Obsessive Relationships

Can you care too much? Is it bad to think about a friend for hours on end, to lie awake worrying about them?

I have a confession to make. I often become obsessed with people when I feel a connexion to them, when a friendship is growing. Friendship for me advances through a series of stages. First somebody starts talking to me — it’s always the other person who makes the initial approach because I don’t know how to start talking to a stranger — and I’ll respond.

If I feel comfortable I’ll begin to open up, tell them a little about myself — as long as they ask. Otherwise, when there’s something about them that puts me on edge — it might be that they act or sound aggressive, pushy — I’ll say the bare minimum or even fail to reply: I try to avoid such people because their behavior makes me anxious.

With an acquaintance, as time goes on and we talk more — exchange more information — I feel more at ease in their company: confident enough to initiate conversations. With most people that’s as far as I ever get. I don’t actively seek them out but will pass time with them when I encounter them socially.

But very occasionally I meet someone who demonstrates an unusual degree of compassion, of understanding. Someone with whom I have something in common. Someone to whom I feel able to talk freely about many of my thoughts and feelings — at least to the extent that I can express them in words. In turn they share enough with me that I feel I understand them to a significant degree.

I feel a connexion, a closeness, a real bond with such a person. And therein lies my danger: I empathize. Strongly. I care. Deeply. I have no filters that limit my exposure. If they hurt, I hurt. If they are going through troubled times I worry about them to an obsessive degree, incessantly. To the point where I lie awake at night wracked with pain and worry; they dominate my waking thoughts to the point where I struggle to concentrate on my own life.

Not only pain: I also share their joy. I love the rapturous elation that I derive from seeing a friend of mine feeling happy.

I recognize the nature of my obsession and try to keep it under control: if I didn’t then I would find myself trying to spend every waking hour in their company, sending texts or emails every few minutes. I’ve learned that people don’t respond well to this kind of behavior — to put it mildly! So I maintain an iron grip on my own impulses.

I worry… no, it’s more than that: I agonize over what is an acceptable level of contact, how frequently I can allow myself to text them before I start to look like some obsessive freak. Because I fear losing their friendship: I have few that I would truly call friends and place a high value on each one. I am tortured by the thought of driving one away because of my obsession, because I appear “clingy”.

What I have is not a romantic or amorous obsession: I do not desire that kind of relationship with these friends. Rather I believe my obsession is driven by a desperate craving for meaningful contact with other people. People I can be open with, share aspects of myself with. Feel less alone with. Gain support from and provide support to.I just need to find that balance between indulging my need for contact and respecting their need for space. I’m still only a beginner when it comes to relationships and I fear making mistakes.

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27 thoughts on “Obsessive Relationships

    • And it only took me 6 hours, on and off! ๐Ÿ˜‰

      Usually a post flows from my mind, through my fingers to the page. But this one, for some reason, took a LOT of effort. So, as you can guess, I *really* appreciate your comment. ๐Ÿ˜€

      • ๐Ÿ™‚ It’s so accurate though. I worry I’m “the clingy one” at uni, especially as my course includes a year abroad that will throw me out of sync with the rest of the year. I’ve never fit in with a group this well, never met such a friendly, understanding, supportive bunch of people, so I’m terrified of losing them.

        • That’s such a rational fear — to me at least. No wonder you’re terrified, if you’ve come to rely on the support of friends you’ll be away from and you don’t know if things will have changed after the year is up and you return. It would be great to have a crystal ball and be able to tell you it’ll all work out OK, but I don’t, and I won’t lie and pretend to knowledge I don’t have. All I can say is I know how the uncertainty and fear feels: I felt like that when the first company I worked for went bust and I had to leave that environment and the friendly, supportive people I had gotten to know over the years. So I understand where you’re coming from here, and I feel for you.

  1. This is why I don’t try anymore, why I just go to work and sit behind a computer most of the day, and then come home and spend weekends and evenings alone in my room. Whenever I feel like this I pull away, and stop bothering anyone.

    • Socializing, building a relationship, is HARD. But although I’m content with my own company a lot of the time, there are other times when I need to connect with people. I never know if the way I feel is reciprocated. That’s the most difficult part and causes me a lot of insecurity. It’s why I so rarely get that close to anybody — I’m afraid of getting it wrong.

    • I’m so sorry to hear that. Because it’s also a good thing. It sucks that most people don’t see it as good. But that’s also because they’re not used to being adored that completely. They don’t trust it. So they act as if you’re lying or trying to manipulate the. BUT THAT’S NOT TRUE. And sometimes, somehow, somebody sees that. Those are the special moments that I wouldn’t want to miss, even with all the hurt and heartache in the world.

      • Oh yes. I am quite often accused of being manipulative. And my loyalty is “frustrating” they say. Well, they think it’s awesome, until they decide they don’t want me anymore, and then it’s suddenly frustrating.

          • I don’t want to be bitter. I don’t even know what it feels like so I don’t know if I am. So I try not to say anything about how I feel or really anything about myself anymore. Sometimes I still do but it usually ends badly. I’m still learning to shut up.

            • You know what? I’m going to give you some completely socially unacceptable advice here, but: don’t shut up. Please. There will always be people who want you to shut up. there will always be people who don’t like what you say or how you act. No matter how hard you try, it will never be good enough for some people. You can try and try and try to conform to those people… or you can tell them to go screw themselves, because if you’re not good enough, no matter how hard you try, then the fault lies with them for expecting you to be someone else than you are. Don’t do it. It’s a road that only leads to frustration and unhappiness. Don’t shut up. Please.

