Let’s talk about something that not a lot of people often discuss: ROCD, or Relationship OCD. This term is defined by Dr. Phillipson on Intrusive Thoughts’ webpage as “a subset of OCD where a person is preoccupied with establishing whether their feelings for their partner are sufficient to maintain the relationship.”
Now, we understand that it is very common to check-in with yourself and your partner as your relationship evolves to ask questions such as “are we compatible?” or “do we make each other happy?” But someone with ROCD takes these questions to an extreme, developing extreme anxieties and compulsions in order to figure out if who they’re dating is right for them.
Since this is a common thing for people to have, but not something commonly discussed, we wanted to give a brief introduction to what Relationship OCD is about, and what it might look like if you have had this before! So, what is ROCD, and what is it like living with it?
1. People with ROCD spend time obsessing over their partner’s qualities
Like we mentioned earlier, it is normal to question the state of your relationship every now and then as a check-in, but people with Relationship OCD take this to another level of anxieties. They may take something that they’re partner said, or something small that they’re partner did, and question whether this person is right for them at all.
Maybe your partner wore a weird shirt to meet your parents, or maybe they were grumpy one day when you were hanging out. These types of small things can make someone with ROCD question the entire validity of their relationship! Have you ever spent time obsessing over these tiny details of your partner, only to cause yourself a ton of panic?
Have you ever spent an obsessive amount of time “researching” what makes a successful relationship? Or endlessly compared your relationship to those of your friends? People with ROCD are always questioning whether or not their partner is compatible with them, and these thoughts can potentially harm your view of a healthy relationship.
These obsessive and intrusive thoughts can be keeping you from truly enjoying a good person in front of you, but only if this person is a safe, comfortable, partner. ROCD does not apply to any instance of verbal or physical abuse.
2. People with ROCD spend time obsessing over their feelings and sexual desires for their partners
If you spend all of your time questioning your attraction to your partner, you might be potentially setting yourself up for disappointment. People with Relationship OCD consistently worry about being attracted to their partners and constantly question their sexual desires for them.
The problem with this is that we aren’t allowing ourselves to naturally desire toward our loved one if we are always worrying about whether it’s enough. Over time, this can actually push us further away from attraction between our partner anyway. Of course there are always going to be people we just aren’t attracted to, and it’s okay to just be friends with these people.
But what if we recognize that in a loving, healthy relationship, there won’t always 100% of the time be lustful, fiery passion toward one another? That sometimes even in a beautiful partnership, we might get annoyed or not feel very much in the “mood”? At the end of the day, it’s up to you to decide if you are actually with the wrong person, or if you’re intrusive ROCD thoughts may be controlling some of your feelings toward this person.
3. People with ROCD don’t allow their relationships to evolve
On that same topic, if we are always looking for a relationship to stay just as exciting, butterfly-inducing, and lustful as the first month or so of the honeymoon stage, then we aren’t allowing our relationships to move forward. People with ROCD worry so much about their attraction to their partner that they aren’t allowing the evolution of the partnership.
A healthy partnership goes through ups and downs, and like we mentioned earlier, there will be times when your partner leaves the toilet seat up and you want to throw him out of your home! But what if we saw the change in passion down the road as more of a healthy comfort and safety with your partner? At the end of the day, comfort and safety are hugely important characteristics of a healthy relationship.
Someone with Relationship OCD obsesses over every little thing their partner does, or every little change in feeling that they might experience, which keeps them from truly letting their relationship grow.
4. People with ROCD worry about finding other people attractive
Someone with ROCD might panic if they notice themselves finding other people attractive. It’s important to know that it is totally normal to see someone on the sidewalk or in a restaurant and think to yourself, “wow, they’re beautiful.” This does not mean that you’re unsatisfied with your partner.
ROCD can convince people that because they find someone else attractive, that they must not love their partner enough! Again, there is always something to notice in your relationship if you’re focusing a ton on other people besides your partner, because that could be something more. But just panicking over noticing an attractive person in the bar could be another sign on ROCD.
5. If you feel like you have ROCD, have patience with yourself!
If after reading this article, you feel like maybe ROCD could be something you struggle with, then don’t worry! First of all, you’re not alone. Secondly, there are resources to help you overcome it and enjoy a happy, healthy relationship. Have patience with yourself, and in the mean time check out this awesome site on ROCD.