Erotomania: An Obsessive One-Sided Love

Last updated by Katie M.

When I was younger, I had crushes on famous people. It lasted until I was a teenager, and deep down I hoped that I’d meet them and have a beautiful love story. It was a fantasy, but I realized it wasn’t reality and that it would remain part of my imagination, unlike an erotomaniac. Also known as Clérambault’s syndrome, this condition refers to “imaginary lovers”. What does this mean? How can you become obsessed with a one-sided love? What is hidden behind erotomaniac behavior? Let’s explain.


The definition of erotomania

Falling in love with someone and being convinced that they love you when it’s a famous person or a stranger you’ve never interacted with is the very definition of erotomania. We can all have a crush and tell ourselves that there’s potential with someone we’ve glimpsed from afar 😅. However, erotomania goes further than just a passing infatuation with our favorite celebrity or a handsome stranger.

It’s a real obsession for a targeted individual that characterizes a psychiatric illness. The consequences, both for the erotomaniac and the loved one, are not negligible. Indeed, the erotomaniac begins a form of stalking to extract confessions of mutual feelings 😥. What makes you develop this obsessive disorder?

The causes of erotomania

Psychiatry can’t give a clear reason for erotomania. It’s a sexual disorder that may come about due to childhood neglect. The psychological impact of not being recognized by your parents as a child leads them to seek attention at all costs as an adult.

👨‍👩‍👧 The psychologist Valérie Grumelin explains that if we didn’t have a normal relationship with our parents (hugs, kisses), we’ll interpret the slightest attention as physical and sexual desire. Furthermore, it’s a defense mechanism to take refuge in an imaginary and fabricated relationship. This undoubtedly allows the erotomaniac to find a form of comfort and relief…

The psychiatric disorders associated with erotomania

Erotomania can be a secondary disorder in people with schizophrenia or bipolar disorder. It’s the presence of symptoms of these other diseases that will determine whether erotomania is primary or secondary.

While this disease can be associated with other disorders, it is however the opposite of paranoia. The latter is the exaggerated distrust of others and the negative interpretation of the slightest word, whereas an erotomaniac will interpret everything positively, too positively, which will lead to dangerous behavior.

The behavior of an erotomaniac

The erotomaniac behavior comes about in 3 phases:

👉 The trigger: the erotomaniac will fall in love with a person and think that they are responsible for “their” love story.

👉 The hope: the erotomaniac will attempt to begin communication for a romantic exchange. Without an answer, the sufferer will find any pretext (a secret love story).

👉 The grudge: the erotomaniac will understand that the love isn’t reciprocated and will feel a deep sense of deception and will have a desire for revenge.


Being convinced that you’re loved by someone else leads to stalking, i.e. to very intrusive behavior that is repeated. This is characterized by spying on social media and even at the person’s home, when the sufferer has this information. It’s a violation of privacy, as the erotomaniac wants to have a gesture of love.

During the grudge phase, the erotomaniac may become depressed and display signs of aggression as a result of being confronted with the rejection of the object of their obsession.

How to react to an erotomaniac?

People who are the object of this obsessive love usually have higher social or professional functions 👨‍🏫: a writer, a singer, a doctor, a teacher, an actor, etc. However, you can also be at the centre of an erotomaniac’s obsession by being nice to them and showing them insignificant attention.

⚠️ This sexual disorder is obviously risky for the person at the center of the obsession. You shouldn’t confront the erotomaniac alone, as they’re unaware that they have a psychiatric disorder. The best thing is to approach the relevant authorities and the courts to control the potentially violent outbursts. The person should be taken into psychiatric care.

Test for erotomania and treatment

Psychiatrists don’t test for erotomania, they need to make a diagnosis. It’s not difficult to do this as the patient shows signs that don’t lie. There’s often mythomania with the creation of an imaginary world, of which the patient is unaware. Moreover, the erotomaniac will obviously talk obsessively about the person at the center of their attention.

👉 There must be real psychiatric care to give medicalized treatment to the erotomaniac. Furthermore, psychological monitoring is put in place in order to work on self-esteem by analyzing the patient’s past to understand the origins of this obsessive behavior.

Editor’s note: Victims in distress

As you can see, erotomania is a psychiatric pathology. If you’re a victim of it, remember that you’re not to blame and there’s little you can do except hope that the person gets better. There are treatments, but it’s difficult to talk about a total cure. Don’t hesitate to contact a psychologist.

🤗 Understanding yourself, accepting yourself, being happy... It’s here and now!

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