The Difference Between True Love and Unhealthy Obsession post image

The Difference Between True Love and Unhealthy Obsession

I think  most women run into issues and confusion in their love lives because they don’t know what a truly healthy relationship looks like, and is supposed to feel like. And it’s not surprising given the very unrealistic portrayals of love in movies, TV, and music. There is this idea that we have one soul mate and that real love stories are supposed to be filled with obstacles and drama. While this makes for good entertainment, it isn’t real life.

Most of the love stories we see in pop culture are rooted in infatuation…not real love. Some degree of infatuation is fine, but a relationship entirely rooted in infatuation is usually doomed. It’s usually based on an obsession, or idealization, more than a genuine appreciation and acceptance of who the other person is.

There is a tremendous difference between real, true love and unhealthy obsession or fixation… but it doesn’t always feel like that.

What do I mean by love and fixation?

Well, when you love someone, it is pretty effortless.  It is true and pure – you don’t need them to be any certain way. Heck, you don’t even need them to be your boyfriend or lover. You just simply enjoy them as a person and you’re happy with them just being who they are. You don’t need to possess them.  You don’t need a title from them. You just love having them in your life and they love being in yours, whether it’s as friends, as lovers, or as life partners.

Again, I have to emphasize that it’s effortless and characterized by you just simply enjoying each other. You really “get” each other. You laugh together.  You don’t need them, but rather, you just enjoy them.

That’s love. That’s compatibility.

Fixation, on the other hand, does not feel pleasant. It does not feel good, but it does feel very urgent, very important, and very stressful.

When you’re fixated on someone, it feels more like you’re suffocating. It feels like you need them… like you must have them treat you a certain way, give you a certain relationship title, or somehow prove their commitment to you. You feel like until you have this, you are not OK and will not be OK.

When you’re fixated on someone, your relationship ceases to be about enjoyment and effortlessness. Instead, it is more like you are gasping for air, desperately hoping they’ll give you whatever it is you think you need from them.

Granted, even good relationships have a little bit of fixation mixed in with them (I must emphasize a little bit), but it is only during very occasional occurrences like arguments or when one or both partners are stressed.  In general, though, compatible people have very little, if any, fixation in their relationships…

People who have good relationships observe how they themselves feel in a relationship with another person (whether it’s a lover, a friend or a co-worker).  They observe if their connection to the other person feels like love (good) or obsession (bad).

If it feels like obsession, they drop it like it’s hot.

Unfortunately, though, the majority of people don’t do that. I blame music and Hollywood for propagating this mindset, but for whatever reason, people today have the idea that relationships are supposed to be hard.

MORE: How to Have a Healthy Relationship

This simply is not true.  If a relationship with someone makes you feel bad, that is your mind screaming, “This person is incompatible with you! Get away and stay away!”

If a relationship feels like suffocation, that’s a huge clue that you’re not in a relationship with someone who’s compatible with you.

Good relationships are effortless.

I can’t stress this point enough. In a good relationship, everything just unfolds effortlessly (well, 99% of the time within a good relationship is effortless with the occasional 1% of the time where you have to put in the effort to make sure things stay in a good place). You don’t feel like you’re walking on eggshells, worrying that you might screw something up.  You don’t feel like you have to make it work.  You don’t feel like you’re suffocating, wishing and hoping to finally get some sweet relief and get to breathe. You aren’t afraid to lose them. In fact, you never even think about possibly losing them because you don’t feel you need to possess them in order to experience the love you have for them.

Love is not meant to be a struggle. Yes, popular songs make it sound like it’s supposed to be.  Yes, movies make it seem like it’s supposed to be.  But movies and music are wrong, love is meant to be effortless and easy. When it’s not, you’re doing it wrong!

Why is breaking your fixation essential to having success in your love life?

OK, so I talked earlier about what fixation feels like and how it’s the biggest warning sign that you’re trying to have a relationship with a bad match (that is, a match that isn’t going to work out in the long term and will drain your life, heart, and soul until there’s nothing left…).

However, I didn’t explain the incredibly damaging toll this takes on the relationship having a chance.

QUIZ: Are You Accidentally Sabotaging Your Love Life?

What is a relationship, anyway?

Let’s talk about what a relationship actually is since the majority of people blindly want, crave and chase the idea of having a relationship and yet, very few actually understand some essential points about what a relationship is…

A relationship is not a possession, like a stone or a purse or a car. A relationship is not a thing at all.  A relationship is simply the interaction you’re having with that person as it’s happening and the general, overall tone of your interactions.

A relationship simply is.

Society doesn’t see relationships this way, for the most part.  Our society tries to make relationships into a thing – a thing that can be worked on, fixed or broken. Lost or gained.  Had or not had.

Relationships are living and experienced in-the-moment, like music.

A song is a song as it’s playing. If it’s sitting on your MP3 player and you’re not playing it, then it is simply data.  You can say you have the song or own it, but saying you have a song on your iPod has nothing to do with your experience of the song as it’s playing.

I don’t care if you have a million songs on your iPod. If you’re not listening to the music, you’re not experiencing music.

Yes, I realize I’m speaking in metaphors, so let me tie this up: I don’t care if you have a relationship. I don’t care if you have a title like “boyfriend” or “husband” for your guy. The title is not the relationship. Your having of them is not your relationship – it is simply a thought in your head, completely irrelevant to the on-going music of your relationship.

So if the “music” of your relationship is a bitter, hateful ballad of pain and inner suffering… you need to change your tune, so to speak.

MORE: 5 Signs He’s Not the One

Back to my point about fixation…

When you fixate on a relationship, you are choking the joy out of your own experience and that negative vibe transmits into your relationship and very quickly poisons it, fatally.

Instead of your guy feeling relaxed around you, he feels pressure (like he’s afraid to offend you or upset you).  Instead of you being his sanctuary and escape, you become a person (or vibe) that he wants to escape from.  Instead of him feeling like your presence fills him with joy and peace, he will feel like your presence drains him of joy and peace.

This is a bad thing…

I don’t point this out to blame you or make you feel bad.  Just the opposite in fact.  This is good news because I’m telling you: This is 100% under your control.

So what’s the root cause of this destructive force of fixation? How can you completely banish it from your love life, so love has a chance to flourish and grow?

The cause and solution are both simple.  Simple, however, does not always translate to easy.

The root cause of fixation comes from you perceiving that the present relationship situation could somehow lead you to lack or loss in some way.  And, as a response, you feel a fear of loss.  So, in short, the root cause is your perspective and the fear of loss you feel as a consequence.

This fear of loss is entirely based on how you’re looking at the situation.

Similar to a good, loving relationship, a healthy perspective feels effortless and feels good. When you are living within an unhealthy perspective, your thoughts on that subject will feel bad.

It’s really that simple.  One thing that took me nearly 20 years to fully grasp is this simple truth: If the way you’re thinking about things makes you feel bad, you’re on the wrong track.

If there’s any area of life that feels the impact of your beliefs the most, it’s relationships.

You can get by financially, physically, and even socially with negative, self-defeating beliefs haunting you every step of the way.

But love… love dredges up all that is unloved within ourselves. If you have a negative perspective or negative beliefs haunting you, your love life will drag all of these issues to the surface and force you to deal with them, head on.

Most people in our society are not educated in inner or outer love. And what’s worse is that magazines and books are often designed to make you buy more solutions (be it make-up, hair products, clothing, liposuction, etc.) so that you’d somehow be good enough for a relationship or love.  So a lot of so-called resources end up leading the thirsty further into the desert.

MORE: Ask a Guy: Am I In A Toxic Relationship?

The truth is, the path out of self-sabotaging habits in your love life is simple. All you have to do is remember this: When you feel bad or disturbed about something, that is your mind’s way of letting you know your perspective is off track and will not lead you to a good place.

When you think about something in your love life and you feel good (or, more accurately, you feel at peace and undisturbed) with your thoughts, then you know you’re on the right track.

One of the biggest areas where this is apparent is: The major difference between not caring and stressing over your love life.

In order to get to a place where your relationships work for you (instead of work against you), you need to arrive at a point where you stop caring.

I want to make clear what I mean here when I say, “Stop caring”…

What I really mean is: Stop stressing over it.

Caring Vs. Stressing

Most people confuse caring with stressing about things. I care very much about my parents, extended family, and siblings. But I don’t stress about them.

When I am looking at things in a way where I perceive that I could lose something, then I feel that fear of loss feeling and I start to stress over it. That stress feeling can end up turning something small that would normally have me feeling only slightly bothered, to instead experience full-blown, long-lasting depression and anxiety.

