Help! I Can’t Stop Thinking About Someone
By Sarah Fader
Updated March 09, 2020
Reviewer Laura Angers
When you become "obsessed" with someone, it doesn't feel like a crush. It can be an addictive and destructive feeling that interferes with your ability to concentrate, deal with others, and go about your normal daily routine. If you're thinking, "Help, I can't stop thinking about someone!" then it may be helpful to consider the psychological aspect of what you feel inside.
Crushes are common in the teenage years, but they do frequently persist well into adulthood, especially if you're not able to talk to the person, ask them out, and start dating them. Some obstacles in your way might include an unavailable partner (married or dating someone else), a lack of confidence, or maybe a long distance between the two of you that makes conversation difficult.
Some people develop crushes on others who completely disdain them, and the lack of attraction only makes the person more obsessive. They start asking, "What can I do to impress them?" even though the answer is clearly: Nothing! We all want to feel attractive and like we're successful in all our efforts to find love, even if those efforts are misguided at times.
How to Get Rid of a Crush if You're a Teen
Dr. Carl Pickhardt, Ph.D., wrote an article in Psychology Today, stating that romantic crushes are usually based on infatuation and "idealization."
This means that if you're saying, "I can't stop thinking about someone I like!" then you might be projecting attributes onto a crush… and this person may not be anything like you imagine them to be in reality. This is one reason why therapists might advise a teenager dealing with a crush to confront their object of affection, and tell them that they "like" this person. This allows the teen to get to know the crush in a real-world setting, rather than limiting all these obsessive thoughts to his/her imagination. If there is a mutual attraction from the other person, you may be able to pursue a relationship. But even if there's not an attraction, the belief is that once you can interact with this person and see them for who they are, you may soon realize that the romanticized feelings are false. You're in love with the idea of the person, but not necessarily the reality of who they are.
I Can't Stop Thinking About Someone… and I'm an Adult!
If you can't meet the person you're thinking about, there are other things to try. Finding a distraction is important. Find a new hobby or a new interest. Take a vacation. Do something kind for the needy. Date someone else, if you think you're ready to handle getting into something new. In other words, distraction is good. Anything is better than just sitting in a room and "trying to stop thinking about a person." You ever hear that expression, "Don't think about pink elephants?" What happens when you stop trying to think about pink elephants? All you can think about are pink elephants. The same goes for trying to stop thinking about someone you're obsessed with. The more you try not to think about that person, the more you'll end up thinking about them, so turn to distraction instead. The best way to stop thinking about someone is to be active. This way you don't have as much time to obsess over them.
Below, we'll cover other things you can do to stop obsessing about someone.
1. Get in Touch with Your True Feelings
The first thing you need to do to get over a crush is to allow you to experience your feelings about your crush and yourself. We sometimes develop crushes because we think that person is better than we are. Another possibility is that you feel inadequate on your own and think the crush will complete you. Before you can move on with your life, you need to acknowledge your feelings and allow yourself to experience them. Talking to a counselor gives you a chance to describe your feelings to someone who understands. After you come to terms with how you feel, you can start to use techniques your counselor teaches you to put that person behind you.
2. Avoid Your Crush on Social Media
Social media does have some redeeming values. However, if you're obsessed with someone, being able to follow their activities easily on social media can keep you stuck in romantic feelings for them. Avoid clicking on their profile to read their information or catch up on their posts. You can't get to know who they are through social media anyway, so there's no point. People post the appearance of who they want you to see. Don't cyber stalk your crush. If someone brings up the person you have a crush on, excuse yourself from the conversation, change the subject, or move on to some other topic you find enjoyable, whether online or off.
Instead of dwelling on your crush and what they're up to, interact with the people who bring positive value to your life through social media. Perhaps they share humorous videos, congratulate you when you've done well, "listen" when you're feeling blue, or just look at life with a positive and independent attitude. These are the people who can make your social media experience worthwhile.
