The Surprising Truth About Obsession - And Why You Can’t Stop Thinking About Someone
Updated August 12, 2020
Medically Reviewed By: Lauren Guilbeault
If you've recently broken up with an intimate partner or have an interest in someone who doesn't even seem to know you're alive, you may be wondering how to stop thinking about someone. In this article, we talk about what can happen if you find yourself constantly thinking about someone - and you can't seem to stop.
When A Healthy Crush Becomes An Obsession
There's a fine line between normal healthy behavior and obsession when it comes to thinking about someone constantly. It's normal to think about your romantic partner when you're involved in a serious or dating relationship. It's also normal to have thoughts and memories of romantic partners and important people in your life long after the relationship has ended.
What's not normal is when you start to obsess, ruminate, and the object of your affection becomes the object of your obsession. If you find that you can't stop thinking about someone long enough to check-in to your own daily life and thoughts of someone else is taking over your life, this can quickly become a problem.
Obsessing about another person can develop into more detrimental behaviors like stalking, domestic violence, and other mental health-related concerns. To get to the bottom of the question, "why do I keep thinking about someone, you have to ask yourself (and answer) the hard questions to pull out of the downward spiral of obsession.
The Truth About Obsession
When you're obsessed with someone, this is normally because you think or feel that they have something that you need and that their presence will somehow improve the circumstances of your life. This is rarely the case. If you're unable to find happiness and contentment within yourself - first, then you'll have an even harder time trying to find it.
The key to learning how to stop thinking about someone - is to learn to start thinking about yourself. What areas of your life feel chaotic or like they are in disarray? Ask yourself if you healed those issues, would thoughts of the object of your affection be as dominant? Or is constantly obsessing about this person pointing to a larger issue.
What's Behind The Obsession?
When you can't stop thinking about someone, this is a sign that more serious issues are likely bubbling beneath the surface. Having to ask yourself, "why can't I stop thinking about someone" is a clear indicator that you need to check in with not only yourself but possibly a mental health professional to help you get to the bottom of the issue.
If you're thinking about someone who you've recently broken up with or have an emotional attachment to, healthy adults understand that this is a normal part of the healing and grieving process, however, when your every waking thought is consumed with the comings and goings of another person, this is a serious issue.
What is it that is causing you to obsess over thoughts of this person - especially in cases where similar interests or feelings are not returned. Are you obsessing over this person because you feel that they're your soulmate, "complete" you, or is there another reason?
Healthy adults respect the natural ebb and flow of relationships and understand that people and circumstances change and that regardless of whether you're in that relationship, friendship, career, etc. that you've been obsessing about that the pain of grief and loss will subside with time.
Relationship Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder
Another reason that you may find yourself obsessing over your relationship - especially if you're still in it is that you're experiencing symptoms of obsessive-compulsive relationship disorder (ROCD) people who suffer from OCD struggle with feelings of worth for both themselves and their partner, and obsessively question the validity of their relationship.
Symptoms of ROCD are a constant questioning of yourself and your partner. Constantly asking questions like "Do you still love me?" and still not be assured by the answer when your partner confirms that they are - is a sign of relationship obsessive-compulsive disorder.
People with ROCD are obsessed with the concept of their relationships to where the obsession may even become debilitating. ROCD sufferers are concerned with two conflicting aspects of relationships that include the fear of being trapped in an undesirable or sub-par relationship, while simultaneously suffering from the fear of being alone.
These two conflicting beliefs often cancel each other out and leave ROCD sufferers in a tailspin as they work to resolve their conflicting emotions on their own. In most cases, working out obsessive and repetitive thoughts on their own is not the answer.
ROCD sufferers are normally treated with a combination of talk therapy and medication management based on the severity of their diagnosis and the recommendation of a licensed and board-certified mental health professional. For all guidance regarding medication, please consult a licensed medical professional.
Common treatments for ROCD include cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), exposure therapy with response prevention (ERP), and mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT).
Cognitive-behavior therapy helps ROCD sufferers to recognize negative behaviors that are contributing to their obsessive behavior and provides strategies for developing new coping skills and life skills to replace the negative behaviors.
