Anna Karenina Syndrome: Victims of Love

March 9, 2016
In order for a relationship to be healthy, it's important to keep in mind that your partner should complement you. Still, should things end, they shouldn't leave you feeling incomplete. In this article, we'll take a look at Anna Karenina syndrome.

Lev Nikolayevich Tolstoy wrote a classic novel in world literature, Anna Karenina. The novel serves as a reflection of the most passionate, intense, and dangerous love that always leads to a tragic ending. However, when referring to Anna Karenina syndrome, we don’t mean the very dramatic ending of the novel’s female lead character.

Rather, we’re talking about the obsession, passion, and emotional attachment we can experience when in love, which can lead us to go beyond our limits. In this article, we’ll discuss the dangers of that level of passion, which may leave you more hurt than helped. We’ll also explain why Anna Karenina syndrome can be very harmful to your health.

1. Anna Karenina Syndrome: passionate love and its dangers

They say that one who has experienced very passionate love in the past continues to long for that feeling. Moreover, they’ll keep longing for it despite the pain they suffered by losing it. Intense emotions combined with physical attraction, emotional bonding, and mutual commitment make us feel alive. Add in an obsession that makes everything about “you and I” and you’ve got passionate love.

However, there are a number of dangers you should keep in mind:

  • Those who suffer from Anna Karenina syndrome have experienced something more than a crush. They actually suffer from what is known as “affective-obsessive disorder“. The disorder is characterized by a certain lack of personal control. It also involves an absolute dependence in which we fail to see our limits. We’re able to lose ourselves to our loved one, of giving up that which defines us, and submitting to another person to keep them nearby.
  • However, this kind of love doesn’t offer true happiness. This is because what those with this disorder feel is anguish. It can come from various reasons like not having your loved close by. It can also be due to distrust or a fear of being abandoned or cheated on. Further, it can be from thinking that the other person isn’t giving as much as you’re giving them.
  • Little by little, you lose your self-esteem, integrity, and emotional balance. By centering your life around another person in such an obsessive way, you can end up losing our own life. And there’s nothing that can be more destructive than that.

Read more: Habits that Happy Couples Should Avoid at All Costs

2. Passionate love: how to control it

Anna Karenina syndrome

We all know that in the early stages of a love affair, it’s normal to feel an intense and indescribable passion. However, there are things you should remember to avoid falling into the dangerous Anna Karenina syndrome.

  • Never seek a partner with the idea of “filling gaps” or to be your “other half.” What you must do first is grow internally and be a complete person. You should also strive to be balanced and mature, capable of being happy as an individual while being capable of bringing joy to others. Don’t look to others to fill your emptiness or cover your fears. Try to find a partnership that’s mutually beneficial.
  • Beware of forging a relationship that’s stifling. Also, avoid those that don’t let you grow or make you lose your integrity. Further, look for a relationship that embraces what makes you, you. To love is to win and grow, not to lose your limits. Moreover, obsessions are never good since they can place limits on your life. The moment you put someone else as your top priority, you’ll be losing things. You’ll push aside your hobbies, friends, and even your own values. And all this is not good. You just need to remember Anna Karenina and her absolute passion for Count Vronsky. There came a time when she even pushed aside her own son.
  • Never make the mistake of loving blindly. Love with open eyes and an open heart. In addition, love in a conscious way knowing everything you do while seeing what your partner does for you. Do they respect your needs, listen to you, and keep you in mind? Do they let you grow as a person and help your relationship to grow?

Want to know more?: Passionate and Rational Love: Can They Go Together?


In conclusion, true love isn’t obsession. It’s a daily happiness where both partners know how to resolve problems. It’s also where both listen, respect their commitment, and where there’s no jealousy, distrust, or intimidation.

Remember, Anna Karenina syndrome is very common today. So love with intensity, love with passion, but never blindly.

  • Pazos Gómez, M., Delgado, A. O., & Gómez, Á. H. (2014). Violencia en relaciones de pareja de jóvenes y adolescentes. Revista Latinoamericana de Psicologia.

  • Ruiz, D. (2001). Relaciones de pareja. Revista de Educación.

  • José, M., & Biezma, R. (2007). VIOLENCIA HACIA LA PAREJA: REVISIÓN TEÓRICA. Psicopatología Clínica, Legal y Forense.