Wednesday, May 24, 2006

How to Cure Oneitis

A recent comment asked me to discuss getting over oneitis. This is a topic I am painfully familiar with, so I am happy to oblige.

For those just tuning in, oneitis is the malaise that occurs when you get hooked on a person who does not reciprocate your interest.

There's something romantic about focusing so much mental and emotional energy on a person who will probably not return the feelings. There are restless nights and reverie-filled days spent devoted to the object of affection, which sometimes lead to grand sweeping gestures. Sometimes there is even bad poetry involved.

However, there is also something intrinsically unhealthy about oneitis. I mean, come on, oneitis rarely leads to a happy ending. More often than not, a relationship does not result from the obsessive fantasy and if there is an encounter, it usually fizzles. Either being worshipped will become tiresome to the subject of the oneitis, or the worshipper will be disappointed in the reality.

I think the first and probably most crucial step in dealing with oneitis is having a firm grasp on reality. It's very tempting to take small communications and hints and coincidences and blow them up into huge cosmic signs. When all the weird Film Felix crap went down, I convinced myself that I was meant to be with this guy. The tricky thing was that I had very little information to go on and that I never heard from him after our date-which-didn't-even-result-in-a-smooch. Normally, this would be when you say to yourself,

"Oh well, I thought there was potential for something, but obviously he doesn't want to pursue it. Time to move on."

If only it were that simple. Sometimes a person gets under your skin, even though you should know better and have very little to go on. Sometimes your mind creates a romance and then demands you hold on to it even though 99 times out of 100 it will never be real. Sometimes you have to practice tough love on yourself (and I'm not talking about some kind of kinky masturbation act) and let the hell go already.

I'm not saying it's easy. When I met Drama David, I was still hung up on Film Felix. I thought there was still a chance that I would come home one day and FF would be sitting on my doorstep (he lives a few blocks away, so it wasn't that implausible), professing his undying curiosity to know everything about me and bask in my multifaceted beauty. Or something. There were probably flowers involved, too. That never happened and was never going to happen.

And boy, am I glad it didn't.

I could have let my Film Felix obsession sabotage things with BF David. I could have stayed wrapped up in my fantasies and ignored the reality right in front of me, which was a wonderful man, who was treating me like gold, who I had fanfuckingtastic chemistry with.

I chose reality, but I also got really lucky. Many other times in the past, the oneitis had to run its natural course, wretchedly tormenting me along the way.

The best advice I can offer for ridding yourself of oneitis is to do as much as possible to take your mind off the person. Eventually the distractions will evolve into something better than pining for someone that should have realized how awesome you are by now. A little introspection goes a long way, too. Why are you so hooked on a person who won't return your affection? Are you scared of potentially getting hurt in a real relationship? Are you lonely and in need of someone to pin your feelings on? Are you bored with life's routines and need something exciting to focus on? Are you merely in love with the idea of love? Oneitis is usually not about the actual person but what that person represents, their potential for fulfilling certain deficiencies in your own life.

Let's be honest here. Relationships come with their pitfalls and imperfections, but reciprocated love is always going to win out over unrequited love. Every damn time. So be honest with yourself and take that person down from the pedestal. Wallow and pine for a bit longer if you are that masochistic (and I know most of us are), but then stop looking at their picture, get out of the house, go kiss other boys/girls if you need to, and quit devoting yourself to a lost cause.

Or, at the very least, don't do anything that will result in a restraining order.


Vespertine said...

Here here!! Cheers! L'Chaim!

Yep, all true. I lived the same silly cycle with PhD Boy. Oneitis.

Interesting though, that both of us would be hung up on non-reciprocating goobers at the moment when we met our current (and infinitely awesome-er) paramours. Perhaps oneitis serves a purpose-- ie, in being distracted by the non-reciprocator, we don`t appear to be looking for someone. It`s a fairly obvious truth that not-looking-for-someone inevitably leads to finding someone...

How`s that for a silver lining?? :)

pookalu said...

i'm a big fan of SELF-oneitis!!!!

well, in healthy doses, of course.

however, i'm in the mood for at least a healthy crush, i don't even have that!

StrangerInTheseParts said...

Good subject!

Another cause of oneitis: Fear. Not only of being hurt, but of being loved. It's emotionally safer to be in love with someone who doesn't reciprocate. For a lot of people, actually having to deal with recieving genuine affection is overwhelming. But nobly pining and fantasizing while being passively ignored/rejected? Lots of folks are very good at that. It's a very predictable, no risk way to use up your love since you don't actually have to love a real person. Your love stays pure in a oneitis relationship. And you never have to compromise your dream of a 'perfect relationship'.

Transformer said...

Psychologically speaking, this may also be the result of having neglectful (in the various ways of being neglectful) parents, which is where I believe we learn a lot about love from.