Like I’ve been saying, it’s all under your control. It all roots back to the perspective you take on things. If you look at things in a way where you believe you could lose something and you’re afraid of losing it, you will always experience a fear of loss and, as a result, you will invariably end up creating a self-fulfilling prophecy (that is, your negative emotions and mindset will have you behave or make decisions in such a way that bring about exactly what you don’t want)…

One of the biggest differences between people who are successful in an area of life and those who aren’t is that the unsuccessful people take on a perspective that causes them to stress over that area of life, whereas the successful people don’t take on a perspective that stresses them out.

I understand you might say, “But Eric, how can I not stress out over my situation?  It’s not like taking on a different perspective would make my current situation any less real or true.”

Well, OK, but you would have to agree with me that setbacks in your life take much less of a toll on you when you’re in a good mood than when you’re in a bad mood, right?  Your mood is the most important factor in how life feels and how prone you are to stress over things.

MORE: How to Stop Stressing When It Comes to Dating and Relationships

In that way, it’s essential you learn to protect your mood and do everything in your power to live your life in a way where you’re in a good mood as often as possible.

When I adopted this line of thinking, my life (and love life) improved tremendously.  If something makes you feel bad, it’s OK to drop it.

I’m not necessarily saying to drop people if you feel bad around them (though sometimes this is a great move), but I am saying that there are many things you can give yourself permission to drop.

-You don’t need to win an argument. It’s OK to drop it.
-You don’t need a certain person to see you a certain way. You can drop that desire (or, in some cases, drop the person).
-You don’t need to live your life in a certain way to make others happy or to be worthy/good by someone else’s standards. You can drop those beliefs and do what makes you happy.

Do what makes you happy.

That’s what I’m getting at with all this.

This is why, over and over and over again, you see Sabrina and me advising you to live a life that makes you happy. A life where you feel good, inspired, engaged, full, and happy. It is essential and if you are not there, then the best (and most important) thing to do is get to a place where your life is happy and full. That is the best thing for your love life.

Stop worrying about being dumped.  Instead, occupy your time with dumping negative ideas, negative thoughts, and negative influences.  Dump everything that makes you feel bad.  Dump all that drains the color and joy from your life and fill that space with everything you love, regardless of what anyone else thinks.

That, in essence, is what loving yourself looks like. And that’s what you need right now – that is all you need.

You need to take the inner journey now and finally give yourself that permission to love yourself. That is the secret that nobody has told you about love. This world will send you spiraling into your life, looking for love. Craving it and chasing it. Needing it.

You can love yourself. It’s OK. You can finally give yourself that permission.

You may have been treated badly in your life. It’s still OK to love yourself now.

You may have had your heart broken in the past. It’s still OK to love yourself now.

You may have felt, no matter how hard you tried to love other’s that ultimately, deeply, somehow… you are unlovable.

And I’m telling you, now, you can drop it. You can let it all go now.  It’s OK, I’m telling you… you can love yourself.

And this is how, finally, all the empty cliches can make sense.

When people say to follow your heart, they are telling you that you can give yourself this permission. They are telling you that you can love yourself. They are telling you that you can drop all of the ideas that you’ve been fed… those ideas that make you feel bad, depressed, or anxious… and simply just believe what makes you feel good and at peace.

There’s nothing dramatic or glamorous about taking on a perspective that makes you feel good… and happy… and at peace. It’s not a big, loud, ostentatious performance.

It’s more like letting go and finally being OK with following that simple path inside that makes you feel happy and at peace. It’s not a booming declaration that you shove in people’s faces to prove how happy and whole and strong you are… it’s just a quiet and invisible letting-go of all that makes you unhappy, stressed or afraid.

Once you live that path, love really will effortlessly flow to you.

It’s important to note, this is not some tactic that you can do to get love to come to you. That, again, would be the wrong perspective. I’m not giving you some means to an immediate end… I’m giving you the way out of self-sabotaging your love life as a whole, so that finding and having love is no longer a struggle, ever.

You need to stop trying to shove a square peg through a round hole, though. This isn’t something you can do a bit of and then, the moment that you see it starting to work, go back to your old perspectives that fill you with fear, stress, and anxiety.  You have to go “all in” on this.

You wouldn’t reserve a spot for weeds in a garden and, in that same way, you must always remember that there’s no place for thoughts that make you feel bad in your love life.

I believe the human emotional system is engineered brilliantly. Granted, we live in an imperfect society with many imperfect paradigms, but we have a guidance system built within all of us to let us know if we’re on the right track or not. My bottom line is that if you don’t feel good right now, you’re not on the right track and it’s time to shift your perspective.

There is no such thing as happiness in the future.  If you’re not happy right now, you need a perspective change in your life before your love life will improve.  Your own peace and happiness leads your love life success.

There is no lesson in love more important or essential than that, so if there’s anything you take away from this message, embed that into your consciousness, every moment of every day.

If you really, truly and fully follow what I laid out for you in this message, you’ll find that once you find that happiness within your own life and perspective, your love life will be effortless.

I hope this article helped you better understand the difference between healthy love and unhealthy obsession. But there is more you need to know. There is one defining moment in every relationship that determines if it will last, or if you will be left heartbroken…

At some point, he will ask himself: Is this the woman I want to commit myself to? The answer will determine whether the relationship deepens or ends. Do you know how a man decides a woman is girlfriend or wife material? Do you know what inspires a man to want to commit? If not, you need to read this article next: The #1 Things Men Desire in a Woman

Another major problem is if you think he might be losing interest or pulling away. Do you know what to do when this happens? If not, you run the risk of making the most common relationship-ruining mistakes. Read this now and learn exactly how to handle it: If He’s Pulling Away, Do This...

Hope it helps,

eric charles

Written by Eric Charles

I'm Eric Charles, the co-founder and co-editor of A New Mode. I love writing articles to help people free themselves from suffering and have clarity in their love life. I have a degree in Psychology and I've dedicated the last 20 years of my life to learning everything I can about human psychology and sharing what gets people out of struggling with life and into having the life they really want. If you want to contact me, feel free to reach out on Facebook or Twitter.

118 comments… add one

Leave Your Comment Now...


Omg, I think the next Esther Hicks has been found! :-) I loved this article. Makes so much sense for both men and women of all ages and preferences. I think the key point here is one always hears the “….take social risks….” phrase when it comes to dating and such. But, as this article demonstrates SO amazingly well, taking these sorts of actions has to feel fun and light. In other words “inspired action” is needed; but to get that kind of action one needs to study this article. Well done Eric!!

Reply April 21, 2019, 2:40 pm


Am looking for solution to my problem when I stumbled on this article, which make me realize am in a mess of a relationship. my boyfriend is 9 years older than me so it makes me think he is more mature and I don’t feel what he felt most times I think it to be that he loves be 100% while I love him 50%. but recently I noticed we have been quarrelling on same issue for the past 3years. always want me to profess my love for him all the time ,think about him all day and if I couldn’t pick his call for some reasons he get angry and start to accuse me of cheating. he believe that I don’t love him and think I will leave him anytime. while I try all my best to proof to him that I love him and won’t leave him. for the past three weeks now we’av not be in good term and his blaming me for it saying I don’t make him happy I cause him pain that I should just say it if I don’t want to be with him anymore. am really confused because his love as start to depreciate in me and at the same time I don’t want him to see me as a bad person. I don’t know what to do really.

Reply April 2, 2019, 5:54 am

David Warner

The article makes great points and is 99% true and then…falls off at the end. If you’re suffocating – it mean you’re incompatible. NO. You can be perfectly compatible and still feel suffocated. That is IF you are in an obsessive, immature relationship. Is it love? It’s crazy stuff, but it’s not loving and it doesn’t feel good. That has more to do with you and your own sense of self. You’re feeling fragile, insecure, jealous, and lacking trust. It doesn’t mean you’re not compatible, it has nothing to diwht that. It means something else. I was going to recommend this article to someone – except for that last, misleading detail. Too bad.

Reply February 8, 2018, 12:25 pm


Yeah, I wouldn’t really call it effortless because you still need to put time into that person and bond with them. But at the same time, there’s a difference between putting in effort and trying too hard. While love does take time and effort to get something worth out of it, it also shouldn’t be a constant struggle. If you’re constantly fighting and struggling to win someone’s affection, then it isn’t really love.

Reply October 3, 2017, 3:52 pm

Ramon Mendoza

“if you don’t feel good right now, you’re not on the right track and it’s time to shift your perspective.” This statement is what I’m looking for. Our mind is like our body, if something hurts then something is wrong with it. It took me your inspiring words to understand it. Thank You, i wish i could really embed that mindset jnto my mind.

