Could You Suffer From One-itis?

If you're hyperfocused on one particular person, cannot resist calling him several times a day, and analyze his every action, you may have one-itis. If this sounds like you, you may have one-itis, and it's worth curing.

"When someone is so focused on another person, it's obvious that she is trying to compensate for, or make up for, not feeling whole herself," says Karin Anderson, Ph.D, a relationship expert and professor at Concordia University Chicago.

The notion of "You complete me...I am more complete when you're with me" may work in chick flicks, Anderson says.
"But in real life, it is evidence of a level of dependency that's not healthy," she explains. "You don't want a person who is so needy that she must have another person to give her an identity and to make her feel good about herself."

A one-itis sufferer tends to land in a relationship with a "fixer," who wants nothing more than to be fussed over and focused on, says Karol Ward, LCSW. Then the one-itis sufferer sinks into a relationship based on co-dependency, she says. "Above all else, they want to focus on someone else so they don't have to deal with their own issues," she explains.

Overcoming One-itis

If you have one-itis, you may be able to overcome it by:

1. Establish outside interests that you may have always felt you didn't have time for. Ask yourself: are there areas of my life I've been wanting to explore? "If you weren't so focused on this person, you would have time for these," says Ward.

2. Consider a return to school, a trip, even a short one, or maybe even a career change--something that would make your life feel more interesting and compelling.

3. Have a reality check with a friend. "Ask what she thinks about your relationship," Ward says. "You may be surprised when your friend tells you that all you do is talk about Joe's job but that it is time you shared more about you."  Hearing from a trusted friend that you've got your priorities backwards may well be what you need to help you realize it's time you started to care about yourself and your own health.

4. Be aware of what kind of man seeks out women with one-itis. "Women who are very vulnerable tend to get involved with men who are charming but totally self-involved," says Tina B. Tessina, "Dr. Romance," licensed psychotherapist and author of The Unofficial Guide to Dating Again. "Once he knows he has her hooked, the charm disappears and he becomes controlling and neglectful.  But, she is hooked, and just tries harder. Her lack of self-esteem causes her to sacrifice everything to keep him."

5. Work on your self-esteem. "Learn to be fine on your own," Tessina says. "Develop a great circle of friends and get involved in social activities. You'll not only feel better, but you'll set yourself up for meeting a healthy guy who can love you."