What does it mean when you can’t stop thinking about someone? (7 Psychological terms and tips to stop obsessive thinking)

By: Naveen B

Thinking about someone every once in a while is normal and healthy, especially if it’s an important person in your life.

However, What does it mean when you can’t stop thinking about someone? If you can’t stop thinking about someone, are they thinking about you too?

It could be a sign of psychological distress or it could mean that you’re trying to avoid other problems or emotions in your life.

When we obsessively think about someone, whether it’s a friend or a romantic partner, there are two possible explanations for our behavior: 

Either we want to be with them and can’t stop thinking about them because of how much we miss them; Or we want to be rid of them and can’t stop thinking of ways to escape their influence (and the anxiety they cause).

If you’re not sure which scenario applies to you and want to learn more about what causes obsessive thought patterns like these as well as what steps you can take toward changing your behavior;

 In this guide let’s discuss different psychological terms for why you can’t stop thinking about someone.

Also, Psychological reasons, causes, effects, and tips to stop thinking about someone obsessively.

Also read: Psychological facts about thinking of someone (Research-based)

What does it mean when you can’t stop thinking about someone?


If you’re wondering, “What does it mean when you can’t stop thinking about someone,” the answer is that there’s some type of attraction or psychological connection between you and the person on your mind.

Obsessing over someone is associated with unhealthy attachment styles, which can lead to all sorts of problems in the future. When an obsession turns into an addiction, it can cause people to lose control of their actions.

According to Psychology, if you’re thinking about someone more than usual lately, these are some of the most likely causes:

  • Attachment styles. If you’ve noticed that your partner tends to act either clingy or closed-off at times, this could be down to their attachment style. People who fall into the anxious category tend to obsess over their partners more so than those who have a secure attachment style.
  • Relationship status. Impaired romantic relationships or relationships that aren’t going well are often linked with obsessive thoughts about the people we’re involved with. No matter how much work we put into trying not to think about our partner when we’re upset with them, it can often feel impossible not to do so!
  • Physical attraction. Scientists believe that physical attraction plays a massive role in love and obsession, so it makes sense that if you happened upon someone attractive and then started obsessing over them because of it!

Also read: What does it mean when you can’t stop thinking about someone you barely know?

Psychological terms for when you can’t stop thinking about someone

Psychological terms for when you cant stop thinking about someone What does it mean when you can't stop thinking about someone? (7 Psychological terms and tips to stop obsessive thinking)

Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)

If you suffer from anxiety, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), you may find yourself preoccupied with someone. With the conditions above, your brain is constantly worrying. 

This can make it difficult to avoid the thoughts of one person. This can be a risk if that person is an ex-partner or someone who has caused you emotional pain in the past.

If your preoccupation with this person stems from OCD, then you could be engaging in obsessive rituals to reduce your anxiety about them. 

Although these rituals might give you temporary relief for those anxious feelings, they reinforce the obsessions and keep them alive in the long term.

The good news is that there are many highly effective treatments for OCD and other anxiety disorders such as PTSD and phobias. 

These treatments include medications and talking therapies such as cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT).

Your doctor will ask questions about how long you’ve had symptoms of OCD, how severe they are, and whether they affect your daily life before making treatment recommendations.

Also read: Why can’t I stop thinking about someone? (According to psychology)


In some cases, however, this obsessive thinking might get out of control. 

The concept of limerence was coined by psychologist Dorothy Tennov and describes a state of mind which results from a romantic attraction to another person and typically includes obsessive thoughts and fantasies and a desire to form or maintain a relationship with the object of love and have one’s feelings reciprocated. 

This can be experienced regardless of whether or not the other person is already in a relationship, as long as there is some degree of uncertainty about how that person feels about you.

While there is no doubt that limerence can be an unpleasant experience for many people, there are some who actually enjoy it and find that it makes them feel optimistic about their future.

Even if they are aware that the object of their affections would likely never reciprocate their feelings. 

With this in mind, you may want to consider exploring your own thoughts more thoroughly before deciding whether or not something needs changing!

Also read: 10 Psychological reasons behind why you can’t stop thinking about someone.

Erotomania (aka; De Clérambault’s syndrome.)

Erotomania is also known as De Clérambault’s syndrome and is characterized by the belief that another person is in love with them.

The causes, symptoms, and treatment of erotomania are often explored from a clinical perspective.

There are many possible reasons why erotomania occurs. It may start after the loss of a loved one or during a particularly stressful period in life.

Erotomania can also develop after experiencing rejection from someone you have strong feelings for. In some cases, it could be triggered by seeing romantic messages on social media or romantic movies and songs.

If you feel that your infatuation has become obsessive and unhealthy, seek professional help as soon as possible to get to the root of your feelings.

This can help ensure that you will be able to overcome any mental health conditions you may have been experiencing proactively rather than letting things spiral out of control.”

