Note: This post is about love in general (not romantic love though it applies to romantic love as well).
Obsession is about you. Love is about the other person. In fact, the boundaries between individuals dissolve. There is no ‘you’ or ‘them.’ This happens in obsession too, but in obsession it is because of lack of love. You lack self-worth and you try to become one with someone else to fill your emptiness. The paradox is that before dissolving, you have to be an individual first. In obsession, there is hardly any individuality in the first place.
Obsession is a product of fear. Love is not against fear but transcends it.
Obsession tries to control the behavior of the other person. Love doesn’t always like or support the behavior of the other person but it tries to understand that behavior instead of judging it or trying to control it. Obsession tries to change the other person. In love, you try to change yourself.
In obsession, you want to take more and give less. In love, giving and taking happens at the same time ( because you enjoy giving) and hence, you don’t really wait for someone to return your love. If you get, it is great, if you don’t get, then too it is okay.
Obsession assumes that the qualities that you like in a person exists only in that person. Example: you love someone because he/she is kind. If this person leaves you or doesn’t like you much, you get frustrated. But kindness is a quality that exists in many people. Love easily finds great qualities in everyone and hence, you are not obsessed with one person.This applies to activities too: Some people think that painting is a creative activity and judge people who don’t paint e.g. someone who is ‘just’ a mother and a housewife. But nurturing a child is also creative! Your life itself can be a piece of art. Same thing applies to people who judge artists as ‘cold.’ If you want to paint and don’t want to become a mother, you will be judged. But even a painting can be your child!
Obsession is always about the future: “Will this person stay with me forever?,” ” what if this person loses interest? etc. Love is always stays in present: you are filled with so much gratitude that even if you don’t get anything in the future, you will be fine.
In obsession, you initially try hard to change the other person’s flaws. If you don’t succeed you are forced to ignore flaws because there is no option: you cannot live without that person so you just overlook the flaws even if you hate that person for those flaws. But then, you start feeling that you are doing a favor by ignoring his/her flaws. Now, you feel that you are giving more and you start complaining. Love looks at the flaws and wholeheartedly embraces the fact that everyone is flawed including you. Moreover, in love, you understand that the other person is not here to make you happy and to behave the way you like. So, in love, you put the responsibility on yourself: you improve yourself. You do expect from the other person but you are not attached to your expectations (the obsessed person is obsessed with his/her expectations). In obsession, you demand perfection from others. Self improvement is what you can give to the world or the person you love; perfection is what you can get from the world or the person you love.
Love is between equals. Obsession is between a superior and an inferior: you try to make the other person your slave and in the process become a slave to him/her.