Romantic obsession is a big part of the Sex and Love Addicts Anonymous (SLAA) program and is actually something I’ve personally suffered from prior to finding sobriety and recovery from a multi-faceted addiction that used to control my life.
Defined loosely, romantic obsession is a condition where a person feels an overwhelming desire to constantly be around someone whom they feel a strong attraction to. It’s generally accompanied with an inability to accept failure or rejection from this person who is the object of their affection. More than not, those who succumb to this type of addiction will usually become entirely convinced that their feelings are from true love and will angrily reject any potential notion that they may be from an unhealthy romantic obsession. And quite often as well, many of these types of relationships will begin with a “love at first sight” type of feeling.
Recently, the group I attend weekly for recovery from my sex and love addiction began going through the romantic obsession pamphlet that is distributed by the SLAA organization. While reading it, I had a number of flashbacks to a time when my life was ruled by these types of relationships.
With each of them, I always did feel that “love at first sight” from the onset and would convince myself that I was either meant to be their best friend or lover or both and that life was better together, all the time, and never good apart.
Any time I was around one of these objects of my romantic obsession, the rest of the world didn’t exist and my eyes would constantly remain transfixed on them. I’d follow them everywhere, do what they did, and give up my own sense of identity in the process. My life was great when they wanted to spend time with me, and terrible any time they said they needed some space.
The very last romantic obsessive relationship I fell prey to ended back in the spring of 2012 when I began my recovery from sex and love addiction. But prior to that, I still have many sad memories of times where I would drive by their house to see if they were home, sit by my phone waiting for phone calls while pushing everything else aside, and even going so far as to bribe them to spend time with me.
One such memory that remains very vivid in my brain is of a gym I joined with this last object of my romantic obsession. The gym itself was one I really couldn’t afford, being over $100 per month to be a member. Yet, I joined it anyway, all in the name of love, and proceeded to shell out the high dollar tag just to be around this person a little more. I’d sit around for their phone call each day to go work out, often being told not to wait and to go ahead on my own. I wouldn’t though, because I felt like I had to be around them and do all the things they did. In the process, I’d frequently drive to the gym, which was only ½ mile from where I lived, simply to see if their car or motorcycle was there. Sometimes I’d do that multiple times throughout the day and my heart would sink any time I discovered they had gone there without me. I’d always take it as some sense of rejection of my love and friendship. But on the days where they did ask me to go work out with them, I’d feel like I was on Cloud 9, especially if they opted to do lunch with me afterward. And usually I would pay for those meals as well, all because of a romantic obsession that I deemed as true love. This is merely one of countless memories I could provide of romantic obsessive behaviors I exhibited over the years.
Romantic obsession truly was a very unhealthy part of my sex and love addiction and something that robbed me of seeing and participating more fully in life. I lost many years to these types of relationships and tend to believe now that any “love at first sight” type of feeling was always a warning sign to the beginning of yet another one of these addiction-based relationships.
Why one ever succumbs to romantic obsession is something I’ve pondered for quite some time. What I’m inclined to believe these days is that it arises out of loneliness and desperation and a sense of needing to focus on someone else instead of oneself. As deep within, it’s often a lack of love for oneself that will lead a person into a romantic obsession in the first place. Because when that happens, the focus is no longer working through their lack of self-love, their loneliness, or their desperation. Instead, it’s on showering another person with all the love that actually should be focused on themselves instead.
This is why I’m so grateful I’m in recovery now for sex and love addiction, as my life is no longer being destroyed by romantic obsessive relationships that always led me away from getting to know the real me and God too. So, thank you God for leading me to SLAA and to a life where I’m finally getting to know and love myself a whole lot better…
Peace, love, light, and joy,
Andrew Arthur Dawson