I tell you, the Greeks thought of it all. When they named the various love styles, they even created the ones, like mania, that go far past true love (the kind we all want) into the ones that go too far and become uncomfortable. Mania is one of those.
Mania is based on a style of eros (which is romantic, affectionate and passion based) and ludus (which is playful, fun and non-committal) and involves having a possessive style of loving. When love turns to obsession it becomes mania.
As I further develop these various uses of the word love you will see how some see love as an emotion while others see it as an action and I will develop it further to show that it is for certain an action but one that produces a feeling.
Mania does not produce good feelings, at least not for its recipient. The movie Fatal Attraction is probably the most well-known example of mania for most people. In it, a married man has an affair with a woman and eventually regrets the affair and tries to break it off. However, she’s having no part of that. She becomes obsessed with him and does extremely crazy things to try to win him back including breaking into his house and doing something pretty awful to his family’s pet bunny rabbit. If you want to be scared into never having an affair, then I suggest renting this movie. It is a really good suspense thriller! And creepy. And manic.
Manic lovers may not have started out manic. They fall “in love” like the rest of us do and in the beginning their beloved enjoys it. They’re getting to know each other and spending time together is central to that stage of a relationship. However, over time their beloved becomes more like an idol and, as I said above, an obsession. They want to do everything with and for this person and they often get upset if that person is not equally obsessed with doing the same. If the object of their obsession, let’s say “Susie”, wants to spend time with other friends, or go to other places without their manic lover this person becomes frustrated or upset because they can’t understand why Susie could possibly feel like being anywhere else but with him. (Manic lovers can be either men or women but for the sake of this example I used the man. The movie Fatal Attraction will clearly show you it can be either sex).
What I have described above is the extreme. Manic lovers can become stalkers and violent in the extreme but what about those who are less extreme? I’ve had many individuals talk to me about their lover who is quite jealous or possessive. While these have not yet gotten to the level of super-creepy or protective-order worthy, they are still two characteristics of a relationship that are unhealthy. If we begin by looking at the biblical definition of love that we get from 1 Corinthians 13, true love is NOT jealous. So, any time our lover is becoming jealous of us when we innocently glance over at another man for a microsecond or another man glances over at us it is unhealthy. That kind of jealousy is based on insecurity and a lack of trust. Of course, there are times when trust has been broken in a relationship and they are in the process of being rebuilt and in those cases, it is understandable why one would have to fight off a small dose of jealousy. But if they are working to fight it off that is acceptable. Manic lovers take jealousy too far and start trying to control the other and tell him or her who they can and cannot look at or tell “Susie” that they are no longer going out on dates in public because that is the only way he can make sure no other man looks at her. It sometimes comes under the guise of protecting Susie but nonetheless this manic type of love is unhealthy and needs to be reordered.
The good news is that nothing is impossible with God. Manic love, like many of our fleshly inclinations, is disordered but, with work, can be reordered. The manic lover must be open to correction. Like a twelve-step program with alcoholics, the manic lover must first recognize his or her tendencies to go overboard in these areas of possessiveness and jealously and then be willing to do the work it takes to change and minimize these tendencies. Of course, I have seen in my life that those with a faith in and reliance on God have a significantly higher chance of “fixing” these flaws but that’s because they realize that it will take God’s grace to do so. It is so hard to reorder our disordered tendencies without outside help and there is no one better than the God who created you and would die for you (He already did) to help you. He will often do so by sending you a friend or counselor who will not judge you but will, rather, walk alongside of you as you learn how to love your mate in a healthy manner that is reciprocal and not obsessive.
If you are dating the manic lover, be careful not to commit to this person until you see a significant and lasting change in him or her. Marriage is a whole different ballgame because a covenant already exists, but if you are not yet married you still have an opportunity to seek change in this person’s manic love style or get out of the relationship. It’s up to you.
So, this is mania. If you find yourself in this type of relationship and don’t know what to do to change it or exit it, give me a call. I’d love to help. We all need someone to walk beside us and help us discern in the tough decisions of life. I am always honored to be that person. It’s the vocation God gave me.