Relationship OCD (ROCD) is a form of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) in which the sufferer experiences intrusive, unwanted and distressing thoughts about the strength, quality, and “true nature” of their love for their partner. Obsessions in ROCD include a preoccupation with a partner’s appropriateness as a mate, overall level of attractiveness, sexual desirability, or long-term compatibility, and often arise in otherwise entirely healthy relationships.
When most lay people think of OCD, they envision hours of hand washing or compulsive lock checking. However, there are numerous equally exhausting sub-types of OCD in which the compulsive symptoms are less overt, and which together are colloquially described as Pure Obsessional OCD, or “Pure O”. But this term is a misnomer, as people suffering with Pure O exhibit numerous, albeit less obvious, compulsions. And while these compulsions are less noticeable by others, they still take a huge toll on sufferers. ROCD is one such sub-type.
As with all forms of OCD, the compulsions done in ROCD are done in an effort to reduce the individual’s anxiety related to their unwanted obsessional thoughts. For those suffering with ROCD (and other Pure O variants such as HOCD, Harm OCD, and Scrupulosity), compulsions are often performed mentally, and can be fairly imperceptible to others.
Unfortunately, the lack of knowledge about the less visible symptoms of ROCD often leads to misdiagnosis. Well-intentioned family members, friends, and therapists often suggest that “maybe you’re just not that into him”. We are all conditioned by the media to focus on the honeymoon stage of a relationship – the fireworks and drug-like hunger described in love songs, romance novels, and Hollywood happy endings. When faced with a real person, full of flaws and humanity, it can be difficult to let go of the dream of true and perfect love long enough to see the good thing standing right in front of us.
Millions of dollars are made off misconceptions about love every day. Through movies, songs and advertisements, we are fed a dream of love meant to save us from the mundane. We are whisked off on a white horse to a dream world free of pain, suffering, anxiety, and as it turns out…reality. When we are so regularly fed a diet of fantasy, it is no wonder that our anxiety surrounding relationships, commitment, and marriage can skyrocket.
Common Obsessions in ROCD
Obsessions in OCD are defined as repetitive thoughts, ideas, mental images, or impulses that an individual experiences as intrusive, unwanted, and/or inappropriate. As with other forms of OCD, the obsessions in ROCD focus on issues of doubt and an intense discomfort with uncertainty. At it’s most basic, ROCD is focused on one simple obsession: “What if I don’t really love my partner”. The individual with ROCD is beset by doubts about whether their partner is “the one”, or if they are truly in love with their partner. These obsessions frequently lead the sufferer to unrealistically demand absolute, 100% certainty in their mind about their feelings for their partner. Common obsessions in ROCD include thoughts such as:
- “What if I don’t really love my partner?”
- “What if he/she is not ‘the one’?”
- “What if I’m not really attracted to him/her?”
- “If I don’t think about my partner all day long, do I really love him/her?”
- “If I didn’t “completely” enjoy that one kiss, does that mean I’m not really attracted to my partner?”
- “I noticed another attractive guy/girl…that must mean I’m in the wrong relationship!”
- “I enjoyed having alone time today while my partner was visiting their relatives. This must mean I’m not truly in love with my partner.”
- “There are times when I feel turned off by the thought of intimacy or sex with my partner. This must be proof that I’m not sexually attracted to them and therefore in the wrong relationship.”
- “I can imagine cheating on my partner, therefore I must secretly want to be with someone else.”
- Fixation on flaws or negative aspects of a partner’s appearance or character.
- Fixation on compatibility and/or long-term viability of the relationship.
- Obsessive concern about harming one’s partner emotionally by staying in a relationship if you may not truly love them.
As with all obsessions, these thoughts are intrusive and highly distressing. And in the case of ROCD, these obsessions can, and often do, lead to the loss of an otherwise great relationship with a loving partner. Obsessions can be especially intense when the OCD sufferer is in close proximity to their partner, and/or if issues of long-term commitment arise, such as relationship exclusivity, meeting the family, living together, or possible marriage.
Our clients frequently ask what the difference is between an OCD thought and a genuinely incompatible relationship. They wonder: ”How do I know this is really ROCD, and not just the real truth about what I feel?” This is a difficult question, because compatibility is an entirely personal concept as well as a total toss-up. Everyone has a friend or relative in a relationship that looked perfect only to see a break-up occur just months later. Likewise, we all know people who seem completely wrong for each other at first glance, but somehow end up happily married for decades.
Ultimately, there is no way to know with 100% certainty whether a relationship is “right” or “wrong”, just as we cannot guarantee (however morbidly) that we will even wake up tomorrow morning, or that our children will be safe even when we are not there to supervise them. Life is full of risks, and the decision to be in a committed partnership carries with it the possibility of both success and failure. In ROCD, the problem lies not in the partner, but rather in the need to know, with 100% certainty, that one’s partner is “the one”.
Common Compulsions in ROCD
Compulsions in OCD are defined as repetitive behaviors that an individual feels compelled to perform in an effort to avoid or decrease anxiety related to obsessions. Compulsions in OCD generally fall into one of four categories:
- Overt compulsions
- Avoidant compulsions
- Reassurance seeking compulsions
- Mental compulsions
As noted above, compulsions in ROCD and other Pure O variants of OCD often occur entirely in the mind of the sufferer, and are usually less overt than hand washing or door checking. That said, there are often some outwardly apparent compulsions that involve checking, as well as countless avoidant, reassurance-seeking and mental compulsions. Some common compulsions seen in ROCD include:
- Having sex with your partner in order to check for arousal and/or feelings of emotional connection.
- Repeatedly confessing to your partner that you are experiencing doubts about your feelings or about the viability of the relationship.
- Repeatedly confessing to your partner that you are attracted to other people.
- Frequently breaking up with your partner.
- “Testing” your feelings by spending time with / flirting with others, or searching dating sites to see if you are attracted to others.
- Compulsive online researching about love or relationship issues.
- Avoiding being around attractive or triggering people such as ex-lovers or people you could possibly see as attractive.
- Avoiding being intimate with your partner (verbally, physically or both).
- Avoiding saying “I love you” or praising/complimenting your partner.
- Avoiding loving gestures for fear these will further entangle you.
Reassurance Seeking Compulsions
- Asking family members and friends to rate the compatibility of your relationship.
- Asking family members and friends to confirm your partner’s attractiveness or sexual desirability.
- Asking family members or friends if they think your relationship will last or if you are meant for marriage.
- Compulsively asking others about their relationships and comparing feedback.
- Mentally comparing your significant other to attractive or desirable people.
- Mentally checking your arousal or attraction during sex or other intimate moments, such as kissing, when saying, “I love you”, or holding hands.
- Mentally comparing your relationship to those of friends and family to see if your relationship sizes up – is it “better than” or “worse than”.
- Mentally comparing your relationship to thoughts and feelings expressed in love songs, romantic novels, or movies.
- Mentally reviewing past relationships and comparing them with your current one.
As with all forms of OCD, compulsions in ROCD are done in an attempt to obtain momentary respite from the nagging obsessional thoughts. And often they do provide comfort…temporarily. In the long run however, compulsions only fuel the Obsessive Compulsive Cycle, making sufferers believe that if they just search long enough, and just keep trying hard enough, they’ll find “the one”.
Impact on Relationships
Needless to say, the obsessions and compulsions experienced by those with ROCD can take a devastating toll on both the sufferer and their partner. Relationships in which one partner has ROCD are often chaotic, and unstable due to seemingly endless misunderstandings, conflict, and break-ups. Even the most compassionate and understanding partner may struggle with repeatedly hearing all the ways that the person they love doubts their feelings for them. One of the cruel and ironic twists of ROCD is that the fear of hurting one’s partner often results in the sufferer doing just that – by repeatedly expressing their doubts about their partner and the relationship, those with ROCD often cause significant emotional suffering for the very person they most love.
ROCD and Other Variants of OCD
It is also worth noting that ROCD often occurs simultaneously with other variants of OCD. As noted above, the individual with ROCD is often extremely distressed about the harm they are causing their partner, often to the point of believing that they are ruining their partner’s life by staying involved with them despite their doubts. This fear of causing emotional harm to one’s partner is quite similar to the harming obsessions commonly seen in Harm OCD.
