Love or obsession -opinion

Over time a healthy love relationship evolves and the intensity of infatuation decreases. Friendship, respect, commitment and individuality form and replace infatuation.

 Illustrative image of a couple.  (photo credit: PIXABAY)
Illustrative image of a couple.
(photo credit: PIXABAY)

I was 19 years old when I sat in my psychology class at Queens College. My professor started the lecture with a statement that struck me right in the core of my stomach – “obsessive love can end up in the morgue.”

At the time I was fantasizing about true love, the kind of love where you feel butterflies in your stomach, the Romeo and Juliet kind of love. I could not understand how love, a beautiful emotion, can end up in the morgue and yet both Romeo and Juliet romanticized by so many, ended up in the morgue in such a tragic way

Do not get me wrong, the infatuation stage of romantic love is a beautiful thing. It usually occurs in the early months of a healthy love relationship.

Many of us experienced the phase where we want to spend all our time with our partner, cannot wait to see him again and are ecstatic when we realize he feels the same. You are out on a date all night and speak on the phone for hours after.

But over time a healthy love relationship evolves and the intensity of infatuation decreases. Friendship, respect, commitment and individuality form and replace infatuation. Two people come together standing on both legs and set out on a journey together.

Sometimes love and obsession becomes blurry. It is important to recognize the signs of obsession and unhealthy relationships. The following are some examples of such.

Manipulation, manipulation and more manipulation!

At first, he mingles nicely with your friends and family, open to get to know them. Ever so slowly, he lets you know that he does not like them because they are a bad influence on you and the relationship.

He tells you that they do not like him in order to play the victim so that you feel bad and stand by him. Eventually, you self-isolate from your loved ones and abandon your friends and family.

Jealousy and possession to the highest degree: A little jealousy in a relationship can be normal and sometimes even flattering. With him, however, something feels off and uncomfortable.

He controls what you are wearing or becomes angry when people look at you and talk to you. Having friends of the opposite sex or going to lunch with a coworker from the opposite sex are major “no, no” for him and he will not tolerate it. You become an object possessed by him that belongs to him alone.

Space, what space?

The walls are starting to cave in on you. He wants to spend all of his time with you. For example, you are out with your friends and he calls you/texts you excessively.

Same when you are at work eventually making it difficult to concentrate and function. You feel suffocated. It is important to know that in healthy relationships, both parties recognize the need for autonomy and respect it.

Everything is happening too fast too soon: Statements early in the relationship such as “you are the one for me,” “I can’t imagine my life without you,” are major warning signs when you feel that you barely know each other. Healthy relationships are built over time and at a “normal” pace.

Those of you who are reading this might think that I am stating the obvious and the warning signs are so loud and clear, how can anyone ignore them?

As a social worker at Ruach Nashit, an organization that helps women victims of violence reach financial independence, we often hear women share their personal stories. What she thought was love, caring and protection, quickly turned into a web of control, manipulation and suffocation.

Today, my professor’s statement, which hit me in my gut, became a painful reality. Today, I know that obsessive love can kill. Approximately 20 women are murdered every year in Israel. Women who in the beginning most likely felt loved, who innocently interpreted the “warning signs” as signs of love, women – like me and you – who believed love is a safe beautiful emotion.

The writer is a director of professional services at Ruach Nashit (Women Spirit) and a clinical social worker, MSW.