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Can't Stop Obsessing Over Someone? Here's How To Get Over Them, From Experts

Sarah Regan
September 15, 2023
Sarah Regan
mbg Spirituality & Relationships Editor
By Sarah Regan
mbg Spirituality & Relationships Editor
Sarah Regan is a Spirituality & Relationships Editor, and a registered yoga instructor. She received her bachelor's in broadcasting and mass communication from SUNY Oswego, and lives in Buffalo, New York.
woman looking out window thinking
Image by Matt and Tish / Stocksy
September 15, 2023

From unrequited crushes to situationships to exes, we've all obsessed over someone at one point or another. But while the reality of obsession is somewhat universal, that doesn't make it fun—or easy to stop.

Healthy love is not obsession, and while you're investing all that energy in the object of your interests, you could be redirecting your energy back to yourself to put to better use. Here's how to do that in 11 steps, according to relationship experts.

How to stop obsessing over someone


Know you are worthy of love

According to therapist and relationship expert Ken Page, LMFT, obsessions often arise from a place of low self-esteem and/or a person's "myth of lost love." In other words, we tell ourselves stories that we're unlovable and will never find a person who truly values and cherishes us.

Our task, then, is to look for those areas where we doubt ourselves, he says. "What is the area where we believe we are unlovable? What are the things we're telling ourselves are the reasons this person doesn't love us the way that we want them to?" he suggests asking yourself.

From there, find ways to love those parts of yourself for yourself, and know that while we can't win everyone's hearts, we were never meant to.


Notice what you have to give up for this person

As Page tells mindbodygreen, another common thing that can happen when we're in the midst of obsession is self-sacrifice, or otherwise giving things up to try to make the relationship work.

"Most of us need to retrain ourselves to be able to recognize [this for what it is], which is the path to pain," he explains, adding to take note of the parts of yourself that you have to give up in order to attract the person you're obsessing over.

"We give up authentic parts of ourselves that we feel someone won't accept because we think we'll lose our chance—but when we start to remember and value those parts of ourselves we had to give up, we can reclaim them," Page says.


Lean on your support system

There's nothing quite like words of wisdom from a friend when you're obsessing over someone. As Page explains, logic and reason become clouded by our obsessions, so much so that we aren't seeing the object of our interests clearly and are likely just putting them on a pedestal.

But our friends, however, aren't clouded by that obsession. "They're the ones who can remind us what this person did to us that was not good, not right, not fair. We need our friends to remind us of this," he says.


Reconnect with your passions

If you've been obsessing over someone, odds are your passions have taken the back burner and been replaced by your preoccupation with this person.

So, Page recommends, "Think about things you dream of that are important to you, that you want to achieve or accomplish, and work toward those things," adding that the hallmark of romantic obsession is losing yourself. "The reclaiming of that is so much a part of how we heal from attractions of deprivation or romantic obsessions," he adds.


Get clear on what this person represents to you

When you're obsessing over someone, according to sex and relationship therapist Stephen Snyder, M.D., sometimes it can help to ask yourself, What exactly does this person mean to me? "Commonly," he previously told mindbodygreen, "it's security or status or feeling accepted or loved or understood."

Then you want to ask yourself, Did my actual experience with this person really deliver the meanings it was supposed to? "For most of us, in most relationships, the answer will be, 'Well, yes and no,'" Snyder adds.

Again, thinking about the idea of putting someone on a pedestal, or thinking that they can magically fulfill all your needs, is ultimately fruitless. No one person is going to solve all your problems, heal all your wounds, or make you feel complete, and the sooner you can accept that, the less obsessive you'll become as a result.


Go no-contact

This one might go without saying, but if you're thinking about someone nonstop, there's a chance you might be cyberstalking them a bit. Make it easier on yourself and just pull the plug. Unfollow them, unfriend them, delete your text conversations, and of course, follow the no-contact rule.

Resist the urge to reach out, even if you know you might be able to meet up with this person for a coffee date or a late-night hookup. The longer you can go without speaking (or even seeing their face on Instagram), the less they'll occupy your mind.


Avoid things that remind you of them

Similar to going no-contact, it's a good idea to steer clear of anything that reminds you of this person in general, whether that's souvenirs from your relationship or their favorite local bar.

As Page previously told mindbodygreen, people in Alcoholics Anonymous are told to watch out for people, places, and things that make them want to drink, and we can apply that rule of thumb to obsessions over people, too. "If you're trying to let go of someone, you need to watch out for the people, places, and things that trigger your craving for that person," Page explains.


