Is Your Relationship OCD Taking Control of Your Life?

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When it comes to romantic relationships, doubts, fears, and anxieties come with the territory.

Every now and then, we will question our relationship and challenge our partners. Under normal circumstances, this can even be healthy for your relationship and help you reorient your relationship if needed.

But what happens when you spend sleepless nights and every waking hour questioning your relationship altogether? When you act compulsively and self-sabotage your relationship based on these obsessive thoughts.

If this describes you, you might be suffering from relationship OCD.

Is Your Relationship OCD Taking Control of Your Life?

What is Relationship OCD?

Relationship OCD (typically abbreviated as ROCD or R-OCD) is a type of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. All forms of OCD involve obsessive, uncontrollable, and intrusive thinking patterns and compulsive, repetitive behaviors resulting from those thinking patterns. So, ROCD involves obsessions and compulsions around your relationship.

There are three subtypes of ROCD:

Relationship-centered ROCD

It’s when you constantly doubt your relationship as a whole and question whether it is “right” or “complete.” While some relationships are certainly not meant to last, relationship-centered ROCD casts a shroud of insecurity around your relationship and convinces you that you’re not actually experiencing true love.

Person-centered ROCD

It’s more specifically linked with your significant other’s attributes, character, and personality traits. Hence, it leads you to cast aspersions on your partner’s attractiveness, intelligence, quirks, loyalty, morals, ethics, and intentions.

Combination ROCD

A blend of relationship-and-person-centered ROCD. As such, you may incessantly doubt your own feelings towards your partner and their attributes.

Unfortunately, ROCD is chronic (long-lasting) and idiopathic (without an identifiable cause). However, identifying, acknowledging, and treating the problem can improve things and allow you to have healthy and secure relationships.

What Are the Symptoms of Relationship OCD?

The first step towards recovery from ROCD is acknowledging the problem. To do so, you need to identify the following tell-tale signs of ROCD.

Repetitive and intrusive thoughts

When you have ROCD, your mind is always racing with intrusive thoughts that make you doubt the soundness of your relationship. You might catch yourself thinking things like:

  • I’m not as attractive as my partner; why are they with me?
  • Do I really love my partner, or am I just starved for intimacy?
  • If I find other people attractive, it must mean I’m a cheater and a horrible person.
  • My partner is upset with me for insert every last thing you say or do
  • That kiss felt a little off; does my partner not love me anymore?

Focusing too much on flaws

Everyone has flaws, but relationships involve overlooking, accepting, or being patient with your partner’s perceived shortcomings.

However, ROCD forces you to obsess over these flaws day and night. You might even incessantly compare your relationship with others.

Over time, you will start to perceive the tiniest flaw as grounds to pick fights or even end your relationship.

Mountains out of molehills

Let’s say your partner returns home late from work one night. They give you a quick peck on the cheek, skip dinner with you, and pass out on the couch—all of which is out of the ordinary for you two. It’s normal to wake up the next day and double-check if everything is okay.

But when ROCD kicks in, you’ll find yourself agonizing over their unusual behavior as your mind flashes with thoughts like “I did something to upset them” or “they don’t love me anymore.”

A constant need for reassurance

With such constant and overwhelming fears and doubts, you will constantly need reassurance about your relationship. But even that won’t alleviate your worries and anxieties.

You might seek this reassurance directly from your partner or constantly turn to friends and family to soothe your doubts.

Acting on unhealthy impulses and urges

Everyone has unhealthy thoughts, urges, or desires, regardless of how great their relationship is. It’s just how the human mind works.

However, ROCD will switch off all impulse control, making you compulsively act on those urges. As a result, you might trigger a cycle of constantly breaking up and getting back together with your partner or even being unfaithful to them.

Problems with intimacy

All of these factors will inevitably stir trouble in your sex life, causing you to hold back on intimacy.

Not only that, but the flood of skeptical voices inside your head won’t allow you to enjoy sex or any form of intimacy. Once those voices take the reins (which is all the time), you won’t be able to just enjoy the moment, questioning every romantic gesture and intimate act.

It’s all about self-doubt

There is a fine line between healthy reevaluations of your relationship and ROCD. The latter makes you abandon your trust in your feelings and sanity.

In other words, you just can’t stop feeling anxious about your relationship, regardless of whether or not something is wrong.

How Can You Treat Relationship OCD?

ROCD can be treated the same way all forms of OCD are treated: Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT) and, in specific cases, medication.

CBT is a form of psychotherapeutic treatment that helps you change unhelpful thinking patterns and compulsive behaviors in your relationship. CBT sessions typically last 12 to 24 weeks, depending on the severity of your ROCD and your response to the treatment.

In these sessions, your therapist will address the underlying fears and self-doubt that compels your ROCD while strategically roleplaying certain relationship scenarios to help you maneuver them better.

If your ROCD debilitates you too much, you might also be prescribed appropriate medication. The point of the medication isn’t to cure your ROCD but rather to calm you down enough so that your CBT sessions can bear fruit. The most common classes of ROCD medications include selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, tricyclic antidepressants, benzodiazepines, and antipsychotics.

Finally, keep in mind that there is no cure for ROCD. CBT and medications can help you control it, but you will have to make daily efforts to curb those obsessive thoughts and compulsive behaviors. Moreover, relapse is always a possibility, as it is with all chronic illnesses.

Bottom line

If left untreated, relationship OCD can prevent you from having healthy and fulfilling relationships.

Step one is to acknowledge and accept the problem. Once you do that, you should seek treatment instead of villainizing or isolating yourself.

While it may take time and a lot of effort, you will eventually be able to overcome your ROCD. Remember: the most important thing is committing to the treatment and remaining unwavering in the face of adversity.

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