Written by listed counsellor/psychotherapist: Tracy Foster, Dip.Couns (MBACP)
28th November, 20140 Comments
What is Relationship OCD?
Like Obsessive Compulsive Disorder - whereby you can experience unpleasant thoughts, images and urges that just don’t go away, and the compulsions (thoughts and actions) that lead you to repeat certain actions to relieve the distress of these obsessive thoughts - Relationship OCD (ROCD) is when you obsessively question whether your partner is right for you, and whether you love them and they love you. If there is doubt it can be difficult to make a decision.
ROCD can be extremely distressing and confusing for the sufferer.
Ongoing research into ROCD suggests those that have experienced OCD may not recognise when their maladaptive thinking intrudes into their relationships.
Signs to look for are:
- Believing your relationship will fail based on uncertainty – is your partner the right person for you – continual checking for intelligence, appearance, social qualities, personality, achievement and so forth, leading you to constantly question your decision making and whether you love them also.
- Seeking reassurance from others and reviewing your relationship time and time again each time something triggers your nagging doubts.
- Feeling unable to control thinking and avoiding situations where triggers may be present.
- Guilty feelings around your thinking.
- Making lists of pros and cons of the relationship and your partner.
ROCD can affect your self-esteem and self-worth. Ask yourself what you think about these points:
- Do you feel better about yourself when your relationship feels like it’s going well and you feeling in harmony?
- If you have a disagreement or argument, does that affect how you feel about yourself in general?
- Do you feel better about yourself and your relationship if others make positive remarks?
Constant focus on your relationship and your partner can have negative consequences. It can be very difficult to establish a relationship in the first place and not allow the natural “getting to know each other” stages to develop as the “catastrophic consequences” are never far away. Poor relationship satisfaction becomes inevitable with the constant pre-occupation with relationship doubts. Many relationships that are healthy and happy end when one partner continually analyses the relationship, leaving the other feeling angry around constant questioning of their love and commitment to the relationship.
Learning about your obsessions and finding new ways to think is one option for moving forward, such as a talking therapy like Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT). This can be done alone or with your partner.
Related articles from our experts
Cate Campbell MA, MBACP (Accred), MCOSRT (Accred), MAFT23rd March, 2017
- Reactive and responsive relationships
Graeme Armstrong MBACP21st March, 2017
- How psychodynamic therapy helps to break the cycle of unhealthy relationships
Margery Parsons, d.c.t.p., UKCP reg.20th March, 2017
Counselling Directory is not responsible for the articles published by members. The views expressed are those of the member who wrote the article.