Relationship OCD

So, you’re asking yourself whether this is 'the relationship' or this person is 'the one' for you? But then again, aren’t you supposed to be 100% certain of this?


What is relationship OCD?

Relationship obsessive compulsive disorder (ROCD) can be extremely distressing and confusing for the sufferer, causing you to obsessively question whether your partner is right for you, whether you love them enough, whether they love you enough. It can be so difficult to make a decision.

Similar to obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) – when you can experience unpleasant thoughts, images and urges, and the compulsions that just don’t go away – you are constantly searching for the answer to that thought or that action, that will relieve the distress of this type of thinking.

Research into ROCD suggests that those that have experienced or are experiencing OCD in their lives may not recognise when their maladaptive thinking intrudes into their relationships.

Relationship OCD red flags

Some of the red flags to look for are:

  • Believing your relationship will not work out based on uncertainty – is your partner the right person for you – are you checking for intelligence, appearance, social qualities, personality, achievement – even when objectively you might deem these thoughts as inappropriate at times, but causing you so much distress it leads you to constantly question your decision making and whether you love them also?
  • Are you reassurance-seeking from others over and over when something triggers your nagging doubts?
  • Are you comparing your relationship to those of your friends?
  • Do you find it difficult to control your thinking and end up avoiding situations where triggers may be present?
  • Do you feel guilty about the way you feel?
  • Do you make lists of pros and cons around the relationship with your partner, or your partner alone?
  • Are you looking for constant passion and “honeymoon” period that leads to fairytale endings?
  • Are you reading this article after researching ROCD endlessly, finding similarities to others and becoming more confused?

How can relationship OCD affect me?

Focussing on your relationship can be relentless, time-consuming and bring about negative consequences. It can make it very difficult to establish a relationship in the first place, not allowing the 'getting to know each other' or 'foundation' stages to naturally develop as the 'catastrophic consequences' are never far away.

Relationship satisfaction is therefore poor when you are constantly pre-occupied with relationship doubts. Healthy and happy relationships can end when one partner is constantly analysing it, leaving the other partner angry or confused around constant questioning of their love and commitment to the relationship, reassurance-seeking, or avoidant and distant behaviours.

ROCD often is affected by your self-esteem and self-worth. How do you feel about these questions?

  • Do you feel better about yourself when your relationship feels like it’s going well and you feel in harmony with each other?
  • If you have a disagreement or difference of opinion,does that affect how you feel about yourself in general?
  • If people make positive remarks about you and your relationship, does that make you feel better?

Getting support for relationship OCD

Learning and understanding your triggers, intrusive thinking patterns and compulsions to make way for new and more present strategies is one option for moving forward. Consider a talking therapy like cognitive behavioural therapy, combined with other tailored, individual therapeutic approaches to help you.

You can contact Tracy by clicking on the 'email me' button below, or you can use our search tool to find a therapist.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author. All articles published on Counselling Directory are reviewed by our editorial team.

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Dorset, BH16
Written by Tracy Foster, Dip.Couns, Dip.CBT Registered (MBACP)
Dorset, BH16

I am a fully qualified Integrative Humanistic Counsellor & Cognitive Behaviour Therapist. I also practice in mindfulness and hypnotherapy relaxation techniques.

I adhere to the ethical standards for safe therapeutic practice as a registered member of the BACP (British Association for Counselling & Psychotherapy).

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