Breakups are hard, and moving on when you were in love can be even harder. When you are the one left behind, coming to terms with the end of your relationship and letting go takes time. Occasionally, however, moving on won’t happen in the way it should -- leaving you to realize you have become obsessed with your ex.
Anxiety Takes Over
One clear sign of obsession is anxiety that is only relieved when you contact your ex. You may find yourself unable to think about anything besides hearing his voice or fabricating excuses to call him even when he has made it clear he no longer wants to talk. Take steps to limit your ability to contact him, such as deleting his information from your phone and blocking him on social media websites so that you can’t stalk his profile. Fight the anxiety by calling friends instead when the urge to speak to him strikes.
It can be normal in the days immediately following a breakup to struggle with thinking about anything else. Once you find yourself unable to focus on anyone or anything besides your ex, even weeks down the line, that tunnel vision can indicate obsession, according to counselor John D. Moore. Try to shift your thoughts and distract yourself with other hobbies and entertainment when possible. Spend time with friends and set limits on yourself regarding how much you can talk about your ex.
Like an Addiction
Obsession can become an addiction, being both intoxicating and unbalancing in equal parts according to physician Alex Lickerman, author of “The Undefeated Mind: On the Science of Constructing an Indestructible Self." There are times you may find yourself dwelling on the happier details of your relationship and reliving those moments because they bring you joy. Unfortunately, even this can lead to an inevitable crash when you are stuck in the middle of an obsessive cycle. Try to limit the amount of time each day you allow yourself to reflect on the past, and find distractions such as physical activity and time with friends and family once you have surpassed those limits.
The Future Seems Impossible
Try picturing the life ahead of you now that you and your boyfriend have broken up. If you can’t imagine a life without your ex in it, you are likely suffering from obsession, according to relationship coach Yangki Christine Akiteng, author of “Dating Your Ex." Remind yourself that the relationship is over and try to reshape your visions of the future. If you feel like you don’t want to live your life now that your ex is no longer a part of it, seek the help of a professional immediately.