October 7, 2016
We’ve talked a lot about love in ways that were all very healthy, descriptive, fun, and positive. However, this is not always the case. Again, love is challenging. It’s confusing. It can also be dark and dangerous. This week we’re going to discuss mania.
Mania comes from the term manic meaning to show wild and apparently deranged excitement and energy; to be frantic. Mania, a combination of eros and ludus, is crazy, impulsive, and needy. Manic love is possessive, dependent love and is based on obsession. It is associated with high emotional expressiveness and usually flows out of one having low self-esteem. It can lead a partner into a type of madness. The movies Fatal Attraction, Thin Line Between Love and Hate, and When the Bough Breaks are all film depictions of extreme mania.
Manic lovers fall in love quickly and are often demanding, codependent, and possessive as their love consumes them. They obsess over their love interests, are easily hurt, and seek validation through relationships though they are often distrustful of their romantic partners. Manics have a strong need to be in control and are aware of everything that their partner is doing. They speak of their partners in possessives and superlatives, and feel like they “need” them. Manics also are likely to do crazy things, like stalking or other behavior to try to reciprocate their obsessive love.
To a manic, love is an escape or means of rescue. They experience love as being this out of control, overwhelming experience that turns their whole lives upside-down. Manics engross themselves so much into their relationship, because it reinforces their sense of value, self-worth, and self-esteem though they often lose their identity as an individual. Such love is marked by extreme delusions, loss of control, and impulsive decision making.
Most manics have a history of bad relationships for several reasons. Any sign of affection can be misinterpreted as love. This style of love can also be evidence of the manic’s state of desperation to be in a relationship and less about the person the manic is obsessed about. Loving a manic is challenging. Though there is a strong intensity to a manic’s expression of their love and affection, it’s usually coupled with extreme jealously, insecurity, possessiveness, and emotional instability. In this way, it can be hard to sustain the intensity of the relationship for the non-manic. Love experienced this way tends to burn out quickly. Also, people who experience mania can easily be taken advantage of by those who experience ludus.
Canadian psychologist John Alan Lee describes the six styles of love in his book Colours of Love: An Exploration of the Ways of Loving (1973). In his book, mania is one of the secondary types of love along with pragma and agape. Lee has several recognizable traits to be on the lookout for with manics:
- Is anxious about falling in love and has expectations of pain
- Quickly becomes overwhelmed by thoughts of their partner
- Forces partner into showing affection and emotion
- Is easily frustrated and does not enjoy sexual intimacy.
Next Week: Agape