Reply September 24, 2017, 12:48 am


This article, as are many of your articles, is simply inspired. It’s EXACTLY what I needed to read. It’s a healing balm for my heart! Thank you, Eric Charles. You have clearly and beautifully written a positive, encouraging and practical article that has spoken directly to my present situation. God bless you and keep the thoughts and wise advise flowing. You have a new fan!

Reply August 30, 2017, 4:19 pm


Vampires, werewolves and mummies (oh my!)Constructive Clearly show , on your own ought to shift

Reply August 29, 2017, 5:48 pm


I have recently been on the other end. I was with a guy who had an unhealthy fixation and it was very draining. He wanted to rush everything and when I asked him to back off (nicely of course), he seemed upset and disappointed. The relationship felt rushed, controlling and just not good. My gut kept screaming to get out. I felt like I could not breathe.

Reply August 28, 2017, 11:47 am


WOW!!!!!! What an amazing article. I am the worse about all you have mentioned here. I get fixated to the point of suffocation and anxiety. And it’s me! Because I constantly worry that I’m going to lose myself. Be dumbed, an I being lied to, what are their motives etc etc. I lost a dear friend because of this. And I feel AWFUL. Can I ask, when someone ends the friendship because of conflicts (my insecurities, demands, questions etc etc) can I some how fix this? I mean not by pushing by all means but some other way. I’d like to gain the friendship but if it’s not possible I’m willing to move on.

Reply July 7, 2017, 11:37 pm


I meant I’d like to gain that friendship back. I don’t want to disregard her wishes in anyway but I’d like to at least tell her how I’ve reflected and realized so much about myself and what I was doing so wrong to drain the friendship. And perhaps, start fresh in the future if possible. I guess what I’m saying or asking is, is this friendship completely done? Should I just move on?

Reply July 7, 2017, 11:50 pm


Awesome! Very well put. Changing perspective makes a hell lot of difference, and sometimes instantly. Thanks!!

Reply June 24, 2017, 2:00 am


what an amazing article…it described what i was doing wrong with the past relationship i thought i had………that said, i just want to add that becoming infatuated/obsessed with someone may not always be your fault. unhealthy infatuation is definitely on you to learn to nip in the bud, but sometimes it’s insidiously caused by the other person doing the wrong thing.

i found out the other day that my ex is a serial cheater. it’s what caused him to not prioritize me, and then just recently he cheated on his new girl with me (having hidden her existence from me – he is now single). so, everyone here, you /must/ pay attention to the signs. if you’re becoming obsessed with your person, afraid of losing them, analyze why. are they not prioritizing you (lack of availability for some reason)? does everything they do for the relationship seem to be more about themselves than the two of you together (their ego rather than love)? if you bring up concerns about how the person feels for you, do they respond directly or in a way that directs you to a certain way to feel (manipulation)? listen to your gut. if your person is doing right in the relationship, there won’t be any room for you to start developing an idealized version of them to obsess over.

Reply June 10, 2017, 10:15 pm


Hi, Eric.

I have this kind of relationship with a girl: when we are together, we talk about any kind of stuff and we sometimes kiss. In those scenarios, I think what I feel towards her is love, it feels like I am discovering a, wonderful person and I just wish the best for her while she wishes the same for me (I think, at least).

However, after a, couple of days of not being together, this turns into an obsession. I need to know about her everytime and I really look forward seeing her again, but in an way that it hurts.

She says she is not ready to start a new relationship after her previous one, but after reading this I think what she feels towards me is more similar to love than what I feel towards her.

What should I do? Break our relationship and maybe come back when I learn how to love? I know this “learn to love for someone” goes against some points of your article, but I’d really like to know your opinion.

Greetings from Buenos Aires.

Reply May 16, 2017, 1:41 am

Bev Stewart

It takes effort that actualkt results in something like growth. The effort causes growth. If you arent seeing growth as in growinf closer then you are putting effort into an obsession ans need to drop it because effort with no reward feels bad not good. In other words there is good effort and bad effort.

Reply April 24, 2017, 11:55 am


One of the best article I ever read in my life! Thankyou.

Reply April 6, 2017, 5:35 pm


I just spent two years as the obsessive and constantly mistrustful partner. I can’t tell you how much energy and stress I expended trying to control her. She alienated friends, gave up hobbies, and just stopped doing anything for fear of upsetting me. Our relationship was in a bad pattern after three months. The remaining time has been an ongoing cycle of unhappiness with a few isolated blips of normality. It finally ended last night. It leaves me frightened to get involved with anyone else. I was a total monster. The most insidious part of this behavior is that it may not be easy to recognize what you’re doing or seem legitimate to defend when pointed out. It is terrible.

Reply March 31, 2017, 2:24 pm


amazing thorough article so nicely put. lately i have been feeling like i am obsessed with my new current boyfriend. do not know where to begin. we are both deeply in love but sometimes i feel mine is too much…mainly when i cannot read him and just obsess over little things. we started off perfect had hiccups in between. we are together 5 months nearly. i dont even think we have a problem. we both do text each other alot everyday but it is both of us. if sometimes i do feel its alot i back down a bit and he is still in cnstant contact. might not even have nothing to worry about tbh. jut i guess how you mentioned the fear of loss can take over my mind sometimes and i am constantly worrying if he is happy he loves me i really really need to let it go…today i kinda had a theory that maybe i could be replacing my worrys in the outside world solely on him. i am under alot of pressure and do seem to be more tense in the relationship when i am stressed like with work and college.
anyway again thank you for this article it really helped like so much xxx

Reply March 6, 2017, 6:38 pm


I think I’m gonna be crying for a while then the truth but it hurtz

Reply December 13, 2016, 5:08 pm


This article really hits home…. I really want to try my best to start thinking like this. I have lost a wonderful person because I do fall into this trap. At first everything is so effortless and natural, no fears, no hangups. And after time I managed to mess everything up because I freak out inside and am so afraid to lose him from my life. Which of course happened. All because of issues from my past.

Reply December 3, 2016, 12:10 pm


I am currently battling fixation at the end of a relationship. It is bad enough that I am on my way for counseling and need it. There don’t seem too many sites that talk about the sufferer of fixation and I thank you for all you have said here.
The line that turned a light on for me was, “when you love someone, it is pretty effortless”.
Obvious. Why was it so hard for me to see it?

Reply November 14, 2016, 12:14 am

Eric Charles

I fully support you to go to counseling and I hope it’s helpful for you.

My comment on why it’s hard to see is that when our attention is clouded by “fear of loss”, we become consumed with doing every we can not to “lose” whatever it is we think we’ll lose. When we’re not consumed by fears (such as fear of loss, fear of unworthiness, fear of rejection, etc.), then we can actually lean back and enjoy the relationship as it unfolds… as it is… without it needing to “be something” to enjoy it. We are either enjoying our time with that person or we’re not…

And in the rich soil of genuine enjoyment is where love, connection and depth can take root. Now, even with a person we enjoy, there are still times when conflict can come up. I’m not saying a great relationship is perfect or free of conflict. But you’ll notice that when your normal mode of spending time together is a mode of enjoyment, the conflict is handled usually very easily… you can have the conflict while simultaneously realizing that you are people who enjoy each other and that you’re on the same side.

Another thing people nail me on is my use of the word “effortless” – people take that to mean that a good relationship doesn’t take attention or energy. It does, but the attention and energy that goes into the relationship doesn’t feel like work – even the not-fun parts like taking out the trash or picking up the milk – because you love the relationship you’re participating in… so the effort doesn’t feel like effort. It feels like love.

Reply November 14, 2016, 8:30 am


Do you have a book on this?

Reply October 22, 2018, 6:40 pm


Hey Eric!
I am in a kind of dilema , there’s a girl whom I have been spending my time with! But the problem is that she gets uninterested now and then,
And again then she gets interested!
I am confused that it’s not a healthy relationship ,at times I feel I am manipulated or dominated.
It’s a horrible feeling! So should I drop out of this relationship cause we are not committed yet.i feel I am being taken for granted.

Reply October 2, 2016, 3:02 am

Bob Gilmore

Did this article really say love is effortless? Getting along with another human being is not effortless and neither is love. Should the person you love be easier to get along with than the average person? Yes, but it’s a complete lie to say relationships and love should be effortless. Even unconditional love still takes effort. That effort is how you show you care about someone.

