We live in the times of liquid love, the one that sociologist Zygmunt Bauman talked about at the beginning of this millennium, even before Tinder was invented and everyone lived in fear of being made. ghosting (in millennial language, that after a date or a period of courtship, the other person disappears without a trace, not even digital). It’s a time when the sweetheart is no longer something comfortable and safe, and that’s why it’s normal for us to have more doubts about our relationships than before. Is this the best I can hope for? Are we really still in love? These are the questions that every couple may ask in times of crisis, but there are people who live permanently defoliating the daisy, with a continuous anxiety to know whether their partner loves them or not loves them.
These situations are known as OLD (Obsessive Love Disorder). According to the psychologist Fernando Villadangos, is a particular type of obsessive-compulsive disorder in which “people become obsessed and suffer excessively when they enter into a relationship. They feel trapped in the insecurity and constant doubt about whether that person will be the right one, they compare it with previous relationships and they spin their heads doubting continuously. A fully-fledged “neither with nor without you”.
Doubt is normal, but there’s a limit.
“The usual doubts when you begin to know a person are normal,” Villadangos explains, and insists that the disease must be distinguished from the moments of insecurity that we all have. For her part, the psychologist Yolanda Caves adds that it is true that currently “today’s society doesn’t make it easy” as far as relationships are concerned, and that this has led to greater insecurity. “There are people who are not themselves, who protect themselves for fear of being harmed or conditioned by past experiences. Also people eager to ‘tie’ the possible couple or reading the primer before almost starting the relationship not to lose a second.
This context, very different from the one our parents experienced, makes it easier to fall into certain moments of anguish and insecurity, and it is important to distinguish when it is a passing doubt or something more pathological. As Fernando Villadangos points out, “the Obsessive Love Disorder is a disorder and, as such, is something excessive that consumes a lot of energy. The person who has it realizes that it’s not normal, but it’s very difficult to control it.
The expert adds that it is something that “happens to a person, but affects the couple directly. There are people who test each other to make sure they’re not lying. He’s being researched and spied on social networks. to check his life and what he says, looking for contradictions that confirm that he is not the right person”. In other words, beyond having moments of doubt, they also carry out this type of compulsive action related to their obsession.
Where’s the border with normality?
At what point can we go from feeling more or less justified anguish to ruminating obsessive thoughts out of control? Yolanda Cuevas explains that there are certain profiles of people who may be more likely to cross this line. “The most common causes of OLD from loves are traumatic experiences or major periods of stress. maintained during childhood and youth”.
Among the possible origins of the disorder, the expert points out examples such as “having suffered affective deficiencies on the part of parents, fear of abandonment, an oppressive, rigid, dictatorial environment and, as an adult, a lack of internal structure. This creates a dependent profile full of doubts, without the ability to make decisions, people who follow the criteria of parents of the environment, living through others. His life is a constant doubt.
Fernando Villadangos adds that other cases simply respond to the distrust of the other or of love in itself, after an important sentimental failure. “They are usually people who have suffered a betrayal, an infidelity or an abusive relationship. and they are afraid to repeat it”, that is to say, that “they have an emotional wound that makes them feel very insecure and distrust of life”. Something that’s much more common these days.
How to Break Up Relationships That Could Have Been Great
“I have attended people who have requested a consultation for this cause. They realize that something is wrong and that they themselves are spoiling relationships that could have been great. Feel like they can’t control their behavior and ask for help to solve it,” continues Villadangos, who insists that “therapy helps a lot to self-control and, ultimately, not to sabotage your own life.
While the Obsessive Love Disorder defines more complex cases, the truth is that, in a time in which we accumulate relationships and disappointments, it seems easy to feel doubtful and anxious every time we meet someone new, and, even if it is not a pathological situation, it can equally affect our well-being. That’s why asking for help can always be positive, or at least decide to work on some key aspects that give us greater security.
“You have to work on your own internal structure, learning to accept and value oneself, to make decisions and to nurture security”, underlines Yolanda Cuevas. It also points out that it is not only about changing our perception of ourselves, but also the idealization about love and relationships, which generally clash with reality and lead us to rethink everything without need.
“Romantic films, novels, or advertisements convey an ideal image of perfect relationship”, and lead us to compare our partner with unrealistic expectations. Therefore, the first step is to value ourselves and the relationship from our own point of view, and not from the romantic ideal or compare it with what we see in other close relationships or even through social networks. Don’t forget that usually shows a superficial part, and not everything that happens behind closed doors in the privacy of your home. And it’s easy to be carried away by doubt when we compare our back room with other people’s shop windows.