Exposure therapy gradually introduces clients to the stimulating situation, person, or circumstance that triggers their obsession with the guidance of their therapist. The goal of ERP therapy is to gradually reduce the amount of anxiety or obsession a person feels about the originally offending circumstance.
How Counseling Can Help
Well-meaning friends and family members often have their own opinions about how we live our individual lives. While this is okay (to an extent) when it comes to getting to the bottom of deep-rooted issues, a licensed professional is the best way to go.
Mental health counselors act as an unbiased third-party that can point out damaging behaviors and thought patterns that may cause you to obsess over someone. It may surprise you to find that when you can't stop thinking about someone, the issues are behind the obsession are with you - not the other party.
Outward expressions of obsession often have to do with unhealed pain within. Most times, the pain experienced during the loss of a relationship or relationship disconnect can turn inward and express themselves in the form of a lack of self-worth, confusion, and obsession.
In the cases where culminating circumstances and feelings turn outward, conditions like obsessive-compulsive relationship disorder can quickly develop and cause issues in your life. Clients who attend regular counseling sessions learn new life coping skills and strategies and how to recognize negative behavior patterns and break negative cycles.
Where To Get Help
If you find that you're obsessing about someone for any of the reasons we've discussed so far, it's time to get help from a professional. A licensed therapist or other board-certified mental health providers can guide you along your journey and provide you with coping strategies and new life skills to help you deal with persistent issues with obsession.
Taking part in therapy sessions with an in-office provider or an online therapist are both viable options. Many people are choosing online therapy because of the convenience and cost that make it possible to attend therapy virtually anywhere. Today's online therapy sessions are conducted via desktops, laptops, tablets, and mobile devices that connect clients and therapists in a confidential environment.
Clients and therapists can communicate via a wide variety of virtual methods, including text chat, video messaging, audio chat, and SMS therapy. Leading relationship therapy providers ReGain.US provide relationship counseling services for couples at a fraction of the cost of in-office therapy.
The ReGain.US platform operates on a HIPAA and BAA compliant platform that staff licensed and board-certified therapists. The following are the licensed, experienced, and trained therapists that you'll find when you choose relationship therapy on the Regain platform.
- Psychologists (Psy. D/Ph.D.)
- Licensed Marriage and Family Therapists (LMFT)
- Licensed Professional Counselors (LPC/LPCC)
- Licensed Clinical Social Workers (LCSW)
All therapists on the Regain platform have a Master's or Doctoral degree along with a minimum of 2000 hands-on clinical service hours.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
What does it mean when you can't stop thinking about a person?
When you can't stop thinking about a person, it could mean several things. You might imagine spending time with them, because you don't know what that could be like, and you envision a beautiful connection that could be. Perhaps you want to get to know them more, and you've invested in the potential of a relationship. It could be that your intuition is telling you that you could be a good match for each other. Remember that there's a balance between being obsessed with someone and wanting to get to know them more. If you find yourself looking at their social media profiles a lot, or trying to determine more about them for hours of the day, that could be the sign that you're developing a fixation on them. That's not a good thing. If they've started dating someone else, it's important to let them be. There are nuances to every situation, but it's not good for your mental health to hyperfocus on one individual. If you notice yourself obsessing over a person, it's good to use distraction as a tool. Your mental health will thank you.
If you're thinking of someone, does that mean that they're thinking of you too?
If you intuitively feel a connection with someone, there may be something there. Have you ever thought about a person, and right after that, they call or text you? There's something to be said for intuition. It's not definitive that if you're thinking about a person, then they're thinking about you. However, it is possible! But thinking that way isn't necessarily helpful. If you want to get to know the object of your affection or a crush - you can start a conversation. By opening up a dialogue, you can explore what could be a great connection between you two. It's not good for your mental health to obsess over whether a person is thinking about you too. You will eventually find out the truth.
How do you know if a person misses you?