Reply September 26, 2016, 5:20 pm

Eric Charles

Here’s something I would say that I think captures it well…

The majority of the time that I’m awake, I’m working… The thing is, I love my work. So even though from the outside people would agree that I’m a hard worker and that I take my work seriously, from the inside I can tell you that my relationship with my work is effortless… because I love it.

So yes, a lot of attention and energy goes into my work… but I still call my work effortless because it’s the most natural thing in the world for me to do this… It’s the type of work I would do for free (and for many years, I had…)

So perhaps a clearer way to say it is that great relationships feel effortless because even the aspects that are “work” don’t feel like work… they feel like participating in something meaningful, significant and for the most part incredibly joyful.

That’s the message

Reply September 27, 2016, 12:15 am


I agree with Bob Gilmore. Relationships are work. Men and women think very differently. Obviously in the beginning they should feel more effortless then after a few years. I love my job and do it effortless to but they are day’s. I have to put effort to just showing up and doing my jobs. We all had days like that even weeks. When you just don’t want to go in. You have to put some effort.

Reply April 5, 2017, 2:09 pm


I think secureness of is largely dependent upon attachment styles. Attachment theory does better to describe secure loves. No other person is going to make you have secure attachment, no matter how compatible. However, if a person has a more secure one, then it can influence this. But I do think you have a lot of positive points on here. Love isn’t always easy, but I do agree there is definitely a point where it crosses on your behavior is no longer loving. Please comment, because your Facebook is full.

Reply September 10, 2016, 11:53 am


This is the most helpful article I have read. Everything makes so much more sense now, I threw away all I was holding onto and I want to thank you for writing this, it’s hard to realize no matter how much you want something it can do more harm then good it’s a vicious cycle because obsession is hard to let go of until you understand the difference compared to true love . I suffered because I desperately wanted this person to work for me when it didn’t from day one. Thank you again this is grea for everyone to know!!

Reply August 26, 2016, 10:00 pm


Eric, thank you for this article. I was suffering and I asked myself: “It is love or obssesion?” Your article gave me all answers I needed. Thank you soo much.

Reply June 25, 2016, 5:22 am


I have been married 47 years and we have real problems. My husband was sexually abused by his mother when he was a little boy and father overseas. This condition is currently appraised to affect one in six or even five men. We have always loved one another and have struggled through the rough parts in Alcoholics Anonymous. The program has saved my life, his life and finally taken us to excellent and knowledgeable counselors. Holy Spirit is wonderful.

Reply May 26, 2016, 9:33 pm


I love the whole article. I know for sure that my Girlfriend is highly obsessed with me. Anyways, i am coping with that. …Not easy tho.

Eric, Thanks a lot

Reply May 12, 2016, 5:57 pm


Thanks so much, this is extremely helpful. I feel like I just got a much needed counseling session!

Reply April 1, 2016, 6:37 am


Is there any way of getting over an obsession of how someone looks like. The guy I am with is a super good guy but I cannot get over his baldness and sometimes his actions I have a lot of anxiety and depression. I went through a very heart breaking divorce. I Didn’t want to be slone

Reply March 24, 2016, 7:33 am


Mr Eric Charles.
I’ve lost someone so special because of my unhealthy behaviour. I wish I would’ve read your article 3 years ago. After a year I do still feel like a fool because of the damage I did to the perfect girl I once knew.
You have described my relationship in your article.

I want to thank you for your wisdom.
You have certainly helped me.

Reply March 18, 2016, 8:35 pm


I wish I could give you a hug

Reply March 18, 2016, 8:37 pm

Eric Charles

Thanks so much for the kind words — glad you found it helpful.

Reply March 19, 2016, 6:28 pm


Hi Eric,

I would like to apologize for not giving you the credit on an idea that has something to do with perspectives that I posted on Twitter.

Reply March 13, 2016, 4:14 am


All I can say is thank you! For those of us desperately searching for answers, you put it out there for us to easily find. Thank you

Reply February 9, 2016, 8:27 am

Eric Charles

Thank you Kelli for the comment and “you’re welcome” too.

Reply February 9, 2016, 12:04 pm


Just brilliant. So much wisdom. Wow. You’re amazing Eric.

Reply February 4, 2016, 3:48 pm

Eric Charles


Reply February 4, 2016, 5:04 pm

Just Anon

Have you ever had a relationship that lasted more than 5 years? I am thinking not.. What you are describing is Limerence, not mature love. Limerence is that feeling you have during the first few months of a relationship. That wonderful time when everything is fun and “effortless”. Eventually, for a relationship to continue, it must evolve beyond that and become a mature relationship. Teenagers, and actually those less than about 25 years of age, typically have difficulty making that transition. That is why you see very few people forming lifelong relationships that start in their teens. Yes, there are a few, but usually it requires a maturity that we don’t have until 25 or so. When the period of limerence comes to an end, most teenagers see it as falling out of love, when in fact it is simply their inability to transition to a more mature form of love.

Reply January 19, 2016, 5:54 pm

Eric Charles

I guess I’ll have to break the news to all the happy couples I know that have been married for 20+ years… they’re going to be really upset when they hear the news that they’re not supposed to be enjoying their relationships so much. What a shame!

Reply February 4, 2016, 5:07 pm


Relationships are not effortless. You should always make effort in a relationship. Things sometimes do need fixing. Relationships are not perfect. That’s what’s wrong with the world today. Barely any fixing involved, people barely making an effort, and couples not trying to understand one another. I agree to this artical to some extent, but to me this is not exactly the message I would be sending to others.

Reply January 19, 2016, 6:34 am


When you are with someone that is COMPATIBLE no effort is needed because the two understand in such a way that yes it is effortless. Problems will arise because like you said relationships are not perfect. When such problems arise they know how to figure it out because they are COMPATIBLE with eachother. They look at both sides of the problem and come to a mutual understanding.

Reply January 20, 2016, 10:56 pm

Eric Charles

Let me put it like this…

I work a lot, but I love my work. I seriously enjoy it so much, it doesn’t feel like work.

So even though I “work” constantly, it’s effortless… because I love it.

I don’t have to force myself to do it and “effort” my way through it – hence, effortless.

Reply February 4, 2016, 5:05 pm


Hi Eric,
I’m new to this site and would like to thank you for the articles you writes here, specially this one. There are many relationship guru who already wrote about this but you explained it clearly. Also, you are so right that when you are with someone you are compatible with, everything just flows smoothly. There’s no worry and fear. I had many failed relationships before until I realize what you and other relationship guru are trying to tell here. My Life changed after the realization. Thanks again and im looking forward for your other articles.

Reply December 29, 2015, 7:02 pm


This was an AMAZING READ! I so needed to hear this. THANK YOU!

Reply December 27, 2015, 10:44 am


This was an amazing article. Just yesterday I was in a horrible frame of mind. crying and hopeless. It was out of fear of things that are completely out of my control. My ex made a major play for me when I started dating another man. My love for him runs deep. I ended up spending the entire Thanksgiving weekend with him. When I asked if we should try things again. I got a blank stare. I knew right there that I had misjudged his intentions. He since calls and does text, but met another woman and seems interested. That caused anger, resentment and self doubt for most of yesterday. But, I have a whole new perspective thanks to reading this because the truth doesnt matter what he does or doesn’t do… none of that matters. What matters is the kindness and love I have for myself. For me.. it has been easy to love others. The hard part has been letting them love me. That is because .. I need to love myself first. I am getting there and this article helped alot! Thanks

Reply December 25, 2015, 5:43 pm


Ok after 6months I decided to walk away and even changed my number….I was dating a guy who said he fell In love things were going nice n smooth until he fell back and of course was due to his babymoms. I forgave him and we tried again. This time we met each other’s kids…he met my family but I haven’t met his and don’t think I would’ve. He always mentioned to take things slow so he “friend Zoned” me but would say he loved me but needed time. I asked him about his baby moms and he said he couldn’t tell her we were together because she would take him to court regarding there son. So he would deny me to her….I got fed up and choose to walk away. Did I overreact or am I right?! Hope u can help me out…..I’m hurting but I don’t think he loves me he accepted me walking away and changing my number:

Reply December 23, 2015, 7:34 am


When I think back to previous relationships, I think they were all fixated. So I have to ask myself, “Why?”. Maybe women just can’t reach my same intensity of love? Therefore there’s a lack of full reciprocation, and a fixated response ensues? I don’t know. I guess I’ll be single forever.

If the relationship is effortless, then one should not hear things like, “They were too clingy, too needy, too much up my butt”, that is if the relationship is truly effortless. So if a person is hearing these things, then effort is having to be put in relationship with someone who makes you feel bad, therefore, “This person is incompatible with you! Get away and stay away!”.