3. Get to Know Yourself Better
Instead of obsessing over someone else who may never care about you, take some time to get to know who you are as an individual. The better you know yourself and learn to love who you are, the less you'll need someone else to validate you.
Do some journaling to explore the thoughts and feelings that make you who you are. Rather than writing about your crush, write about other people as well as ideas, facts, activities, and places that intrigue you. Write about what you want to do with the rest of your life. What do you want to do for a career? Where would you like to travel? Start doing some research before you write and explore your interests. Then, write your findings. Journaling not only works when you're young. You can find out more about yourself at any time in your life.
4. Pursue Your Interests
What would you like to do that you're not doing right now? Why have you put it off? Now is a great time to explore new interests. Choose a new activity or destination and try it out. Take a class or join a club. If you're interested in art, go to a museum you've never been to. Take up a new medium. For example, if you love to paint, mix it up! If you've worked in watercolors before, try oils or acrylics. Approach any interest in the same way: choose a facet of that interest you've never tried before and give it a try.
Talk to friends about what interests them. If you hear about something that sounds fascinating, talk to them and learn more about that interest. Perhaps they can tell you how to get started. Maybe they can inspire you and encourage you. Spending time with friends you have no romantic interest in is a wonderful way to know yourself better, too. It's also a good time to meet new people and make new friends. Don't go out looking for someone to replace your crush. Simply find people who are supportive and interested in the world.
5. Stay Focused on the Here and Now
You may find that whenever you're obsessed with your crush, you're thinking about another time and place. However, to be mentally healthy, you need to be aware and involved in right now and your current circumstances. A first step to reaching that goal is to learn how to be more mindful. If you talk with a therapist, they can teach you about mindfulness and how to practice it. After you learn how to be mindful of your present surroundings, you can experience your life more fully, as it happens, in each moment of your life.
6. Get Involved with Your Community
Your community is the larger version of your home. Being active in community events and projects can bring great value to your life. You can be a part of something larger than yourself and help accomplish things you couldn't do alone. You might get to know people you've never met before or learn a new skill. You might even get to travel to a new place where people in your community volunteer to help others. Sometimes, too, clubs and social groups go on outings to fascinating places at home or away. Along the way, you can build up a greater support system than you've had in the past.
Is It Time to Seek Therapy?
If you can't stop thinking about your crush, no matter what steps you've taken in your life, it may be time to get help from a trained counselor. They've learned how to deal with unwanted thoughts and feelings in ways you might never come up with on your own. They can support you as you explore your feelings and examine your thoughts to understand what's happening to you better and to go beyond it. If you prefer, you can have therapy in your home, or anywhere you find comfortable and convenient. All you need is a reliable Internet connection and a counselor from BetterHelp. Soon, that crush can be a thing of the past, and you can build your life in a way that honors who you are. Read below for some reviews of BetterHelp counselors.
"I was so skeptical of therapy in the beginning, but I was in a bad place and needed help, and felt I had nowhere to turn, so I took the leap. I'm so glad I did. Beth has been an absolute lifesaver. She is a great listener. She's very intuitive. She's not judgmental. She helps me work through things in a way I couldn't do on my own. She can be light-hearted and funny, or firm and honest. She's a wonderful therapist. I can't say enough how she's helped me. I'm so glad I found Beth and BetterHelp."
"I am so glad I have someone like Joyce to talk with. She's able to get to my core issues and make sense of the many things I write to her. And even though I write a lot, she responds in a timely manner. It's been so helpful to have someone so experienced to help me sort through my issues and thoughts. I was a little skeptical about online counseling via messaging, but I think it's a great way of communicating because I can take time to make sure that I am expressing myself the way I want to, whereas I might feel more rushed if I were talking face-to-face. I'm impressed that even though we've never spoken directly, Joyce still has been able to understand me and help me so much in the short time that I've worked with her."
Try the tools and tips mentioned above to stop obsessively thinking about someone, and move toward a positive life with fulfilling relationships. You can take the first step today.