Why do I become obsessed with one person for a while? | INFJ Forum

Why do I become obsessed with one person for a while?

Discussion in 'Relationships and Sociology' started by Artemisia, Feb 11, 2016.

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  1. Artemisia

    Artemisia Community Member

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    I've had this problem since my early teens. Until my early 20s, I would fixate on a film star or historical figure (usually a man, sometimes a woman) and would obsess over him and idealize him. In my early 20s I fell into limerence with one of my professors and it was torture for 5 years. I transferred the obsession to another professor with whom I then had a one year relationship. After him, I've been obsessed/limerent for a few months over the men I dated (6 in total since 2013).

    It is becoming extremely difficult for me to forge a normal relationship. Every time I date, I become limerent over the person for an average of 3-4 months and then I either transfer the limerence to another person or just decide to kill it on my own. I am now in my third month of obsessing over a guy I dated three months ago (we talk weekly still) and am trying to kill this obsession as it is destroying my life and I have a hard time thinking about anything else.

    Is this a common INFJ trait? Probably the best thing that has come out of this this past year is that my obsessions don't last years like they did before 2013. It is not low self-esteem either as I feel like I like myself just fine.
     
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  2. Flavus Aquila

    Flavus Aquila Finding My Place in the Sun
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    Just some speculation, with the limited information:

    What you say makes it sound as though there is a pattern of relationships featuring a dissonance between an idealised expectation of the person for whom you fall, and the reality of the persons for whom you fall. The resolution of this difference, with a rejection of the real person seems to be occurring more quickly each time the cycle repeats. There is possibly also a descending trend in how suitable the individual is for idealisation: A movie star (fictionalised persona), A historical figure (inaccessible), Professor (accomplished beyond one's present achievements), and then 'guys.'

    I think the answer is probably more accessible in terms of the specific elements in each instance of idealisation. These will point to the particular needs you have, which I suspect are probably also highly vulnerable needs. Vulnerability is indicated by the falling for an idealised figure, as ideal figures do not usually feature inconsistency in their appealing traits. With the information provided, one can only speculate, but I get the impression that you are after a person who is perfectly ______x________.
     
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  3. Stu

    Stu Constipated
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    Limerence

    My experience with that interpersonal state
    whether in a crowd or out on a date
    not necessarily the boinging,
    for which I was longing
    but for an obsessivly reciprocational mate.
     
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    #3 Stu, Feb 11, 2016
    Last edited: Feb 12, 2016
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  4. OP
    Artemisia

    Artemisia Community Member

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    Sort of. I am 33 now and this sort of thing has happened often enough to make me think that there is something inside me that needs to be resolved. I know this is entirely my own doing. What is strange is that once I replace the infatuation/obsession with another person or decide to terminate it (takes a lot of time and effort), I no longer want to deal with that person and the feelings never return. It's as if I never had feelings for him. As I said, each obsession seems to last a shorter time.
    The problem is that it is becoming difficult for me to focus on anything else. I am like a zombie doing work and all. Only recently have I tried to address this issue head on and to force myself to only view the person I am obsessed with in a negative light. Basically I try to focus on his negative traits as much as I can.

    The way this is going I fear that I will never have a normal long-term relationship.....I want to solve the problem once and for all.
     
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  5. Flavus Aquila

    Flavus Aquila Finding My Place in the Sun
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    I don't think you will find the solution is in dealing with each individual case of obsession as it crops up. Focusing on the negative aspects of such individuals may produce desirable short-term results, (quelling the present obsession), but any repetitive action, which produces a favourable result also usually produces and reinforces habitual patterns (conscious and unconscious).

    I think you need to focus right in one the particular traits/aspects which reinforce your obsession. Understanding why these things have such a strong subjective hold on you will open the way for the rehabilitation of your affect.

    If it isn't too personal to post, what are the top five traits which intensely appeal to you in a potential romantic interest?
     
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    Artemisia

    Artemisia Community Member

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    In no particular order: softness/agreebleness, introversion, intellect, physical appearance, stability (all for male partners by the way)
     
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  7. Flavus Aquila

    Flavus Aquila Finding My Place in the Sun
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    Would those traits have an overlay of independence from you, or dependence on you?
     
