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Compulsive Shopping

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Compulsive Shopping

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red copper
I have a problem I have to manage and usually do a pretty good job of. Twice in the last 4 years I've realised I've let my shopping get out of control, no debt was incurred either time (I'm a pretty sensible person, which helps a lot) but both times I had difficultly paying for normal expenses due to having spent too much on my obsessional items. My preoccupation with whatever it is has an impact on my interactions with other humans, ignoring them whilst I scour online stores/Google etc looking for my 'rare' item of choice of the moment....


Most recently I let my shopping compulsion take over during a bout of depression. I work 4 days a week in a reasonably well paying job and don't have any large ongoing expenses so it wasn't having a negative impact, which allowed me let it run wilder and wilder. Then my partner, who is unwell, decided he wasn't able to keep working. I was happy to help him but by now the excessive shopping was habitual, I was so swept up in it I didn't realise I was whittling away my buffer money. Then the bills arrived and for the first time I had to pay for them completely by myself, all $500 of my remaining savings was gone and I only had a small amount of money left. Even then, worrying about whether I would have enough to buy food, I had a very hard time holding back from buying jewelry. As soon as I got paid again I went on another spree. It became plainly evident to me I was out of control. I don't even know how much I spent, or why I didn't instead hold back until I had built up more savings. I was left again with only just enough money to buy food.

What motivates this? I seem to be repeating the same action again and again, like a rat in a cage pressing a lever for food, seeking gratification I had once received from a similar action. The objects I buy are invested with subjective value and mean more to me when I am buying them then their monetary value, which means sometimes I get swept away buying this or that merely because I don't already own it or because I haven't seen anything like it before - with no thought for the real use it will have for me when it arrives in the mail. This has been less of a problem with my jewelry obsession than it was with my compulsion for buying Chinese brocade jackets on eBay auctions 4 years ago, which I still have in the back of my wardrobe today, unworn and beautiful. At least that experience has left me with the knowledge of how to bring my spending back under control today (now I have finally gained insight into my behaviour and have the desire to change). 

The secret? To become aware of what the item you compulsively buy means to you, how chasing that fantasy uninhibited prevents you from really attaining the things these items symbolise and how much you lose by letting your compulsions run free. I've also decided to focus more on quality than quantity  and make myself delay gratification by saving for special items (Luciferins, Anatometal opal eyelets etc). 

So my question to you is this: how many of you fit this description of oniomania (compulsive buying) on Wikipedia? en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oniomania
  • I think it must link into a gathering instinct or something, it's intense!
    • Yeah.. its so weird.. and my boyfriend is actually trying to "help" me deal with it.. he already told me no more buying plugs.. (and then i go and hide my newly bought plugs from him -_-) and with commissions.. well he lets me for now but he will keep an eye on that so i dont splurge that much but rather save upf or special things.

      And i just bought a new camera.. *sigh* i dont really need it, but i have so many excuses for my old camera and and.. xD
  • I haven't actively hidden my purchases yet but if I can bring them into the house without any notice being paid I do feel better, there is that sense of guilt and shame. I hate being told what to do but with the eBay thing I did need some intensive help, I didn't want to go out if I knew an auction was ending and would get very upset if I lost. It was 4 years ago and I still remember some of the items that got away! I am quite insane, I am sure!
  • i hide my stuff too...mostly because he HATES my ears and so freaks out. However much to my surprise he agreed to not protest if i get my nose pierced (double, one on each nostril) he said if he protested i'd just do it anyways. Thats progress at least!
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