I had my first ‘girlfriend experience’ during my sophomore year of high school.
She was in my Bible study class (religious private school), looked exactly like Sigrid Thornton, and had me wrapped around her little finger.
(And I’m not even going to mention how good she looked in those white shirts and plaid uniform skirts.)
But I do remember how obsessed I was with her.
If she was anywhere near me, it was all I could do to keep from just staring at her.
It was as if everything she did was cute, magical, beautiful, and amazing.
When I was with her, I felt like I was in heaven.
When I wasn’t with her, I fantasized about getting to see her again.
My entire world revolved around her.
Her beautiful black hair, her piercing blue eyes, the intoxicating smell of her perfume, her quirky sense of style, the fact that she had two piercings in her right ear (which to me seemed super edgy at the time).
Everything about her seemed perfect to me.
My Own Experience With Oneitis
As renowned biological anthropologist and senior research fellow at The Kinsey Institute Helen Fisher so eloquently describes in her book Why We Love: The Nature And Chemistry Of Romantic Love, I had truly fallen in love with this girl:
“One of the first things that happens when you fall in love is that you experience a dramatic shift in consciousness: your “love object” takes on what psychologists call “special meaning.” Your beloved becomes novel, unique, and all-important.”
Of course, this grand, affectionate ‘high’ that filled my brain with love chemicals didn’t last long. Three months later, she broke up with me and started banging another dude in our class.
My heart was shattered. I cried for a solid week every day after school, and fell into a deep, profound state of depression that lasted close to a year.
Would I ever find love again? Would I ever feel as passionately for a woman as I felt for her?
Spoiler. I did. Many, many times. But back then, I didn’t realize it.
Oneitis Is Often Born Out of Heartbreak
For the moment, I was so focused on her that nobody else even entered my frame of vision.
All I could think about was her. For months after the breakup, I dreamed and fantasized about getting back together.
I didn’t want another woman. I went on a few dates, but the thought of any other woman paled in comparison to her. I was just too wrapped up in her, to the point where I obsessed over her night and day.
In my sadness and subsequent loneliness, I held out hope that we would get back together, and dragged it out for far longer than I should have.
Now, looking back, I realize that what I was experiencing was a condition known as oneitis.
It’s much more common than a lot of men realize. And it’s a dangerous condition to leave untreated.
What Is Oneitis and What Causes It?
When a man has oneitis for a woman, it seems impossible for him not to focus on her.
Other women fade into the background. He loses touch with his individual personality, and finds his identity blending into the concept of ‘he and her together.’
A man may go from talking to, flirting with, and even dating several beautiful women, to developing oneitis for one particular woman with whom he strikes an unusually strong emotional connection.
Sometimes, this is initiated by sex.
Sometimes, it happens when he first enters a ‘relationship’ with her, and hits the infatuation phase of that relationship like a careening semi-truck crashing through a brick wall.
In almost every case, it’s brought on by one damning thought process—a scarcity mindset program that runs subliminally beneath the surface of his consciousness.
“I’ll never meet anyone as amazing as her again, ever. I MUST have her.”
Sometimes, Oneitis Is Even Brought on by Breakups
I recently met a man who didn’t seem to care much at all about his wife while everything was ‘fine’ between them. Their marriage was ‘normal,’ and it was probably safe to say that he took her presence in his life for granted.
But when she informed him that she planned to divorce him because she had ‘fallen out of love with him,’ he panicked and developed a case of oneitis so strong that he couldn’t even see the truth about how unhappy they actually were together.
He was afraid that he would never get anyone better, and he still wanted her—to the point where he truly humiliated and emasculated himself with his efforts to ‘win her back.’
Oneitis Also Contains an Element of ‘Irrational Honor’
A lot of men who get oneitis justify it by believing that they’re ‘men of honor’ who are remaining true to one woman, even when she isn’t returning their love, energy, or affection in equal amounts.
These men are sometimes called White Knights.
This is almost always a ‘one sided’ type of honor that isn’t returned to him in equal measure, and is really just an excuse that keeps him from understanding the rational danger posed by oneitis.
What is the danger?
That he will remain invested, even when she isn’t, which usually leads to him being taken advantage of, humiliated, and made a fool of when the glass house of his hope finally shatters and exposes the truth.