You'll know someone misses you if they reach out to you in any way, whether that's via text or over the phone. For example, a clear indication if a person is thinking of you is if they text you, "I miss you." A more covert way that someone could show that they miss you is liking, commenting, or interacting with your social media posts. It's a significant boost to your mental health when you notice that someone you care about misses you. Hearing from that person can increase dopamine in your brain, which is a love hormone. It feels good to have someone you are crushing on miss you because it means that they notice your absence.
Can you make a person talk to you?
Unfortunately, you can't make someone talk to you. It's frustrating when you want to hear from a certain someone, and they appear to be ghosting you. Nobody wants to be ignored. But remember that they could be busy and not hearing from them doesn't mean that they don't like you. Life can be hectic, and people have a lot to do. You may feel anxious to talk to that person, and perhaps you communicate differently than them. Maybe you're the type of person to reply quickly to texts or emails. They could be different. Not hearing from someone you like could affect your mental health. And that's understandable, but you can vent to friends about it. If you find that you are obsessing over your crush, it's time to take a break. Instead of texting your crush, send a message to a friend. That way, you can distract your brain for a while. If someone turns you down, remember that you can't change their mind and that you must respect their wishes. Pressuring someone will have the opposite outcome when it comes to getting what you want; it'll likely push them away more. All you can do is hope that the person will have good luck and happiness, and know that if it's meant to be, it'll happen.
How do you know if you're meant to be with someone?
Time will tell if you and your crush are meant to be together. The best thing you can do for your mental health is to work on yourself. The sense of self-understanding we all desire and benefit from can develop in therapy, either with a counselor online or in your local area. Obsessing over a person can be painful, but many therapists understand this behavior and can help. Wishing someone good luck and happiness moving forward doesn't mean that you can't be hurt; feeling your feelings is a part of the process, and a mental health provider can help you process whatever outcome this situation provides.
What do you do to stop thinking about someone?
As stated above, if you can't stop thinking about someone, it's important to focus on what you want for your life. What are your goals? Do you want to own a house one day? Is there a milestone you want to meet in your career? Do you want to go back to school one day? Is there a new skill you'd like to learn? Socializing is also a very important part of our emotional wellbeing, and it can be very helpful for someone in this situation. If you're feeling stuck, talking to a licensed mental health professional can help. It doesn't mean that you can't talk to your friends or family, too; a licensed counselor or therapist will simply have different tools and skills to give you to help you work through this time. Tests therapy and other tools can help you to determine if you have difficulties with obsession. After engaging with tests therapy and online content about obsession, you will be able to work through these concerns and will build coping skills over time. Therapy in particular can help you work through toxic thoughts and other potential setbacks. You will stop feeling the negative effects of love obsession over time.
How do you know if someone is thinking about you?
It's hard to know for sure that someone's thinking about you unless they reach out to you. Additionally, if you see that they viewed your social media pages, it's likely that they're thinking about you. That said, if you're trying to get over someone, it's important to focus on your world rather than theirs. Live your life and block this person out if you have to, whether that's by blocking them online or staying away in real life. You don't want them to hinder your healing, especially if you were together long term or if the other person involved was someone who hurt you deeply. Sometimes, people fail to connect the way that they want to, and while it hurts, know that things will be okay. In time, this will pass. It hurts now, but it won't stay that way for the rest of your life.
What does it mean when you can't get someone off your mind?
As stated above, there are various reasons that you might struggle to stop thinking about someone. If this is someone that you were in a relationship with, any of the following could be reasons could be why you can't get someone off of your mind:
- You still talk to them, or they're reaching out to you
- You continue looking at their social media post-breakup
- You're focusing on memories of them or memorabilia that includes them, such as old photos from when you started dating
- You're struggling with love obsession or Obsessive Love Disorder (OLD)
- You’re struggling with Relationship OCD (ROCD)
- The breakup is relatively new and you're working through the pain that comes with breaking it off
Only you will know what's the most applicable to you and your situation. Dig deep and think about what you want in life outside of this relationship. Breakups hurt, especially for those who spend their lives hoping to find love, and while you can't change what happened, you can move forward and learn from your experiences.
How do I get him off my mind?
