and what they sing about. In this, you’re resonating with the messages and ideas this person portrays, and you attach them to the person, then you want to bring that person closer.
If you’ve become obsessed with a match on a dating app like Tinder or Bumble, the same principle applies. You’ve seen pictures of this person, you know their likes and dislikes, you’ve seen their cute dog, and you know how they feel about long walks on the beach. You may have had some nice friendly conversation with them and started to develop some feelings – you get the sense that this new person in your life could become quite significant.
Still, if you’ve never actually met the person, you don’t know what they’re like. Sure, many people meet romantic partners on dating apps, but couples who’ve successfully joined together this way managed to pass the ‘meeting in real life’ test. Before this physical interaction, it’s close to impossible to know what someone is really like. It’s easy on dating apps or online dating to craft a charming, funny, and interesting profile and to upload pictures that make you look adventurous. An online dating profile is not an accurate representation of a person, and neither is a conversation through text.
Obsession and mental health
Obsession and Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD)
In some cases, obsession over a person themed with feelings of romantic attachment and affection can manifest as a symptom of a mental health condition.
For example, one symptom of Borderline Personality Disorder, a common personality disorder, is having a ‘favorite person‘ – someone who the person places on a high pedestal and views as flawless. This is often a romantic partner but can even be a crush. The danger of this symptom is that, in reality, nobody is flawless. Sooner or later, the person with BPD realizes the flaws in the other person and feels deeply disappointed, even betrayed.
Obsession and Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
Obsession over a person can also indicate an obsessive-compulsive disorder. With OCD, one feels compelled to take a specific action in response to a given emotion. The stereotypical image of OCD is the constant washing of one’s hands. One might have a distressing or unprofitable thought about germs and illness and feel compelled to sanitize themselves.
Regarding obsession over a person, the person with OCD might feel the need to constantly reach out to or stalk the person as a means of coping with deeper feelings of worry, fear, and discomfort. They may even believe that something awful has happened to the object of their obsession if they haven’t checked up on them.
Signs that you’re obsessed with someone
You’re probably at least a little obsessed with someone if:
- You’re constantly thinking about them
- You follow their word, opinions, and perspectives almost religiously
- You believe they are flawless (nobody is flawless!)
- You think about them every night before you go to sleep
- You secretly arrange to be in the same place as the person
- You feel jealous when you see them of the opposite sex (e.g., in social media pictures)
- You constantly look at their social media accounts or pictures of them elsewhere online
- Your obsessive thoughts about the person take your focus away from other aspects of your life
- You feel guilty when you don’t message them
- You feel rejected or abandoned when they don’t message you
Why should I stop being obsessed?
If you’ve constantly been talking about someone, you’ve never met, thinking about them, and letting your obsession with them affect other areas of your life. Then your friends, family members, and loved ones may have already noticed. Likely, they have already advised you to curb your obsession, to stop thinking about that person, and do something else with your time.
Naturally, you might feel defensive. You figure that your life is yours to live, and your mind and energy are yours to use how you please. You might overlook the fact that anyone who advises you to curb your obsession, especially if they’re a loved one, is likely doing so for your benefit.
Obsessions and fantasies about people we’ve never met, or may never meet, can have a detrimental effect on our life in the present. We risk losing sight of the people in our life who are here for us and love us.
We may even begin to develop low self-esteem because we’ve idealized that person at such great heights, and we begin to fear that we wouldn’t measure up if we did meet them. We might even jeopardize our future relationships because we’ve set unrealistic standards for ourselves and others by making the object of our obsession a life goal to achieve.
How to overcome obsessive love
Though it might not feel like it, it’s entirely possible to stop being obsessed with someone. Usually, it’s a matter of taking them down from the pedestal on which you’ve placed them and seeing them as a normal person – worthy of love and inherently valid, of course – but not so much that you need to lose sleep over them.
1. Be honest with yourself
If you’re obsessed with someone you’ve never met, you rationally understand that you don’t know that person. In your own life, you’ll have already learned that it takes time to get to know people and that surface judgments are not the truth. We can experience a major shift in our perception and judgment of a person within just a few minutes of talking to them. Remember that looks are deceiving.
So, if you’re obsessed, ask yourself some important, insightful questions to curb your obsession.
What does that person mean to me?
- What is about this person that interests you?
- If you’ve spoken to them online, how did their conversation make you feel?
- Did you feel like they listened to you the way nobody else does?
- Do they represent friendship, validation, acknowledgment?
What would I mean if I got to be with that person? How would that make me feel?
- Would being with this person make you happy?
- Have you idealized them to be your perfect partner or friend?
- What’s the perceived difference between knowing them in real life and never meeting them?
Do I like this person for who they are, or for the personality that I’m projecting onto them?
It takes time, effort, and patience to get to know someone. Even in friendships and romantic relationships, things can be revealed after six months or even a year or more that were previously unknown and may change one person’s view of the other.
