Thursday, 22 August 2013


Obsession. It comes in so many shapes and forms; from the sensual scent of Calvin Klein's vintage designer note to the fanatic fixation on tweenage boy bands such as Emblem 3 and One Erection; from shoes and the insatiable thirst for money, fame and power to the compulsive habit of updating one's social networking status on the minute every minute. Hashtag, annoying. One might consider this uncontrollable craze as addiction's little sister, and while OCD may provide comic relief at the best of times, the domination of one's thoughts and feelings by some persistent, and in most cases, impractical idea - like having Ryan Gosling's babies - is no laughing matter, especially when the object of one's obsession happens to be another human being.

If the latest viral sensation is anything to go by, it just goes to show how fucked up (and entertaining) crazy love can make a person, and while Neil Hilborn's inspirational love profusion is actually legitimised by his own obsessive compulsive disorder, I couldn't help but wonder just how many of us suffer from the same or worse kind of anxiety disorder when it comes to love and relationships.

You see it happening to single ladies all the time; they meet a guy who has the potential of being Mr. Right and automatically start obsessing over him. His hair, his physique, his financial history. Thanks to social vehicles such as facestalk and Linked In, you don't have to be the CIA to attain a fairly decent amount of  background information. All it takes is one flirtation to trigger all those hidden hopes and fascinations about the future you've been planning all your life. An affectionate kiss on the cheek, a couple of nights out on the town, the ambiguous gesture of holding hands. Are we officially going steady or is this relationship actually all in your head? While it's perfectly normal to think about someone you fancy a million times a day, at what point does it stop being a crush and start being cray-cray? 

It happened in the summer of late 2004 when Hannah, a young master's student, had fallen in love with her handsome business lecturer. Mr. Domingo was a successful stockbroker with several medium-sized businesses across the country. He also happened to be happily married with two young children, a drop-top and a white picket fence in the suburbs. Although Hannah maintained exceptional grades through sheer diligence and extra credit, she had failed to tell the difference between friendly conversation and sexual subtleties. While his philosophy on current business trends was certainly stimulating, Hannah's professor had become her number one subject.

Her school-girl fantasy had escalated the night she asked Mr. Domingo to tutor her over a long weekend that conveniently tied in with Mrs. Domingo's rotary trip to East London. Although Mr. Domingo had regarded their extra lessons as nothing more than educational, Hannah had a more ominous proposal in mind. By this time, Hannah had done enough research to know his favourite meal which she cooked for him as a sign of her gratitude, and his favourite wine, a french Bordeaux from the Stellenbosch hills. After some wining and dining, the predictable student-teacher line had been crossed and all hell had broken loose.  

It was your text book affair that happened once, but in this case, once too many. Hannah had become totally obsessed with Mr. Domingo whose rejection after their fling had only fueled her mania even more. She started stalking him at social events, flirting with business associates, rocking up at his children's school only so that she could catch a glimpse of the woman she thought had been keeping them apart. She would call his wife a number of times and hang up when she answered. Her behaviour was out of control and Mr. Domingo had soon found out that he was not the first teacher Hannah had Lolita'd. She had done this once before with her former accounting teacher who had subsequently fled the country due to her age at the time.  

Consumed with guilt Mr. Domingo confessed his costly affair to his wife who immediately filed for divorce and sole custody over the kids. His little venture lost him his teaching position at the University and caused quite a scandal in his professional life. Hannah, being the love-obsessed fatal attractor that she was, saw this as a sign that they could finally be together, but the only form she got served was a restraining order. "She's probably worshiping some heart-framed shrine of me as we speak or scribbling I heart Mr. Domingo scrawls across her skull-studded notebook. Crazy bitch."

Love in its most obsessive state can be altogether flattering, but it can definitely bring out the bunny-boiler in us. Obsessing over an ex, someone you've just met or even an encounter that was pretty much doomed from the word go is not worth losing your head or reputation over no matter how involuntary the urge may be, may be, may be. If the symptoms of your disease starts posing a threat to others as well as yourself, then perhaps it's time to practice a little restraint and get some schedule seven meds.

When it comes to obsession, at what point does compulsion become crippling?

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