Likewise, these concerns of causing harm often lead the sufferer to experience obsessions quite similar to those experienced by those suffering with Moral Scrupulosity. For example, the individual with ROCD may obsess about being a morally bad person for staying with a partner when they are experiencing doubts.
ROCD is also frequently related to obsessive doubts about sexual orientation seen in HOCD. The individual with HOCD often has thoughts such as “if I have these doubts about my orientation, I must be in the wrong relationship”.
This overlap between various subtypes of OCD, especially variants that are sometimes described as Pure Obsessional OCD, or “Pure O”, demonstrates how the line between various subtypes of OCD is somewhat arbitrary, and can be quite grey at times. All of these variants of OCD revolve around a common discomfort with the uncertainty that is inherent in the human experience.
What ROCD is Not
Misunderstandings about ROCD abound, and it is important to clarify the difference between this condition and normal relationship doubts. For the individual with ROCD, doubts about their relationship are ego-dystonic, which simply means that their doubts are inconsistent with their true feelings. They experience their doubts as being in direct contradiction of how they truly feel about their partner, and are extremely distressed that they are experiencing these unwanted and inexplicable thoughts. On the other hand, those with ego-syntonic doubts about their relationship experience their thoughts as a normal and genuine expression of their feelings (or lack thereof). While they may be sad about their relationship doubts, they are not tortured by them.
ROCD is often misdiagnosed by mental health treatment providers who simply don’t have a solid grasp of the complexities of OCD and all of its variations. As a result, many therapists frequently mis-read the symptoms of ROCD as a sign of “relationship issues”, rather than as evidence of ROCD. This problem is perhaps complicated by shortcomings in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM-5) in which the criteria for a diagnosis of OCD does not include a description of ROCD. Furthermore, the vague nomenclature attached to various subtypes of OCD may be a factor – it is not difficult to see that a term like “Relationship OCD” could easily be misunderstood.
Unfortunately, the issue of misdiagnosis has been further exacerbated by recent media coverage of ROCD that has misconstrued the very nature of the condition. It is important to note that obsessions in ROCD focus entirely on doubts one has about their own feelings for their partner, and not on insecurities about whether their partner loves them in return. Insecurity is not ROCD.
Likewise, being jealous of your partner’s friendships, sneaking through their mobile phone records, or reading their private emails is not ROCD. And calling your ex-boyfriend 47 times a day, or surreptitiously following a woman you find attractive is not ROCD. In other words, stalking is not ROCD.
Finally, it is important to note that a fear of intimacy is not ROCD. When one fears intimacy, they are afraid of being emotionally vulnerable with their partner, and all the risks involved in being intimate. With ROCD, the sufferer is not afraid of intimacy, but rather is specifically afraid of being in the wrong relationship. The core issue with ROCD is not intimacy, but discomfort with uncertainty. Being afraid to commit to another person is not the same as ROCD.
Treatment for ROCD
Thankfully, ROCD is a highly treatable condition with an optimistic prognosis. Treatment with a psychotherapist who specializes in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is the first step to escaping the cycle of obsessions and compulsions that characterize ROCD. CBT for ROCD includes a combination of psycho-education, Cognitive Restructuring, Exposure and Response Prevention (ERP) and mindfulness skills training.
The first step in treating ROCD is to educate the client about the disorder, turning on a light in an otherwise dark room, and illuminating the various ways in which their obsessions and compulsions combine in a seemingly endless cycle of doubt. The psycho-education process helps the client to understand how ROCD works, and how the condition profoundly affects their daily life and their ability to be in a healthy, meaningful, committed relationship.
The next step is Cognitive Restructuring, which is the “C” part of CBT. In Cognitive Restructuring, the client learns to identify the various ways in which their thoughts about relationships are distorted, and to challenge those thoughts with more accurate and realistic thoughts.
Next, mindfulness training is used to help the client develop more awareness and acceptance of the obsessive thoughts and feelings they experience related to ROCD, rather than resisting them and thus perpetuating the cycle.
Finally, Exposure and Response Prevention (ERP) is introduced to gently and gradually expose a client to situations that engender relationship anxiety, whether it be saying “I love you” without checking for truth, or eliminating reassurance seeking from conversations with family and friends, or challenging any other compulsive behavior done in an effort to reduce discomfort. Additionally, a variant of ERP called imaginal exposure involves writing and reading stories based on the client’s actual OCD obsessions. Ultimately, the goal of ERP is to help the client learn that their fears, while real, are not realistic, and not nearly as threatening as they think. Future installments of this series will focus on these treatment modalities for ROCD.
A certain amount of anxiety and uncertainty is quite natural, and anyone considering “forever” would be well-advised to accept the possibility that their relationship may not endure. However, those with ROCD are missing out on the best parts of their relationship with their partner precisely because of their dysfunctional relationship with their anxiety.
If you are struggling with ROCD, your obsessions and compulsions are keeping you from being fully present in a committed relationship with your partner. Only after divorcing your ROCD will you be able to clearly see the person in front of you. By pulling the plug on this most toxic of relationships, and accepting uncertainty as a normative experience, you can then begin a deeper commitment to intimacy with the person you love.
•The OCD Center of Los Angeles, a private, outpatient clinic specializing in Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT) for the treatment of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) and related anxiety based conditions. In addition to individual therapy, the center offers five weekly therapy groups, as well as online therapy, telephone therapy, and intensive outpatient treatment. To contact the OCD Center of Los Angeles, click here.
A very well written and accurate accounting of ROCD. As a suffer, the description is true. The suffering is real and debilitating and one that is in silence. I most appreciate an article on this matter that will help others understand what goes on inside our minds and why we get so worn out. Thank you
Thanks for your comment. We’re glad to hear that our article resonated for you.
This article is so helpful. This idea was brought up to me by my brother who is a psychologist and works in OCD. I am in a relationship and KNOW that I love my bf and want to marry him and have a life but I get completely overcome with worry and doubt and it causes such strain. I still struggle and this article helped eased some of the panic I have with unwanted thoughts.
Thanks for commenting. It’s always great to hear that one of our articles has helped someone. If you are unable to manage your symptoms,I encourage you to consider seeking treatment with a therapist who specializes in OCD treatment. Take care.
Hi Started dating this girl a few months ago and after a fight we had i started experiencing this anxiety and obsessive thoughts. we split up and got back togethther after 4 months and after 2 weeks the thoughts and anxiety came back i tried to control it as best as possible but at some moments i believe she wasnt feeling the love. we split up again and its very hard to accept as i know i love this girl. i would like to know if you have any tips on worki g on rocd when u are not in a relationship aa i dont have these obssessive thoughts.thank you
Everything you write sounds like ROCD. My best tip is to get into Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) with a therapist who specializes in treating OCD. And yes, you can get effective treatment while you are not in a relationship.
Hi Im literally suicidal and I cannot control my thoughts at all. It seems like it is all out of control. Please help.I keep thinking of only my bf’s past again and again.Though he has never even been in a relationship.He has had only a past crush. I cant get over it.Pls help
If you are genuinely suicidal, it is imperative that you get to your local hospital’s emergency room IMMEDIATELY. If you are alone, please contact a family member or friend to help you get there.
I was experiencing debilitating ROCD symptoms that were noticeably impacting my relationships. Therefore I decided to seek help. I wanted to leave a comment (and see if you’d be kind enough to provide some advice) regarding a recent issue I’ve been having as it relates to ROCD with dating.
I’ve dated throughout my 20s, but any time I have met someone that I genuinely enjoy, I have always fallen victim to the anxious rationalizations that my “ROCD” provides. Because of the intrusive thoughts about whether I am truly “in the right relationship” or “truly like the girl I am dating” I fall victim to rationalizing that “this relationship” can’t be the right relationship if I am having these recurring thoughts/concerns. Whenever I date someone, I date exclusively. However, I begin to question the rightness of the relationship as it becomes serious. I’ve had nearly all the ROCD compulsions listed in your article. The lack of certainty/vindication I seek regarding the “rightness” of a relationship causes never-ending doubt/anxiety. Because of this, I end the relationship to neutralize the anxiety. Advice?
A few thoughts…
1) You report having a history of ROCD for which you have sought treatment. And everything you report here sounds like ROCD. I see no reason to view your current obsessions as being anything “new” or “different” from past obsessions.
2) Analyzing if a partner is “the right one” is the core feature of ROCD. Trying to answer this question will never result in a satisfactory outcome. The question is not the problem – trying to answer the question is the problem.
