I think I’m obsessed with my best friend. I’m 24 and I have known him for about 18 years, and we used to keep in touch through the phone and e-mail every 3-6 months. However, in the past 3 years, now that I’m married, I have started feeling insecure about him and our friendship, and I feel like it’s getting in the way of my life. I know I felt “in love” with him for a very long time and I had strong feelings for him as well, but I am trying to get over that. My relationship with him is starting to feel unhealthy – I am checking my e-mail 5-8 times a day, sometimes checking his profile or people who know him’s profile on facebook 3-4 times a day, hoping he’ll write back. Sometimes I text him 2-3 times a day and call him as well. I don’t want to be like this, I want my relationship with him to be normal again. I want to be friends with him, and for the most part, it bugs me that he ignores me… or it seems he doesn’t have time for me. On his end, he’s pretty normal. He writes back when he has time and keeps in touch on a normal basis… and tries not to do too much because I’m married and he doesn’t want to come in between in any way, especially since he knows I’m vulnerable right now and could have feelings for him. What are some practical steps towards helping me out of this obsession? I don’t want his thoughts to occupy my every free moment. When I start thinking of him or think of contacting him, what can I do or tell myself to help gain some control over my actions? Thanks!

A: The question you need to ask yourself is what you would be doing or thinking about if the option of contacting your friend were suddenly taken away from you. I have a feeling that maybe you are avoiding something about your marriage. The “obsession” distracts you and takes up your time. The problem may partly take care of itself because you will eventually drive your friend away with this behavior. Of course, then you can distract yourself by mourning the loss of a very longtime friend.

As scary as it may be for you, the way out of the obsession is to face the real problem. If it is too overwhelming to do on your own, or if you have hidden the problem so well from yourself that you just can’t see it, find a therapist or someone you trust to be wise and understanding to help you. With some good support and counseling, you will probably be able to handle whatever it is.

I wish you well.
Dr. Marie