How Do Obsessive Relationships Affect Parents & Families?

By A. Low
Obsessive relationships are often linked to substance abuse.
Obsessive relationships are often linked to substance abuse.

We've all heard the adage that anything in excess is harmful. This includes obsessive relationships -- whether it's a mom who clings too tightly to her partner, a hyper-parent who obsesses over his child's success or even an older child who feels responsible for her parent's happiness. A healthy relationship shouldn't be all-consuming. You should be able to acknowledge and fulfill your own needs, assert your opinions and desires, and be able to say "no" to a loved one's request without feeling guilty when you are overwhelmed or unable to help. If you can't do these things, you may be in an unhealthy obsessive relationship.

Defining Obsessive Relationships

An obsessive relationship is a codependent one. Codependency is when you continually put a relationship before your own personal needs and wants. If you are in an obsessive relationship, you will consider yourself a martyr, have low self-esteem and a fear of being abandoned or alone. Codependent people are often attracted to relationships that make them feel needed. For example, a codependent husband may have an alcoholic wife, or a codependent woman may have an ill parent. Parents can be codependent on their children, too, according to Mental Health America, a nonprofit organization that promotes mental wellness for the health and well-being of the nation.

Effects on Families

Codependency tends to be passed down from one generation to the next. When a child experiences a relationship that is one-sided, she tends to carry these feelings and behaviors into her future relationships. For example, if a child has an alcoholic or abusive parent and another who is codependent (tries to "fix" her partner or refuses to leave an unhealthy partnership), that child will often internalize the codependent parent's behavior and seek out similar relationships as an adult.

Identifying Obsessive Relationships

Though a doctor can give you a formal diagnosis, you may be able to determine if you're in an obsessive relationship by paying attention to these warning signs. Codependent people often feel as if they're bearing the weight of the world -- they have difficulty asking for help, believe that the people they love will fail without their intervention and have a hard time accepting compliments or gifts. Codependent people are also passive-aggressive, believe that other's opinions are more important than their own, and are concerned with what others think of them. Obsessive parents tend to view their child's success or failure as their own. They also tend to micromanage by doing their child's homework, getting overinvolved in the child's extracurricular activities and going to extremes to provide the "best" opportunities for their child, according to SHEMFORD Futuristic Schools, one of the nation’s leading 10+2 school chains with branches spread across the country.


Obsessive relationships often go back to childhood, according to the National Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Information Center (NASAIC). The best way to identify your reasons for being codependent are to examine them through long-term psychotherapy. Often, low self-esteem or insecurity, abuse or sexual molestation cause people to develop into codependent adults. To find a codependency treatment center, call NASAIC at 800-784-6776.

About the Author

Low began writing professionally in 2005. She writes primarily about parenting, personal finance, health, beauty and fashion. Low holds a Bachelor of Arts in writing.