Oneitis Is Caused in Part by ‘Love Possession’
Comparing oneitis to a sort of ‘possession’ or ‘charm’ of the mind may seem like a dramatic frame of reference, but it isn’t too far away from reality.
According to Helen Fisher, focused attention is a hallmark sign of romantic love, obsessive love, infatuation, etc. She describes it in Why We Love… as follows:
“The love-possessed person focuses almost all of his or her attention on the beloved, often to the detriment of everything and everyone around them, including work, family, and friends.”
Ortega Y. Gasset, the Spanish philosopher, referred to it as “an abnormal state of attention which occurs in a normal man.”
Oneitis is likely to happen when a few different conditions are met within a man’s life.
Some of these conditions are:
- Feelings of intense infatuation
- A fear of ‘losing’ the object of his infatuation
- The idea that no other woman, past or present, could ever possibly be as wonderful as this woman
- The inability on the part of the man to recognize and understand the natural chemical processes unfolding within his own brain
Simply put, oneitis is caused by a mixture of natural processes (feelings of love, infatuation, romantic euphoria, etc.) and life circumstances that make him afraid to permanently lose the woman he’s obsessed with (and the pleasurable feelings of intense attraction he associates with her).
Not surprisingly, oneitis is much more likely to happen in men who struggle to hold masculine frame. And unfortunately, almost every man goes through it at least once in life before he realizes that it’s nothing but a sad dead-end street.
Alpha males rarely struggle from it more than once, because they quickly learn that it’s better to spread their attention amongst many women than to throw all of their emotional ‘eggs’ into a one-woman basket.
Oneitis Can Also Happen in Relationships
You don’t own her.— Richard Cooper (@Rich_Cooper) July 18, 2019
It’s just your turn.
Often, oneitis is described in terms of a man being obsessed with a woman he isn’t in a relationship with.
But that’s not its only form.
Men in relationships can also suffer from oneitis.
This tends to manifest itself through a disparity in the level of investments being made by both people in the relationship.
If a guy is paying for everything and doing all the emotional work, only to have the girl basically ignoring him or not stepping up to meet his investments in an equal way, that could also be considered a form of oneitis.
This is especially true if the man is so smitten with the woman that he overlooks the massive red flag such a situation presents.
If he’ll do anything to keep her happy, even to the point where he subjugates himself at her every whim, oneitis is likely lurking close to the heart of the issue.
Why Is Oneitis a Problem?
Oneitis is a problem because it drives men to lose touch with reality.
They get so focused on the idea of this one particular woman that they fail to check themselves along the way.
Why else would a man pine so obsessively over a woman who isn’t even choosing to be with him?
Why else would a man choose to subjugate himself for (beg, buy gifts for, pedestalize, etc.) a woman who isn’t returning that affection and effort in truly equal measure?
For the rational, masculine man, choosing whether or not to continue spending time with a particular potential female partner consists of a simple cost-benefit analysis, wherein he assesses the value gained from the relationship vs. the cost incurred for his time/resource investment.
If the relationship isn’t giving him a greater value return than what he’s investing into it, he walks away. Just like you’d walk away from a bad stock that was losing you money, or a business investment that was causing a loss every quarter.
But for the man afflicted with oneitis, this rationality is thrown out the window.
All he cares about are the feelings he has for her and the longing he feels for her.
And this creates obvious negative implications for his life.
He’s highly likely to lose out on the deal and waste his time and energy, because his infatuation will override his logic and reason.
Oneitis and Brain Chemicals
With all of that being said, avoiding oneitis is definitely ‘easier said than done.’
As you witnessed in my story at the beginning of this post, even I’m not immune to the venous pangs of its destructive influence.
Falling in love causes a flood of powerful neurochemicals within the body.
When exposed to an attractive potential partner with whom you feel a romantic ‘spark,’ dopamine, oxytocin, norepinephrine, and serotonin fill the parts of the brain associated with pleasure, reward, and bonding.
When you cuddle, hug, or kiss someone you’re attracted to, your body experiences a massive flood of chemical and physiological benefits. Some of these can be quite addicting.
Oxytocin makes you feel calmer, more trusting, and more secure, while dopamine creates a boost to your mood and rewards you for partaking in activities like sex and orgasm.