Also read: What is it called when you care too much about what others think?(10 tips on how to not care what people think)

Unrequited love disorder.

Unrequited love disorder is a rare form of mental illness that causes the sufferer to spend most of their time obsessing over someone who doesn’t want them back.

This is when you have romantic feelings for a person that are not reciprocated, or when the other person does love you but not in the same way.

What causes this feeling? When we are in love it can feel that the person we want to be with us is our dream companion. 

This can make it difficult to let go of them and our thoughts can become obsessive. In these cases, we may also experience intense feelings of jealousy if they are with another person.

It’s important to remember that these feelings of rejection happen to all of us at some point in our lives, and it’s normal to feel down after something like this happens.

However, this doesn’t mean you should avoid social situations or isolate yourself from others as this will only make your mood worse and your recovery slower.

If someone has an unrequited love disorder, then they may have difficulty letting go of the relationship even though there is no chance for them to be together again.

Because their mind has been set on how happy everything could be with their partner if only he/she would return those feelings too!

Also read: How to stop overthinking?

The symptoms include:

  • Strong sense of emotional craving for reciprocation of one’s feelings for another person (including both attraction and obsession)
  • An overwhelming, obsessive need to have one’s feelings reciprocated.
  • A strong sense of anxiety when love is not reciprocated or when the possibility of rejection looms near.
  • Persistent fantasies about idealized forms of “togetherness” with the object of affection.
  • Feeling humbled by the perfection, intelligence, and charm (real or imagined) of the lover.
  • Inability to act normally around your crush because of self-consciousness.

Obsessive love disorder

What is obsessive love disorder?

Obsessive love disorder(OLD) is characterized by a persistent pattern of thoughts and behaviors that are centered around the fixation of an individual. 

That goes without saying when you’re deeply in love with someone who doesn’t feel the same way about you, but even if the feelings are mutual, things are far from easy.

 This obsession can lead to physical, mental, and emotional distress.

  • Obsessive love disorder is defined as a serious mental condition in which someone feels an overwhelming urge to possess their object of affection. 

This can be a romantic partner, but it can also be a friend or even someone they’ve never met.

OLRD differs from unrequited love in that there’s no reciprocity at all—the person obsessed doesn’t get any positive feedback from the object of their obsession.

  • While many people use “love” and “obsession” interchangeably, obsessive love disorder is not the same thing as love. It’s not just the intensity of feeling so much for another person that makes it unhealthy.

It’s the complete lack of boundaries and inability to accept rejection or take no for an answer.

A common thread in OLSD is this idea that if you really loved someone, you’d be able to tell them how you feel about them at any time, regardless of if they want you to or not.

  • Even though some people with OLSD have obsessive-compulsive disorder, OCD isn’t what causes OLRD—it merely makes it worse by making other compulsions more severe.
  • The symptoms of OLRD include intrusive thoughts about your object of affection, romanticizing previous experiences with your object of affection (even fantasizing about hypothetical interactions), stalking your object of affection online, and (depending on their relationship with them) in real life.

Viewing your object of affection as perfect; having unrealistic expectations regarding your relationship with them (like thinking they’ll change their mind about rejecting you).

Being unable to imagine a future without them; obsessing over previous interactions with them (are they mad at me?

Do they think I’m weird? Why didn’t I say this instead?), and uncontrollable jealousy when others show interest in or are romantically linked to your object of affection.

OLD isn’t the same as love. Nor is it the same as unrequited love.

A person who has OLD feels an intense fixation on another person for whom he or she feels romantic desire (or already has a relationship). 

Also read: How to not get attached to people? (Complete Guide)

As with any mental health condition, there are symptoms of obsessive love disorder that mark it as different from normal feelings of love or infatuation.

For example, if you have this kind of disorder and you get into a relationship with someone, it’s most likely that you’ll become fixated on them.

You will think about them constantly. You’ll want to know where they are at all times and what they are doing. 

But this isn’t healthy behavior; it’s unhealthy because the desire for closeness comes from needing control over your partner so that feelings of insecurity or anxiety disappear.

 In some cases (and in extreme cases), people with obsessive-compulsive disorders can even develop borderline personality disorders or narcissistic personality disorders.

Why does it happen?

It often stems from childhood trauma or issues in the person’s life such as social isolation, depression, or addiction. 

However, there are many other factors that contribute to OCD such as genetics and stressors associated with adulthood like divorce or unemployment – which makes sense given how stressful these things can be!

How do I stop thinking about someone?

Following these tips will help: Think before acting: If something bothers you, ask yourself why first before saying anything out loud.

Focus on what’s important right now instead of worrying about what might happen later Talk therapy Counseling Mental health professionals who specialize in treating OCD medication Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT)

Also read: When you feel a connection with someone do they feel it too?

Attachment theory: Anxious attachment, avoidant and secure attachment.

