Romantic Obsession; What Makes a Stalker?
In 7th grade, the girls and I were swooning over a teacher, Mr. Signorino. We had a romantic obsession with Mr. Signorino. We even had a song about him. The song was an adaptation from the last verse of the song from West Side Story, Gee Officer Krupke. The parody of that song we created went like this, “Mr. Signorino, we’re down on our knees, because no one wants a teacher with a social disease. Gee Mr. Signorino what are we to do. Mr. Signorino, we love you.” Are you romantically obsessed?
Of course at this age, this is a schoolgirl crush and not a true romantic obsession. A true romantic obsession is what we label as a “stalker.”
Today’s social media craze has turned the word “stalk” into everyday slang. Clients on a regular basis will say, “I stalk him on Facebook.” We can look at our beloved every single hour on social media and this does not constitute real stalking. One cannot be harassed without knowing they are being harassed. However if you use social media platforms to cyber bully and threaten your beloved, those actions will constitute stalking.
A true stalker is someone who has a romantic obsession with his/her beloved, which includes showing up at unannounced visits and obsessing over the right words in an email in order to change the mind of the beloved. The stalker thinks about the beloved all day, every day and continues to pursue against the beloved’s wishes. In the movie, Fatal Attraction, Glen Close is a great example of a true stalker in an extreme form of romantic obsession. There is a real potential peril to unrequited love.
In unrequited love, a woman continues to desire for her man when she knows she is unable to achieve that love. The more she tries, the more painful it is. The more painful it is the more addictive it becomes.
Unrequited love does give us a goal to continue to pursue. The goal is to fix the beloved because she knows what is best for him. Whatever signs she can find that the beloved may change his mind, propels her forward in constant pursuit of him.
Behavioral Psychologists call this “intermittent positive reinforcement.” Intermittent positive reinforcement is extremely addictive. Gambling is intermittent positive reinforcement. Gambling is more addictive than heroine and cocaine.
However, there is an essence to unrequited love. Lady Gaga reported that her unrequited love for a drummer was a key to her success in the music industry. The pain of unrequited love was channeled into another love interest for Lady Gaga, which was her music.
Love can create suffering and suffering can be useful. We need to reflect on it. We need to ask ourselves specific questions. What expectations did we have with this relationship? What irrational thoughts did we have about our beloved and ourselves?
Lady Gaga found that her accomplishments rescued her, the unwanted woman, from demise. Her musical achievements gave her an outlet for her restless longing for the drummer.
Unrequited love produces powerful emotional responses. One response can lead us into a perilous romantic obsession or another can fuel us into a tremendous achievement. We all have a choice.
The girls in that 7th grade class swooning over Mr. Signorino were in the “initiation phase” of adolescent romantic relationships. They were “crushing” on him.
Mr. Signorino was obviously someone who was not going to return their feelings. These 7th grade students needed to turn their attention away from whether Mr. Signorino would like them back and toward themselves. What does that crush tell them about what they value in a possible mate? Are those traits superficial or meaningful?
Unrequited love can transform us. After the pain subsides, we have a new resilience. We have a new understanding of ourselves. It becomes clearer to us of what we like and don’t like in a lover. We may even become a famous rock star like Lady Gaga.
If you would like to hear more about unrequited love, I have a podcast with Lisa A. Phillips. She is the author of Unrequited Women and Romantic Obsession. The podcast will be posted on Saturday, October 6th. Lisa A Phillips has published articles in many national publications, including the New York Times and the Boston Globe. She is a former radio journalist and contributes stories to NPR and other public radio outlets. I hope you will join us.
Love, Peace and Let’s Talk,