3) My advice is this: Ending relationships in an attempt to neutralize the anxiety caused by your obsessions is a compulsion. It will never work in the long term, as you will just have the same doubts in the next relationship. You would be better off tolerating the unwanted thoughts.
Please help . Now that I THINK I know what was wrong with me, is it ill advised to reestablish contact with my ex in the hope of getting back together? I tick every single symptom box here. But I’m still not fully convinced, and even if it is the case that I was suffering from this, what makes me think I could handle it this time around? Although I;m sure that it isn’t your intentions, you say that P. is better off ”tolerating the unwanted thoughts” as if it is so easy, He wouldn’t be here relaying his experiences and seeking your advice if it were. Also, how do I know that this sudden realisation that ‘I may just have lost the one and I better go back get her before she meets someone new’ isn’t another form of ROCD, except from the heartbroken’s perspective? Granted, the resulting anxiety isn’t nearly as extreme but the dialogue I’m noticing is almost exactly the same
A few thoughts…
1) There is no way for me to ascertain whether or not it would be a good idea to re-establish contact with an ex. That is 100% your choice.
2) I didn’t write that tolerating uncomfortable thoughts would be “easy”. I wrote that tolerating uncomfortable thoughts was a better alternative that doing compulsions in an effort to eliminate anxiety.
3) You don’t get to “know” whether it is a wise idea to seek to renew the relationship. Nobody gets to know in advance whether a relationship will work out.
4) That said, the desire to re-start a relationship that one previously ended due to ROCD is a common symptom of ROCD. However, it is also a common symptom of life.
This article is so helpful. I have been having anxiety disorder for just two months, and it transformed to the ROCD. I became very anxious about my relationship of 3 years with a partner I love and had no doubts about. Before the disorder there was nothing to doubt about. But right before the engagement, all these thoughts all of a sudden started bothering me and I panicked. This article is a great shut down for such anxiety and unwanted “alien” thoughts that came from nowhere. Thank you.
Thanks for your comments. It’s great to hear that our article has helped you get a better perspective on your doubts, and to more effectively manage them.
YES. Totally me. Have been engaged for a year and am so scared for the wedding. I know I love my fiance like mad, so why am I so fearful of the marriage? I doubt if we are right for each other, I worry like crazy, I create colossal sized problems in my head that inevitably lead to a a dooms day scenario. Perhaps the worst is the comparing I do when I’m around other couples or men, that they are better off than we are. Mostly I’m scared of making a mistake. Has anyone sought help from a notable psychotherapist in NYC that uses these treatments? I have a wonderful therapist, but I don’t think she understands how to treat this. Thank you for a wonderful article and for everyone’s honesty and bravery,
You note that you love your fiancé “like crazy”, yet you worry because you have doubts, while at the same time acknowledging that you are creating these problems in your mind. This is the very nature of ROCD.
As for treatment, you would be well advised not to waste your time with a therapist who does not have extensive experience treating ROCD. Would you want a doctor who has never set a broken arm if you broke your arm? Of course not – you would want an orthopedic surgeon.
I think my ex has rOCD but he doesn’t know about it. I just luckily stumbled upon on a forum that tackles the symptoms and everything you said above fits well and solved the puzzle. We just broke up recently – no real problems but his doubts and what if’s about the relationship triggered him to break it off and see if he can develop feelings for someone else. He’s constantly freaked out, confused and rambling. Should I tell him about this, we are on NC.
Your ex may have ROCD…or it might just be that he’s not that into you. There’s no way to know for sure based on what you have written here. You can tell him about what you have read about ROCD, but don’t be surprised if he interprets that as you trying to woo him back into your life by telling him how he secretly has ROCD.
An alternative option is to move on with your life. After all, why chase someone who has told you directly that they want to see other people in order to see if they can develop feelings for them. That sounds like someone who wants to date other people rather than being in a relationship with you.
All that being said, the choice is your’s.
My apologies if I’m not replying in the right place:
This article perfectly describes me. I’ve been struggling with EVERY one of these feelings with my girlfriend since I met her more than 7 months ago. It’s compounded because I also suffer from generalized anxiety disorder, though most of my thoughts and fears revolve around her. She’s also my first, which makes for lack of experience, but I very deeply resonate with your description of the illusions of love we’re often conditioned by. But my gf is wonderful, and exactly what I’ve always dreamed of in nearly every way, it’s nuts. So I drive myself mad over why I feel these things. I’ve already been considering CBT – this cements it. This knowledge is a weapon for me, thank you.
Shasta, may I ask if your ex had much past experience with relationships? I’ve never even been close to girl before my now gf, and I experience exactly what he felt, up to and including a painful desire to run, date other people, or even finding other cute girls abnormally attractive, while finding faults in my gf that weren’t there before. I often “test” my feelings like the article says. I get the “rambling” too, though I’ve improved…
Wow. This was me to a T last year, one of the most horrific feelings I’ve had in my life. I’ve been managing anxiety my whole life and still have my ups and downs, but mindfulness therapy and the support of my family and partner helped me to get through the darkest parts of my ROCD. Thanks for this illuminating article–I now have a name for that experience.
So glad to hear that our article has helped you better understand your experience with ROCD. And it’s great to hear that you have been able to better manage your thoughts through mindfulness and the support of those you love.
It’s been 1 month that I have been struggling with obsession for my partner, it started of suddenly one night and it’s got worse .
Is it common to get repulsed and dislike his physical features and appearance .
It is fairly common for people with ROCD to obsess about the physical appearance of their partner.
Hi, I would like to ask if it is possible to have a healthy and happy relationship and from one minute to another I started having doubts about my boyfriend, who is the best man I know. Does ROCD occures like that?
Yes, ROCD can occur like that.
This article fits me perfectly. However my doubts about whether she is “the one” have transformed into strictly sexual. I struggled with HOCD for a few months but realized I have no emotional connection to the same sex. My obsessive thoughts are now what if I’m never 100% sexually satisfied, what if I don’t get to experience everything I want? How can I truly be happy? I am unable to look at the amazing things I have bc of sex. I never experimented sexually with the same sex and now realizing I will never be able to has caused me great anxiety. I would do absolutely anything for my girlfriend and love her dearly. I do not want to hurt her but want to be sexually satisfied always. It seems like sexual satisfaction is the most important thing for me in a relationship. I am unable to look at trust, similar interests, similar morals, or just general compatibility. I also watch a lot of porn and masturbate a lot which I feel is almost my compulsion. I am then very satisfied and happy with my relationship and life. Again my only doubts and concerns in my relationship are sexual. These fuel my ROCD. My fear of not experiencing everything I want is taking a toll on me.
A few thoughts…
1) Focusing on sexual attraction to, and fulfillment with, one’s partner is a common theme in ROCD.
2) You write “What if I’m never 100% sexually satisfied, what if I don’t get to experience everything I want? How can I truly be happy?” and that you want to be “sexually satisfied always”. I think you may want to set your sights a little lower. It is not reasonable to expect that you will experience 100% satisfaction in sex or anything else. Likewise, you are unlikely to experience everything you want in life. I am not being a pessimist here, but rather a realist. Your expectations are unreasonably high and likely to lead to frustration and unhappiness.
3) You voice concern that you will never be able to experiment with the same sex, yet also claim that you feel no emotional connection to the same sex. Taking that into account, I doubt same-sex experimentation would lead to the 100% satisfaction you are seeking.
3) You also note that “sexual satisfaction is the most important thing for me in a relationship”. This is unlikely to lead to success in a long-term relationship. There are so many factors that play into a long-term relationship, and sex is just one of them.
4) You will always find others besides your partner to be sexually attractive, and after months or years of sex with even the most wonderful partner, the lure of novelty will seem extremely powerful. If you continue to stick with your position that sexual satisfaction is the single most important factor in a relationship, you will likely have lots of partners in life, and lots of relationships that crash and burn.
5) Please know that none of what I am writing is meant as a moral assessment of your views. I can certainly see the appeal of 100% sexual satisfaction. I just think it is an unreachable goal that will ultimately lead to frustration and disappointment.