As far as the, “MORE: How to Stop Stressing When It Comes to Dating and Relationships”, this didn’t seem very clear cut. The only way I can see to stop stressing would be to have multiple options (females) available. However, that creates other problems, but there’s no fear of one of the relationships not working out or a fear of loss (fixation). It’s like not having all of ones eggs in one basket.

Reply December 21, 2015, 4:27 am


I was having a bar drime before my man left with feeling lonely undervalued and unwanted. I think I was making him distance his self by bitching and trying to get him to see the man I felt his son needed as a father and that I wanted as a mate. Didn’t end well. In fact I hurt to bad to breathe and am physically sick at times. I loved him so much and still do. His betrayal of leaving me was a devastating blow and one that will take awhile to recover from.I never leftnhim and gave him all I could. It wasn’t enough. I refuse to let his lack of warmth affection and abitilty to stay strong,brave,constant,and emotionally unavailable drowne. I’m a sexy smart sassy vixen and I know he will miss me
. I hate to he alone during Christmas. He is an utter ass for that. And keeping my baby from me

Reply December 18, 2015, 2:10 am


Hi i really need some help i am 16yrs old i met this guy 3 months ago he liked me so much he used to call me daily and we used to talk for hours nd then after a month he asked my facebook account password which i refused to give because i was nt comfortable instead i deleted my account to clear his doubts but since then he started ignoring me nd nw he doesn’t even replies to my msgs he says that he can’t trust me anymore he is my 1st love nd i am his second girlfriend plz help i love him so much nd even he used to love me i want to make things normal

Reply December 17, 2015, 2:54 pm


Bhumi, that is a MAJOR warning side. Not only is he clearly on the “fixation” side described in this article, but he has proven that he is willing to cross your boundaries with no care for your feelings – in other words, it’s his way or no way. This is a sign that he is likely controlling, abusive, and may even attempt to get you to distance yourself from male friends you’ve had way longer than him – people that have been there for you and that should be way more important than him (the myth that romantic relationships are more important that friendships is a myth – you should NEVER distance yourself from long-held, close friends just because of a romance).

Reply January 31, 2016, 9:40 am


So basically, what I’m saying is to dump him and avoid him. Immediately. He does not love you (otherwise, he wouldn’t avoid you because of such an unreasonable demand). It hurts now, but you WILL get over your infatuation with him, and the pain you feel now is a lot better than the pain and consequences of being in a relationship with someone like him.

Reply January 31, 2016, 9:44 am


Hi Eric,
I just want to say, “Thank You” for writing this article. It led me back to my much needed clarity. The way you write resonated with me and pulled me back from negative thoughts that had a vibration of negative “self-fulfilling” prophecy to them.

If you don’t mind, I would like to ask for some advice. What would you say to someone who is in a relationship that does not feel compatible? A relationship that has resistance to it (and is not always effortless)? What you said about “shoving a square peg through a round hole” is a great metaphor for it. One of the challenges is that the resistance gets stronger when the two partners are apart, but when they are together everything flows. (It is a long distance relationship.) Could focusing solely on the positive aspects alleviate the tension?

Thanks in advance!

Reply November 23, 2015, 12:31 am


Hi Eric, I enjoyed reading your story. My problem is I broke up with my ex and I feel his presence in my life. I crave for him. I feel him. All day every day I think of him. He’s like a warm blanket covering me. Never have I felt this was about any man. I broke up with him, because he came come one money after work and he was high as a kite. I immediately told him to pack his things and leave. We never had fights, arguments, etc. We were extremely close. I did not think counseling or nothing. I just saw drug use which I have zero tolerance for. Before dating my ex he used to smoke cigarettes, drink, and his sister said he was on drugs bad. He abruptly stopped it all when we started dating. We had a very good nurturing relationship. We both were very happy as well as my family was happy with him. They love him dearly and miss him dearly. Why am I thinking of him and finding it difficult to move forward? Is he my soul mate? Why do I think of him and my body has a warm sensation of his closeness and presence? Is he thinking about and missing me that’s causing me to feel this way?

Reply November 20, 2015, 6:30 am


I really enjoyed reading this. However I’m curious as to why it’s one sided.. Meaning it’s the female that is obsessed or smothering him. My situation is opposite.. The man is smothering and obsessed. I think this should have been worded in both sexes not just 1 way. I wanted to share this with him, let him read the difference and I can’t because the way it’s worded with woman being obsessed. Other than that the information was helpful

Reply November 18, 2015, 9:55 am

Eric Charles

Thanks Lisa.

I’ll speak to that — this can absolutely happen the other way around… it’s not a male thing or a female thing so much as a human thing.

When one human makes the other human responsible for their emotions (whether positive or negative), it repels the other person. I believe it’s instinct… we know that we as humans cannot be responsible for another person’s emotions (ultimately) and therefore, if someone else puts the burden of responsibility on us, we know it’s a bottomless pit… so, instinctually, we feel repelled by people who make something external to them responsible for their emotional state (and worse so for people that make US responsible)…

This can appear very loving at first. A guy could tell you how much he loves you and needs you… and that can sound sweet and romantic… unless he literally means that your response to him literally dictates his ability to feel good emotionally.

Maybe at some point I’ll write a “my guy is smothering me” article… it’s come up as an issue for women before and it could be helpful to talk about.

Reply November 18, 2015, 11:40 am


When I read it, I read it the other way around. I get what Lisa is saying, but I turned it around in my head so it was directed to the male audience.

Reply December 21, 2015, 3:25 am


You’re amazing! I needed to hear this. I’m going to apply this concept to all areas of my life – time to get my perspective on track! Great wisdom and common sense in all your articles. Thank you , thank you, thank you

Reply November 9, 2015, 12:19 pm

Eric Charles

Thank you!

Reply November 9, 2015, 12:52 pm


Hi Eric :) Thank you for the article you’ve made. I was totally stressing out these past few weeks. It helped me a lot! More powers! Thank you for inspiring.

Reply October 25, 2015, 11:23 pm

Eric Charles

Thanks – glad it helped.

Reply November 9, 2015, 12:53 pm


I agree with some of this, but…the idea that a good relationship between compatible people who truly love each other is “effortless” is actually one of the harmful myths that’s propagated by pop culture. It’s what makes people bail on their relationships the second they encounter any difficulty at all. Yes, you make the concession of “1% of the time, you have to work on it,” but it’s more than that.

Even when two people are compatible; even when they love each other; they’re still also distinct individuals, and they will not always approach life in the same way. They will not necessarily argue in the same way. They will not necessarily deal with stress or loss in the same way. They will not always have the same opinions, and while their values will largely align (I don’t think you can really call yourself “compatible” with another person unless that’s the case), they will, in some cases, have different ways of approaching and/or putting into practice those values. They will clash at some point, at MANY points. They will miscommunicate. They will hurt each other, without meaning to. They will disagree on how to make huge decisions that impact both of their lives. They will have moments when they fall short, because they are human, and so they are imperfect. And they will have to work through it.

A healthy relationship isn’t just characterized by compatibility and enjoyment, or by a lack of obsession and possessiveness, or by a willingness to give of oneself. It’s characterized by a desire, a commitment, to accept the inevitability of interpersonal conflict; to work through the difficult times; to search for a compromise, even when it hurts. It’s characterized by the notion not only that effort will have to be made, but that said effort is /worth it./ It’s characterized by a freely made choice, everyday, to be better, to grow, and to keep doing what one can to be a good partner.

If I had listened to the advice that true love is effortless, I would never have made it as far as I have in my relationship. We wouldn’t be where we are now: two people who have grown together, who have inspired one another to strive and improve, who are the best of friends and the closest of lovers. We wouldn’t be as secure in the knowledge that we have each other’s backs, that we are a team, and that there are few obstacles, if any, we cannot clear. The love my husband and I share is still glowing in large part because we’ve tended the coals instead of trusting them to keep burning on their own.

Reply September 4, 2015, 7:34 pm


Anya, are you a counselor? I want what you have. I enjoyed the article but some of the message did come across as, if he/she does not make you happy, bail. That I do but she with. I feel what you have written is absolutely beautiful. I wish there was more to read. Better yet, I wish you were a counselor, or life coach.

Reply September 2, 2016, 10:17 pm

Eric Charles

Hey Anya,

I completely agree with you. In all honesty, one of the places where I really wanted to clarify my message was on the point of selection… and it is very much in the spirit of what you’re talking about here.

Something I want to unpack a bit in my article is my use of the word “effortless”.

When I say effortless, I am not saying that the relationship won’t have disagreements, ups and downs, things to resolve, etc.

