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Obsessive Ex Syndrome

There are some women who are unable to mentally "let go" of a partner who leaves them.

At first it just seems like a difficult breakup.  She keeps calling, keeps visiting, keeps arguing and trying to reconcile.

Then she is following, stalking, threatening.

Then she is vandalizing her ex-partner's belongings, physically striking out, or killing pets.

Left unaddressed, the syndrome may progress to the point that she kidnaps or kills their children, murders her ex-partner, or commits suicide.


Stages of Obsessive Ex Syndrome
Not all stages occur in all cases -- however, when looking back, some stages may become apparent in retrospect:

Stage 1 - Courtship

The Obsessive female has identified that a certain potentional partner makes her feel complete.  She latches on and considers this person essential in her life.

Stage 2 - Relationship

The Obsessive female establishes her partner as a primary element of her world.

Stage 3 - Break-Up

The Obsessive Ex will not accept that her partner has decided the relationship is over.  She argues about it incessantly.  She employs any means possible to re-establish the relationship as it was.

If there are divorce proceedings, she may try to delay the outcome, or try to use the case to "punish" her ex-partner via specifics of the divorce agreement.

If there is a child involved, the child becomes (for her) an object that she uses to try to regain control over her ex-partner.  She may use visitation arrangements as a tool to harangue her ex-partner, and she may view the legal proceedings surrounding the custody question as a way for her to control or punish her ex-partner.

Stage 4 - Stalking

The Obsessive Ex keeps trying to arrange contact or have conversations with her ex-partner, even though the ex-partner has indicated there is nothing left to discuss.  Stalking behavior may also include following, watching, spying, monitoring, asking other people about the ex-partner or spreading rumors, increasing contact with the ex-partner's friends, family or co-workers, etc.

(Many people do not recognize stalking for what it is.  Friends, co-workers, and family members may not be supportive of the victim; they will see the Ex's behavior as unimportant and assume that she will stop this behavior soon.)

Stage 5 - Threatening

The Obsessive Ex now tries to employ intimidating contact, threats, or illegal interference to force the ex-partner to come back to her.

She may also may vague statements about the safety of their child, or threaten to kidnap their child if reconciliation will not happen.

Physical aggression includes trying to stand in the way, block a person's path, or walk toward or advance upon a person while yelling.  (It is not the same thing as physical contact/violence.)

Illegal interference includes slander, libel, blackmail, distributing photos or videos, etc.

This is the stage at which it usually, finally becomes obvious to the victim's friends, co-workers and family members, that the Obsessive Ex has become a serious problem.

Stage 6 - Violence

At this stage she is willing to kill a pet, abduct a child, murder a child, or murder the ex-partner.  The reasons may vary: hoping to force a reconciliation, wanting to punish victim, vent rage, etc.


The Media Has Not Yet Acknowledged This Syndrome

Obsessive Ex Syndrome is rampant in the United States (and many other countries).  It is impossible to recognize the magnitude of this one problem because media reports break it up into little pieces, describing individual incidents instead of acknowledging the overall picture.

For instance, many cases of husbands killing wives are Obsessive Ex Syndrome.  The newspapers don't always mention it, but in many cases the woman had already been discussing a break-up or divorce with her spouse.  Even cases where the woman had moved out and was living apart, the newspapers simply describe the two as husband and wife.  If you read carefully you will realize that many of these cases were actually Obsessive Ex situations.

Obsessive Ex Syndrome is even a factor in situations where a man stalks a woman that he never dated.  Many stalkers have intensely fantasized that they have, or had, a relationship -- even though they never had any relationship with the object of their obsession.  I know of one case where a woman was stalked for 5 years by a co-worker who sincerely believed and "remembered" that they had dated, even though they'd never seen each other outside of the workplace.


Obsessive Ex Syndrome must be identified in the early stages, and action be taken against its progression.  Doing nothing or taking the defensive approach is not the answer.  Some articles claim that taking action is what drives an Obsessive Ex to worsening behavior.  The truth is that the syndrome may continue and worsen in any individual case, but it is LESS LIKELY to worsen if action is taken to try to counteract the progression of the behavior, and in the later (violent) stages, law enforcement will be more effective if some legal action was already taken earlier.

If you are being harassed by an Obsessive Ex, click here to read an important article about STALKERS.  This article is about male stalkers, but can be useful in all cases.

I am not any kind of professional, nor am I an attorney.  The information presented here was compiled from various informational sources and supplemented with knowledge from my own personal experience.  I coined the term "Obsessive Ex Syndrome" to cohesively identify and label these behavior patterns.  This page is copyrighted (c)2004 LilacLane.com/Lorelei Smith


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