Such useful article. Great this important information is in the public domain. Does ROCD apply on jealousy? I’m in a relationship since one year and a half, we got married half year ago. Due to immigration laws we cannot live together before the end of this year. So we have a long distance relation now. I’m 61, and before I met my wife, I was married and got divorced. My wife says she loves me so much so she want me to be her’s in a retroactive way. She hates my ex, they never met. I don’t keep any contact with my ex. I don’t wish this. But even though, my wife address this topic on a daily base. We have phone calls every day and write each other, it’s great there is something like What’s app but it remains a substitute. More and more she asks why I cared my ex so much, she thinks I loved my ex more then her. This is not the case. How to deal with jealousy? One answer to her yields two questions. Often after a talk we come to peace only the next day there are new questions, often variations. I feel like put on the stand. OCD runs in her family, my wife acknowledges this only sees now reason to go to a therapist. I’m a patient person and i love my wife more the any one…
I cannot provide a diagnosis of your wife based on a third party (you) report. That said, the symptoms you describe do not sound like OCD – they sound like manifestations of your wife’s insecurity. The best way for her to see if she has OCD is to seek an assessment with an OCD specialist.
Wow. As a parent of a child with OCD that doesn’t really fit the mold, I find myself engaged in this article because I don’t really come across a lot of OCD reports in my “world”. I find that the more I learn about OCD and its complexities, I think to myself that this journey is going to be quite a ride. My daughter is 16 years old today and I never thought we would get here.
Thank you for writing this. It is something else to be aware of as a parent.
This article has changed me I am so glad I read it. I was diagnosed with plain ocd about a year or two ago. This description of ROCD fits me with almost perfect accuracy. It is so reassuring to know that this is not just me but that it is in fact an illness. Thank you
Thanks for commenting. Rest assured that you are not alone in your struggle with ROCD. We have treated many people over the years struggling with this issue.
I thank you for this well written, informative and timely article. The suffering is debilitating and clearly can compromise and destroy an otherwise loving and healthy relationship. ROCD blinds and distorts seeing the incredible person standing right in front of you. Please post/blog more about this.
Thank you for writing this
Thanks for your comments. It’s gratifying to hear that you found our article helpful. We will be posting more on this often-neglected sub-type of OCD.
i agree with the above statement. i seems like i have such obsessive thoughts about the relationship i’m in, and maybe hocd as well.
Thank you so much for this. I suffer from ROCD; it’s horrible. Endless thoughts and doubts, unwanted feelings and compulsions. My mind says “do you love him? If things are awkward or quiet it’s bad! It won’t work out!!! Is he the one???!!! If you get a job, you’ll find someone else!” etc etc, it goes on and on.
I love my boyfriend very much; he is not perfect – far rom it. However, he makes me happy (mostly!) and I love his company and dear God I want to be with this man! Alas, my Little Friend OCD is forever on my shoulder.
I write down my thoughts in a diary to help unscramble them. The longer I am in my beloved’s company, the happier and more relaxed I become. I feel … less messed up! Then when I come home, or get of the phone, my Little Friend barges in as if to say “did ya miss me!”
I know very well if I didn’t love him, the way I do, the thoughts wouldn’t bother me at all. I was diagnosed with OCD at the age of twelve. I met him at age eight, started dating him at age 15, (the ROCD has been there pretty much from the get go). Now I’m 20, and for some reason myself and the Beloved put up with each other’s weirdness. He is my everything, and I want to build more memories with him, but ROCD keeps getting in my way!
I have no idea if this will work, but I want it to with all my heart, and will keep battling my OCD and advocating for the awareness of this little known type of OCD. Thank you for this article. Keep spreading the world so fellow ROCDers like me will know they’re not alone!
With good luck from Ireland (yes, it is raining right now :P)
p.s. Sorry for the essay, I got a bit carried away there 😛
Aileen, I suffer the same. It is the worst feeling in my life. Good to find someone from Ireland who also feels this way. Do you receive any treatment for it anywhere?
I’m not sure I fully understand exactly what ROCD is so I will present my issue to you to see if I fit in this category. I am happily married for 13 years to an absolutely wonderful man. He is a hard worker, clean and will do almost anything to give me whatever I might want or need. My CONSTANT issue is a past 7.5 year relationship I had 22 years ago that I will always consider my ‘only true love’. Even though he was a control freak and we finally called it quits, NOT A DAY GOES BY that I don’t think of him. Wondering if we should have stayed together…missing the good times…wondering how my life would be now…calling him just to hear his voice and then hanging up. 22 years since I have talked to him and NOT A DAY that I haven’t thought of him, cried for him and compared him. I know if I were to have a terminal illness and had only days to live, I would still want to talk to him one last time. I can’t begin to tell you how much time I put into these thoughts while somehow carrying on a marriage that I am so lucky for and yet there is not a lot of affection…mostly on my part. My life is like one of those silly old black and white movies where someone can pine away for someone decades later. We all know that can’t happen and yet it honestly has for me. Over 2/3 of my life is thinking about what could/should have been. I daydream a lot and my husband will ask if there is something wrong. I could maybe understand this if I were a young woman but I am 60 years old. I was 38 years old when I ended this relationship with this man. I could go on about how much this intrudes on my life but I hope you get the picture. Could this be considered ROCD? If you tell me it could, I can’t tell you how relieved I will be. I would walk, not run, to see a therapist. I have been diagnosed decades ago with OCD and have been treated in St Petersburg, FL as recently as 2 years ago for a different facet of OCD (Harm). Please let me know your thoughts. Thank you for listening.
I have ROCD and one of the challenges is learning to tell the difference between ROCD thoughts and healthy thoughts. I’m no expert or therapist, but from what you’ve written here, it’s possible you might have ROCD, especially if you’ve had other types of OCD before. I also had other types of OCD before I found out I had ROCD. I would advise you to seek the help of a therapist to find out if you have ROCD or not. It’s better to find out and have it treated than leave it and have it going on and making you miserable. For me, seeing a therapist was really helpful as I learnt a lot of strategies I could use for battling ROCD. I see your post is from a couple years ago. I hope that in the meantime you’ve been able to find some answers. Take care and I hope all is going well for you.
Hello there, as a person with ROCD, I will say that this is NOT ROCD, this is simply you missing a man that you were once madly in love with and felt like he should have been your one and only, ROCD may include thoughts about our past relationships, but you do not want to think what you’re thinking..let me give an example, i used to worry a lot about a person from my past who i did not love, because i know that i want to spend the rest of my life with my sweetheart currently, and the fact that i was having thoughts of this other person while with my sweetheart made me chronically depressed. i did not want to think about this person and wanted them out of my mind, the thought of them were latched onto my brain and just couldnt get out, it made me feel guilty, depressed, and stuck, i felt this way because i could die for my actual boyfriend, i questioned a lot if i loved my boyfriend which killed me, and i told myself, even if i did love the person from the past i will never leave my boyfriend because i felt so so guilty, it hurts, it kills, its not easy, and ROCD is often intrusive thoughts about not just one topic, but many others.
As a sufferer in remission from the severe aspects of this type of OCD, I thank you from the bottom of my soul for putting this info out there. It’s so vital to break the stigma and the myths out there. I got through this. I got married despite ROCD and ERP is the reason why. There’s hope and I thank you.
wow thank you for your comment!! I am right now at where you used to be and i pray i have a beautiful come back story like yours!
This a well worthwhile read and lays out nicely ROCD, especially the areas of compulsions, what ROCD is not, as well ERP suggestions. Given the pervasiveness that doubt plays in OCD, it is no wonder that ROCD seeps into one’s life. Thanks for the good work.
Thanks for your comment. We’re glad you found the article helpful.
Thank you so much for taking the time to share your success with us! Exposure and Response Prevention (ERP) is key to effectively managing the negative mental patterns and behaviors experienced by those with ROCD. By changing our behavior, we can begin to change the thoughts and feelings that so often contribute to our suffering.
Thank you for sharing your story with us. Your struggle sounds like exactly like ROCD and it is lovely to see that you and your partner have managed to accept one another and grow despite the ever present nagging of this disorder. Thankfully, OCD does have a positive prognosis if a client has proper treatment, which is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) with an emphasis on Exposure and Response Prevention (ERP). Best of luck to you!
I’m so sorry for your long struggle. Though your ruminations sound obsessive, they do not sound like symptoms of ROCD. Feelings of sadness and regret about past relationships are extremely common, but they don’t indicate ROCD. It is worth noting that people can (and do) obsess about just about anything, but that doesn’t mean that all obsessions are ROCD (or any other variant of OCD).