If you’re feeling head over heels and obsessed over someone you’ve only met online, there are many things about this person that you don’t know about. Sure, you know their surface-level interests, their job, and maybe a little about their family, but you don’t know what they’re like when it comes to making decisions, how they treat the waiter at a restaurant, or what they’re like when they feel angry or upset.
Do they remind me of anyone else?
Sometimes obsession with someone we’d never met happens because we have met them (kind of). It may be that the person whom you can’t stop thinking about, fantasizing, and dreaming about, represents someone from real life, from your past, who you never got to be with, or who you were involved with but lost.
2. Shift your focus
If you tend to obsess over people, then it’s likely that your free time will be filled with thoughts about them. It’s important to remember that you are in charge of where and how you spend your energy. You can keep your focus on the object of your obsession, think about them all day, imagine being with them, and stalk their socials if you want to. You can also use your energy elsewhere, on something that helps you grow and develop as a person, such as a new hobby, learning about a new topic, or socializing with the people around you.
‘Where focus goes, energy flows.’– Tony Robbins
You might have a harder time shifting your focus away from the object of your obsession if your experience stems from OCD and a deep fear that something bad might happen if you were to stop thinking or obsessing over the person. In this case, it’s wise to speak to a mental health professional who can guide you and help you develop healthy coping skills to curb your obsession and deal with the discomfort and in a healthier, more constructive way.
3. Practice mindfulness
You may already understand that your obsession isn’t doing any good for your mental and emotional well-being, but you still find it hard to stop. It’s wise to refrain from pushing yourself to stop, criticizing and berating yourself for your obsession, and denying or avoiding your feelings. Doing so rarely can cause further damage to your health and happiness.
Instead, try to practice mindfulness by accepting your thoughts and feelings. This doesn’t mean letting them run loose and taking over your life – it means allowing yourself to feel what you feel with judgment, denial, and harsh self-criticism.
Mindfulness is a meditative practice in which you become a witness to your experience. You develop an awareness of the fact that you are not your thoughts and feelings but rather the person experiencing them. In mindfulness practice, you focus your attention on your breath, on your physical sensation, and your experience in the here and now. Obsessive thoughts, fantasies, and idealization may come up, but you practice healthy detachment from them.
4. Seek support
Reach out to a close friend or trusted family member and share your concerns with them. Everyone has a crush from time to time, but there’s a difference between a normal crush and an outright obsession.
Let your trusted loved one know that you feel obsessed over this person and that you don’t know what to do about it. They might have some helpful and effective tips and advice and may even have been in a similar situation once themselves.
If your obsession is causing you significant concern and you feel like your health is deteriorating, don’t hesitate to reach out to a mental health professional for support. A licensed therapist or counselor can help you identify and address the roots of your obsession and help you make positive changes to curb it.
Suppose you’re struggling with OCD or BPD. In that case, they can direct you toward appropriate interventions such as therapy, anti-anxiety medication, and other, more holistic approaches to help you deal with your issues.
5. Block their socials
If you follow the object of your obsession on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or any other social site, overcoming your obsession will be challenging. It’s easy to whip out your phone and check up on them whenever you feel like it. You might find yourself checking their page for updates, scrolling through their photos, and always on the verge of messaging them.
Help yourself move on from this person by removing yourself from their social media pages. Block them if you need to. Sure, you have the power to unblock them if you need to check what they’re doing, but seeing that they’re blocked may serve as a simple yet effective reminder that you blocked for a very good reason.
6. Remember past obsessions
If this isn’t the first time you felt so obsessed over someone you don’t know, remember what happened all the other times. How much worry, pain, and stress did your obsession cause you? How long did you spend with that obsession? How much time did you lose, the time you could have spent doing other, more productive, and life-affirming things?
Remind yourself of the negative consequences of obsession and let that be motivation to break the cycle and make a positive change this time. Do you want the next stage of your life to go the same way as your past, or would you like to be a pioneer of your future?
7. Write a letter (but don’t send it)
Sit yourself down with a pen and paper, or open up a new email draft. Write a letter or email to the person with whom you’re obsessed, but don’t send it. In your letter, explain to this person how you’ve become obsessed with them.
Explain how much this obsession is taking up your time and energy. Explain that they mean a lot to you, but this fantasy relationship is bad for your health and that it’s time to end things. Tell them that you’re ‘breaking up’ with them and it’s time for you to move on and find a healthy relationship. Even thank them for being a part of your life and giving you the nice warm feelings that thoughts about them brought along.
It might sound simple and even silly, but writing a letter like this is a great way to put your thoughts and feelings onto the page and to simulate a real breakup with the person. Again, you’re not supposed to send it (don’t put their email address in the recipient line, just in case!), but simply getting it all out will help you achieve some closure.
Feeling obsessed with someone you’ve never met and may never meet can be incredibly frustrating. Whether your obsession stems from a mental health issue like OCD or BPD or is a product of fantasy thinking and projection, it’s essential to curb it as soon as possible and begin the healing process. Obsessive love might seem harmless, but any obsession is unhealthy and takes up time and space in our lives that could be used elsewhere, such as with those close to us or on our hobbies and passions.