Relationship OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder)

Relationship obsession is a common sight and often the reason for many breakups. Before jumping into understanding this, we need to discuss – Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder briefly. It is an illness that causes one to have repetitive thoughts (obsessions) and impulse to do something repeatedly (compulsions).

Following are scenarios that are caused due to OCD

1.  Constantly needing validation from people, counting words, cleaning areas repeatedly, locking doors multiple times, straightening or arranging things in a peculiar order, etc. are some of the showing signs. If a person with OCD cannot do these, they would feel an increased stress level. Acting on these compulsions may offer relief but only temporarily. Hence, these obsessive thoughts and compulsion develop into a never-ending loop of getting stressed and gaining momentary relief from it.

2. Being excessively worried and concerned about losing things, critical of oneself in terms of their morality, and doing the right thing. This compulsion and obsession aren’t a conscious effort, rather, the way one thinks and functions.In the context of a relationship, these qualities can make for a self-doubting, insecure, and overthinking partner. It could lead to trust issues, possessiveness, jealousy, arguments, comparison of oneself to others, questioning the legitimacy of care, affection and love shared. Although introspection is a natural phenomenon, irrationally weighing or overthinking situations, actions, and consequences may cause friction in relationships and our everyday lives. 

Patients can manage their OCD without treatment if their symptoms seem to be mild or moderate. In severe cases, they may fluctuate from having a good phase to stress escalating to depression, or anxiety. Rectifying the thought process is the solution to controlling impulses, obsessions, and urges.

Relationship Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (ROCD) can be categorized as follows

Type 1 ROCD: Relationship – Centered Obsessive- Compulsive Symptoms

In this case, a partner might have inquisitive thoughts questioning if they are with the right person if the partner reciprocates their affection enough, and the relationship’s legitimacy. They not only ask themselves but also externally seek validation from people around them about the relationship.

ROCD obsessions include –

  • “I’m not enough,” feeling of inadequacy and questioning the perfection of the relationship.
  • Keeping the relationship a secret.
  • Constant irrational fear of abandonment, and unfaithfulness.
  • Fear of being unloved or disliked in the relationship

Type 2 ROCD: Partner-Focused Obsessive-Compulsive Symptoms

In this case, the individual focuses on their partner’s attributes and characteristics, looking into them at a microscopic level. The individual would constantly be weighing their partner’s intellect, looks, social circle, emotional, financial, and physical stability, etc. This behavior adds stress to the relationship, as the partner might feel conscious of themselves due to being judged and scrutinized.

It is very natural to question relationships and our partner. Uncertainty, doubts and fears often cloud our minds and aren’t necessarily unhealthy. Still, if everything seems to be going well, irrelevant, and irrational compulsive thoughts may cause the relationship to break.

ROCD compulsions include –

  • Creating irrational hurdles and barriers for a partner.
  • Constantly questioning the partner’s actions, behavior, and relationships.
  • Expecting an in-depth explanation to questions.
  • Comparing one’s relationships with others.
  • Checking up on the partner constantly to ensure they aren’t with someone else.
  • Intimacy issues.
  • Checking the partner’s social media and their messages.

Causes of ROCD –

Over-attachment or dependency on the relationship and the partner to feel worthy. Increased vulnerability due to fear of abandonment. Controlling, dominating, and manipulative ways of thinking. Genetic, biological and psychological factors that affect the development and maintaining ROCD.

How to manage your ROCD

1. Relationship Counselling– both individual therapy and with a partner helps manage and maintain healthy relationships.

2. Mindfulness– Taking the time to meditate, being aware and recognizing one’s pattern and its effects, reducing stress, and putting in conscious effort to maintain a healthy relationship.

3. Exposure and Response Prevention Therapy– Encourages individuals to face their fear without the need to ‘fix’ it.

4. Cognitive Behavior Therapy – Understanding the importance of healthy thoughts, actions and feelings toward each other.

5. Medication.

What should be your #RelationshipGoals?

  • A relationship should be well balanced and equal; a two-way street.
  • Rectifying trust issues. The couple should solve between themselves.
  • Having productive arguments. While arguments are inevitable, it can say a lot about how much the couple respect and understand each other.
  • Appreciate each other, even for the little things. Be it a round of laundry or cooking a meal for a loved one, a partner should feel appreciated for these small efforts.
  • Give them space! The couple should make time to enjoy what they’re passionate about even if the other isn’t too fond of it. This individuality adds beauty to the relationship.
  • Don’t control, micromanage, or take decisions alone.
  • Having a good laugh, motivating and being proud, and enjoying even mundane tasks with each other are signs of a healthy relationship.

If you have issues in your relationship, seeking help is the first step to leaving problems behind. Do not hesitate to get support from mental health professionals for therapy or treatment. There is no shame in looking to be better as it a sign of personal growth. Don’t let relationship problems wear you down; get help, get better and stay happy together!