A child will want love from them, and learn to see their lack of love AS love. Also, in the few times this kind of parent throws a crumb of affection that child's way, the child will really hold on to that crumb, making it bigger than it is, because the child really needs love.

As this person matures with having learned that this is what love is, he or she eroticizes these feelings/thoughts, and tends to be attracted to people exhibiting similar behavior. It's a learned response to old patterns, which with practice, can be changed.

This has largely been my experience.

TheThinkingMan said...

A cure for onetitis would be "getting a life."

Step One: Not obsessing so much about romantic relationships. Realizing that romance is really icing on the cake, and your life alone is solid, good, and fulfilling.

I'm constantly shocked by men and women, who devote over 90% of their mental energy on finding someone.

If finding a romantic partner is the #1 goal of your life (it isn't mine), of course, it's easy to get obessive over little bumps along the way.

TheThinkingMan said...

PS. "neglectful parents"

I'm very wary of this blame-it-on the parents hypothesis.

A lot of my female friends come from loving families, yet they still exhibit desperation and fear of just being alone. In fact, having parents who are "always there" for them left them rather timid about independence.

At some point, we need to stop blaming the little dramas of our lives on my parents. And we need to get on living our own lives, rather than trying to analyze a childhood that is done and over a long time ago.

CoatMan said...

As you have found out, the best cure for unrequited love is requited love. Rember Romeo and Rosaline?

Dynamic said...

Affection (Logan) and I were talking and recalled the official method of getting rid of one-itis was sleeping with a baker's dozen of the opposite sex, as a means to show yourself that your specific target of adoration isn’t all that special.

One-itis is a dangerous thing; it's ruined many lives... I was watching Oprah last night (Yes, PUA's watch Oprah) when Anderson Cooper was talking about how his brother killed himself of the break-up with his girlfriend... Of course, that's an extreme, but the fact that what we perceive as love has such a strong hold over us that we would jump off the balcony of our 14-story Manhattan apartment, while our mother watches, makes you think.

I, of course, wish you the best with David, I think human companionship is the most magical thing there is...


Transformer said...


The hypothesis is not about blame, it's about discovering the environment that contributed to "building" you, and figuring out what you want to do about it, and if it was a factor. You could be angry, maybe blame, maybe realize everyone does the best they can at any given moment, and hopefully move on.

Childhood may have been done quite a while ago, but it's not like at some point someone just instantly replaced you with a whole new adult body and persona. You grew into it. What were you fed along the way that could be hindering you?

If you do want to get on with living your life, you may first need to discover you're using the wrong tools and get a new set. Sometimes this kind of work results in remembering the past. Nothing wrong with that, IMO. You can really discover a lot about yourself.

And true, the "always there" parent can be detrimental as well. Things arising from one type of environment doesn't mean the opposite will be better.

MonkeyPants said...

Ack. I think I'm teetering on one-itis...

And the "holding onto a crumb" of affection sounds awfully familiar. I'm not going to blame my parents because they evened each other out in the affection department... but still. I prefer to blame my ex-boyfriend. :-)

the deal said...

Hey, too bad you weren't in town a couple of weeks ago to give me that speech. Oneitis - be gone!

TheThinkingMan said...

"first need to discover you're using the wrong tools and get a new set."

Some people spent years talking to therapiest and psychologist about their problems. They never get better with life, but they do learn to analyze everything to death.

Instead of sitting on the couch and bemoaning the past, live your life and get out of the house.

MonkeyPants said...

Your "get a life" and "get out of the house" advice to deal with problems instead of seeking professional help sounds familiar. Oh yes, now I remember. Do you also think depression doesn't exist and can be treated with vitamins and exercise?

The Asian Playboy said...

"I could have let my Film Felix obsession sabotage things with BF David. I could have stayed wrapped up in my fantasies and ignored the reality right in front of me, which was a wonderful man, who was treating me like gold, who I had fanfuckingtastic chemistry with. "

Why are you referring to BF David in the past tense? Foreshadowing?

the deal said...

however, the one thing I must say, is that since I've moved to NYC, my nights off have been early in the week. Only one Friday! That's not good as far as being out there meeting people goes. I have been crazily busy, just working and sleeping though. Any fix for that?

Dolly said...

You know, I was still single when the PhD Boy crisis happened, but when it followed with your meeting LP, it gave me a lot of hope that these things can happen out of nowhere. A well-founded hope, as it turns out.

Haha, self-oneitis, I love it! And yes, having no crushes at all can be a downer. We need to find you some eye candy pronto!

Yes, I think fear of being loved is part of it, too, sometimes, because of the vulnerability that entails. Putting our ego and emotions on the line like that can be quite intimidating.

