One of the core elements of romantic relationships is interpersonal communication. The reactions of two people after meeting can either extinguish or ignite the hopes for future romance. Honeycutt and Cantrill (2014) argue that communication between couples depends on what one partner thinks of another, their individual feeling on their relationship, and how they generally behave with each other. The pattern of interaction between the couple determines if a relationship flourishes or ends. The aspect of interpersonal communication for this assignment will be explored based on the obsessive love wheel.
Majority of relationships are initiated by a face-to-face interaction where most of the potential lovers surround the social networks of the individuals. Honeycutt and Cantrill (2014) argue that an individual tends to interact with a person who they share several variables like education, socioeconomic status, and age. This results in the homogeneity of the group that a person selects a romantic partner from. Although a majority of scholars argue on the several variables in initiating a relationship, one of the identifiable commodities is the amount of available information about a partner. After meeting, couples spend most of their time seeking information about each other. Consistently, several, theories explain the aspect of communication in relationships.
Rodgers (2015) defines an obsessive love as a way of possessing or owning another person. Majority of persons may confuse having an obsession with being in love. Fusing obsession and love is disastrous and results in volatile and destructive relationships. Obsessive love as explained by Berger (2016) is the one that results in suicide, false accusation, stalking, rape, or murder among others. An obsessive love wheel can be applied to categorize this form of love into stages that are identifiable following some behavioral traits.
The obsessive love wheel is explored in five phases, which include the attraction phase, anxious phase, obsessive phase, and the destructive phase. The first phase of obsessive phase is presented with an overwhelming and instantaneous attraction to another individual. During the first stage, the rationally dependent individual becomes hooked to another individual. The first phase is triggered by attention from the individual one is attracted to. This can be based on social penetration theory, which argues that information or communication is a means of developing intimacy among couples. The theory argues that the increase in relational depth and breadth results from interpersonal communication.
The initial phase is characterized by the following behaviors. There is an instant attraction to romantic interest, which occurs during the first minutes after meeting. The individual gets an immediate urge to run into a romantic relationship regardless of compatibility. The individual gets hooked by the physical beauties without regard to the personality differences. The two individuals experience unrealistic fantasies about romance in their relationship where they assign magical interests to their object of attraction. Lastly, during phase one of the obsessive love wheel, there is a manifestation of obsessive controlling behaviors.
The expectations are that when a couple meets, they are required to share information about themselves with each other. Generally, after meeting, a couple is expected to share information (breadth) and share intimate information with each other (depth). In such a relationship, the partners are expected to be emotionally involved, which is in contrast to obsessive love where a partner desires to control the other. The initial phase is followed by the anxious phase, which marks the second stage.
Many scholars consider the anxious phase as a relational turning point, which is a result of commitments from each party. Honeycutt and Cantrill (2014) argue that most of the time, the relationally dependent spouse enters this phase without any commitments. This follows after the other spouse creating an intimacy illusion regardless of the likes and dislikes of their partner. During the second phase, the behaviors of the individual comprise of one spouse containing unfounded thoughts of infidelity to the other spouse.
The spouse with the infidelity thoughts may require and demand their spouse to be accountable for their day-to-day activities. The second behavior is that the obsessive individual may have a deep fear of abandonment where for example they may live in fear that the individual may walk out of a relationship in favor of another individual. This is followed by the emergence of strong feelings of mistrust causing relational depression, resentment, and depression. At this phase, the individual continues to escalate their controlling and obsessive behaviors.
The third phase is termed as the obsessive phase, which is a representation of rapid escalation of unhealthy attachment style. Vangelisti (2012) argues that in Relational Dependency (RD) individuals become more obsessed and controlling that it overwhelms their life. At this phase, the spouse being controlled retorts by pulling back meaning they likely to form anxiety severs back. In conclusion, in phase three, the Relational Dependency individual totally losses control. Lack of control among the RD individual may result in extreme anxiety.
One of the characteristics that are expected in the third phase of the obsessive wheel is the onset of the tunnel vision. This means that the RD person is not in a position to stop thinking about their interest based on love, which requires him or her to have constant attention. The RD individual is likely to illustrate compulsive neurotic behaviors; for example, making several and rapid phone calls to their spouse’s place of work or residence. The level of anxiety at the obsessive stage is very high that the RD individual has unfounded cheating accusations. Another significant behavior during this stage is drive-by near the spouse’s place of work or residence with the goal to have an assurance that the individual is at the place they are supposed to be.
Moore (2009) explains that obsessive individuals may have electronic or physical monitoring activities. They do this to identify the daily activities of their love interests’ whereabouts. Spann (2017) argues that in an obsessive love wheel, the RD individual tends to have extreme control tactics. For example, the RDC individual may question the commitment of their spouse to the relationship. They do this to ensure that the spouse is more attentive and provides more attention to the RD.
The last stage is the destructive phase of the Obsessive Relational Progression. The phase is greatly affected by phase three behaviors and it represents the destruction stage of an obsessive relationship, which flees any love interest between the partners. Moore (2009) argues that the fourth stage is the most dangerous stage as the RD individual plummets suddenly into a deep depression due to the issues and turmoil in the relationship. Several behaviors are evidenced in this stage.
The first behavior is feeling empty on the inside due to overwhelming feelings of depression. The collapse of the relationship causes a sudden loss of self-esteem of the RD individual. The individual also experiences self-hatred, as well as, self-blame. The individual is filled with rage, anger, and strong desire to revenge towards the lover for breaking off the relationship. The RD individual has low interpersonal communication skills and they may attempt to “win a loved one back” due to denial that the relationship has ended. To medicate the emotional pain, the individual may end up self-medicating and abusing food, sex, alcohol, and drugs.
In conclusion, the solution for RD individuals is that they do not get out of the chaotic wheel but rather they jump to the new one. It is a form of personality disorder and the individual has poor interpersonal skills. This causes the individual to experience the cycle of control to be repetitive in a new relationship. One of the best strategies of beating against the obsessive love wheel is that the RD individual needs to control their emotions where for example, if an individual feels ecstatically happy or severely depressed. There is also a need to take precautions against obsessive love to reduce the likelihood of murder, rape, violence, or other destructive behaviors in intimate relationships. It is evident from the obsessive love wheel that obsessive love is not love at all, but it is more of being possessive and control of the targeted one.
Berger, A. A. (2016). Interpersonal communication. In Messages (pp. 100-117). Routledge.
Honeycutt, J. M., & Cantrill, J. G. (2014). Cognition, communication, and romantic relationships. Routledge.
Moore, J. (2009). Too Close for Comfort. Mental Health Matters.
Rodgers, D. (2015). The moral economy of murder. Violence at the urban margins, 21-40.
Vangelisti, A. (2012). Interpersonal Processes in Romantic Relationships. The SAGE Handbook of Interpersonal Communication.
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