The good news is that the behaviors of avoidance you describe around showing affection could also be treated using the same therapy (CBT and ERP) that a therapist would use to treat ROCD. I do believe that with this type of treatment you could begin to find peace and acceptance of the past, and find a more active and present future with your husband.
Hi there. I have the same problem with a past relationahip that i constantly think about and i keep comparing my present one with the previous. I also have common intrusive thoughts about not loving my current partner because he does not fit in the category of the man i wanted or the man i always thought I would end up with. i am pretty sure I love him but i have doubts. Can one fool them selfs and confuse real love with wishing to love? We are trying to get pregnant now and I constantly worry if i am doing the right thing. I do suffer HOCD so may be a little ROCD too?
It is quite common for people with one variant of OCD to also experience other types of OCD. After all, it’s all OCD.
That said, analyzing love in an effort to find certainty is about as fruitful as searching for unicorns. A better option is to accept that a) you have OCD, and b) love is not a concrete thing that one can pin down. And just because your partner does not fit your pre-conceived notion of the type of guy you would end up with does not mean you don’t love him.
Rather than focusing on what you “feel”, I encourage you to choose to act lovingly. Love is a behavior, not just a feeling.
I am glad that you found our article helpful. Having HOCD thoughts co-occurring with ROCD thoughts is common, and in fact, these two subsets of OCD tend to feed one another. It is completely normal for one type of obsession to morph or inform another type of obsession, and we frequently treat both in tandem at the OCD Center of Los Angeles.
Thank you for your comment.
I congratulate you on being an informed parent and doing your part to educate yourself on your daughter’s OCD.
Thankfully, with the proper treatment and with the willingness of the client, OCD has a positive prognosis, and can be managed throughout a person’s life. While the forms and iterations of OCD can morph, the obsessive and compulsive nature of this disorder can remain constant throughout a person’s life. Our goal is not to stop or control our obsessions, but to learn to accept them, make peace with them, and manage our response to them more effectively. Best of luck to you and your daughter.
I’m in Miami and should be enjoying myself… I am, but ROCD gets in the way. It has since for a long time. I am 37 and feel that my life will never change and I’ll be alone forever because all I think about is the uncertainty. Please help. I have done cbt but that didn’t help. I hate what my life is now. I have a good job… A home… It’s very depressing.
This article was a very in-depth insight into a condition which I believe I suffer from. I always have constant doubts about my relationship and sexuality and whether the relationship is right, but the thing that bothers me is that I still don’t know if it really is ROCD/HOCD or these concerns are actually real! Maybe accepting you have OCD is something made difficult by the OCD itself.
I am completely obsessed and consumed with the fact that I ended up in the wrong relationship with the wrong guy, and that I made a huge mistake. My obsessive thoughts about this to me are just the truth – that I really am in a bad situation that I accidentally let happen. Yet, I stay in this relationship because I feel like I would be ruining his life, and my own life, by leaving. Like I don’t have “reason” enough to break up with him. So I just stay in this mental torture because either way, stay or go, I will be miserable, just for different reasons. I was diagnosed with OCD (mainly Pure “O”) in 1997. But I don’t know if I have this ROCD. The defects of my relationship are ALL I ever think about – I never think about anything good. I feel like focusing on the good in him and the good in the relationship is just denial that I’m really in a bad relationship I shouldn’t be in.
My name is Krista and I have been with my boyfriend for almost 2 years. We live together and have the healthiest relationship I have ever known.
I’ve always been one to self sabotage and I noticed now more than ever fear has taken over.
It was about a year ago when a friend of mine who I used to have a thing for reached out to me out of the blue to tell me how happy he was that I found someone. He was a good friend of my ex and your typical “bad boy.” Up until a year ago, I still maintained friendship with this kid while in my relationship (not attaching meaning to anything) until after that phone call. At that very moment, I let the thoughts run and run until they took over COMPLETE control…
“Why is he reaching out to me?” “Does he miss me?” “Do I miss him?” “Is this a sign?” “Is he trying to interfere with my relationship now when he knows I’m happy?” Those are just SOME of the thoughts that jab me from every which way…so persistent that it started to affect my own quality of life. Anytime I see this kid on social media, or if he contacts me, I panic with thoughts that he is trying to ruin what I have. I’ve always been the happy go lucky girl and now that I finally found someone who I know I want to spend the rest of my life with, I was scared. Relationship anxiety took over. I became numb, questioning my love for my partner – thinking this was a sign that I had to leave… That there was something BETTER. He has a girlfriend now and I will “check” to test my sensations when I look at pictures “does this make me jealous?” “do i wish i was her?” etc etc.
I never really knew so much about ROCD but what I did know was that I was experiencing it- Constantly seeking the internet and friends for reassurance. Currently, I’m doing ERP therapy exposing my unwanted thoughts to my therapist but in reality, what I do know aside from all this hard work is that I need to tend to myself. I can get so drained and then some days when I’m seeing clear, I realize I have the love of my life in front of me and all this stems from is an underlying fear of loss. And then…the anxiety subsides. Even if it is for a day it feels AMAZING. ..and that’s why I keep fighting through. I lost my dad when I was 16 in a tragic car accident, so I know the fact that I never actually “grieved” properly has a lot to do with it.
I actually came across the NPR podcast and listened to the episode “The Secret History of Thoughts” which Tom Corboy was a part of. Only then was I able to put things into retrospect.Even though the episode was based on Harm OCD, the physical sensations and distress it put this one man under was just as debilitating.
OCD loves to play mindgames. It loves to ask me “is this really ocd? or is this just how you REALLY feel?” What ive learned is that real feelings do not generate anxious feelings, distress, make you feel distant, etc. etc.
This post was so helpful and beneficial to me…
Wow. Thank you for the last part of your comment “real feelings do not cause distress or generate anxious feelings.” Every time I think I don’t like my boyfriend it’s all I can ever think about, it’s all I focus on and I get so anxious that I feel like I’m going to puke. But then I remember if I didn’t like him I wouldn’t have a reason to stay with him. He makes me so happy but yet when I’m not with him all I can think about is the bad stuff. It makes me feel physically sick, but you put it into perspective. If I just didn’t like him, I wouldn’t be anxious or distressed about it – I would just end things. Thank you so much.
Hi Courtney and Krista
I’m in a pretty similar boat – I keep questioning “is it OCD or do I just not love my partner?”
What you have both said – “It loves to ask me “is this really ocd? or is this just how you REALLY feel?” What ive learned is that real feelings do not generate anxious feelings, distress, make you feel distant, etc. etc. ” has given me some comfort in knowing other people go through this too and it doesn’t mean I don’t love my partner – if I didn’t love him, I wouldn’t WANT to be with him while I’m having these doubts.. I wouldn’t stay in a situation where I have all of these doubts and worries and feel horrible all the time – there must be something keeping me there… my love for him! 🙂
I feel so much better for getting that off my chest!
Sounds like textbook ROCD, including the doubt and denial.
i have been dealing with rocd on and off for the past 5 years. I also suffer from extreme anxiety and ocd since a child. I have had traumatic experiences as a child which is think is part of what led me to be the way I am. I do believe despite the incompatibility of my last relationship that rocd played a big part. Today I am with a wonderful man of almost 4 years and my rocd is sky high due to the fact of getting ready to buy a house and get married. I know I love him with all my heart and I couldn’t imagine my life with anybody else but I live with doubt everyday. This article really helped me and made me feel a lot better about this debilitating disease. I only hope one day I can recover from this and lead a normal life.
I’ve been diagnosed with OCD (Pure O) and depression before and I’m finally in a relationship with someone I like. Of course it had come back to haunt me. I get thoughts 24/7 about if he’s the one for me considering our religious differences. I know that is a large difference but relationships go on constantly despite that. Example being my parents. And I just can’t seem to let it go, not even for a moment. I look at him and I cry. I can’t get the thoughts out of my head and I feel as if I am going to ruin our relationship. When just 5 days ago we were good and strong as ever.
I think many people can relate to your situation; the doubting often times ruins what would otherwise be a wonderful trip, date or outing with the ones we love.
It sounds like you have tried CBT in the past, but it is not clear what type of CBT your therapist was using. CBT for OCD focuses heavily on a specific intervention called xposure and Response Prevention (ERP). We have also seen with our clients that mindfulness training fits well with CBT and is a great help in reducing ROCD symptoms.
