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Relationship OCD (ROCD): Symptoms, Causes, Effects, Treatment

Relationship OCD (ROCD)

Relationship OCD, otherwise known as ROCD (Relationship Obsessive Compulsive Disorder), is more often than not, a situation or multiple situations where you can start to feel anxiety about whether or not you actually love your partner, or in fact whether or not your partner loves you. The line that is crossed for this behavior to be considered compulsive is when you find that these thoughts are with you all the time.

Relationship Obsessive Compulsive Disorder

What could be worse than constantly worrying or living in fear about what your partner is doing, who they are with, and does he or she actually love you? And of course then there is the other side of the coin, where you are continually questioning your own devotion to your partner.

This has to affect the relationship, even if it isn’t immediately recognizable, the signs will show eventually. This doubt about commitment or love is often something that can be felt by your partner, particularly if the behavior you are showing is typically out of character for you.

All of this worry and stress has a huge impact on your anxiety level, and this is not good for your health.

In fact it is something that can easily be spread, the mood that is, to those people close to you. If you have children, the chances are they will pick up on it as well, and children are not equipped to deal with such things. This is something that can be damaging to many indirect relationships. The very indication of an obsessive compulsive pattern of behavior should be addressed as soon as you can.

Generally speaking the main problem is a personal fear. This is a fear that you may not be good enough, or that your partner may not be good enough for you, or that he or she may be too good for you. This fear leads to doubt, self-doubt, and a doubt that your partner feels the way they say they do. You can see the pattern building until ultimately that fear and doubt, leads to a lack of trust, both in yourself and in your partner.

This is when big issues can arise, and it can often spell the end of something that was actually healthy. Relationship OCD can present symptoms that are typically received as something other than what they are, and this is where it gets dangerous for any relationship.

Symptoms of relationship OCD

Symptoms of relationship OCD can affect a person's ability to have a healthy and fulfilling relationship.

Relationship OCD can involve a person feeling anxious or worried about specific aspects of their relationship, such as the frequency of communication, the level of trust, or the level of intimacy.

ROCD can also involve a person feeling compelled to check their relationship constantly, to make sure that everything is still okay.

Relationship OCD can also lead to a person feeling excessively jealous or insecure, and can impact a person's ability to feel connected to their partner.

ROCD Causes and Triggers

Some experts believe that there are several possible factors that may contribute to relationship OCD. Some of these factors may include:
  • Genetics: Some people may be more prone to developing relationship OCD because of their genes.
  • Stress: Relationship OCD can be a result of a high level of stress in a relationship.
  • Anxiety: People who have anxiety may be more likely to experience relationship OCD.
  • Relationship History: If a person has had a difficult or traumatic relationship in the past, they may be more likely to experience relationship OCD in the future.
  • Fear of abandonment: Some people may be afraid of abandonment and may experience relationship OCD as a way to avoid being left alone.
  • Fear of intimacy: Some people may be afraid of intimacy and may experience relationship OCD as a way to avoid being close to others.
Triggers for ROCD episodes can come from sources that are inside or outside the individual.

The ROCD sufferer constantly compare their own relationships with the relationships of others around them and find theirs somehow lacking. This is a common internal trigger for ROCD episodes.

And, for other ROCD victims, intrusive fantasy images and/or rumination, about partner being involved with another can create irrational jealousy.

Outside sources that can trigger episodes can come from images seen in movies, television or social media, or taken from popular music. The ROCD victim compares their own relationships with the unreal, and unrealistic, glamorized and idealized images taken from media and feels that their own relationships are somehow lacking. This tendency to compare reality with “fantasy” can serve as a trigger for an ROCD fueled bout of self-doubt that leads to breaking up a relationship that doesn’t measure up to an “ideal” of a relationship.

Treatment for Relationship OCD

You may be familiar with the old saying “time heals all wounds” but this is not necessarily the case with relationship OCD. The thing is that with plenty of idle time, your mind is left to further develop the fears that you have, allowing them to become stronger.

Of course there are ways to deal with your relationship OCD, one being therapy, but you should consult with your doctor before any avenue of recovery. A general health checkup would be a good idea initially, to ensure that the symptoms have not been able to create any issues that you can’t see.

Coping with OCD in an intimate relationship is very challenging. In addition to the standard treatments of psychotherapy and medication that help the victim to recognize and manage their own symptoms, it is helpful to get the partner involved in the management of the disease.

Through couples’ counseling, and an emphasis on honest and open communication between partners, misunderstandings can be avoided (for example an OCD partner might fear “contamination” through being intimate while the non-OCD partner might react by feeling “I’m not attractive.”).

As with other types of mental health problems it is also very helpful to join a support group as a means of sharing and discussing feelings of embarrassment or isolation that come from these problems.


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