I'm with Thinkingman, I think blaming the parents, while sometimes valid, is a little too much of a copout. Part of growing up is taking responsibility for our actions and interactions with others. I have seen people from dysfunctional families who are kind and loving and I have seen people from well-adjusted families who are fucked up. There's no hard and fast rule, so it's better to take ownership for our own behavior rather than assign blame.

Life alone can indeed be solid and fulfilling. I reached a point where I was very content being single (shortly before meeting BF David). I will say, though, no matter how happy I have been on my own (and I'm good at the solo thing), I am much, much happier when within a healthy and loving relationship.

Transformer said...

Maybe it's the way I wrote it because I'm not talking about blaming parents. Pointing something out does not have to be blame. Not blaming anyone for your own behavior would not change any facts of whether or not you had neglectful people in your life, and then deciding if that may have been a template in some way. It's entirely up to the individual if that info is important.

I also think what I tried to convey is completely about taking responsibility for your life, perhaps learning something about yourself so you see the signs and then waste no time on unavailable people.

I know there are no hard and fast rules which is why I commented using words like "may" and "sometimes," and wrap it up by pointing out it was largely my experience, as in not necessarily everyone's.

People want to wonder why something went the way it did, and why they feel certain ways about things. IMO emotions are thoughts we give VIP status to. They're learned responses we've habtuated over the years, and everyone's response to the same stimulus is different. For some it can be unmanageable (One-itis). So instead of continuing to romanticize it I just got to what was for me the reasons for the behavior. I felt like I couldn't give it a rest until I really understood some things about myself. I learned a lot about other people in the process.

It can be difficult in the written medium, particularly isince I'm not a writer, to be clear on meaning.

coasta said...

Oneitis is the result of having a scarcity mentality about love/lovers...and to a greater extent, about life itself.

You focus on the ONE, because internally you don't believe that there are others out there. We all have a large number of individuals that we are completely compatable with, but we don't run into them everyday for whatever reason. All your waking energy goes into this one person, when it could be going into meeting some OTHER potential BF/GF.

Interesting how it's a self destructive process. It works completely against the goal you actually want to achieve.

Charlie Brown said...

Their should be national campaigns against One-Itis.

Ghettobob said...

^ haha, treat it like VD.

Like Dolly said, I think there's something nice about falling in love with someone who doesnt return it... it's like being depressed, it feels good sometimes. Thats why so many people do it.

But once you recognize that there's just no downside to being healthy mentally, to just being positive and not passive about your feelings, you will be so much happier.

Anonymous said...

WOW! Fantastic post sister!
"I thought there was still a chance that I would come home one day and FF would be sitting on my doorstep."...SO TRUE! Why do we women think these stupid thoughts?
And yes, we should all aim for reciprocated love as opposed to unrequited love...something I am so guilty of doing.
Here here, dolly!

NotCarrie said...

This hits so close to home that I am now convinced you know me, ha! Wow...

I love this from Coatman:

" As you have found out, the best cure for unrequited love is requited love. Rember Romeo and Rosaline?"

Homosexual Suspect said...


Interestingly, "Oneitis" is also a kind fo sexual compulsion known as "romantic obsession." It's basically oneitis blown out of control and it becomes compulsive.

Actually, one of the things you should have mentioned for curing oneitis is to figure out what hooked you on this person in the first place and then distract your feelings for that "facet" of the person. For instance, I fell too hard for some guy because I saw him shirtless once. Long story short, three years later as I tried in vain to move on, I happened to see him shirtless again and he was fatter, uglier, and had a beer belly I didn't remember. That was how I knew I was over him.

The moral of my story would be that, well, if you find yourself out of control with oneitis on every boy/girl/sheep in your path-- you might have a more serious problem. One that a hell of a lot of other people have, too.

Anonymous said...

The Thinking Man and coasta...

I disagree on your point about 'getting a life' and 'getting out the house' and seeing other people as a cure for one-itis.

I have oneitis that I'm trying to get over currently.
I have a life. I'm active, I go out a lot. I have a few, but very close friends. I've dated other girls while having this one-itis, and yet I still obsess about the one-itis.

I know its not healthy and I know I need to break it. I even have a gf that's the most fantastic girl in the world, and I certainly don't want to f it up just because of an unhealthy one-itis. But having a life, getting out there, seeing other ppl etc. doesn't just instantly cure one-itis.

Billy said...

and when even being with other people, and distracting yourself with other things, doesn't eliminate the one-itis?

What then?

Dolly said...

I have found self-medicating with alcohol can help. I'm kidding (kind of--don't overdo it).

Let time pass. Let yourself see the person as they really are, flaws and all. Accept the fact that this person is not for you. That's what I'm trying to do.

Anonymous said...

