Relationships and OCD

The term relationship is defined as the way in which two or more objects or people are connected. People form all sorts of emotional and sexual relationships. They bring happiness, joy, love and companionship. They can also come with challenges.

When two people are in a relationship with one another, they share their thoughts, feelings, dreams, anxieties and secrets. In very close relationships, lives become intertwined. Mental illness can complicate relationships because of the added stress that comes with them. Managing these challenges, requires understanding and patience on both sides.

How Does it Relate to OCD?

Because close relationships are so highly emotional, they often become the primary focus of a person’s OCD. In other words, their thoughts and anxieties will center around their loved ones.

Relationship OCD (ROCD) is a subtype of OCD in which a sufferer constantly questions their relationship with their partner. ROCD often sounds like: Do I really love my partner? Is this the right person for me? I don’t like how they smile, does that mean we should break up? There’s a heightened anxiety about whether or not you’re with the right person. The obsession becomes so strong, that you look for evidence of incompatibility in everything they do.

The thing is, it’s perfectly natural to have these questions. Everyone asks themselves these things at one point or another. However, for OCD sufferers, the level of anxiety associated with these thoughts can be destructive. This is the main difference between normal relationship questions and ROCD.

Other subtypes of OCD can greatly affect romantic relationships, such as Homosexual OCD (HOCD) or Pedophilia OCD (POCD). HOCD causes a severe anxiety about being a different sexual orientation than you identify as. POCD causes a person to think that they pose a risk to children and might harm or sexually abuse them.

At the end of the day, OCD is a taxing disorder that can impact interpersonal relationships in many ways. The key to maintaining happy and healthy relationships, is to be open with your loved ones and seek out treatment options.

What Can I Do About it?

Humor is sometimes the best medicine. When you’re laughing, it counters the anxiety that you’re experiencing. If you bring humor into spiking, the body has the ability to see the thoughts as irrational. Learning to laugh about your intrusive thoughts with your partner can be extremely beneficial.

The recommended treatment for OCD is Exposure Response Prevention Therapy (ERP). ERP is when you voluntarily expose yourself to a fear over and over and over again until your brain stops obsessing over it. By repeatedly engaging in something you’re afraid of, you force your brain to recognize how irrational it is. Often times, sufferers are asked to involve their partners in treatment. Significant others tend to like therapy because it provides clarity into the disorder and teaches them how to be a better support system. Just remember, patience is key. OCD wears on them as well.

Whatever you decide, remember to embrace and accept your intrusive thoughts as they are. Leading a healthy and happy life is difficult if you allow your intrusive thoughts to define you. Be open, honest and patient with your partner and other loved ones. The more they understand about your OCD, they better support they can provide.


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