What is obsessive love

The dark side of love

Jealousy, stalking, murder: when love becomes morbid

Love can be dangerous - when it breaks up. How bad the consequences can be, however, depends on the cultural environment.

Actually, she is not at home at all, but at the last moment the boyfriend she wanted to visit a fair with sprained her ankle and now feels unable to walk from booth to booth for hours. She doesn't want to admit to her friends that her long-announced visit to the trade fair fell through, so she doesn't go to the café with her friend as usual, but instead invites him to come to her home for a chat.

They talk, they laugh, they remember old times. Above it it gets dark, she lights a candle, but because nobody calls - everyone knows that she is not there - they forget the time. Until suddenly the phone rings. Then it occurs to her that she cannot go there, after all, she is officially not there and if she is suddenly there and then not alone, who knows what kind of rumors that will trigger again ...

The phone stops ringing and the answering machine starts up. But apart from a loud "clack", the caller leaves nothing behind. Two minutes later, however, the phone rings again, as soon as they want to continue the interrupted conversation. Again the caller leaves nothing behind. "Yes, you see, that's how terrible it is for me: Normally I never have rest - someone always wants to do something with me!". And the phone rings again. Again no message on the answering machine.

Suddenly the doorbell rings. The visitor slowly looks exasperated, she suddenly freezes and turns pale. With one finger on her lips, she signals the visitor to be silent, turns off the light and gestures to ask him to follow her into the adjoining bedroom. Then she closes the connecting door behind her.

No, it does not follow what some think now. Rather, she explains to her visitor in a whisper, "This is my ex! He must have seen the candlelight and knows that I'm there!". Meanwhile the phone rings again and the doorbell rings Sturm. She doesn't dare to turn off the phone, she doesn't even dare to go back into the living room. She begins to tremble and asks him "I'm scared, please stay with me tonight".

They end up - dressed - in bed, she trembles and cries in his arms, while the doorbell continues to ring and the phone doesn’t stop and he slowly wonders when the neighbors will finally call the police, since it’s now past midnight and certainly nobody in the house can think of sleep. She just says "He's stubborn, he'll stay until morning" and he thinks about how he can get out of this situation safely or whether one of the neighbors will open the front door in a few minutes, the ex-lover kicks in the apartment door, she finds both in bed and slaughters him.

But it's a cold December night and after two and a half hours the stormy ex-lover has cooled down enough to go home voluntarily. She falls asleep exhausted, he is eagerly awaiting the morning. When he finally leaves the house with her, some neighbors peek curiously out from behind the windows, but nobody is waiting for them at the door any more. It's a perfectly normal gray Monday morning.

A normal person should accept it if after the second ring-the-doorbell the doorbell is not opened and they go home. But when feelings are involved, reason falls by the wayside. In this case, nothing happened except a sleepless night and the scene did not repeat itself. Nevertheless, it was embarrassing for everyone involved. It doesn't even have to be the end of a long-term relationship; even a night together can result in cooked rabbits, as in the "fateful affair". And regardless of whether there was actually a relationship before or love only ever came from one side, the transition from being in love to being obsessed is nothing unusual.

Sometimes the partner may have contributed by playing around or being unfaithful, sometimes they were just afraid of the emotional outbursts of the other and therefore refused. The police only intervene in such cases if there is serious danger, since they cannot determine what is really going on anyway: the variant, as in "Love me, if you dare", to order the lover first and then the police after all, calling out still exists.

Beware of side effects

Love is complicated enough as it is and nobody likes to think that jealousy, anger, rejection, hatred, domestic violence, obsession, stalking and in extreme cases murder can result if one of the partners ends the relationship or does not even begin want. Many psychologists believe that romantic passion and obsessive-compulsive disorder are pretty similar anyway. And while murder is fortunately the exception, stalking is far more common than you would like to admit.

As the New Scientist reports in its latest issue, over a million women and more than 370,000 men are stalked annually in the United States. Stalking has three components: unwanted persecution or harassment, real threat, and fear of the victim. Research by Brian Spitzberg at San Diego State University in California found that 23.5% of women and 10.5% of men had been stalked. In a large American study, most victims reported being followed or spied on, received unsolicited calls, letters or gifts, their property or property ransacked, and even their pets killed.

The persecution lasted an average of more than a year and a half; more than two years if the stalker was a previous sex partner. Three-quarters of female victims know their stalker, and over half are persecuted by a current or past sex partner. Of these, 21% are persecuted before the end of the relationship, 43% after the end of the relationship and 36% both and. More than half of men know their stalker, but relationships as a cause are less common here. Other research showed that stalking was the precursor to violence 55 to 89% of the time when a relationship was the trigger.

Why does love get out of hand?

However, it is not yet entirely clear to the researchers what this cause of behavior is that everyone condemns with a clear head, including the stalker. J. Reid Meloy of the University of California at San Diego and Helen Fisher of Rutgers University in New Jersey suggest that the causes can be found in childhood, when one parent dies or disappears as a result of a separation. They also believe that increased dopamine activity, possibly combined with low serotonin levels, exacerbates this behavior. Worryingly, modern technology ("Don't kid me, I know where you are") and inadvertently exposed data to the Internet are making stalking easier.

Theories that romantic infatuation is a modern cultural invention and that sexual jealousy is unknown in exotic societies have long been refuted by anthropologists: love and jealousy can be found in all cultures and social classes. The lack of jealousy would also be interpreted by most people as a lack of interest in the partner and the end of the relationship. It only becomes dangerous when the feelings get out of control. Men in particular often see their partner as personal property and, above all, see it as a loss of face when the partner breaks up with them in a provocative manner in public and they become the mockery of the others. This is also the most common trigger for passionate murder across cultures.

Even if the woman flees from the man, for example because he is regularly drunk and then attacks her, her risk of being killed is higher after the separation than within the abusive relationship. The opposite case, in which a woman kills her husband, is less common and often an emergency reaction to forestall him.

Jealous killings are society dependent

Nevertheless, murder out of passion is the exception and its frequency, in contrast to the underlying feelings, actually depends on the respective society: In Papua New Guinea, for example, an ethnologist was able to study the Lusi-Kaliai find that almost all women have been beaten by their husbands at some point while at the Wape, another tribe, such behavior was practically unknown. Even in modern, civilized societies, the percentage of women who have been beaten by their husbands varies from 10% to over 50%.

In the UK, over 100 male British men kill their partners or exes every year, with research showing that these men were more "normal boys" than typical criminals but nonetheless had an unstable past. In the USA the number of 1000 women murders per year is ten times as high and in relation to the population is still twice as high as in England. Nevertheless, this is seen as progress: in the 1980s there were still over 1,400 women murders a year. Better support for women at risk is seen as the cause of the decrease. And as long as jealousy has no fatal consequences and remains in moderation, it holds couples together and ensures that infidelity does not occur or at least does not lead to a breakup of the relationship. However, excessive jealousy can drive the partner to flight and into the arms of others.

But there are also false allegations of stalking. In the example mentioned at the beginning, the acquaintance who had shivered through the night and later inquired of his childhood friend because he was worried about her well-being was finally accused of offending her. A misunderstanding because the person concerned was too afraid of the real stalker to tell her acquaintances the whole truth, but had told them about being followed and also about having met her childhood friend again "I beg your pardon - I run after you - you would like that?!?" in front of witnesses finally led to the indignant end of the friendship ... (Wolf-Dieter Roth)

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