Relationship OCD (ROCD) is a kind of OCD many people don’t know, even though it is very common. In ROCD the main obsession is whether or not the person is truly in love with the person they’re with and whether or not their love is going to last. ROCD is frequently diagnosed and treated erroneously. Psychologists and psychiatrist often think the client is simply unhappy with their relationship or they can point out their client’s worst fear: that maybe they are simply not that in love with their partner. These interventions as opposed to helping their client, increase the level of anxiety in a person who’s already tormented by their fear.
Relationship OCD is a kind of OCD in which the person suffers from continuous obsessions about their partner, whether they’re truly in love with them and whether or not they their partner is right for them. People who suffer from relationship OCD can worry about whether their partner is suitable for a long-term relationship, if they really find them attractive, and if their relationship has the potential to last or not. These worries are often felt as intrusive and can end up occupying most of their days. They can think and worry about these subjects for hours. However their relationship can be very satisfactory. That is, their obsessive thoughts are not necessarily caused by a bad relationship.
People who suffer from ROCD can doubt and worry to such degree that it can cause them to hold on to important decisions such as getting married or moving in together. Furthermore, it can cause people to have a highly ambivalent attitude towards their partner, which in turn creates a tense environment. Their partners usually have a hard time understanding the rapid changes in mood and the level of affection people with ROCD show.
People with ROCD can also break-up and make-up with their partner several times because of their doubts and worries. Sometimes this causes their partner to finally break-up with them in order to avoid the instability caused by these break-ups.
ROCD can also cause people who suffer from it to have problems in their sex life. For example they might continuously check if they are “sufficiently” excited during sex. When this is not the case more doubts and worries arise about their compatibility with their partner. Likewise some people who suffer from ROCD take their sex life as a measure for the level of affection they feel towards their partner. There are also many people with relationship OCD who feel the need to check their feelings and the level of affection they feel towards other people or ex partners in order to validate the feelings they have for their current partner.
People with ROCD can also check for the opinion of others about their relationship in order to make “a final decision” on staying with their partner or not. Furthermore, they often can read for hours about “true love” and about what relationships should be like.
This is why ROCD can be very frustrating and frightening both for the person who suffers from it, as well as for their partners.
What causes Relationship OCD?
There are several causes that can cause ROCD to develop. In what follows the most common ones will be explained.
OCD is usually caused by traumatic experiences and/or prolonged periods of stress in childhood or adolescence. In the case of relationship OCD this is usually summed to a lack of affection from the parents, an oppressive environment, and in adults a lack of internal structure.
People who suffer from relationship OCD tend to live their lives according to the criteria of their parents, their religion or their direct environment. They usually have a hard time finding out deciding what they really like, what job they want, and what opinion they have on political issues. This causes them to frequently accept jobs they don’t enjoy, not to position themselves and to end up living a live without passion.
Therefore, there are many people with ROCD who live their lives thinking about what others want or expect from them. It is difficult for them to consider other options in life, and they are easily scared by thinking about the possibility of choosing a new and possibly better path in life. This lack of internal structure causes them to possess a low capacity to take decisions, which leads them to doubt constantly about all parts of their life and especially their love life.
On the other hand, the fact that they live a life lacking passion in both their work and free time can cause them to become highly dependent on their partner. Their partner becomes their main source of happiness and the substitute for everything they miss in the rest of their life. This, in turn can generate obsessions about whether their partner is ideal or not. Their partner helps them to avoid facing the parts of their life they are unhappy with.
Furthermore there has always been the myth of “true love”, love without any kind of flaws or mistakes. This myth has caused an intense search over time; a search that can lead us towards a constant level of dissatisfaction. The myth of the “knight with the shining armor and his white horse” or “Mr. right” makes us belief that there is this one person out there who is 100% perfect for us and that with this person we’ll be 100% happy. In this myth there is no room for imperfections, grey’s, and subtleties. That is, there is no room for real people. Thus people become insecure and unhappy when their partner is not “like in the movies” and find it hard to overcome conflicts.
Another factor that influences in ROCD is the fact that we live in a society in which the traditional values of marriage and stability within the relationship have been lost and substituted for what has been referred to as a “liquid” society. A society in which there is no external structure or clear values you can guide yourself by. A society in which your partner can leave you at any moment because they are not completely satisfied anymore. This generates a lot of insecurity in people with regard to their relationships, because if there is nothing stable, all options are always open. This society requires people to have an even stronger internal structure. In people with ROCD it can generate the urge to tie their partner down, or pushing them away as opposed to enjoying the natural development of the relationship.
How can Relationship OCD be treated?
In order to overcome relationship OCD it is important to rebuild the internal structure of the person. We work on helping the person establish their own judgment and values. We foment the client to take decisions about their own life, even if this involves having to make important changes with regard to their job or free time. We also work on integrating passion in both their work and private life. We help them to (re)discover their likes, their creativity and to incorporate Eros into their life.
The moment the person comes back to their center, the moment they acquire their own judgment and values, the decision about whether to stay with their partner or not becomes a lot easier. It is more difficult when you’re trying to rate your partner when you yet don’t know who you are. We will help you to find your center again and to live a life that is full of passion, both in your relationship as well as outside of it.