  8. OP
    Artemisia

    Artemisia Community Member

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    Well I like to lead in the relationship so dependence I would assume
     
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  9. Flavus Aquila

    Flavus Aquila Finding My Place in the Sun
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    The ideal object of your obsessing sounds like a benign, secure, intelligent, resourceful, competent individual, who is also somewhat inaccessible and distant. It sounds as though your want of this person may be in connection to either a very intense, or very neglected need. I suspect the latter, because there just seems to be more likelihood that inaccessibility and neglect are mutually inclusive.

    Is there a particular pattern in how you try to cultivate the attention of the persons with whom you become obsessed?
     
  10. OP
    Artemisia

    Artemisia Community Member

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    I think I already know what the overall problem is.....love addiction! I have been using love and romantic fantasies as an escape since my teens. In my 20s I was kind of avoidant and now in my early 30s I have shifted into an anxious state (perhaps after my dad's death four years ago).
    My recent dating relationship with a 25-year-old (I became obsessed with him) really opened my eyes and made me want to look at myself in order to assess what is wrong with me.
     
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  11. KorJax

    KorJax Community Member

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    Shit you mean I'm going to be like this well into my 30's? :(

    I relate. Kind of the same thing going with me. Maybe not as broad (i.e. I don't get it for professors/fictional characters/etc), but I def get into the habit of being obsessive about one person for a long while, even if we aren't friends (or more) anymore.

    I know I prefer close company with few. But I have a tendency to take this to an extreme. I'll get into the habit of really wanting (and ending up) closeness with just one, shutting out most everyone else and inevitably feeling bad when I shut out all the other great friends I have or when I feel like I'm way more invested than the other person is toward me (which is always).
     
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    Artemisia

    Artemisia Community Member

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    I used to be overinvested in my 20s, but more towards an unattainable person.l A few years ago things shifted and now I become overinvested in normal people who show interest.....and if things don't progress in the first few months, I very reluctantly end it and decide that the person should not be in my life anymore. I guess it is the proverbial INFJ door slam.

    Recently this obsession cost me a very good male friend that I have known for over 10 years. We finally slept with each other, I became obsessed with him for a good three months, then after he became withdrawn, I decided to cut him off. He came back two months later (after no contact on my end) but I did not want to talk to him. He finally decided to terminate all contact with me last month, but by this point I couldn't care less.

    I am undergoing steps to treat this addiction.
     
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  13. GreenTea

    GreenTea Community Member

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    I found this thread and wondered did you (or anyone) find a solution to limerence? Or ever find the cause of it?

    Hope you are free of limerence these days, Artemisia!
     
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  14. slant

    slant M O U L T I N G
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    Do you have any history of social isolation/being harassed or bullied by a group of people/feeling disconnected from groups and society as a result of social rejection or inability to "fit in"?

    There's a lot of research I've read about loneliness and the long term impact of not having strong social ties. Limerence is a 100% normal and natural adaptive mechanisms to this circumstance and there's nothing wrong with you for experiencing this.

    I find in society if you have something like limerence you are seen as defective or that somehow it's something you are doing on purpose to harm others; the reality is that it's a side effect, almost a psychological condition created by extreme social deprivation.

    The solution to limerance is typically to form long lasting relationship with multiple people, not necessarily romantic, but strong platonic and familial like bonds. Typically a person may identify as having strong ties with others and may have many friends but if you examine the level of vulnerability these people display in these relationships it's often very superficial and emotionally distant.

    Often there's an anxious or avoidant attachment style, an inability to trust others with their emotions, a preference to "deal with things themselves" and psychologically compartmentize their feelings.

    What I find most troubling about this is that when people suffering from these afflictions find personality tests like MBTI they then cling to the framework as an explanation for how they are and this prevents them from working though their issues.

    Introverts don't "just dislike people", they tend to need more space to process things and prefer smaller more intimate gatherings. There are many people fearful of emotional vulnerability who then say they are introverts and therefore don't need people rather than facing the fact that they find it extremely difficult to maintain any sort of relationship because of their lack of willingness to be emotionally vulnerable or not understanding boundaries and being too emotionally vulnerable. We learn these skills through social interaction so if that learning phase has somehow been blocked it will create loner syndrome.

    Unable to connect to others, many get the false believe that a romantic relationship will give them the emotional vulnerability and intimacy they crave. Unfortunately in order for a relationship to work each person must be able to attach in a healthy way and be emotionally vulnerable frequently, which is why it is harder for people in this situation to maintain romantic relationships because they tend to be more demanding in that respect.

