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The science of bullying in relationships.

Dubai The ties that bind can quickly become a noose around your neck if you are in an obsessive relationship.

But it is likely that the one terrorising you has long been a victim, too.

Dr Padmaraju Varrey, senior psychiatrist at NMC Speciality Hospital in Abu Dhabi, explained the phenomenon called "relational dependency".

It occurs when an individual transfers all their hopes and desires onto the object of affection and begins to fixate EoAC" to the extent that their partner becomes the centre of their universe.

Dr Ann Kuis, a counselling psychologist at LifeWorks, a Dubai-based counselling and development centre, said: "The relationship begins to define the individual, so losing their partner would be devastating. It would cause a serious loss of self-worth."

Kuis said the root cause of obsessive behaviour can often be traced to the formative childhood years. High stress levels, a history of depression and substance abuse also play major roles in fuelling obsession, she said.

"Obsessive-controlling behaviour in relationships is usually linked to insecurity and trust issues. The person's trust could have been seriously violated in the past."

Obsession is distinct from love EoAC" while obsessive thoughts interfere with the daily functioning of the individual, love is mutually supportive and reciprocal.

Kuis said: "Obsessive behaviour can bring about exactly what the person fears. By stalking a partner or controlling their livesEoACA* by constantly trying to possess a loved one, they cause him or her to leave."

Suspicions of infidelity and stalking are so destructive, they can even lead to physical violence.

Stalking cases

According to the US National Centre for the Victims of Crime, one out of every 12 women is stalked during her lifetime EoAC" that's about one million women annually.

Partner stalking was found to be the largest category of stalking cases in a recent study conducted by the University of Kentucky, US.

What begins with good intentions can quickly turn sinister. But is there hope for such relationships?

It all depends on whether the individual is ready for change, Kuis said.

Psychotherapy is a good place to start.

She said: "We can't alter what happened in the past, but we can bring about an understanding, which would help reduce the impact of those incidents in the present."

Building your own identity is vital, she said.

"If the person is suffering from low self-esteem, they must try to build on their sense of self. It empowers them and stops them from depending entirely on the relationship to validate them. The partnership should complement you, not define you."

In places such as the UAE, where many people live away from their families, having a support system is necessary to limit obsessive behaviour.

Varrey said: "Keeping an open channel of communication with different people is healthy. You would always have people to confide in and share your anxieties."

Signifies the end of the relationship, with feelings of self-blame, anger and depression.



The Obsessive Love Wheel, a hypothetical sphere originally described by American psychotherapist John D. Moore, tracks an obsessive person's behaviour on four levels.

Occurs within the first few moments of meeting someone new.

A relational turning point or a commitment, or the illusion of a commitment, is made.

Jealousy, restrictions and other obsessive behaviours come to the forefront.

Padmaraju Varrey

Where to seek help

n Family Guidance and Reconciliation Section at the Sharia courts is open to all nationalities, in all emirates. For Abu Dhabi, call 800 2353. For Dubai, call 04 3344477.

n Al Ameen EoAC" A Dubai-based 24/7 service that serves to create a more secure community. Call 800 4888 or email

n Dubai Foundation for Women and Children is a non-profit shelter that helps victims of domestic violence. Call their helpline on 800 111 or email


High stress levels, depression and substance abuse can fuel obsessive behaviour

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Publication:Gulf News (United Arab Emirates)
Geographic Code:7UNIT
Date:Jun 6, 2011
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