What I’m saying is that the relationship will have the quality of not feeling like it’s “work” even when the relationship takes work.

From the outside, everyone who knows me says I’m a very hard worker and that I work constantly.

But speaking to you from my inner experience, my “work” isn’t work to me. It is me participating in my PASSION. It is not me holding my breath, hoping for some result to come about so that I might one day attain happiness… fulfillment… wholeness…

No… my working is my participating in the fullest expression of my passion, my joy, my inspiration…

In that way, my work is effortless. And that is the spirit in which I mean the word effortless here.

I am compatible with math and looking at stats. I have always loved it and found it fascinating.
I am compatible with psychology and philosophy and find learning about them fascinating.

On the other hand, I’m not compatible at all with watching sports. I’m not saying that’s something I’m proud of or anything… it’s not that I think I’m “above it” or anything… there’s just no joy in watching sports for me… it would take a tremendous amount of effort for me to sit and watch a sport on TV. It would not be effortless because I’m not compatible with what watching a sport has to offer.

Hopefully that clarifies where I’m coming from with my usage of the words compatible and effortless. I think, in that light, it agrees with everything you said as well.

Thank you for your thoughtful and heartfelt comment.

Reply September 3, 2016, 3:26 pm


If I read simple or simply one more time!!!! Lol..

Reply August 20, 2015, 3:50 am

Eric Charles

Haha OK you got me there ;) It’s wonder we named our book, “He’s Not That Complicated.”

Reply August 20, 2015, 10:15 am


This article is rubbish. You’re talking about relationships as if it’s a fantasy or something. This is real life… Reality. When you love someone, you WILL get jealous, you get possessive, you get stressed ect. Because when you love someone, you want them all to yourself and fear someone stealing that precious person away from you. Even in platonic friendships, these feelings occur. Even in the family… If your child for example spent time with their stepfather, it’s normal for the biological dad to get jealous, stressed ect.

Humans are not robots, we have feelings. In relationships you have to accept the good with the bad and sometimes make compromises. I personally would HATE to have a partner who acts the way your article tells people to act.. Yuk.

Reply August 12, 2015, 8:08 pm

Eric Charles

So emotional responsibility and consciousness = being a robot… ummm… what?

Reply August 12, 2015, 11:23 pm


You , like every other relationship expert , are trying to say stop caring and stop stressing over a person , you are just trying to remove the question , you are not about giving a solution . the moment when i remove stressing over him , is the moment i remove my feelings about him , then he will turn to somebody normal and indifference to me. you say i love my brother and i am not worried about losing him, yes its true . because if my brother gets married he will be still my brother , but if my love gets married then what ?! please stop advising people like they are fools . don’t tell people to remove that stress , what you should is to show people how to deal with that stress, and how to manage that stress for not to be destroying and not be terminating , how to design that stressful feeling the way that he doesn’t become a run away ! thats the answer .

Reply August 10, 2015, 9:40 pm

Eric Charles

OK… tell me the value of your stress. Explain how it is helping you get great, effective results in your love life.

Reply August 11, 2015, 3:20 am


Hm … well , That “stress” is valuable because it roots in my heart ! ;)
and telling how it can help me and my relationship to get great is exactly your job .
but removing that stress is not a professional answer to this issue ( and its also kind of impossible in real life )
Though i must say the article When a Guy Withdraws After Sex , was awesome full of truth and facts which is necessary for every woman to read ! ( it reminds me of the book : Celestine Prophecy )

Reply August 16, 2015, 9:37 pm

Eric Charles

The stress is valuable because it “roots in your heart”? What does that mean?

And removing that stress is impossible in real life? What? Why?

Just because you don’t like my answer doesn’t mean my answer is wrong or bad… just means you don’t like it. You may come back a year or two from now and understand what I’m saying here and have a different opinion.

You never explained how stress helps your relationships and gets you great, effective results in your love life – you just told me that it was my job to give you an answer you liked…

Glad you liked my other article, though, thank you…

Reply August 16, 2015, 10:13 pm


i didnt say i dont like your answer or its bad or its wrong ! i said its nearly impossible to remove that stress by the acvices . it doesnt have an ON/OFF botton which people can switch it . you know what i mean , but you try to look at it as a machine .
One or two years from now ? :)))) No, you dont know what are my experiences in relationships so you cant say that. im not a teenager bro , im much older that you .

August 19, 2015, 9:25 pm

Eric Charles

Eli, I’m not fighting with you or saying your wrong either, I’m just trying to get an answer to what I originally asked and you haven’t answered yet:

How does having stress about your relationship is helping your relationship?

I know with typing on the screen it can come off like I’m being a dick, but I’m just trying to focus back on your original comment for the sake of helping everyone get a clearer picture of what I’m saying. My feeling with comments is that if 1 person writes it, 1000 people had the thought but didn’t write the comment.

If I can speak to it directly, then I can help everyone get more from my content. Hope you get where I’m coming from — I’m not trying to fight, I’m trying to give more to everyone reading this article and wanting to have a better love life.

August 20, 2015, 1:05 pm


Actually I have to disagree with you there. No one should be jealous or possessive of a mate. When two people are together, naturally they will want you there and you will want to stay. If they feel threatened in some sort of way they will let you know. You shouldnt jump to conclusions. They make a person seem insecure and suffocating. I think a nstural relationship will balance out that need to posess. When you are confident the needs you mention will dissolve on there own. You both will know when to fight and when its ok.

September 10, 2015, 10:59 pm


Hi Carey – Interesting how the article starts off with “I think most women … “. It almost seems from the start that women are the cause for most of the unrealistic relationships? What about on the other side of the coin – could you write about your belief about most men since men are not excluded from the media that women (in general) are influenced by? Also, it would be nice to have an example of a relationship that has no drama and obstacles to overcome even a prefect one in your opinion and I’ll give an example of someone who could hop to the moon in a matter of seconds.

Reply July 25, 2015, 11:02 am

Eric Charles

I’m not saying that good relationships don’t have drama or obstacles.

I’m talking about leads to success and what leads to destruction… I don’t think pointing out what’s effective is a bad thing.

As for talking about men or women… hmmm… everyone these days seems so quick to jump on someone who could be saying something about men or women…

The purpose of this article isn’t to making a statement about women… this site has a female audience, so I speak to females in the article. And the only reason I write this stuff is to try and help women be effective at getting to have the love life they want… that’s what I speak to here.

Reply August 12, 2015, 11:28 pm


I want to say thanks. But i must say, having à Child involved, makes it not as easy as you make it sound. Not that i want to stay with her be cause we have a Child. But simply that i’m scared of making thé wrong decision … feeling very lonely and lost Right now.

Reply July 24, 2015, 4:48 pm


I’m sorry you are feeling lost. I hope things are ok. Good luck.

Reply October 8, 2015, 4:22 am


Eric,thanks so much.its an aye opener for me.i hd always stresd so much abt him not calling buh i hv read this that love is effortless

Reply July 23, 2015, 12:19 pm


Thank you for this. This article might have just changed my life completely. I’ve been on this spiraling path of anxiety and depression for so long. Thank you for this. I am starting right now to change my life, let go of the bad and begin building the good and happiness in my life. Thank you thank you thank you.

Reply July 4, 2015, 4:42 pm



Recently, my boyfriend and I have been very stressed do to uncontrollable things in my life. I am 18 and he is 24. Yes, we are in completely different stages of life, but yes, our love for each other has been effortless and amazing. We clicked as soon as we met each other. I am so happy with him.

But why am I even on your site, you may ask?

Well, my parents absolutely do not approve of our relationship, given that they are very close-minded, unlike my boyfriend’s parents. They are not supportive and not involved what-so-ever. It has slowly began to be a stuggle within our relationship. I continue to look at things in a brighter manner than my boyfriend, but ately, he has been in his “most depressed state”, his words, in his life. He cried to me today actually, the first time in three years. He is afraid that what he does “isn’t enough” for my parents, and will never be. He seems to be afraid that they will tear us apart, even though my parents have only given me strict boundaries. My parents are paying for my college education, and their support is vital for my life. I continue to feel like we are stuck in a hole in our relationship, only due to the lack of involvement my parents have in our relationship. My parents have slim to no involvement, whereas I am highly involved in my boyfriends family. This hurts my boyfriend immensely, and I continue to try to be strong for him, and tell him that things will get better. I will be moving out of my parent’s house next month and onto college living. Once I am out of the house, I will be able to move more freely in my relationship without control over my parents, this is a major issue in our relationship right now. Some days my boyfriend seems to have come to peace with the situation, but today he had a moment of weakness, and he seems like he is unable to be patient during the time I’m under my parent’s roof. Of course, he and I discussed things today, and he seemed more understanding of everything. The argument today wasn’t even an argument, but more of a stressful and painful conversation. He was so upset and stressed out, because I know how much he loves me.

