Are You Crushing or Hyperfixating on That Person?
I live with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), meaning I also live with a fun little trait called hyperfixation. To hyperfixate on something means that I essentially make that thing my whole personality for however long. They’re interests, hobbies, topics, and even people that you ultimately become overly invested into to the extent that you lose complete track of time when interacting with the medium. On top of that, it’s easy to become a little obsessive, learning and doing as much as you can when it comes to your hyperfixation.
When you have a new crush, it’s very easy to become invested and excited when it comes to that person. It’s something that most people who experience romantic attraction can attest to. A part of falling for someone is wanting to talk to them and be around them more, but when does that cross into them being a hyperfixation?
First, in my opinion, hyperfixating on a crush isn’t inherently a bad thing. It only is if you start to lose touch with the reality of the situation, and you start going out of your way in ways that may not be appropriate to the stage of dating you may be in (if you believe in stages) that could be to your own detriment. Just like any hyperfixation, I believe that it’s largely negative when it’s impacting your quality of life or prohibiting you from going about your day to day. That, or the crush is largely impacting your perceived sense of self or the world.
So when are you just naturally crushing on someone, and when are you hyperfixating? Here are a few key ways to know from my experience. All of these are subject to how you interact with your hyperfixations, so please take this with a grain of salt.
1. How detached are you from the outcome?
It’s 100% OK to want someone to be your person, or to simply want to date them. Getting your hopes up is fine as well, but are you able to remove and detach yourself enough for it to be healthy?
Let’s say you are in love with the idea of someone dating you, so much so, that it’s all you can think about. You’ve played out what you’ll wear when you meet their parents, and exactly what dish you’ll bring to the family dinner. The sheer idea of you two not making it sends you into emotional fits. Meanwhile you’ve only gone on a few dates with this person and you aren’t even exclusive.
That, to me, reads more like a hyperfixation due to how attached you are to them specifically being your person.
2. How much do your daydreams take up your conversations with other people?
Have you ever had a friend who won’t stop talking about their crush, non-stop? I’ve been that person, but only when I’m hyperfixating on them. We tend to talk about what excites us, which is fine, but in the same way that my baking hyperfixation ate up months of my life and hundreds of dollars from my account, how much real estate are they taking up mentally? Are they on replay in your cranium the same way “Hamilton” was for me for six months in 2020? We think about our crushes a lot, but if they’re dominating your mind, it may be a clue that you might be hyperfixating on them.
I have a friend (and I’m sharing this with permission) who would spend hours in bed daydreaming about their crush. If anyone interrupted, they’d become immediately angry or agitated. Sure, people bothering someone when they don’t want to be bothered can be annoying, but to have that reaction? That’s a little much, don’t you think?
3. Are you able to stop?
When I say stop, I mean stop all of the added little things that you want to do because you just love and care about them so much. The one problem with hyperfixations is that they can easily borderline into obsession, which is super dangerous when it’s another person. What is you hyperfixating on them could be misconstrued as love bombing, which isn’t great. Yes, shower the person you love with care and affection, but know when to reel it in and back. If you can’t (like, you legit can’t), that may be a red flag for you.
For example, once someone I had a crush on mentioned that their allergies were bothering them. I, thinking this was completely “normal” (normalcy is relative) , went out of my way early morning to a CVS, spent money on three different types of OTC allergy medication and kept it in my purse just in case their allergies were acting and I just so happened to be there.
Was that sweet? Sure! A little over the top and an immediate sign that I was hyperfixated on this person? Oh yeah.
As I mentioned, hyperfixations aren’t immediately bad. It can become negative when you’re spending too much money, your judgment making is impaired, or it is negatively impacting the quality of life for you and the people around you. Hyperfixations on people run the same way. Being aware of the fact that you’re hyperfixating on someone is important, because it can help keep you in check and keep the relationship healthy. It’s easy, especially due to the love chemicals in the brain, to ultimately believe that you’re still in a “safe” zone emotionally and mentally even when you’re not.
These are my ways of knowing I’m hyperfixating on someone. As always, seek advice from a medical professional if you have questions pertaining to you and your ADHD-related habits and tendencies. Everyone is different, especially when almost sorta in love.
Getty image by MesquitaFMS