Delusional love disorder: Do you have a crush on someone and think they love you back?


Someone is said to be suffering from delusional love disorder when they feel that that their feelings of love are reciprocated, despite glaring evidence of this being not true.

A 20-year-old Chinese university student was recently diagnosed with delusional love disorder. The student, Liu, felt that all the girls in his school liked him. He had reportedly even started to behave in an inappropriate manner. Having a crush on someone, and being convinced that they love you back โ€“ that is what is known as delusional love disorder. Unrealistic, false beliefs and fantasy are the common symptoms of this love disorder. While these feelings may seem harmless, people suffering from the delusional love disorder are often unshakable in their beliefs and might even stalk their love interests.

What is Delusional Love Disorder?

Delusional love disorder is when someone develops strong romantic feelings for someone else, but those feelings are based on unrealistic or false beliefs. Ever had a crush on someone who didnโ€™t feel the same way? โ€œImagine taking that crush to the extreme. Delusional love disorder is when a person is convinced that the other person loves them back, despite contrary evidence,โ€ explains psychiatrist and Behavioural Medicine specialist Dr Ankita Priydarshini.

The American Psychiatric Associationโ€™s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders defines all delusional disorders as the presence of delusions for a period of one month or more in a patient, who is otherwise healthy and mentally sound. Therefore, it is very important to know the symptoms of delusional love disorder and recognise them well.

Symptoms of delusional love disorder

1. Rejection doesnโ€™t change how they feel

Even if they are rejected or they are shown examples of how the other person is not in love with them, they still have firm belief that the person who they love wants to actually be with them as well. A study, in Industrial Psychiatry Journal, states that a person with any sort of delusional disorder is convinced that his or her delusion is absolutely true.

2. Display inappropriate behaviour

People who have any delusional love disorder, can also showcase a behaviour where they are stalking their love interest. So, like they might continue to call them, keep a track on them on social media, or like go to their house. The American Journal of Psychiatry states that in a study conducted on stalkers, 30 percent were suffering form a delusional disorder.

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3. Erratic mood disturbances

Since they are misled with how their love interests are viewing them, their moods often fluctuate easily. So they might be thrilled by their crush glancing at them, and then devastated by not been spoken to. A study, published in Psychopathology, states that delusional disorders and mood swings often co-exist.

Causes of delusional disorders

1. Psychological factors

Past experiences of rejection, trauma, or abandonment can contribute to the development of delusional love disorder. โ€œThis can happen to someone who has not had many healthy relationships in his past. They are more susceptible to having unrealistic beliefs about love,โ€ says Dr Priyadarshini.

2. Biological factors

Factors such as imbalanced brain chemistry as well as our genes can help the onset of this disorder. A study, published in Behavioural Sciences & The Law, studies the connection between biological factors and delusional disorders; and talks about how genes play a big role in this.

3. Social influences

If we have grown up with very idealised versions of relationships, and face societal pressures as well, then this can also result in the onset of delusional love disorder. Our perception of reality can be heavily impacted with what we feel should be the ideal relationship.

Two hands reaching out to hold each other
People with delusional love disorder are often convinced of their beliefs and are not open to any correction. Image courtesy: Pexels

Is delusional love disorder and erotomania the same?

It is related but slightly different. Erotomania is a type of delusional disorder where someone believes that someone else, usually of higher social status, is in love with them. โ€œSo, while delusional love disorder is focused on romantic feelings towards a specific person, erotomania involves delusions about the social status or identity of the person they believe loves them,โ€ says Dr Priyadarshini.

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What is obsessive love disorder?

In obsessive love disorder, a person may feel that he possesses another person, as it he were an object. Overwhelming attraction, love self esteem and possessive thoughts are what govern this disorder. However, this disorder is not medically recognised.

Diagnosis of delusional love disorder

To diagnose delusional love disorder, a psychiatrist will typically conduct a thorough evaluation, this may include interviews, psychological evaluations, and observation of behaviour patterns over time. The key is to identify the presence of delusions and rule out other potential explanations for the individualโ€™s beliefs and behaviours.

A woman smiling at work
People with delusional love disorder often misunderstand basic actions such as a smile to mean something deeper. Image courtesy: Pexels

Treatment of Selusional Love disorder

Any sort of delusional disorder has to be dealt with therapy. Therapy is a great way to help people deal with their thoughts and understand reality in a better way. The patient will also be put on medication, such as antipsychotics. These will go a long way in helping with mood swings as well as managing the delusions, and reducing them.

Consequences

When someone has a delusional love disorder, their social life can take a hit. Hereโ€™s how:

  • Trouble with friends and family: They might become so focused on their crush that it strains their relationships. Imagine if you kept talking about someone who doesnโ€™t like you back โ€“ your friends and family might find it hard to relate or even avoid you.
  • Feeling lonely: Their behaviour, like stalking or constantly talking about their crush, can push people away. Itโ€™s like being left out of social gatherings because others find your actions uncomfortable.
  • Legal problems: In extreme cases, their actions could land them in trouble with the law. Imagine if you couldnโ€™t stop sending gifts or showing up where your crush works โ€“ you might end up with a restraining order or worse.
  • Work issues: Their obsession can affect their job performance, like if you spent all day checking your crushโ€™s social media instead of working โ€“ you could get in trouble at work or even lose your job.
  • Damage to reputation: Word can spread fast, and if people know about their obsession, it could harm their reputation. Others might see them as creepy or unstable, making it hard to form new relationships or earn trust.
  • Emotional pain: All these problems can take a toll on their emotional well-being. They might feel lonely, depressed, or even think about hurting themselves.

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