In fact, scientific studies have even concluded that love can be as addicting as drug use.
This all makes sense from an evolutionary standpoint. As humans, we’ve adapted and evolved a powerful drive to reproduce.
This mechanism is incredibly useful for ensuring that humans reproduce at a fast enough rate to replace themselves and propagate the species.
But it’s not super useful for men who are trying to avoid making a wreck of their lives.
Oneitis Causes Men to Lose Masculine Frame, and Flags Them as ‘Low Value’
Not only is oneitis bad for you emotionally and relationally, it’s also bad for your dating life in-general.
Because it hurts your masculine frame and sends a powerful signal to other women:
That you’re desperate for one person’s attention, which must mean that you don’t have any other options, which must mean that you’re low value.
As men, we should hold a strong, masculine frame.
We should continue leveling up, to become better, more effective men.
This can be summarized by following two simple rules:
- Always be pursuing your mission and purpose first in life
- Never make your relationships with women the mission, object, or goal
Men with oneitis invariably end up making the object of their oneitis their mission.
But as counterintuitive as it sounds, this actually hurts their chances of winning that person’s affection anyway.
Because it comes off as being desperate and clingy.
Women are attracted to strong men who are in control of their life. They want powerful, masculine men who are working toward their purpose and leaving a valuable mark on the world.
But men who have oneitis for a woman aren’t doing these things. They’re too busy pining after a woman who isn’t paying them equal attention.
This Lack of Self Respect Also Hurts the Man’s Masculine Frame
This also displays a lack of self respect on the part of the man, and women notice this as well.
If you think they don’t, you’re in for a hard lesson. Women smell a lack of self-respect like a shark smells blood in the water.
They’re hard-wired to pick up on those things, because they’re programmed by evolution to mate with effective men who will give them their best chances of success and survival.
A man with oneitis doesn’t register to women as effective. He registers as desperate, clingy, and someone without control over his life, emotions, or sexuality.
Do You Have Oneitis? 8 Warning Signs
1. You Send More Messages Than You Receive
Do you send her more messages than she sends you? Do you initiate contact more often than she does?
As a general rule, all men should be following the ‘two-thirds’ rule.
For every three texts you get from her, send two.
If the conversation dwindles down to nothing while using this method, she’s not into you and you should move on; regardless of how ‘hot’ she is or how ‘perfect for you’ she seems to be.
2. Scheduling Dates Feels like Impossible Work
“Oh, sorry, I work that night.”
“I have to run some errands that morning. Sorry.”
“Um, I don’t know. I’m so busy lately. I’ll check my schedule and get back to you.”
If you’re getting these types of ‘non-answer’ answers when you try to ask her out, take the hint and bail.
She’s trying to tell you ‘no’ without saying no.
If she really wanted to schedule a date and was motivated to see you, she’d suggest an alternate time and place. She’d make an effort to create a workable plan.
If a woman really wants to spend time with you, she’ll move heaven and earth to make it happen.
If it doesn’t feel like she’s moving heaven and earth to make it happen, she doesn’t want to see you.
3. You’re Investing More into the Relationship Than She Is
Here’s the thing.
Women aren’t very good at telling you that they’re not interested in you.
Yes, you may think she’s perfect. But if you’re more invested in the relationship than she is, I promise that it isn’t going to end well for you.
It’s important to understand that women will sometimes say that they’re invested when they’re actually not.
To keep you in the loop in case she needs you. To keep a ‘backup’ in case the real guy falls through.
Yes, women do this. They keep second-tier guys around as insurance, in case the man they really want ignores them.
And it’s vital that you understand how to see the signs.
Look at her words, not her actions.
Is she putting equal work and effort into the relationship? Or does it feel like you’re trying to drag her along with you?
If you feel like there’s something holding her back, cut her loose. It’ll be so much better for you in the long run to get free of that kind of weight.
4. The ‘Relationship’ Produces More Negative Emotion Than Positive Emotion
Do you often feel depressed, jealous, anxious, or sad about your relationship with this woman?
Here’s the thing.
When a relationship works, you’ll feel awesome about it. It’ll provide a huge boost to your mood on a daily basis—not take away from it.