Attachment theory is a psychological, evolutionary, and the emotional bond that impacts behavior throughout life.

It can dictate how each of us reacts to our needs and how we go about getting them met. 

When the attachment theory is healthy and secure, it’s in the best interest of everyone involved.

However, when it comes to an unhealthy attachment, can cause you not to be able to stop thinking about someone.

There are three main types of attachment styles: anxious-preoccupied, dismissive-avoidant, and secure. If you find yourself in an anxious or avoidant type relationship (which are often paired) you might notice that you have a hard time letting go of your partner (even if they aren’t the best for you).

This can lead to one person feeling like they are giving too much and their partner isn’t giving anything back which ultimately leads to resentment.

Or perhaps you’ve been fascinated by someone who was bad for you? Someone who hurt you or was mean but yet, there were small moments where they would show kindness or compassion? 

There’s something called trauma bonding which describes this phenomenon perfectly. It occurs when someone traumatizes another person with kindness or pity after causing pain — whether purposefully or not. 

That small act of kindness is what causes us as humans not to want to let go despite everything else that may be wrong with the situation/relationship/person.

Also read: How to stop being emotionally attached to someone?

Trauma bonding.

Trauma bonding is a form of love addiction. When you break up with someone, you’re not just missing the person.

You’re also addicted to the chemicals that are released in their presence, and those chemicals are no longer being produced. 

Although traumatic bonds can be formed by anyone, they’re common among people who were abused or neglected as children or experienced trauma as a teen. 

Psychology Today notes that as adults, they might turn to relationships “as an attempt to soothe themselves through them but instead become trapped in a cycle of codependence and trauma re-enactment. 

In addition to abuse survivors, trauma bonding can affect those who experience significant setbacks in adulthood.

The death of a loved one (especially if it was unexpected), losing your job unexpectedly, receiving an unexpected diagnosis, or experiencing a major financial setback can all cause people to experience some degree of trauma bonding with their partners.”

In other words: Sometimes you bond with people because things go really well between you — but sometimes you bond with people because things go really badly between you. 

To understand why this happens, we need to look at how the brain manages stress and how it responds when we feel threatened.

When someone shows signs that they might hurt us (either physically or emotionally), our brains produce cortisol and neurotransmitters like adrenaline and dopamine — which leads to elevated heart rate and breathing levels and higher blood pressure. 

In short: We perceive danger whether it’s real or not! How much these hormones flood our system depends on three factors: our perceptions of danger; our previous experiences; and what kinds of coping mechanisms we have for dealing with stress.

Also read: Why can’t I stop thinking about someone? (According to psychology)

Reasons for why you can’t stop thinking about someone

  • You need perfect closure
  • Obsessing over someone tends to happen when you’re lonely or bored
  • Obsessing over someone may be due to an unconscious attraction to your own traits in them
  • They might be your crush
  • Emotional dependency.
  • Fear of rejection or abandonment.
  • Social anxiety.
  • Childhood trauma and abuse.

Also read: 25 Psychological facts about crushes and falling in love (Scientific research based)

How to stop obsessive thinking about someone?


There are several steps you can take to avoid obsessive thinking about someone:

1. Analyze what it is about this particular person that has taken over your thoughts; maybe it could be something as simple as looks but does this make sense?

What else do you know about them?

Don’t get too hung up on physical appearance; think about what interests them and what makes them tick. Even better: ask them.

2. List down all of your good qualities – don’t be shy – now list down all of their good qualities, no matter how small or insignificant they may seem at the moment.

Compare both lists and try to find common ground between both parties; this means there is some sort of connection between both parties.

3. If they were in a prior relationship with another person that doesn’t work out, don’t allow yourself to feel angry or resentful towards either party.

Positive energy will attract more positive energy while negative energy attracts negative energy.

So save yourself from unnecessary stress by focusing on positive things instead of dwelling on things that haven’t happened yet – remember: “Good things come to those who wait”.

Tips to stop thinking about someone constantly

1. Recognize

2. Embrace your feelings

3. Don’t act on your impulses

4. Do something to distract yourself

4. Talk to a friend or professional about them

5. Block them online if you have to and move on completely

Final thoughts

As we have seen, there are many reasons why someone might be thinking about a particular person. 

They may want to be with that person for romantic reasons. Or they may be suffering from an obsessive-compulsive disorder which causes them to fixate on people. 

Or they may have an anxiety disorder that is causing them to worry about how the other person views them or whether their relationship is secure. 

Whatever the reason, it’s important to understand what’s going on and take steps to address the underlying causes of your thoughts if you want those thoughts to stop.

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Experienced Psychology and philosophy Writer, self-help and relationship Coach and thought influencer. He has 7 years of experience in Personal development industry. His expertise as a self-help and relationship Coach has been highlighted through his articles in medium and substack to name a few. To be updated with his latest work, connect with him by following his social media accounts.

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