Please know that, with proper treatment, there is hope.
Yes you are completely correct – the OCD itself interferes with acceptance by repeatedly presenting doubts. In fact, many of the clients we work with doubt (even to the end of treatment) that they “actually have” OCD. Keeping in mind that OCD has traditionally been called “the doubting disease”, this makes complete sense. Ultimately, it is not our job to “know” with 100% certainty if our partners are right for us, and in fact, we really cannot “know”.
Thank you for sharing your struggle with us. I believe the constant indecision and mental torture is an experience many people can relate to.
Your struggle with the “rightness” or viability of your relationship sounds like it could be ROCD, however an assessment from a qualified mental health professional specializing in OCD would be the best way to gain clarity here. A diagnosis of OCD has a positive prognosis if treated with CBT focused on ERP and Mindfulness, and I encourage you to consider treatment so you can live a more fulfilling life with whomever you chose.
I’m so thrilled you found this post helpful and I’m also happy to hear you’re seeking treatment for your ROCD. You made a great point about self care in your post – OCD takes full advantage of days when we are not as well rested or not as emotionally secure to play mind games with us. It sounds like you are doing all that you can to work through your ROCD, and I think taking good care of one’s physical and emotional health, through exercise, meditation and relaxation time is a key part of the recovery process. I wish you the best of luck, take it one day at a time.
Thanks for commenting. ROCD can absolutely skyrocket during times of increased commitment. Purchasing a home together, meeting family, or getting engaged are times when ROCD frequently spikes. The more “committed” we become, the more our OCD fabricates doubt, and leads us to obsess about other possible options. It is only when we allow ourselves to accept the fact that no one person is “perfect” for us that we can begin to appreciate and feel the love we have.
I completely understand the frustration you must be feeling. To “know” intellectually that we are with a good person but to not be able to feel it is a very confusing part of ROCD. Also, OCD and depression frequently occur together, which can make the process of gaining peace all the more difficult.
We can never find a “perfect” partner (they don’t exist), and one must come to terms with what they are willing to accept in another person and then move on with the job of loving that person and enjoying the love they are receiving. OCD tries to get in the way of this, but with CBT focused on ERP and Mindfulness, you can overcome this issue and truly check into your relationship. Best of luck Jasmine.
My name is Sally and I have been suffering from ROCD and HOCD for about 4 months now and it’s awful. Can you further explain how to attempt Exposure and Response Therapy?
We will be publishing an article in the future specifically about ERP for ROCD.
Such a great article!
Have been suffering from ocd and rocd for quite a bit. I do CBT but still have my awfull moments.
Can be quite tough and this article describes it perfectly
Thanks Lorie – it’s always gratifying to hear that our articles resonate with people.
Hi i had this in my last relationship but never got help. I always doubted but I just said in my mind I would just stay because it was my choice. It actually ended without anxiety.
I have been single for 3 years and it doesn’t look like ocd really affected me again. However I’ve just got into something new and its hot full pelt again. It’ll go away for a couple of weeks and then comes back. I’ve spiked this time I think because we’ve booked a week away together and I’m scared I’ll freak out. Plus I know she really loves me and tells me this all the time which then makes me question every thing. I think about her all the time. I know I love her but this nagging feeling that I’m just leading her on and I have to break up with her gives me so much anxiety. It feels so real.
I’ve never been diagnosed I’ve always been too scared to see someone in case they ridicule me and I know rocd is not as well known by some psychologists. Do you recommend anyone in either Australia or England that I can see? I live in oz at the moment but will be moving back to be with her in England soon.
This article really nails how I feel. Even though I doubted that previous sentence
Your article was incredibly helpful and informative, and literally reading it (and a shorter, similar one) brought me to tears, and pushed me past a threshold of realizing that I need not be concerned with questions akin to “Is she really the one / do I really love her?”, and that facing uncertainty without feeling a need to reach towards a conclusion is vital to our relationship.
Also, I wanted to point out that you have a typo under “Impact on Relationships”. You wrote “Needles” instead of “Needless”. In most other instances I would tell myself to let it go, but this article is so great that I feel like it should be grammatically flawless. It probably shouldn’t come as a surprise that someone pointed it out. 😛
Thanks for your comment. It is always wonderful to hear that someone has found one of our articles to be helpful. You are absolutely right – if you accept uncertainty related to your unwanted thoughts, without compulsively seeking a conclusive response to it, your anxiety will diminish (and your relationship will be far less impacted).
And thank you for noting the typo, which has now been fixed. The article has been up for three months, and you are the first person to point it out to us. Take care.
My situation always seems to be a little bit different from the typical ROCD, in that I constantly worry about whether someone I like, or have an interest in, actually likes me, and this can also occur with friendships. I constantly feel the need to seek reassurance, to make sure that they actually do like me. If they say they will text me while out of town, for example, and they don’t, I start to obsess that it means that they aren’t actually my friend, or that they are purposefully ignoring me. The same thing can happen if I have seen that they have liked other friend’s statuses and pictures on Facebook or Instagram, but nothing of mine, and feel the need to check and see how many people’s things they have liked, to make sure I am not the only one, because I’m afraid it means that they don’t actually care about me, or aren’t actually my friend, etc.
I should also mention that I then start to obsess about how I might be a creepy stalker, because I will look at someone’s Facebook or Instagram page a lot, and get incredibly anxious about that.
Is this something that would fall under the realm of ROCD? It is definitely similar, because it is based in doubt that someone is actually my friend (and it’s way worse when I’m interested in someone romantically), and I want reassurance and certainty about the whole situation, but it never quite fits the descriptions I read.
As we noted in our article, “obsessions in ROCD focus entirely on doubts one has about their own feelings for their partner, and not on insecurities about whether their partner loves them in return. Insecurity is not ROCD.” So, from our perspective, insecurities about how others feel about you would not really be ROCD. That said, some people conceptualize ROCD to include when the sufferer has obsessional doubts about how others feel about them.
In any case, the checking and analyzing behaviors don’t seem to be improving your situation, so I encourage you to stop doing them. Your ultimate goal is to accept that some people may not like you very much (or at least not as much as you would like them to). That’s OK. I’m sure (really, I mean I am absolutely sure) that there are people who don’t particularly like me. That’s their prerogative.
There’s a wonderful saying that I believe is from AA and it goes something like this: “What other people think of me is none of my business”. I think that would be a good aphorism for you to keep in mind.
I dont know whether I have ROCD – this is a big concern for me on top of all the checking, reasurence-seeking and avoiding.
My thoughts revolve around whether I love him, whether I should be with him, If I should/must break up, if I am ruining his life etc etc. I dont enjoy sex anymore, my body has closed down, allways this nagging and pulsing feeling in my abdomen. It spreads to my whole body, it feels like I get SICK, heart rate imcreasing, nausea. When I think about the future I panick, I feel I dont want to live with him, be with him, have children, by a house etc. All these thoughts gives me tremendous anxiety. It is very hard not to think this is just me not so in to him anymore. We live together and I want this to end so that I can be happy with him instead of being tormented by these thoughts and extreme discomfort 90% of the days.
I read this article again and again, i keep on checking my current feelings for him and how I would feel if we bought a house together or had children etc. If my response is positive Im calm and happy, this happens maybe 5-10% of the time, but soon afterwards the nagging feeling I need to check comes over me again. I can’t stop it I do it constantly 4-500 times a day
I dont know whether I can take it anymore. I wish there where proofs/truth I had it.
We cannot provide you with “proof” or the “truth” about your thoughts – nobody can. That said, everything you write sounds like textbook ROCD.
When people without ROCD have repeated thoughts that they are “not that into him anymore”, they are not tormented. They simply come to the conclusion that they are no longer as interested as they used to be. Conversely, people with OCD are tortured by these thoughts precisely because the thoughts are counter to their feelings. Your torment is the strongest evidence there is that you have ROCD.
Your goal is to accept that your brain produces these intrusive thoughts, without doing compulsions. In other words, don’t repeatedly read this article, and don’t repeatedly check your feelings about him, about buying a house with him, and about having children with him. As you have already learned, this constant checking only provides short-term relief.