There is a 4:1 suicide ratio of men to women in Canada and the United States. It's interesting to note that the spike exists between the ages 25 and 44. This only goes up to 1997 but I'm sure it hasn't changed much.

It really all boils down to:

Where is the love in the world? It is not in the form of orgies, polygamy, empty sex, and bathing in material wealth. REAL love is FAMILY. The animal kingdom knows it. Human beings know it.


Where is the love in the world? It is not in the form of patriarchial marriage, commitment, and "oneitis". REAL love is FREEDOM. The animal kingdom knows it. Human beings know it.

This is conflict. It seems the only way out is equality, but wait, equality only makes things more unequal. Yes, we have nihilism.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

"Please forgive me
I know not what I do

Please forgive me
I can't stop loving you

Don't deny me
this pain I'm going through

Please forgive me
if I need ya like I do

Please believe me
every word i say is true

Please forgive me
I can't stop loving you."

-Bryan Adams lyrics

If the receiver would just BELIEVE the sender (since obviously the sender had a reason to love the receiver in the first place; obviously there was chemistry and obviously things were ok before), everything would work out for both people. The sender would have to listen to the receiver. It's the human ego that's the enemy, not "oneitis".

Masculine pursues target, feminine uses "selective breeding" tactics to filter. Both are violent.

(and no, you don't have to be a man to be masculine or a woman to be feminine).

Anonymous said...

Dolly, I understand what you are saying about seeing a person for their flaws, but what if it's their flaws and perfections you love?

Taipei Swan said...

Yup, this post is fantastic and applies equally to guys and girls. It's a bit different to having a crush - crushes are a perfectly normal, even healthy byproduct of having hormones :P - but oneitis, if allowed to grow unchecked, can be pretty destructive to the self-esteem if the object of your affections doesn't reciprocate. I mean, even if your perfect match is one in a million, there are, what, 6 billion plus people in the world today. That makes over 6,000 potential soulmates, if my maths is correct.

Shi said...

my oneitis led to severe depression which Im still recovering from..

when she noticed I had one-itis with her she decided to fully take advantage of it and to stalk me around...

xbookx said...

Thank you...

Anonymous said...

That was informative. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

There's a song by Chris Brown called 'Just Fine'. In the song he talks of letting go of his girlfriend and wishing that a better man will enter her life. I really like sentiment of the song because it's a win-win situation. He's let her go without any hard feelings and also wants the best for her. Most men would not dream of thinking like this. I like to listen to this song to partly (1%) get over my severe case of one-itis. Any other tips apart from sleep with loads of women, get out there etc.?

GrahamJH said...

I think people put way too much store in what other people's far more important what you think! If you've convinced yourself that one person is the be-all and end-all of your life at that moment, then he/she will be just that, however, if you've realised that there are many, many fish in the sea then you are a lot further down the line of curing yourself of oneitis than most people I know! Good luck! :)

mark said...

Jack said:

> There is a 4:1 suicide ratio of men
> to women in Canada and the United
> States.

But from what I understand, more women attempt suicide - they are just not as effective.

CarolaKitty said...

Thank you.

This post and the related comments are just the balm this California girl, in the throes of an agonizing fixation, needed.

Must let go; must let go; must let go......


billy said...

Lack of love from parents can DEFINITELY result in oneitis. It's not about blaming someone, it's about reality...if you know how the human brain works, you know that our experience while growing up strongly influences the way we feel and behave. Most people have at least ONE person who has truly shown love for them, but people like me haven't. So people like me seek love. When we love someone and that love isn't returned, we just want it more, just like we wanted the love from our parents. I'm not blaming my parents for my case of oneitis, I'm just saying that if I had a family member or a friend that showed me a bit of love, maybe I wouldn't be spending 24/7 trying to forget about my ex and the fact that she "fell out of love with me" after 6 months of dating.

I really don't give a fuck about anyone's opinions. My ex is down to be friends with benefits, and I'll take it. She IS the most beautiful girl I've ever met (I thought so the first time I even laid eyes on her) and she has an amazing personality, so even if she doesn't love me or want to be in a relationship with me, I'm glad I can hang out with her and be intimate with her. I'm a picky guy. When I meet someone else who comes even a bit close to her looks and personality, I'll go for it...until then, I'm not gonna screw 10 girls who I'm not that attracted to, I'll stick with the one girl, the only girl, that I consider a 10/10.

And if my plan works (act like I don't love her anymore and ignore her when we aren't together) she might just want me back. Then I can date her for a month, then break up with me back all the power, and maybe then I'll be able to move on >:D

leo nathan said...

"Oneitis is usually not about the actual person but what that person represents, their potential for fulfilling certain deficiencies in your own life" best comment EVER

leo nathan said...

"Oneitis is usually not about the actual person but what that person represents, their potential for fulfilling certain deficiencies in your own life" best quote EVER