The first thing you must do is to cut contact with him as much as possible. Don't look at his social media or text him. Get him out of your sight, and then, it's time to focus on building your life. Meet new people, even if they're just friends, to get your mind off of him. You don't need to get a new crush right away. Try a new hobby or engage in activities you've enjoyed for a long time. Make an active effort to have a good time with those around you; even if it doesn't solve things entirely, it'll give you a break and some time to stop feeling the pain of the fixation you have on this person. Whether you were together short term or long term, you might feel waves of sadness from time to time. When that happens, let yourself acknowledge that feeling and express it without talking to him or looking at his online profiles. It may not feel good, and it can be hard to hold back if you're used to texting him when these emotions arise, but refrain from letting that emotion drive you to reach out to him. When you miss someone and want them back in your life but know it's over, you might imagine yourself sending them a beautiful paragraph or message that gets them to engage with you, but be wary, and remember that this will likely only bring more pain. Instead, call a friend, allow yourself to cry it out, or use a distraction. After you let yourself sit with the pain or sadness, you might try a form of meditation such as a white light or ball of white light meditation. A ball of white light meditation is a meditation where you picture yourself with a ball of white light around you. The ball of white light around you is there to protect you and cleanse the space around you of what you don't need. In addition to the ball of white light meditation, there are many others you can try, such as a loving-kindness meditation. You can search for different meditation scripts online and can even find guided meditation videos or audio clips for free. While meditation is a soothing, effective, and cost-free activity, it's not for everyone. If meditation isn't your thing, going for a hike, lifting weights, art, journaling, using a punching bag or punching a pillow, socializing, playing a game, or using less daunting mindfulness activities might be. You might have to try a couple of new things before you find "your thing" or the action that helps you the most, and that's okay.
How do you let someone go emotionally?
If time passes and you still can't get someone off of your mind or let go of them emotionally, it'd likely benefit you to find a therapist who can help you move forward. While things hurt right now, you can get through this. To find a therapist, you can use an online directory such as the one on Psychology Today. Using the Psychology Today directory, you can find mental health professionals who work with a variety of concerns, including relationship issues. On the left side of the Psychologist Today therapist finder or directory, you'll see that you can select your insurance company if you're looking for someone who takes your insurance. Also on the left side of the Psychology Today therapist finder or directory, you can select the type of therapy you want (if you have a particular form of therapy in mind), your age group, and other specifics that you feel might enhance your care or make it more catered to you. To find the Psychology Today directory, you can search for "Psychology Today find a therapist," or "Psychology Today provider directory." Also on Psychology Today, you can find an abundance of articles and mental health information, including information about love, obsessive love disorder, and love obsession.
In addition to the Psychology Today directory, you can ask your doctor for a referral, ask your insurance company or check their website, or search the web to find a therapist. To find a therapist who specializes in a particular condition, it's often helpful to research providers on your own, whether that's via Psychology Today, another directory such as that on your insurance company website, if applicable, or a search engine. For example, if you want to find a therapist who works with eating disorders, you'd search for "therapists near me eating disorders." You may also include your insurance provider in your search to find a therapist if you want to use your insurance for therapy. Another way to find a therapist is to utilize an online therapy website such as ReGain. Online counseling websites like ReGain will help you to find a therapist that meets your needs quickly so that you can get the support you need without the hassle. Whether you find a provider using a directory like the one on Psychology Today, by searching the web, by asking your doctor, or through an online therapy website, you can find someone who will help you move forward and feel good again.
Now that you know the real truth behind what's going on when you can't stop thinking about someone, you can reach out for help from a licensed professional or counselor to learn coping skills and strategies for healing and recovering from obsessive-thoughts.
Couples that take part in therapy from relationship counseling services like ReGain.US learn new life skills, coping skills, and strategies that stop the flow of unhealthy thoughts. Counseling clients learn how to turn negative thoughts into positive outcomes and, as a result, improve the quality of their lives.
If you or someone that you know is having an issue with obsessive thoughts, reach out to a ReGain.US specialist to learn how to turn this situation around and stop obsession its tracks before it becomes a larger issue.
Ready to get started? Reach out to a ReGain.Us relationship expert to get started today!