If you spend a lot of time chasing someone who isn’t as invested as you, you’re going to feel sad, angry, and stressed about it.
Take the hint and go no-contact. Find a woman who actually makes your life better, not more stressful.
5. You’re Clinging to the Idea of Romance When Romance Isn’t Being Returned to You
I once met this really cute girl at a bar.
We had a few drinks, and I got her number.
I played it cool. And one night later in the week, she texted me and wanted to come over.
We ended up dancing in the rain, making out on the hood of my car, and having wild, passionate, incredible sex on my couch.
Then, we cuddled and she wore my T-shirt while her wet clothes dried.
It was one of the most romantic nights of my life.
But at the time, I wasn’t as experienced with women and I got really hooked on her.
The next day, I blew up her phone asking when we could meet again.
I thought we were in love.
Long story short, I developed ‘oneitis’ for her overnight, because of one awesome, magical experience.
And as a result, I blew my shot with her.
I came off as clingy and desperate.
My problem was that I started thinking too much about romance, and not enough about chasing my purpose and holding masculine frame.
I became obsessed with the romance I felt with her, and made her my mission.
As men, it’s incredibly important that we stay true to our purpose, and never make romance with a woman the mission of our existence.
Give romance when she’s giving it to you, in equal or two-thirds measure, and when the time is right. Aside from that, keep your hand to the grindstone and stay on your purpose.
6. You Find Yourself ‘Making Excuses’ for Her
If a woman is a true compliment to your life, your friends and family will be happy for you.
They’ll say things like “she’s so awesome! You’re such a lucky guy! You two are great together!”
But take note if they seem more cautious than encouraging.
“I don’t feel like she respects you enough.”
“She’s just weird. I don’t feel like she behaves appropriately.”
“Dude, she’s playing you. If my girl did that, I’d never put up with it.”
If friends and family who love and care for you start saying things like this, take the hint. Take a good, hard look at what they’re saying, and try to see the situation with a rational frame of mind.
You may find that they’re right, and that you’re just blinded by the feel-good sex hormones.
7. The Relationship Involves More ‘Hoping’ Than ‘Experiencing’
If all of your time is spent ‘hoping’ for romance, sex, love, intimacy, etc, that’s not a real relationship.
Real relationships consist of ‘experiencing’ together.
Do you just ‘hope’ for romance and intimacy?
Or, do the two of you actually ‘experience’ the romance and intimacy?
Here’s a good rule of thumb.
Experiences are what life is made of. If you’re not ‘experiencing’ with her, or are still clinging to ‘memories’ with her, it’s time to cut her loose and look for a woman who will have actual experiences with you.
8. You Think of Her as ‘the One’
Be very careful of thinking about any woman as ‘the one.’
I’ve been in my current relationship for 3 years now. And when my girlfriend asks me if she’s ‘the one’ for me, my answer is always the same.
“Yep… as long as you behave yourself.”
It’s kind of a joke. But it’s also kind of serious.
As men, we need to always keep our options open.
Getting locked down, either emotionally, physically, or even legally, to one woman is a huge risk.
People change. Circumstances change.
She may be ‘the one’ for right now. But there’s no guarantee that she’ll stay ‘the one’ forever.
As powerful, masculine men, we need to be aware of this. We need to be ready to move on if things grow stale.
The Oneitis Cure: 8 Steps to Get over It Forever
If you’ve come down with a case of oneitis, don’t worry.
You’re not the first, and you won’t be the last.
Here are 8 actionable steps to curing it for good.
1. Admit You Have It
Admitting you have a problem is always the first step to recovery.
Look yourself in the mirror, and admit it to yourself.
“I have oneitis for *name* even though she’s not good for me. It’s time to cut her loose and date other women.”
Say it until you believe it.
Is it easy?
But it’s important to say it out loud to yourself.
This is the first step toward unraveling the emotional mess you feel and sorting yourself out.
2. Practice Sexual Abundance
One of the best ways to get out of a ‘oneitis funk’ is to start engaging with other women.
You may be tempted to say ‘no’ to any other engagements with women because you’re hoping for something to happen with the female object of your oneitis.
But the truth is that going out, meeting new women, engaging with them, flirting, going on dates, having sex, etc. is highly beneficial to overcoming oneitis.
But that’s not all.
