Obsessive Ex Syndrome


Ending a relationship can be messy, especially if it isn’t mutual. For some, radical changes need to made and agreed upon such as living arrangements, custody of the children and splitting of assets. For others all that is needed is to return trinkets and gifts. No matter what type of break up you have, there is always the potential for things to go badly quickly.

An obsessive ex may check your Facebook page to see what you are up to

Unfortunately, some people are unable to let go when a relationship has ended. We’ve all have heard stories about or personally had to deal with an ex who was unable to let go of the broken bond you once shared. Stalking, nonstop phone calls or text messages, emails, harassment and threats of violence have been known to happen. Although this is a common occurrence, the person on the receiving end should not take it lightly.  Their ex partner may be suffering from obsessive ex syndrome.

Although the origin of the name of the syndrome is unknown, we do know that obsessive ex syndrome has been running rampant. It is not gender specific. Men and women both can be prone to obsessive ex syndrome, but you hear about female victims more than male victims. There appears to be two forms of obsession: revenge obsession and attachment obsession.

Revenge Obsession vs Attachment Obsession

Revenge obsession occurs when the obsessive ex wants his/her partner to punished for causing him/her pain. Although the obsessed ex may not be in love with their partner anymore, they want to make sure he or she is just as miserable as they are.

Attachment obsession occurs when the ex will stop at nothing to get their partner back. Often times, the obsessive ex wants things to be just as they were before the break up.  Although they know that things may never be the same, they want to keep the connection they once had in order to feel in control.

Some people with obsessive ex syndrome exhibit both of these characteristics. Although they want their partner back, they want them to suffer just as much as they have for severing the relationship in the first place.

The Six Stages 

There are six stages of obsessive ex syndrome. Courtship, relationship, break up, stalking, threats, and violence. Not all stages occur and some may become more apparent in retrospect. Fortunately, not all cases of obsessive ex syndrome end in the final stage.

Stage 1 Courtship: Just like in a normal, healthy relationship, the obsessive male or female courts his/her partner.  His or her partner makes him/her feel important and powerful. They do their best to show their future partner how wonderful they are. On subliminal levels, the obsessive male/female will test how much control they can have over their partner. The easier the partner is to manipulate, the more attracted  the obsessor becomes.

Stage 2 Relationship: Unlike a healthy relationship, there is a lack of equality in the relationship. The obsessor makes his partner the defining symbol of their self view as center of the universe. Control issues begin to run rampant. He or she beings to try to control their partner’s life and activities. He or she will use anything at this disposal to try to maintain or gain control including money, deceit, intimidation or even violence.

 Stage 3 The Break Up: When the obsessor’s partner finally decides that enough is enough and ends the relationship, he or she does not want to accept that they have lost control. They feel it is not their partner’s right to end the relationship. The obsessive ex will go through great lengths to regain control by getting their partner back. He or she may beg for another chance, cry or promise to change. He or she will use anything and everything at their disposal to get their partner back. If their partner resists and does not take them back, the obsessor’s may intensify their efforts or threaten their partner.

Stage 4 Stalking:  Although the relationship is over and there is nothing left to discuss, the obsessive ex will try to keep in contact with their partner. He or she may call, text, email or message them on social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter. Often times, the obsessed ex will engage in stalking behaviors such as following, watching, spying or monitoring their social networking activities. They may increase contact with their ex’s friends, families and coworkers to find out what he or she is up to. He or she may even spread rumors about their ex in the hopes of initiating contact or hurting them.

The final stage of obsessive ex syndrome usually ends in violence

Stage 5 Threats: During this stage, the obsessive ex becomes enraged and beings to try to threaten or intimidate his or her partner in the hopes that they will come back or to get revenge. The type of threats used may vary. If there are children involved, the ex may use them as a way to get to their former partner. He or she may spread false rumors through social networking websites. The obsessive ex may even use slander, black mail or distribute photos. Physical aggression such blocking the victim’s path or advancing upon her while yelling may also occur.

Stage 5 Violence: The obsessive ex now feels that he or she is backed up against the wall and the only way out is to fight back. He or she may hurt or even kill a pet, child, or their former partner in order to feel he or she is back in control. At this point, he or she feels that they have nothing to lose.

If you or someone you know is dealing with an obsessive ex, please seek help before it is too late.  Call an abuse help hotline if you need help. Anyone can call the National Domestic Violence Abuse Hotline at 1-800-799-7233. Male victims may call the Domestic Abuse Hotline for Men at 1-877-643-1120.

If you have a story to share about an obsessive ex, you are welcome to share it in a comment below.

DISCLAIMER: To all those who read this blog post and who are “mutual friends” with me and my ex boyfriend, this is in no shape or form a shot at him, so please no texts, calls, emails or Facebook or twitter messages about how mean and unfair I’m being. Above all, if you are going to tell him about it, don’t twist this. Let him read it WORD for WORD. If you felt guilty reading this disclaimer, than you must have been the one that was feeding information about MY personal life. Stop it. Thank you. 

29 thoughts on “Obsessive Ex Syndrome

  1. I fled with my daughter from her father 5 years ago. He is an alcoholic and drug user who is still trying to get rights for my child. He has not had any visitation other than secret visits that his mom and sisters were arranging 2 years ago, until they cut him off when they finally believed me that he was a psycho. They still are a big part of my kids life because I only have a sister. How can I trust them again though?Thank you for the information. It is very scary to be dealing with this still.

