There are some people who are unable to mentally "let go" of a partner after a break-up. At first it just seems like a difficult breakup. They keep calling, keep visiting, keep arguing and trying to reconcile.
Then they're following, stalking or threatening their ex-partner.
Then vandalizing belongings, or escalating to personal violence, or killing the partner's pets.
Left unaddressed, in extreme cases the syndrome may progress to the point that the ex kidnaps or kills their children, resorts to murder, or commits suicide.
It is important to recognize this syndrome in its early stages and take preventive steps. The longer the obsession persists without interruption or intervention, the more the obsessor will lose contact with reality.
Six Stages Of Obsessive Ex Syndrome
Not all stages occur in all cases -- however, when looking back, some stages may become apparent in retrospect:
Stage 1 - Courtship
The Obsessive male has identified that a certain woman makes him feel important and powerful. He lays on all the charm he possibly can to show how wonderful he is. On a subliminal level he tests how much control he can begin to effect over her life and activities. If he finds that she can be manipulated, she becomes even more attractive to him as a potential partner.
Stage 2 - Relationship
The Obsessive male establishes his mate as a main symbol of his view of himself as the center of the world. He establishes control over her life and activities, or battles with her for control over these things. He uses any ploy to maintain control of their world; he may use deceit, money, intimidation, violence.
Stage 3 - Break-Up
The Obsessive Ex will not accept that his partner has decided the relationship is over. In his view, that is not her decision to make. He argues with her incessantly. He employs any means possible to re-establish his control over her.
If there are divorce proceedings, he may try to delay the outcome, or try to use the case to "punish" her via specifics of the divorce agreement.
If there is a child involved, the child becomes (for him) an object that he uses to try to regain power. He may use visitation arrangements as a tool to harangue the woman, or view the legal proceedings surrounding the custody question as a way for him to battle for control over his ex.
Stage 4 - Stalking
The Obsessive Ex keeps trying to arrange contact or have conversations with her, even though she has indicated there is nothing left to discuss. Stalking behavior may also include following, watching, spying, monitoring, asking other people about her or spreading rumors about her, increasing contact with her friends, family or co-workers, etc.
(Many people do not recognize stalking for what it is. Friends, co-workers, and family members may not be supportive of the woman; they will see the Ex's behavior as unimportant and assume that he will stop this behavior soon.)
Stage 5 - Threats
The Obsessive Ex now tries to employ intimidating contact, threats, or illegal interference to force the woman to come back to him.
He may also may vague statements about the safety of her child, or threaten to kidnap her child if she does not reconcile with him.
Physical aggression includes trying to stand in her way, block her path, or walk toward or advance upon her while yelling -- it is not the same thing as physical contact (violence).
Illegal interference includes slander, libel, blackmail, distributing photos of you, etc.
This is the stage at which it usually, finally becomes obvious to the woman's friends, co-workers and family members, that her Ex has become a serious problem.
Stage 6 - Violence
Since the Obsessive Ex views other people and animals primarily in terms of how useful they are to him, he sees them more as objects than live beings. At this stage he is willing to kill a pet, abduct a child, murder a child, or murder the woman, in order to regain his feelings of control and power. He needs to feel like he is in control and he will do anything to accomplish it.
How Obsessive Ex Syndrome blocks a Normal Break-Up
During a normal break-up, an ex-partner may ask for several more discussions or meetings, to try to regain their loved one. A balanced person will eventually realize that the relationship is indeed over, and cease trying to repair the relationship.
An obsessive ex does not see a break-up the same way.
1. The Obsessive Ex may not even believe a break-up is in progress.
The Obsessor may think this is simply a more serious argument than usual, and decide they're supposed to keep contacting the partner until the argument is over and the partner takes them back. Even when at the point of stalking, Obsessors often still view themselves as a current partner who is simply waiting for an argument to be over.
2. The Obsessive Ex views their partner primarily as an object to support their own self-image, not as a human being.
The Obsessor's approach to the relationship has been what they themselves get out of it -- whether THEY are satisfied with the relationship. If the partner wants to leave, this is inconvenient for the Obsessor! They want the partner around to dominate, to make the Obsessor feel powerful. They didn't particularly care whether the partner was happy with them; they only cared that they preferred to have the partner around.
3. The Obsessor has an irrational "Sense of Entitlement".
This is the personality type that would park in a handicap spot when they're not handicapped because they believe their temporary convenience is "more important" than the needs of some other person (handicapped). They sincerely believe that their needs are more important than their partner's... more important than their children's... more important than anyone else's.
Once the leaving partner decides to value personal individual needs first, the Obsessor is infuriated. The partner's act of "rebellion" does not fit into their world view -- that of the Obsessor as the center.
4. The Obsessor wants to punish their ex-partner.
Obsessors can't let a connection end completely, because they may believe themselves to have been so wronged that they "need" to punish or seek revenge against the leaving partner. Even in cases where an Obsessor was wronged in some way, their desire for justice and how long they cling to these emotions (to the detriment of their own life and others' lives), is completely out of proportion to what injustices may have occurred.
"I have all the characteristics of a human being: flesh, blood, skin , hair; but not a single, clear, identifiable emotion, except for greed and disgust. Something horrible is happening inside of me and I don't know why. I feel lethal, on the verge of frenzy. I think my mask of sanity is about to slip"
Gareth Edward(s) Rodger
Masks Of Sanity is an online blog offering advice, support and education for those who have fallen victim to the Psychopath/Narcissist. (NPD)
We explain why Narcissists behave the way they do, how they operate and how you can protect yourself from the Narcissist in society, in the home and online!
You can find my own personal experience with a psychopath in the links on the right. I have a very personal understanding of the Narcissistic Personality Disorder and I am proof that there is hope after abuse!