My boyfriend and I have been dating for a over a year.. We’ve been great together but I always felt something was wrong. When we decided to move in together or planned a trip abroad he kept delaying it.. Like he’s looking for reasons not to do it after being the one who suggested it. This indecisive attitude made me suspicious. So I read his journal. He was with a girl before who cheated on him and they were on and off for 3 years. He always says it was a depressing period that he really regrets. In his journal he keeps comparing our relationship to that one, me to her, he feels he’s using me to forget her, he’s lying to me, he mentally cheated on me, etc.. That’s why we can’t move forward. I faced him about it and called him a liar and cheater but he kept saying that’s absolutely not how he feels and he loves me. I tried to leave but he didn’t want to let me go and kept trying to convince me. He said he might have OCD that gives him those dark thoughts. So I googled it and saw people’s stories it all makes sense to me. He read those stories and cried and said he was ashamed to talk about it. It brought us closer but I still wonder, does he really have ROCD or did he mislead me?
Thank you for your comment. There is no way to assess your boyfriend via a blog comment from a third party (you). He may have OCD, or he may simply be dealing with the complicated feelings and issues we all experience in romantic relationships, including comparing a current lover to a past lover.
I live in Belgium and after years of classical psycho-therapeutic expériences that failed for my Relationship issues I’ve read an article in french about ROCD. It “relieved” me cause i felt less alone in that horrible discomfort of constant obsessions about checking the love i feel for my girlfriend and “the constant obsessive seeking of the “idealistic princess”, “the godess from space” , “the ultimate one”. I’ve found your article extremely interresting, that should be translated in french to inform people around here about this specific psychological trouble.
after pointing my illness It took me two years to realize that it was just not me thinking all these things in such an odd way. I realized i was trapped in spirales, mecanisms that i could avoid with a lot of work on myself. I started meditation and it still helps me to go through some of painful waves.
I know I need to do a CBT but I’m not sure that a lot of therapists are aware about ROCD (which have the same name in french). in Brussels or around. i’m even scared to be mocked if I talk about that…! Would be great to create a blog with contacts all over the world.
For a real love in a real world!
Thank you for your comment. We are glad to know that it has been of value to you.
As for creating a resource with contacts around the world, I encourage you to take a look at the “Links and Resources” page of our website, which lists OCD specialists, treatment centers, and advocacy organizations around the world.
Mine started out with intrusive thoughts that contradicted my feelings. Now after 6 months I anxiety, I don’t feel anything for my boyfriend and I don’t know how I feel anymore about the whole situation. I think I’ve developed depression. Does this still sound like ROCD?
We cannot provide a diagnosis via a blog comment, especially with so little information. That said, the symptoms you describe may indicate ROCD. If you are concerned about this issue (and it sounds like you are), I encourage you to have a formal assessment with a therapist who specializes in treating OCD. Take care.
I cant believe I’ve read this! I almost cried reading this article and feeling like every sentece writen can define all the feelings I’m having for over 3 years. I also think like Lomax – this should be translate to more languages.
I was working by myself for all this years without knowing it has a name (and a treatment!) and things like deconstructing romantic love, all this romantic stuff in movies, books etc (which is totally fake and absurd) helped me a lot… also try not to idealize partners… but sometimes things get harder and you just want to give up and finish the relationship, only to calm down all the thoughts and the 24/7 activity of the brain.
Thank you so much for this info 🙂
Thanks for your comments. It’s great to know our article has helped you to better understand what you are experiencing.
As for translation, we always encourage readers to use Google Translate. It is less than perfect, but it is a good start…
Thanks so much for this article. Are there any self help books that you would recommend on ROCD/HOCD?
I do not know of any books exclusively about ROCD or HOCD, but our book, The Mindfulness Workbook for OCD, has chapters to devoted to both.
What if you have all the symptoms of ROCD- but aren’t actually in a relationship with the person? I recently started to have a crush on this guy and can tell that he is interested too, but soon after we started to talk I suddenly became unsure and started to feel anxiety because I was unsure. I have been in two relationships in the past where I entered them unsure of my feelings (am unsure if those times were ROCD or not) and I am TERRIFIED of going through that again, of feeling alone in somebody’s arms and of having to hurt them.
This time seems different from those times in that I was actually sure that I liked this guy at first. I enjoy talking to him, but always go over and over how I felt afterwards until the anxiety overwhelms me. At this point I’m more interested in getting to know him than be in a relationship but I’m having to convince myself that that’s normal! It’s just a mess in my head and it’s taking away from the fun of having a new crush. 🙁
Doubt is a normal part of life and relationships. There is no reason that you or anyone needs to know how they feel with total certainty. Feelings are meant to be experienced, not analyzed. Besides, feelings are not somehow fixed in stone – they change all the time. If you have feelings for this guy, don’t analyze them, as the process of analysis will do nothing except to generate more doubt.
I encourage you to accept doubt and uncertainty, and to proceed in getting to know this guy further. That said, if you ultimately realize that he is not someone with whom you want to develop a deeper relationship, you can then end the relationship. If you avoid exploring possible relationships for fear of having doubts, you will be alone for a very long time.
My husband says he loves me but dosent trust me at all. He regularly checks on me asks me where I was, with whom I went, did I have sex with someone while he was not home. He does not let me carry a mobile calls me dirty names and says since I was married before to someone else and married him I will do the same again. He hits me if I try to prove my self right. I dont know how to handle this. I know he needs help and I think its genetic because his mother does the same to his father. Guide me. I love him and want to be with him always but not sure how long I can handle all this.
Your husband’s behavior does not in any way suggest ROCD – it suggests that he is paranoid, jealous, and controlling. And hitting you is not a sign of love – it is evidence of why you would be wise to divorce this man and get as far away from him as as possible. While that may seem difficult in the short term, you will be helping yourself in the long term.
Well, what can I say. I have been suffering with ROCD for a year with my current partner. I’m doubting everything. At my worst I couldn’t eat, and felt sick all the time. I had no idea why I was constantly obsessing about my own thoughts and feelings. I’ve always been a deep thinker, but this was something else.
I’m extremely thankful for your article. I now know I am not the only one suffering. ROCD has given me bad times and the anxiety becomes traumatic and overwhelming. Luckily I have an understanding and lovely boyfriend, who hasn’t left me because of my ROCD.
I am so glad that there is an actual diagnosis for how I have been feeling for a year now.
Do you know if there are any medical professionals in the UK with knowledge of ROCD? Any psychiatrists etc that I could get in contact with? I’m a bit far from the US you see, but would really like some support with my ROCD, as some CBT I had a few months back didn’t help that much!
THANK YOU SO SO MUCH for this article.
Thank you for your comments and your kind words. It is wonderful to hear that our article has helped you feel less alone with ROCD.
I have been working with my therapist for months as i have been experiencing similar worries but I could never understand why I felt this way. Just about everything i read here resonates with me and it is quite relieving to find that this is something that other people experience as well. Thanks for this article. A question for the administrator. If we want to seek help, should we go to an OCD specialist. Does it have to be a ROCD specialist specifically?
Thanks for your comments. It is great to hear that our article resonated so strongly for you.
The sad truth is that the most therapists are totally clueless about how to effectively treat OCD, and the great majority have never even heard of ROCD. I strongly encourage you to seek treatment with a therapist who specializes in the treatment of OCD.
Thank you for all you great articles and especially for the article regarding ROCD.
I have been suffering over a decade on and off from anxiety and OCD. I was officially diagnosed from CBT therapist.
After years i tried to do a couple of relationships but always i had intrusive thoughts if i like the girl, if i am attracted to her, if she was moral enough for me.
And now i found a very nice and sweet girl, who is very understanding, very patient and we have many common interests. However from the beginning despite that i found her interesting and sweet i had a spike because in some of her photographs i do not find her so attractive. I am panicked about that and i have all these 8 months constant thoughts about if i like her or not, there is no single day that i do not check her photographs, compare her with other girls on facebook or on the road. I care about her and sometimes when i am sober something inside me says not to lose her.
I experience now depression and i am always thinking if i am truly in love with her i would be happy, without anxiety and i have always have to find her beautiful. This time is very severe and i try not to lose my hope.
Thanks for your comment and kind words. It’s gratifying to know that our articles are helpful for you.
It is important to accept the existence of your unwanted thoughts, and to view them as a normal and expected part of your life. These thoughts are not likely to stop, and the best approach is to accept their existence without giving them any importance in your mind. They may be irritating, but they are not particularly important – they are just thoughts.