Pursuing sexual abundance should also be a lifestyle choice for men, not just something they do to defeat oneitis.
Here’s the truth of the matter. Men who date and engage with multiple women are more attractive to high-value partners.
Because women use other women to vet men. If they see that other beautiful women are engaging with you, going on dates with you, and spending time with you, they’ll be more likely to think:
“Wow, so many beautiful women are after that guy. Maybe I should see what it’s all about! They wouldn’t be spending time with him if he wasn’t a catch, right?”
3. Stop All Contact with Her
If you have oneitis for someone, the best rule of thumb is to cut yourself off from them.
Stop texting. Stop calling. Stop trying to see them. Block them on social media. Call it quits for good.
This is easier to do when you’re not in a relationship with that person, obviously.
But it’s actually really important to get space, clear your mind, and get your head on right.
Take this opportunity to pursue what you love, and to work toward your purpose.
You’ll probably notice that your life will take a drastic upward turn when you stop investing so much time into this woman, and for good reason. You’ll be freeing yourself from all the worry, stress, and anxiety that oneitis causes.
4. If You’re in a Relationship, Cut Back Your Energy Investment to Equal
Some people get into relationships where there’s mutual love, attraction, and energy investment, but at a level that isn’t equal.
You’ll know this because interactions with your partner will feel one-sided.
You’ll feel like you’re always the one trying to:
- Initiate sex
- Initiate romance
- Spend time together
- Create meaningful memories
And when you question her about it, she’ll probably use plausible deniability to explain it away.
The best thing to do in such cases is to just quietly cut back your investment to two-thirds of what hers is.
If nothing else, this’ll make the relationship fair.
But more than likely, it’ll cause her to call attention to it. She may be angry, or feel like you’re treating her unfairly.
Or, she may not notice or care.
If she doesn’t seem to notice or care, there’s a good chance that she’s not really into you, and that she’s just with you because it feels safe to be.
5. Re-Focus on Pursuing Your Purpose
As men, it’s important that we focus on our purpose in life.
We must do this above everything else. Especially above pursuing women.
This is actually a vital fail-safe mechanism for preventing and eliminating oneitis in our lives anyway.
A man who’s constantly on his purpose truthfully won’t have the time, energy, or attention span bandwidth available to develop oneitis for a woman.
It’s not only an effective preventative measure. It’s also a cure.
In my experience, one of the best ways to hit the ‘reset’ button on your feelings is to travel.
But as it turns out, there’s some science to back this up.
According to research conducted at Cornell University, reliving and talking-about our experiences makes us happier in the long-term than the things we buy.
Because experiences (like traveling and seeing new places) are novel, while things become old hat.
I once got over a rather intense breakup by just getting into my car and driving.
I drove west for days, and ended up in the mountains of Colorado. I went hiking, ate some tacos, and spent some time just enjoying the scenery.
Then, feeling a lot better and with a clearer head, I jumped back into my car and headed home… radio blaring, the wind in my hair… all while making a new set of memories.
It really helped.
7. Expand Your Social Circles
Another tactic that I’ve found useful for getting past oneitis-centric relationships is to just expand my social circles.
Get on meetup.com and find out what kinds of events are going on around you.
Go to a class. Join a book club. Go to a wine tasting.
Go to events where you’ll expand your social circles and meet new people.
When you introduce new people into your life, you shuffle out some of the old to make way for the new.
This is extremely healthy, especially if you’ve been dealing with oneitis.
Say ‘yes’ to two different social outings every week. Just make sure that these ‘outings’ bring you into contact with new people, and you should notice a huge difference in your mood and level of happiness.
8. Do the ‘Full Monk’ Reset
Sometimes, as a man, when you get too wrapped up in one woman, you need to go on what I describe as ‘full monk’ mode.
You need to go no-contact.
You need to unplug from social media, email, texting, etc.
You need to stay away from women for a while.
You need to abstain from sex for a little bit, and really take some time for self-awareness and inner growth.
I find that this pairs extremely well with travel.
Go camping, turn off your phone, and disconnect to rediscover yourself and get back in touch with the real ‘you.’
This can be a refreshing way to help you hit that ‘reset’ button, and get over the hurdle of being hooked too obsessively on one woman.
