The Hidden Messages of Romantic Obsession

by | Jun 22, 2018 | Advice, Being Single, Personal Growth, Quirkyalone | 13 comments

If you read my book Quirkyalone: A Manifesto for Uncompromising Romantics you may remember the section on R.O., or Romantic Obsession. That part of the book was one of the most fun to write, and one of the most emotionally resonant, or so I heard from readers. It turns out that many of us quirkyalones have fallen into our share of R.O.

Here’s an excerpt to jog your memory:

“It’s a little-known fact, but quirkyalones, for all their independence, also have a tendency to be swept away when they get close to love. We are passionate, romantic characters, and that click happens so rarely that the search for a partner can take on the character of a holy grail. If you only meet someone who stirs your interest once every two years, this is bound to be an epic event. If things don’t go according to plan, or even if they do, well, this can be difficult. We sometimes plunge into romantic obsession, or R.O.”

You can read the full essay here.

I experienced my first and deepest R.O. 25 years ago when I was in college. So I’ve spent a lot of time reflecting on and writing about R.O. (That’s a lot of years!)

Since I know R.O. to be a hidden topic for quirkyalones (because after all we seem so self-assured and confident, so not prone to obsession!) I recorded this unscripted video sharing what I have learned from my own R.O.s and helping others. I called the video the Hidden Messages of Romantic Obsession because many years later, I can see that usually an R.O. masks or distracts us from a deeper issue. It’s never really about the person we are obsessing about–it’s about something else for us to heal.

R.O. is a big topic for many of us so if you have thoughts to share please do so in the comments!


  1. Paula Prober

    Great video, Sasha. And good advice. I look forward to watching more. Do you know about the book The Course of Love by Alain De Botton? It’s a novel about relationships but it includes excellent explanations about the deeper challenges involved in partnering and how self-awareness and healing via therapy makes a big difference in how the relationship can evolve. It would be an excellent guide for any quirkyalone, in preparation for a healthy partnership. I’ve certainly found it reassuring and useful.

    • Sasha Cagen

      Thanks for your comment Paula! I haven’t read The Course of Love but I do remember some of the pieces that Alain de Botton published to promote the book–something along the lines of why we choose the wrong partners for us. I do enjoy his work in general. That’s a great suggestion to read the novel as a guide for quirkyalones. I’ll check it out.

  2. Melissa

    Hi Sasha! Thank you very much for this video! During a long time I thought I was the only one with a romantic obsession, haha. I wrote a lot in my diaries about a guy who was stuck in my mind for almost 8 years (maybe more). Sometimes I feel ashamed for how I spent all those years, but I learned many things about me, him, and what I was looking for in a relationship. Blocking and cutting all ties with him was very difficult for me, but thanks to that I’m really free. And now I know I wouldn’t feel this freedom and peace by his side. I feel like a survivor =)

    • Sasha Cagen

      Thanks for your comment Melissa! Happy to hear you emerged from your R.O. with some insights gained. That’s exactly why I wanted to make this video. From my vantage point of having written Quirkyalone and coached many people now over the years I know R.O. is not so uncommon but it can feel really shameful and like you are the only one going through this if you don’t know that. So I really wanted to share what I have noticed . . . Glad you are feeling free now. Best, Sasha

  3. Sally

    You have reminded me that I need to re-read a book by Jungian James Hollis, titled “The Eden Project: In Search of the Magical Other”.

    • Sasha Cagen

      Thanks for sharing that Sally. What’s the connection to R.O. as you see it?

  4. m.

    I feel this is a very important topic. I have not read your book *yet*, however, personally I would really appreciate a more detailed blog post on this topic. Specifically 1. a checklist to test if you are RO-ing (maybe with a score?), 2. figuring out what the RO is actually a reflection of that needs addressing internally (maybe some examples: with this RO I needed to address X etc) 3. Steps to move forward and stop RO-ing, less than 12. (Joke, ok, 12 steps would actually be funny)
    Just being able to name this “RO” I feel has helped me reframe this behavior and relate to it differently, dare I say more sanely, to take a step back and realize no, I am not “in love” I am “romantically obsessing” and need to stop. Thank you Sasha! Keep going! We need your work!!!

    • Sasha Cagen

      Thanks M, or wanderlustyes!
      The checklist to determine if you are RO-ing is in the book Quirkyalone: A Manifesto for Uncompromising Romantics, currently available in print, and by the end of this year I hope we will have it in Kindle too available for global readers who aren’t able to get it from Amazon easily.
      2. and 3. are super interesting. With your requests you are inspiring me to think about writing an RO Recovery Guide as an ebook that would go more in depth into this most relevant topic. I’m putting that on the writing to-do list for when I hit a significant pause in my memoir process–that’s first priority for now in my whirlwind.
      If anyone else has desires for what you want to learn/know/understand about RO better please write me a comment. I’ll put them in the to-do list for exploration in that RO ebook.
      Thanks again for your excellent comment!

  5. Dawn

    Thank you for the great video Sasha! Your insights were very helpful. I have found myself ROing a lot in my life! It has indeed diminished as I’ve gotten older, and encounter fewer people that I actually click with (unfortunately). Your questions about what is it within yourself that needs to be addressed was very helpful. I would also be very interested in some kind of RO “recovery” course that breaks down some of these issues, with exercises, journal prompts, etc. to get to the bottom of our own RO and redirect that energy.

    • Sasha Cagen

      Thanks very much Dawn. I’m glad to know that the video is helpful – certainly RO is a strong experience. A number of people have started out with me as coaching clients because of RO (that’s part of the reason I know the terrain well, my own life experience is another). A few have asked for an RO Recovery course as well. So please know that’s on my to-do list for the future. My creation energy is currently mostly being poured into my memoir so that I can get that out in the world to you. After that I’m excited about creating courses for my readers. I think RO Recovery would be an excellent one – most valuable to many people. Thanks again for your helpful comment.

  6. Judy

    I also have had RO for a long time. I have worked hard to improve and did but it is now very hard. I met someone who seemed perfect and seemed interested. I am told he is gay and nothing has happened. When I try to date men who like me, I am not attracted to them. Is it fear of intimacy? I still have feelings for him. I am anxious and obsess in general. I am miserable.

  7. Cage Hollister

    This is limerence

  8. Karen

    This info is very timely as I find myself managing a slight case of RO (I say slight because what I’m experiencing now is nothing in compared to what I’ve experienced previously.). I have a tendency to second guess myself a lot during this time. I wonder if I was different (more patient, tolerant for example) than it would have worked. I also engage in many of the other things you describe in your video / article. Thanks for sharing this info. It’s good to know I’m not a looney tune! 🙂


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Hi! I’m Sasha

Executive and Life Coach on a mission to help women connect with their bodies to pursue their truest desires in the bedroom and the world.

Author of Quirkyalone: A Manifesto for Uncompromising Romantics (HarperCollins) + To-Do List: From Buying Milk to Finding a Soul Mate, What Our Lists Reveal About Us (Simon & Schuster).

At work on a memoir called Wet, about adventures in healing through sensuality.

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