For many of us, much of our personal lives focuses on our relationships. Most of us spend a great deal of time thinking about finding someone to love or maintaining our current relationship. We may also think about whether or not our romantic partner is suitable for us and we may, on occasion, question if we really love our partner. However, for individuals with Relationship Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (R-OCD), these common thoughts and worries become intrusive and disturbing.
Those suffering with R-OCD often have an expectation of how one should feel in a relationship and believe that one should have these feelings at all times. Individuals suffering with Relationship OCD often fixate on whether or not they love their partner and wonder about the intensity and depth of their love for their partner and whether they will be compatible as a couple in the long run. Obsessions in Relationship OCD can also include a preoccupation about their partner’s overall attractiveness and desirability.
Relationship OCD can be highly destructive as the obsessions in Relationship OCD can often lead to the ending of an otherwise great relationship with a caring partner. It’s important to note that almost everyone, at some point in their relationship has doubts about their relationship. The difference between these normal relationship doubts and R-OCD is the level of distress individuals suffering from Relationship OCD experience from these persistent, unwanted thoughts.
Common obsessions in Relationship OCD (R-OCD) include:
- Wondering whether or not I love my partner
- Wondering if my partner is “the one”
- Wondering if my partner truly loves me
- Wondering if this is really love
- Wondering if I’m sexually attracted to my partner
- Noticing an attractive person and worrying that I am in the wrong relationship
- Being fixatedly preoccupied with my previous partner “being the one”
- Fixating on a partner’s physical or character flaws
As with all sub-types of OCD, compulsions play a big part in what maintains the cycle of OCD. In R-OCD, as well as other sub-types of OCD with primary mental obsessions, most of the compulsions occur in the mind of the sufferer. As with all types of OCD, the compulsions are meant to alleviate feelings of anxiety, distress and uncertainty and reduce the occurrence of obsessive thoughts.
Common compulsions in Relationship OCD (R-OCD) include:
- Repetitively confessing to your partner that you have doubts about the relationship
- Repetitively confessing to your partner that you find other people attractive
- Compulsive googling about love and relationships
- “Testing” for emotional or sexual connection by having sex with your partner
- “Testing” your feelings for your partner by flirting with others
- Spending time on dating websites to see if you are attracted to others
- Monitoring your feelings (e.g. “Am I feeling love”, “Am I having doubts”)
- Comparing your relationship with the relationship of friends, characters on TV or people on social media
- Seeking reassurance from friends, family, therapists or psychics about the relationship
Relationship OCD is very often misdiagnosed by mental health professionals. Because many mental health professionals do not understand the complexities of OCD and its many sub-types, many therapists interpret the symptoms of R-OCD as relationship problems. Conversely, well-meaning therapists may diagnose someone with Relationship OCD, when the issue is something else entirely.
What Relationship OCD is NOT:
- Insecurity about your relationship
- Calling your partner many, many times a day
- Sneaking through your partner’s emails, phone records, text messages
- Stalking a person you find attractive
- Fear of intimacy
Fortunately, effective treatment for Relationship OCD (ROCD) is available at GroundWork Counseling in Orlando. If you find that Relationship OCD is getting in the way of developing and maintaining intimate relationships, therapists who are trained in Exposure and Response Prevention (ERP) can help you to love the one you’re with.
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