Write out your feelings

Journaling is an incredible tool for reflection and learning from what you're going through. Consider using Snyder's aforementioned questions about what this person represents to you to help you get started or reflect on any of the previous points from this list that resonate with you, such as listing your passions or your lovable traits.


Take an inventory of their less desirable qualities

No one is perfect, even the people we obsess over—and reminding ourselves of that allows us to take this person off the pedestal we've put them on. It sounds simple, but listing any and every negative quality about this person that you can feasibly think of could actually help put things in perspective.

That's not to say the object of your obsession is a bad person or unlovable, by any means, but this exercise serves more as a reality check for you to make sure you're seeing them clearly. And if you don't know them well enough to know their less desirable qualities, I promise, you don't know them well enough to truly love them.


Work with a professional

If you're finding it particularly difficult to stop obsessing over this person or you know you've had a pattern of obsessive crushes in the past, it can be helpful to work with a mental health professional to unpack where these obsessions are coming from.

As we've touched on already, romantic obsession often stems from low self-esteem, feeling unlovable, or an "attraction of deprivation," as Page calls it, in which we become obsessed with receiving breadcrumbs from the object of our interest.

The question, then, is why do we do it? Mental health professionals can help you get to the bottom of your "why," and further, give you the tools you need to bolster your own sense of self so you don't go looking for it in other people.


Accept nothing less than safe & authentic connection

Last but not least, Page describes an interesting phenomenon that can happen when you've previously been wired for obsessive crushes; You're moving on, you enter a better relationship and start falling in love, and suddenly, you find yourself missing romantic obsession.

"This is actually normal, because you're striking a vein, and the last time you felt these feelings was with this person who wasn't good for you and you were obsessing over," Page explains. "This is temporary, so don't get worried if that happens—but don't go running after that previous obsession to try to pursue them," he adds.

Contrary to what limerence and dopamine might tell you, wholehearted love that's built to last is not obsessive and certainly doesn't leave you feeling unlovable—so don't accept anything less.

Why do we obsess over people?

Don't get down on yourself if you have a habit of obsessing over crushes—Page notes that we're all susceptible to it.

"When we're obsessed with somebody, they become the source of our worth and our lovability, so it becomes hugely important to us," he explains, adding, "They've got something, whether it's beauty, or intelligence, or confidence, that we feel we don't have, so we need to get their approval, their love, and their interest."

And usually, Page tells mindbodygreen, we wind up here because of our unique "myths of lost love," which are the myths we carry from our earliest years, when we didn't receive love the way we felt we needed to from parents, caregivers, or the world.

In the people we obsess over, we are seeking a way to prove our worth, to find that "lost love" we think we don't have or never got, but it ultimately leaves us wanting, because self-worth can only be given to ourselves by ourselves.

And if it's any consolation, you can, in a sense, be "addicted," or at the very least dependent, on a person. In one small 2010 study, subjects who had just gone through a breakup but were still in love showed just how true that is: When they saw photos of their ex, the brain's reward system released dopamine, the neurotransmitter that plays a big role in the early stages of love and addiction.

All that to say, obsession is real, but so is recovering from it.


How do I stop obsessively thinking about someone?

Get clear on what this person represents to you, and remind yourself of their less desirable qualities to take them off the pedestal. Focus on yourself and your interests, lean on friends, and work with a professional.

Why can't I stop obsessing over someone?

We obsess over people because we are seeking something in them, whether it's a quality we think they possess or the love or wholeness we think they'll provide for us.

What are signs of being obsessed with someone?

Signs of being obsessed with someone include nonstop thinking about them, making excuses for them, neglecting your own wants and needs for theirs, stalking (in person or online), delusion and fantasies about this person, and extreme possessiveness.

The takeaway

Obsessing over someone is all fun and games until you wake up and realize you've lost yourself, neglected your own needs, and placed far too many hopes and expectations on one single person.

So focus on yourself, connect with friends and family, remember your worth, and trust that you are whole just as you are. When we do these things, we open ourselves up to attract the right person who won't require you to lose yourself in the process.

Sarah Regan author page.
Sarah Regan
mbg Spirituality & Relationships Editor

Sarah Regan is a Spirituality & Relationships Editor, a registered yoga instructor, and an avid astrologer and tarot reader. She received her bachelor's in broadcasting and mass communication from State University of New York at Oswego, and lives in Buffalo, New York.