2 Books to Help You Get over Oneitis
1. The Unplugged Alpha: The No Bullsh*T Guide to Winning with Women & Life
This book changed my life. Period. It'll help you to understand the concepts of masculine frame and mental point of origin, which I believe are both crucial in your pursuit to become a better man for both yourself, and for the world. Cooper also breaks down the top 20 red flags that you should vet women for when considering them for a long term relationship, and they're on point. I don't say this lightly but it should be mandatory reading for all men.
Richard Cooper has helped thousands of men improve their dating lives, and has a lot to say about oneitis.
His new book, The Unplugged Alpha: The No Bullsh*t Guide To Winning With Women & Life, is a must-read for men dealing with being a bit too obsessed with one woman.
As a side-effect, you’ll also learn a lot about what it means to be a man in today’s world.
It’s worth the read.
2. The Rational Male
The Rational Male, by Rollo Tamassi, is an in-depth guidebook for men who desperately need to understand the true reality of inter-gender dynamics. Rollo deals with oneitis and other dating problems within the book as a true master and intellectual.
Honestly, I feel that this is a must-read for any man who wants to level up. But this book is going to be especially helpful for men dealing with oneitis, who need a ‘jolt’ to bring them back to reality.
Hopefully this post has helped you to understand oneitis, what it is, what causes it, and how to fix it.
It’s a complicated problem. And God knows that we all deal with it at some point or another.
The real key is this. Remember that you’re a powerful, capable man with a lot to offer the world.
Don’t allow yourself to get wrapped up in a woman who isn’t investing at least as much into the relationship as you.
You deserve better, and you can get it.
Go with grace, my friends. And never give up your power.
Oneitis vs Love: What’s the Difference?
Love and oneitis are often seen as being one and the same.
But nothing could be further from the truth.
A lot of people disagree about what love truly is.
Some people label it as a feeling of affection and longing.
Others describe it as something you do. An act of commitment, wherein you decide to act in a person’s best interest because you care for them and wish for them to be happy and to succeed in life.
Oneitis, however, is neither of these things.
Oneitis is caused by chemical reactions in the brain that cause you to be infatuated with someone, combined with the fear of that person leaving you.
This makes oneitis different from love.
You probably DO have intense feelings of attraction for the person you have oneitis for.
You may also wish to commit to the person you have oneitis for.
But here’s the kicker.
Unless that person is just as ‘into you’ as you are ‘into them,’ deciding to do so is an irrational decision.
Date other women. Keep your options open. As a man, never allow yourself to get cornered into a situation where you only have eyes for one specific woman—especially if that woman doesn’t return your energy equally.
What Shouldn’t You Do When Suffering from Oneitis?
The main thing you shouldn’t do when suffering from oneitis is to succumb to it.
Once you start to feel like your attention is getting drawn too deeply into one woman, back off and start interacting with other potential mates—at least until you have some kind of rational, logical reason for choosing to only pursue one woman (such as the decision to be monogamous or get married, etc.)
This may feel counterintuitive. And it may feel like you’re being a ‘player’ by doing this.
But this is how men need to behave if they want to hold masculine frame in life.
A woman may desire for you to only want her. But once you give it to her, she’ll very quickly lose attraction for you.
Because a man without other options flags as a low value man.
Plus, if you give her ‘all of you’ right away, you take all of the fun out of it for her.
You give her all of the validation she should have had to earn, which will cause her to not respect you or value you as highly.
Again, it sounds counterintuitive to what women and culture tell us is ‘right.’ But as men, it’s what we must do to maintain masculine frame and power over our own lives.
How Do You Know If You Have Oneitis?
If you want to test yourself, to see for sure whether you may have oneitis, try this trick.
If you can say:
“I’ll be happy as soon as I get this girl. Then I’ll feel happy, complete, and love my life.”
… and mean it, then I’m sorry to say that you probably have a case of oneitis.
Here’s what a strong, masculine-framed man should be able to say:
“I’m a happy, fulfilled man who is constantly chasing my purpose. Women, including this one, are secondary to my true purpose in life. So whether or not we end up together will have no bearing on my happiness. I enjoy her, but I’m also at peace with losing her.”
If you can say this, and mean it, then you’ll know that you’ve successfully conquered oneitis and moved beyond it.