The Difference Between Love and Obsession

Love is about complementing one another, while obsession is about a need for completion. The latter leads to fear of abandonment and emptiness.
The Difference Between Love and Obsession

Last update: 27 May, 2022

Love and obsession are often romanticized in the arts and there are many examples of both.

Indeed, love is a rather intense feeling but people often mistake it for obsession. It just sneaks in. Oftentimes, people fail to recognize they’re merely obsessed and it’s so overwhelming it leads them to harm the supposed object of their affection as much as themselves.

We often think of a person who stole our heart when we fall in love and we’re filled with joy and everything seems lighter. As a result, we’re exhilarated, full of positivity and strength.

There’s a limit, though.

True love is healthy and leads to pleasant thoughts about the other person. It isn’t a suffocating need to check on them every minute of the day as we wonder how they are, what they’re doing, what they’ve done, who they’ve interacted with and what are their plans for the day, and whether they still love us … A person who really loves isn’t needy, insecure and demanding.

Continue reading to find out more about the differences between love and obsession.

Are love and obsession just two different sides of the same coin?

Love isn’t about neglecting yourself in lieu of another. Likewise, it isn’t about controlling your partner’s every move and demanding they spend every moment by your side. It isn’t about interpreting their actions as evidence that they don’t love you enough. To love is to know how to communicate in a healthy manner, to accept each other and help each other grow, to share while respecting personal boundaries, to celebrate the union. It isn’t about smothering one another with irrational thoughts.

Thus, love isn’t about dominating another under the excuse of “protecting” them. It isn’t about limiting them or making them suffer.

Love isn’t about possession or control, it’s about freedom.

Two people arguing.


Unhealthy exclusivity

When we’re obsessed with a person we build a wall around the relationship and we cannot break through. It’s as if only there’s nothing else but the relationship. This exclusivity is overwhelming and controlling, generates distrust, and keeps us on our toes. It keeps us from being able to relax and enjoy one another.

In turn, love enjoys a commitment where there’s no exclusivity. Honesty has a high value and so there’s trust.

Obsession and self-esteem

Los self-esteem leads to obsession as we tend to gravitate towards those who have things we lack in order to obtain them. As you can see, love isn’t about finding someone who completes us, it’s about complementing one another.

Love is about acceptance, obsession is about possession


Every person goes through a period of mourning after a relationship ends and then they begin to come to terms with reality. This isn’t the case with obsession though. Obsessed people seldom make it past the period of mourning and remain blocked, tied, and unable to accept reality.

The other person is a human being

Two people in love.

People in obsessive relationships treat their significant other as property in order to obtain what they lack.

They actually feel entitled to it and demand they do as they’re told. Thus, “their” possession is no longer a human being.

In contrast, people who truly love take into account who the other person is and allow them to be free.

The intention to manipulate is about obsession, not love


It’s possible for a person to lose interest in their lover. Indeed, it’s sad but anyone who really loves another will respect their decision and set them free.

However, this lack of interest isn’t acceptable for someone who’s obsessed. Instead, they’ll use it as a weapon against their partner. They’ll make all sorts of attempts to make them feel guilty for it and don’t understand that this kind of thing just happens because people are everchanging.

The importance of communication

Two people talking about love and obsession.

Communication and empathy are fundamental elements in any healthy relationship. However, there’s no communication in obsessive relationships because there’s fear the other may leave. Thus, we pretend that nothing’s happening in order to ignore reality.

Unfortunately, the creation of this world of light and color may make us feel safe when we’re actually a whole lot more vulnerable — to the truth.

Obsessive people end up quite damaged after a failed relationship. They didn’t satisfy their needs and will often lose control.

This is because they can’t stand change, for things not to be as they were. They’ve put so much effort into it they’ve exhausted their energy reserves by supposedly giving it all up for the object of their affection. The thing is they’ve mainly put themselves in second place. Thus, the only solution here is to really get to know who they are.

As you can see, love and obsession aren’t two different things.

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This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.