  2. hi.. i cant disclose my name.. I dated a guy for a year and then wanted to break up wid him since there was no future… He has naked pics of me and has threatened me that he wud b sending those to my adress and will b posting it online… I have a valid reason to break up since he is not settled yet and i felt in bondages with him. My family would never aprove of such a man…. It was a long distance relationship.. Can someone plz help me.. M scared to talk bout it 2 my mom and dad… i fear they dont get me married in anger…

    1. I’m so sorry this is happening to you. I really think you should tell your parents about what is happening. They may be more understanding than you think and may be able to help you. That’s completely up to you though. From the looks of it, he’s using the pictures to trap you in the relationship. Even if you didn’t have a valid reason to break up for him, you are entitled to leave if you want. No one should keep you trapped in a relationship. I’m going to give you the number for the national domestic violence hotline. If they can’t help you they should be able to direct you to someone who can. 1−800−799−SAFE(7233). Good luck. If you need anything else let me know. Be safe

      1. i dont stay in the US! I stay somewhere els.. ill b glad if i cud chat wid u over yahoo or sum thin…

  3. Thanks so much for explaining these stages so well. I’m writing from London and have recently been going through pretty much all of the things you’ve described with my ex (although she still doesn’t really see herself as such). As a male people don’t really take me seriously when I tell them about this, but it’s been horrendous. As someone with a chronic health condition (brain disease, epilepsy,PTSD), she took control of everything and can’t accept that I don’t want to be with her. As far as I know, she hasn’t got to the stage where she’s spreading rumours about me with my friends yet, but I have worried about it as I know she’s capable of stooping to such depths. It’s all so scary and confusing that I’ve been locking myself away at home. I just want to get as far away from her as possible, but I’m not in a position to do it. She’s been violent, but nobody takes it seriously and if I had even tried to restrain her she would have claimed that I was being violent towards her, so I just had to take it. I can’t believe I allowed myself to get into this position..

      1. Thanks for the link. You’re right too- it all seemed so good at the beginning but as soon as I moved in with her…
        Got my own place now, so things can only improve. Just wish she didn’t know where it is

  4. I just started talking to an ex and I am scared that he may hurt me. He has extreme emotional and anger issues and he has been taunting me, being verbally and emotionally abusive. One time he yelled at me so bad in public. His eyes glazed over. We hadn’t spoken in months, so I thought it was ok to talk to him again. I had been forewarned that Brett is not a good guy, he’s slick at being manipulative and to stay away from him. He had his “gf” call me threatening me and he sat there for almost 40 minutes getting into it all he said to her was stop talking I want to go home, I never said two words to her before that. I’ve been through so much with him I’m tired of the abuse. I can only hope that he doesn’t harm me, he has targeted me again for some reason. He’s 6’1″ 194 pounds and I am 4’11” 111 pounds. I can get at him verbally, but physically I know he’d overpower me. Now I wish I had listened to that man because Brett is so consumed with hurting me. At this point I don’t put anything past him, he becomes enraged and snaps into something else. I just pray to God that he puts his protection over me because deep down I am scared for my life…again.

    1. I’m so sorry to hear that. I know it can be tempting to talk to an ex who is obsessive/abusive after some time has passed, but it’s never a good idea. It gives them entryway into your life and after all the bad things he’s done, that’s definitely something you want to avoid. In most cases, guys like that don’t change unless they realize they have a problem or want to. Judging from what you told me, Brett doesn’t want to or sees he has a problem.

      I would definitely alert the cops about what’s going and see what they can do. At the very least there will be a record of his behavior. If you live in the US, the Domestic Violence and Abuse website may be of use http://www.thehotline.org/. They have resources and it looks like an online chat so you could speak to someone online. The number is also 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) or 1-800-787-3224 (TTY). Other countries have resources too. You just have to search domestic abuse hotline and the country you’re in. They would have more resources, options and advice to keep you safe than I would.

      Thanks for sharing your story with me and hopefully my comment helped! Stay safe!

  5. My ex husband has gone thru all stages. Currently in d threatening stage. Honestly, I don’t give a damn about his coward-like threats. Hez just too small to intimidate me. By d time he gets violence, d law should and will catch up with him. I feel with his type of obsession, he will soon go crazy, medically agreed crazy. Hahahaha!

  6. I am currently stuck at stage 5 with my ex. I’ve sent him a link to this page, and saying “Enough Is enough” and hopefully he will see what he is doing to me is wrong. Hopefully. This article really opened my eyes. a lot.

      1. I do not think he will. He swears he is not hurting me, that we were born to be together, that I owe it to him to give him a (third) chance after all I’ve put him through.

      1. please follow the valid HRO. seriously. i’m done. just stop.i haven’t talked to you since 12:16. YOU keep contacting ME. I WILL report you if you CONTINUE!

  7. stop blaming me for your inability to let go. stop trying to make me feel like a hideous fat idiot so i’ll come back to you. stop messaging people on my friend’s list. stop. everything. do not comment again. this is third party harassment, and it directly violates the hro and i’m two damn seconds away from reporting you.

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