  2. It’s hard to admit, but I have that too. It’s like some people become my new special interest. It’s fascinating but also fraught with anxiety. How much is too much? Do they feel I’m coming on too strong? (The answer is usually yes).

    Fun anecdote time! Because this illustrates your story perfectly.

    I met my ex at a mutual friend’s party. He asked our friend if I was on drugs. I wasn’t.

    A couple of months later, we met again at a theatre thing and me, my then boyfriend, our mutual friend, and him ended up at his place. We drank a lot and talked a lot and bonded over the Beatles and when it got light we said it was time to leave and then he snogged me.

    So I broke up with my boyfriend.

    I had a very intense relationship with his answerphone for about two weeks. Seriously. He never picked up the phone. So I left him messages saying I’d really like to meet up again.

    He said he wasn’t ready for a relationship. I said why don’t you try. He said he was feeling under the weather, coming down with a cold. So I checked with our mutual friend, would showing up on his doorstep with oranges and cough drops be too much? Friend was in stitches. So I went ahead and did it.

    I think I moved in with him about a month later. It took 4 more months for him to refer to me as his girlfriend. We ended up living together for 8 years.

    Erm. I lost the plot now. Obsessions. It’s a thing. I’m an awesome stalker! But in a good, caring way. But still fairly obsessive. It’s complicated.

    • I did find this hard to admit, even to myself. You see, I didn’t realize how I was until long after I had been phoning a former classmate every week for months, visiting whenever I could, and ultimately sending a letter in which I divulged my feelings… To give her credit, we are still friends: she was very understanding about it all.

      I’d like to relate how my wife and I got together at some point… I was definitely obsessive. But she’d prefer me not to write about that.

      What you said about people becoming your new special interest is exactly how it feels for me too — wish I’d thought to describe it in that way in this post! ๐Ÿ˜€

      • I always find courage in the fact that NT peop,e feel this way as well, especially when they’re in a long term relationship. They suddenly meet someone who IS JUST LIKE THEM and they fall completely in love even though they don’t want to end their relationship. “But he/she just GETS me! I don’t need to argue and explain all the time!” And then it turns out that being with someone just like yourself is actually a bit boring.

        For us it’s maybe a bit worse because we don’t usually feel like we belong anywhere. So it becomes even more important to connect to this person who “gets it”. Plus the special interest thing. So it becomes a bit intense. But it is beautiful in a way. We’re just so open and honest in our behaviour. We don’t play games. The people who can’t handle that?… Well, I usually end up wishing them luck in working through their own issues. This is who I am.

        • That feeling of not belonging, I’ve had it all my life to a lesser or greater degree. I really need to feel secure, to feel safe and protected. To get a break from the fear. To be able to trust people not to hurt me. And while we might be honest and open, not everybody can read us and understand how we feel at a given moment. Because we’re NOT like them.

          That’s why friendship is so important to me. Just to be able to tell somebody how I feel, tell them what I’m going through, and know that they won’t judge me, won’t try to tell me I’m wrong or crazy or bad. That they will understand. Most of my close friends have problems of one kind or another: we understand each other. It helps.

  3. Very much recognize this. Mostly I am too convinced people don’t like me in the longer run, so I don’t even try anymore. In the past it lead to a relationship I actually wasn’t looking for (not being able to tell the difference), and other times people did find me weird and clingy.

    This actually makes me rethink something I was thinking a while ago: I figured that getting to know a new person, when you like them, is kind of like being in love. But I guess itยดs not as universal as I thought? Because I was definitely thinking of what you describe here, and when I read it now (recognizing it all the way) I’m thinking ‘no…. I don’t think everybody else does this’
    Hm.

  4. Pingback: When You’re Out, Loneliness, It Crawls Up In The Ground… | Feminist Aspie

  5. WOW! I’m sure you are my double! haha, I too get very obsessed or attached to people. I also lay awake panicking and picking up anxiety for their well being etc.

    My father also has Aspergers and he is the same. We often discuss this as we both tend to get attached to people whom we connect with, which can be dangerous if they’re not the same.

    Loved this post! You really hit the nail on the head!

    • Thanks! ๐Ÿ˜€

      Can you believe I’ve never met anybody in “real life” who identified as autistic? So it’s only since I got into blogging and found the on-line community that I ever talked to somebody else who had similar experiences. And that helps a lot: to know I’m not alone. It must have been a help to be able to talk to your dad and have him understand where you were coming from.

      • This! ME TOO! I’ve only met met my first real life autistic people a month ago, through group therapy. I’m still working on a blog post about that. But the online community has been an eye opener for me. It’s shaped me in more ways than I can count. To the point where I don’t even feel I have that much in common with other autistics because I’m so bloody positive about it. And to be honest, it’s kind of exhausting being the “autism is awesome!” advocate in a group that’s supposed to be for my own benefit.

      • It helps so much! I am learning so much from the community, but especially, as you say, knowing you’re not alone. It’s one thing for a therapist to tell you something is ‘understandable’ but it is mindbogglingly powerful reading your blog, autisticook’s, aspiemusings, others and reading that others think/feel/experience things exactly the way you do. Feeling acknowledged. Finally finding out you’re not as weird and alien as you always thought.

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