    The solution is to connect. To learn to connect. To not rely on romantic relationships to give you that nourishment. You have to give yourself that and by working on your ability to be vulnerable with others and attach in a healthy way and in general socially interact often and with a wide variety of people the experience of connection and confidence gained will kill this tendency.

    Unfortunately for people who self isolate due to feeling inadequate, this is often their worst nightmare, and they would rather stay in their comfort zone and say that their personality makes it that they can't or don't want to do these things. This is a trap and will cause this person to never grow, living in avoidance and continuing patterns of unhealthy attachments and obsessions. The reality is that solving some problems are terrifying but if we truly want to move forward we have to confront what we don't like.
     
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  15. GreenTea

    GreenTea Community Member

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    Thanks for sharing your thoughts, slant. That's very interesting. Once I talked to a therapist about limerence and she really didn't seem to understand it at all. You seem to understand it a lot better.

    I do have a history of anxiety and avoidance. This has greatly improved in recent years, mainly through therapy. It was hard to make friends in childhood. I thought there was something wrong with me and it was difficult to connect with people. Friendships I had as a teenager /early 20s were probably just superficial. I didn't really let people get close. This is when limerence was at its most intense.

    I have quite a few close friends now and I feel like our friendships are sincere and we are vulnerable with each other. I think I will continue to focus on these friendships and perhaps make new ones.

    Thanks again for your helpful response.
     
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  16. slant

    slant M O U L T I N G
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    Once you feel supported and like you belong my experience has been the "craving" that fuels limerance goes away and is replaced by the more natural desire for romance and family making that biologically we are driven to do. It's very hard for me to make the distinction between the two, but one is fueled by feelings of emptiness, the other is fueled by unmet sexual/romantic needs that are natural and perfectly normal to crave. It sounds to me that you have already taken the right steps to finding community and connection and one day you wake up and realize you just don't have limerence anymore. It's a strange thing and I wish more professionals were informed on it but the research I did isn't really psychology based it's more sociological research on loneliness and I don't think that therapists really look at things like that. I was trying to fix myself and in part realized there was nothing wrong with me but in some sense the way society operates.

    This is a COMMON problem and on a society level there was a huge uptick in loneliness after the industrialization at the beginning of the 1900s when people began to leave farming communities for big cities. There's a lot of evidence to show, including John b calhoun's behavioral sink ( good video here if you're interested in learning about it in depth) that the more people who live in a densely populated area the more violent deviant behavior and lack of connection. Essentially it creates the "anonymous" effect, where none of us truly see others as people anymore. Combine this with the rise of technology and decline of face to face and physical contact between people and you've got a recipe for more and more people feeling disconnected from others and community and these experiences of limerence and seemingly unhealthy ways of connection become widespread because we aren't used to society operating on such a mass scale.

    There's a number like, people can have at max 150 stable relationships. This includes casual acquaintances, co-workers, etc. Once you get to 150 you cap off and everyone else is "other".

    I could talk about this forever, I'm glad you got something out of it.
     
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  17. GreenTea

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    I don't currently have limerence so yes it might be that it went away when I found connections and support. It's unfortunate that therapists don't understand it better. Is it really so common? Most people I've talked to about it never seemed to have experienced it. I only met one person irl who has experienced it.

    The loneliest period of my life was when I lived in a flat in a city. It seemed strange being so lonely when surrounded by people. But yes there was no real connection with anyone so perhaps it wasn't so strange. Living in a small town is nicer. People are friendly and seem to care. Watched the video. Very interesting. Going to think about it a bit more!
     
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  18. slant

    slant M O U L T I N G
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    Most of the people you'll meet with it are online because they are extremely isolated and not involved with in person communities.
     
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  19. GreenTea

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    Yes, that would make sense.
     
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  20. Asa

    Asa Resident palindrome
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    When I initially read this I thought it was so strange that therapists and other (regular) people don't understand what limerence is because limerence is all over romance movies. It's more common to see limerence than true love in popular romances! Then, I realized people don't recognize it because they are misinterpreting the limerence they feel as "love" because they've been taught (via society) that it is love, or at least puppy love or unrequited love.


    A famous example of limerence is how Andrew Lincoln's character feels about Keira Knightley's character in "Love Actually". That movie is full of limerence, but that part of the movie is the most obvious example.
     
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