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     Volume 5 Issue 89 | April 7, 2006 |

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Love and Obsession

Anil Chawla

Love is a relationship of caring and giving. Obsession is a display of power. Love is submergence of ego, while obsession involves display of ego. Confusing obsession with love is like drinking poison when one wants to have milk.

Unfortunately, one keeps hearing more and more of such sad stories where boy meets girl; they fall madly in love; they get married; but they do not live happily ever after. Based on such instances, some have a tendency to criticize all love marriages and argue for arranged marriages. Some others tend to look down at love as a temporary and unreliable phenomenon. However, the reality is that in all such cases, there is just no love - neither when the two are doting over each other nor at any time thereafter. Most such cases are of obsession by one or the other and in a few rare cases of both being obsessed with each other.

Love is focused and centred on the needs of the beloved. Obsession, in contrast, is self-centred. The obsessed is always focused on his (or her) own desires and the object of obsession is incidental. Love treats the beloved as a human being and in extreme cases lovers treat love and beloved as divine. For the obsessed the centre of his attention is an object with no desires, no life independent of the intense desire that the obsessed has for the object.

Obsession is, unlike love, not just passionate; it is ferocious and cruel. The pathos of cruelty that an obsessed displays can be seen in an innocent form in the craving that a child has for a favourite toy. Take the favourite toy away and the child will cry for days and may even stop eating food. The child can be cruel to himself in such a situation. The same cruelty may turn outwards to the toy when the toy is no longer the favourite one. An adult, who expresses obsession in terms of erotic love, is even more dangerous. He (or she) may go to any extent to get the object of his (or her) desire and may even turn violent if the object is taken away. Intensity of such passion is destructive in case of any denial; the obsessed one either destroys oneself or destroys the object of obsession. Newspapers are full of stories of some young boy or girl committing suicide after being turned down. One also hears stories of some boy killing or throwing acid on the face of his girl friend after knowing that she is getting married to someone else.

Violence at denial is only one facet of obsession. The other facet of violence manifests when the obsessed gets hold of and becomes the owner of the object of his desire. No, they do not live happily thereafter. The relationship of the obsessed one with the object of obsession is not a relationship of caring. It is a relationship of power, a display of brutishness, a game of ego. The ownership has to be absolute, to the exclusion of everyone else, and the obsessed needs to demonstrate it every moment to get any pleasure from it.

Surely, it is very difficult to distinguish between love and obsession during the initial stages of a relationship. But some telltale signs should not be ignored. Let us say that a girl has to decide whether her boy friend is treating her as an object of obsession or as his beloved. Some of the questions that she must ask herself are as follows:

Does he accept me as I am or does he want me to make some changes to my appearance or dress or hairstyle or even my career?

How does he react to my friends, relatives, family members, colleagues and acquaintances? Do all these appear as pests to him and he wishes to have me all by himself or does he genuinely enjoy meeting everyone who is dear and near to me?

How does he handle disagreement with me? Does he get disturbed when I have an independent opinion or does he welcome it?

In a public place or when introducing to friends or relatives, does he show me off as if I am a trophy that he has won?

Does he want to be with me at all times (either physically or by telephone) so much so that I find myself getting cut off even from my family? Does his continuous preoccupation with me has started affecting adversely his or my job and normal life routines?

Would he still care for me if I denied to him what he craves for most? (This may be sex or may be something else) One may also ask the question, would he love me even if due to some reasons beyond my control, I cannot meet him or talk to him for one year?

Are his expressions of passion interspersed with occasional threats of termination of relationship?

Last but not the least, how do I feel when I am with him? Do I feel strong, comfortable and relaxed? Or do I feel weak, tensed up, on my toes, centre of attention but not relaxed?

Caution against falling into a trap of obsession is necessary because obsession ruins both - the obsessed as well as the object of obsession. Moreover, it gives love a bad name. Let us spread love that is truly divine and gives freedom. Let us be on guard against the pathos of obsession that stifles and chokes.



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