The point I’m trying to get to is that after reading your words, I have realized, and cannot wait to share with my boyfriend tomorrow, that it is the perspective we have on unexpected situations in our lives that really have an effect on the outcomes of them. My boyfriend and I can CHOOSE to drop these negative thoughts and drop all of the fears and continue to live in the moment, enjoying each other’s prescences, and deal with the circumstances, not letting it effect our happiness. My boyfriend has been so caught up in his own emotional fears, that he has been increasingly depressed and anxious. I will share with him tomorrow that we can drop all of these fears and keep moving forward, taking a more positive perspective on our situation. That is, it is not us, but the people who surround us that create these frightful thoughts in our heads. We need to do what makes us happy, and look at the situation with a different perspective.

Thank you so much for giving me some insight on my situation. I know it may seem like I am rambling, but you truly have helped. You’re right, love is enjoyable and effortless. My boyfriend’s negative and afraid thoughts are pulling us down. We know we love each other, so why waste time in dredding over the inevitable?

Thank you so much,


Reply June 29, 2015, 2:56 am

Original Queen

This was the best online and offline read on relationships I’ve ever read. I thank you.

Reply June 25, 2015, 10:36 pm


I loved your article, I needed an answer to something in than I saw your article. Thank you, it was very helpful. God bless you.

Reply June 6, 2015, 12:44 pm


Interesting. I almost disagreed with the perspective because I thought it was a little shallow or one sided. It’s true that mood influenced everything but it gets on my nerves when people say not to stress. People are just different, they’re not wrong. It’s true ignorance is bliss though…

Reply May 29, 2015, 4:30 am


I will add that I agree with a lot of the article but I feel like it’s just replacing one ideal with another as well. When people say they have to work in relationships, I think that’s normal. Give and take is natural, though I suppose really compatible people should have more ease with the give and take. But there are different types of love and I think it is possible to become healthier and more compatible. It’s just harder to achieve. In our short lifetimes we may be better off alone then in a relationship that makes is feel insecure I suppose. But some people just find it worth it to suffer for the strength. It’s all just an opinion

Reply May 29, 2015, 4:46 am


I wish I could just edit my last messages because I don’t think I’m really clarifying my thoughts. I feel like the article is saying that people that work for relationships are also working for love. No, perhaps the person loves so much they want to work and change even if it’s hard. In a way, it’s easy and natural for them to go the difficult route if that makes sense. I was being unfair though…But ignorance is also staying in a bad relationship.

Reply May 29, 2015, 4:51 am


if love is so effortless, why am i so lonely?

Reply May 18, 2015, 1:31 am


I have never made a comment before but something about this doesn’t quite add up. The things that make us happy are not always necessarily good for us. Take food for example. Food is the second most pleasurable aspect of life. Most people love sweets and well that is not necessarily good for anyone. However, I really like the article so much. I learn something new and that is to not view a relationship as title or item to posses.

Reply April 15, 2015, 12:38 am


From the bottom of my heart, thank you for this article. I have been in my first relationship for about eight months now and it has been such a roller coaster, exhausting both emotionally and mentally. I realize now that it’s not selfish to put myself first, it’s actually necessary before I can expect others to love me and vice versa. I love the person I am with, but I need to stop viewing the relationship as something that is “mine” or something to be claimed. What stood out to me in the article is when you said that a relationship just is, it’s the interactions that take place. I need to stop planning and worrying about the future and just let things be. The tiniest things make me break down because I worry of losing this relationship that I’ve invested all my time and energy and emotion into, but a positive attitude can change that for me. I really needed this. Thank you.

Reply April 10, 2015, 12:32 pm


I like the conclusion, but the path to it is labyrinthine and confusing. There seems to be missing in the piece the element of sacrifice without which love is not love.

Reply February 25, 2015, 1:24 pm


i dont think love requires sacrifice! if anything it requires some upbringing kind of like a beautiful garden that won’t stay beautiful if you don’t bother to water it.

Reply March 30, 2015, 3:05 pm


I don’t normally comment on articles, but I had to this time to let you know that your article helped me lift a painful weight off my chest. I recently made a difficult decision and ended a relationship that was too hard especially for one that had only just started. but I felt guilty and began doubting myself, but all the reasons I had to break it off were outlined in your article, fixation and obsession were all he offered me. I jumped in fear every time my phone beeped. fear, anxiety, self-doubt, and anger were all he made me feel. The reason I broke it off was because it didn’t feel right, he was a man who swiveled from patronizingly sweet to intense and passive aggressive, a man who’d be kind one second and abusive the next, a man who made me hate and doubt myself, it was right of me to break it off. Although its not completely over since he reuses to accept it, no matter where I block him he finds another way of contacting me. I’ve tried to be as direct as possible and make him understand, but he’s persistent and I don’t think no is something he understands, he found a way to message me not more than 2 hours ago. I almost gave in again, I never used to be this weak but thankfully I came across this article and it reminded me of all the reasons I stuck it out so thank you, really.

Reply January 31, 2015, 12:06 am


Thank you

Reply January 28, 2015, 6:47 am

Carol Morales

Thank you

Reply January 27, 2015, 5:19 am


Thank you so much for this article. I wish I could inject it into my mind. I realize that I have to stop viewing relationships as an item or possession that I may lose and instead focus on feeling the good experience. Because as you said, one wouldn’t have hundreds of songs on their ipod they didn’t like just for the sake of having them. That’s how I feel I am. I collect relationships vs enjoy them. I realized it doesn’t make any sense. I would rather have 3 songs I love and want to listen to than a hundred I dislike and would never play.

Reply January 15, 2015, 1:02 pm


This is a really lovely and well written article. I can totally relate to the content and I’m proud of the people that have been able to open up about their stories here too. That’s very difficult to do.

For me, I think hearing this from a man’s perspective makes it easier to understand for whatever reason. The points you made about fixation is really resonate with me. I think that an important piece is that you can allow yourself to rationalize that fixation is love or you can approach and deal with the fact that you’re unhappy because you’re constantly chasing some object/thing/person that isn’t there. Some things may be real, and that is okay, but in general it’s all not totally there in a large sense. We all just need to make the choice to think differently and sometimes that’s hard when you’ve been suffocated/have been suffocating yourself for too long.

Thank you again. Truly beautifully written and thoughtful.

Reply November 25, 2014, 9:56 am


“Yes, do what makes you happy.”
Me husband created a website ex-jegovas weetnesses to help people to overcome the hard time in their lives after leaving the church of Jegovas and found there a women who proposed him a phone sex and when I found out about that one, told me, that he is happy over there, because he helps people to overcome hard times in their lives and that he loves to help. And this kind of sex it’s not cheating. He doesn’t know why he agreed to do that. As a result of that – a divorce and my ruind life.
That is – do what makes you happy!
Thank you.

Reply November 21, 2014, 4:07 am

Will Wyson

What I am getting at here is that there is balance. That there are degrees of rightness, that joint life experience and mutual support are the real building blocks of love. What you wrote, it sounds like a fantasy, like winning the lottery. For sure it happens to some, so it Could happen, but to build your life on that some slim chance, rather than taking and making the best of what your circumstances allow?

Reply November 14, 2014, 5:52 pm

Will Wyson

I don’t get this article. I have never been in a relationship which has felt effortless. All the relationships I have witnessed, my mom and dad, my friends, they all have their ups and downs. They have had terrible rough patches and arguments, regrets and doubts. Out of the scores of married couples I know reasonably well, only ONE pair report that their relationship is effortless and easy. So what gives? Did you think perhaps you have just been incredibly lucky?

Reply November 14, 2014, 5:41 pm


Where did he say there wasn’t effort in the relationship?
How I see his perspective is that he is saying be happy with yourself before getting into a relationship. It can take compromise and boundries that you or they may not like but if you didn’t love yourself there probably be awful fears, sadness, anger and anxiety taken place into you internally. Don’t obsesses so much of changing someone that isn’t choosing to change. Leave that relationship and find somebody else that is more compatible (partner and friendships) or just accept that person for who they are and love yourself for who you are; see less effort.

Reply January 16, 2015, 3:08 am


@Will – I used to think the same way, now I’m in a relationship that does feel effortless and I finally think I understand what Eric means. It doesn’t mean we don’t try in the relationship, doesn’t mean we agree on absolutely everything, and doesn’t mean we don’t have to make compromises sometimes to keep things working. What it does mean is that I feel comfortable with him (and hopefully he feels the same with me), I don’t feel like I have to be something I’m not to keep him, I like him as he is and don’t want to try to change him, we enjoy spending time together even when it’s just hanging out in the kitchen cooking dinner, and he enhances my life rather than complicating it.

Reply March 4, 2015, 11:48 am


Eric, this NAILS it. Great piece of thinking and writing. Thank you for this wonderful site. You are helping many, many people and you and Sabrina should be very proud of your work. So many women in the forums are posting there looking for help because they have invested too much too soon in a guy… which leads to possession and obsession rather than real love. It’s good they have a place to tell their stories and ask for advice, because it’s a chance to learn what is real and healthy in a safe, positive place. Good relationships aren’t created in text and email and they aren’t created by trying to get someone to do what you want them to do because you have a black hole inside. Your work defining good relationships for those of us who learned something unhealthy can truly change the world.

Reply October 29, 2014, 5:42 am


Well said :) nice work!

Reply January 26, 2015, 8:32 pm


Thank you. That is all.

Reply October 28, 2014, 11:17 am


I’ve read this article twice. It’s really helpful. Thank you very much Eric.

Reply September 28, 2014, 1:32 am


Yeah, this explains what I’ve been trying to work out for a while, thanks Eric!

Reply June 12, 2014, 1:28 pm


Awesome Eric ! This article really helps me a lot !
I want and I should be happy as you’ve said.
Thank you for telling me this.

Reply June 8, 2014, 9:57 am


Hi Eric,

I enjoyed your article a lot, it gives great advice to the struggles I’ve been going through in the past. With so much I want to share with you, I’ll only give you a little bit of my background so you can get a good idea of my situation, and maybe offer some advice…

I’m a 21 year old college student and living away from home. I’ve been in a loving relationship for 6 months now with my boyfriend, but its been particularly difficult for me. My mom and dad do not approve of him, nor do they believe it is the right time for me to be in a committed relationship right now. But I love and adore him, and it’s no secret he feels the same, if not more, about me. This is where it gets complicated….

I’ve come to realize, with the help of others as well, that I have lived in a parasitic environment as a child. And although I defended my parents and their actions when I was younger, I have come to realize how much it all makes sense. My early onset of hair pulling as a child, the constant negativity from my mother, her lack of self-esteem, my lack of self-esteem, her demeaning words towards me and my appearance, her hitting me as a child, the negativity in my perspective on life, so I feel like I was doomed from the beginning to have a negative outlook on my life.

She’s always telling me “what’s not to love about you?”, “You have to love yourself” when the person speaking those words is the person who I feel has created the problem in the first place. No wonder I’m a swinger when it comes to advice…

I do see myself somewhat infatuated with my boyfriend because he gives me the acceptance I crave, I admit it. But the difference, in relation to your article, is that the fixation comes from within myself, and the negative part of my life is my family… And I don’t know what to do to escape it. Every time I come home from college, its amazing how noticeable the stress, tension, and negativity is in my house. My mom and dad do love me, but its becoming very hard to listen to them with open ears, especially when it involves the man I fell in love with and they despise…

Now I ask you, how do I move on past the negative without completely separating myself from it (meaning my mom and dad)? How do I start to love myself and the choices that I make, that may not be up to their standards? And if they’re not, how do I avoid the inevitable degrading comments and attitude shot at me?

Please, I’m at a standstill.

Reply June 3, 2014, 4:39 pm

Jon H

I like

Reply May 26, 2014, 11:55 pm


Hi Eric

This article really reflects what I’ve been going through these last few weeks – and it was finding this site that began this amazing change process and got me thinking in a different way.

What you’ve written here is, for me, the best article so far. It really distills everything down to its essence: 1. don’t confuse love with obsession, and 2. fall in love with your own life. I wish all women who are struggling with love and relationships could read this!

This last week in particular I’ve been behaving as though I’m having a romance with my own life. I’ve been taking risks (going to that jazz club on my own, sitting with the old men there and getting lost in the music, for example); making sure that I look the best I can every time I go out of the door, and holding my head up (I live in a small English city, but this last week I’ve been walking the streets of Paris and Milan in my head!), and filling my life with music, friends, books, yoga, dancing, and dawdling on the street just to look at the trees and the sky. Today I’m going to buy myself some flowers, because I want some!

I HAD to do this, as my ‘obsession’ (which I called love) was killing me. I walked around in a daze. I was crying constantly. I’d taken up smoking again after years, and it immediately started to ruin my skin and hair, and my health. It was all I could talk about to friends – what he said, what he did, but mostly what he DIDN’T do. I would even say ‘he’s killing me!’ But of course, I was killing myself. The weird thing was, when this guy began pursuing me, I was ‘into’ my own life. I wasn’t looking for love or even a relationship – I was too busy with all the fun I was having. I was attracting a lot of men, but wasn’t interested in any of them. Then this one guy came along, and it was like being hit by a truck.

I thought I was in love… but I was obsessed – just as you describe. What made matters worse was that I entered into a ‘friends with benefits’ situation – lying about what I wanted, trying to block my emotions so he wouldn’t see or feel them, just so I could be near him (he told me from the start that he was still suffering from heart-break and didn’t want a relationship; he’d thought his ex was his soul-mate, but she’d cheated on him). And I was so unhappy. My despair and jealousy were out of control; I felt I might die from pain. I thought about him ALL of the time, day and night.

I felt BAD, just as you describe in the article. As though everything in my mind and body was screaming ‘this is so wrong!’ I began to hate myself, and also to be so angry towards him I sometimes felt I could strangle him with my bare hands. At that point I knew I had to stop. I no longer knew who I was, and it was a wake-up call.

I also asked myself the hard question: do I LOVE this guy, or am I just obsessed, infatuated with someone I can’t have, desperate because of my own deep self-esteem issues, giving myself ‘value’ not because of who I am but only because this guy (an incredibly charming, charismatic man, an actor and something of a celebrity) paid attention to me? The answer was ‘yes… I am obsessed.’ I realised I hardly knew who he was, and had been so busy obsessing and suffering I’d not really seen him, heard him, or paid any attention to him. I called it ‘love’ but I didn’t even seem to care about him!

It’s a hard task, though – to stop obsessing and start living. I have times when the obsession takes hold again – the thoughts ‘he’ll never love me, there’s something wrong with me, I can’t lose him!!’ just come flooding in. I feel crushed and desperate, and I still, once a day at least, burst into tears. I think about him meeting someone else and I feel physically sick. But…

It’s happening less and less. It lasts a few moments, and then I’m smiling to myself again, because I’ve put on some music, called a friend, had a look at what’s on in the city (tonight I’m going to a new dance class, to try it out!), picked up a good book, thrown myself into work, or put on some red lipstick.

I’m not just getting myself ‘back’… I’m beginning to find something new in myself. I’m starting to feel that I’m really in control of my life, for the first time ever – in just a few short weeks.

I want other women to know it’s possible. It’s really, really hard work, and it’s a rocky road. There are terrible moments and setbacks. But if you ask yourself ‘am I infatuated and obsessed, or do I really love him?’ (and your article BRILLIANTLY decsribes the difference) and you make up your mind to have a romance with your OWN LIFE, then amazing things can happen.

Thank you!

Reply May 13, 2014, 9:24 am


I’m so glad I came across this article and your reply! I have been celibate for the last three years. I rekindled a long distance relationship with someone I knew from childhood and it’s been a rollercoaster. I love him very much but I know and I’m beginning to understand he is who he is. It’s a hard pill to swallow but I know deep down it’s not going to work out. I have spent the last three years not allowing myself to fall back into old patterns and put myself in situations such as “FWB” or casual sex and it’s been one of the best choices I’ve made thus far in my life. I don’t regret choosing to abstain from such patterns. I say thank you for such an eye opening response!

Reply June 26, 2016, 8:38 pm

Eric Charles

I’m always glad to hear that. Thanks for the comment.

Reply May 8, 2014, 10:08 am


Hi there gentlemen,i read this article,and you are right things were perfect when i didnt care.

How i can be like before and stop care to much,and how to change the perspective.

Bad perspective almost desstroyed my friendship.

Reply April 13, 2015, 8:33 am


This article was brilliant! Thank you so much Eric, my love life has seriously changed for the better since discovering this site!

Reply May 8, 2014, 9:45 am

Leave a Comment

Recent Relationship Forum Activity


Sign up for our
free newsletter
and get a free chapter
of our book,"He's Not
That Complicated"