At the same time, it is crucial that you not do compulsions related to these thoughts. I am pretty confident that you could find photos of just about anyone in which they don’t look their best – even supermodels must have bad photos of them. So checking someone’s photos to gauge their attractiveness is not going to provide your with anything resembling objective “truth” about their attractiveness. Checking your girlfriend’s photos to see if you find her attractive and comparing her to other women are compulsions, and I encourage you to stop these types of behaviors. They will do nothing but make your ROCD worse.
Thank you for this article! It really seems to nail all that I’ve been feeling for the last several months. I’m 34, and I’ve been with my boyfriend on and off for over 1.5 years. Lately, things have been more serious: he’s talking about living together, marriage, etc., and I’m happy when I know that this is what he wants. In theory, I do to! But I have had doubts of the kind you describe from the very beginning. In all the checking and doubting, I have uncovered some real potential reasons for this sinking “it just isn’t right” feeling I have, but they’re all manageable little things I want to choose to live with. The problem is, I’m now overcome with anxiety and doubts most of the time, and I can’t tell if I have ROCD or am just in deep, deep, denial, that this relationship isn’t right for me. If I could make the doubts go away, I know I would enjoy a very loving relationship, but I just can’t shake them, because they feel so real! They have made it so hard for me to experience joy. I have had depression and similar doubts regarding career in the past, but otherwise no history of OCD. Is this really ROCD or just a fear of seeing the truth!?
You wrote: “If I could make the doubts go away, I know I would enjoy a very loving relationship, but I just can’t shake them, because they feel so real!” The fact that you can say that you would otherwise enjoy your relationship if it weren’t for the doubt suggests that this is ROCD. This type of obsessional doubt is central to all forms of OCD.
You also wrote that you “want to choose to live with” certain “manageable little things” about your boyfriend that you perceive as being less than ideal. Then that is what you should do. Accept the small things – after all, everybody has plenty of unlikeable characteristics and flaws. And accept that doubt is a normal part of OCD (and life in general).
I think my husband is suffering from hocd and rocd.
He spends hours every day to think about being gay or bisexual. He never had an affair with another man or even fell in love with a guy, althought he always is in fear, this might happen any day. He started to betray me with another woman, and explained to me in the first place, that he expected me to leave him because of this, so he could finally turn to men.
Meanwhile he is very caring towards me and our daughter, but is stressing constantly, that he doesn´t love me anymore and probably never ever has (that´s just not true, I got drawers crammed with old love letters and funny erotic drawings, showing him and me). He seems to be ill tempered to his new girlfriend, doesn´t want to move in with her and dislikes her children (one of them is a classmate of our daughter, which causes pain and annoyance among the children). I often think he is keeping up this affair to cause as much trouble to our relationship (which has no erotic component at the moment) as possible.
I still love him and try to convince him to seek treatment from a CBT therapist.
Did you ever hear from a rocd sufferer, who had an affair to damage his family?
People with OCD can employ all sorts of behaviors, including having affairs, in an attempt to manage and “test” their unwanted thoughts. It would not even remotely surprise me that an individual with ROCD and/or HOCD would have an affair in an effort to test their feelings for their partner.
That said, I am not comfortable making a diagnosis via a third party (you) on the internet. What I will say is that people with OCD can also have other issues, including infidelity, that have nothing to with their OCD. If your husband is maintaining an ongoing extramarital relationship despite the damage it is doing to your relationship and your children, then it seems to me that his possibly having OCD should not be your primary concern. The fact that he is having an ongoing affair doesn’t sound like he is just testing his feelings for you by seeing if he is sexually attracted to others – it sounds like he is cheating on you and doesn’t particularly care that he is hurting you and his children. So I encourage you to focus less on whether or not he has OCD, and more on whether you want to stay married to a man who so blithely hurts his you and your children.
Thank you for writing this article. It helps me understand more about my condition. I’ve been suffering from P-OCD since I was eight. It started with Harm-OCD in different forms and now when I’m 20 years old and together with my first boyfriend it has switched to ROCD. Problem is that in my country there is no information about OCD with mental rituals, just physical OCD when you for example wash your hands 50 times in order to feel clean. Because of this no therapist I’ve been to fully understood my problem, and because I don’t have any physical rituals it is taboo to diagnose me with OCD and therefore not taken as seriously. So, it’s been hard for me having this struggles and not finding the right treatment for my obsessions.
Now I’m in CBT and I think my therapist understand me, it feels like it anyway. I have a great interest for psychology and how the brain works in mysterious ways for some people 😉 and I’m eager to help people in the same situation. That has really helped me in my struggle. I’m very interested in why research on this area differ so much between countries, so thanks again for sharing! I hope therapists in my country will start talking about this issue.
It is extremely common for obsessions to “morph” occasionally, especially for those with the more obsessional forms of OCD that are often described as “Pure O”. Welcome to the wonderful world of OCD, in which the focus of one’s obsessions can change at the drop of a hat.
Unfortunately, as you have already learned, many mental health providers around the world (including here in the US) have the extremely limited and inaccurate belief that OCD is only about compulsive cleaning, checking, and arranging. As a result, many people struggling with variants of Pure O are unable to find effective help. After all, if the treatment provider doesn’t even recognize the symptoms, it is highly unlikely for them to be capable of providing effective treatment.
Hi, I am having panic attacks about my relationship and I get the feeling that they only way to stop the attacks is to leave my partner. 3 days ago we where fine and now I’m having doubts. Im scared to hell, because I moved across the world to make this work and now after 1 month I feel I’m throwing it all away. I just don’t understand how this can all happen in the space of 24 hours.
Unfortunately, it is not unusual for OCD symptoms to come out of nowhere and blindside people.
Being scared after moving across the world for a relationship is actually a pretty reasonable response. After all…you just moved across the world for someone, giving up all of the things that made your life what it was. This is a courageous, and scary, thing to do.
That said, throwing the relationship away quickly because you are experiencing anxiety would be a drastic over-reaction. A better solution would be to accept that you are experiencing normal doubts, and possibly ROCD doubts as well, and to not assume that these doubts automatically mean that you must flee. Allow yourself time to adapt to your new situation, including the uncomfortable anxiety-inducing doubts, and don’t over-react.
Thank you for this article. It’s good to know that I am not alone. I pretty much checked all the boxes for the Overt, Avoidant, Reassurance Seeking and Mental Compulsions minus just a few.
I have been dating a girl for 6 months and we are quite compatible and this has been one of the most enjoyable relationships I’ve been in. Some years ago, I dated a girl a few times who I felt could be ‘the one’ or better said, ‘the one’ that God wanted me to be with. There were certainly some things that I didn’t like- I wasn’t that attracted to her, our conversations weren’t that great and we didn’t have much in common. In each of my past 3 relationships (all fairly long term), thoughts about this girl would come up– mainly in the form of, ‘Was she really the one?’ ‘Should I really be with her?’ ‘What if I really liked her, but I just think I didn’t?’
I have actually shared some of this with the lady I’m with and she is willing to work with me through some of this. I’m afraid that these thoughts would keep coming up if I were married and also that even if I don’t get married, that I will continue to have relational failures because of them. Help!
Thanks for your comment.
These sorts of questions are extremely common in ROCD. That said, I think trying to resolve the matter by discussing your obsessions with your current partner has the potential to be disastrous for three reasons.
First of all, no matter how patient and understanding she is, your girlfriend is likely to have an emotional reaction to repeatedly hearing how some other woman may have been “the one”. Simply put, nobody wants to hear how someone else would be a better partner than them, and I would not be surprised at all if she were to eventually become quite upset by this discussion.
Second, these questions that your mind is generating cannot possibly be answered. There is no way to know with certainty who “the one” is. Love is not about having certainty, and seeking certainty in any way is a compulsive and counter-productive waste of time and energy.
Third, when you discuss these matters with your current girlfriend, you are actively doing a compulsion, which is likely to make matters worse. A better option would be to seek treatment with a therapist who specializes in
Great article ! Pity Internet didn’t exist (and consequently this accurate information on OCD and its ramifications) when I was a teenager, some fifty + years ago. Now it is useful for me because I have young adult sibling with OCD and most probably ROCD. However, a question arises: what is the most likely case of a young woman with ROCD who says that it is the man with whom she has a close relationship the one that expresses doubts about their relationship (what I would call Reverse Avoidance) and despite this insists om her love and despair about being unloved ?
Thank you for our comment.
If I understand you correctly, your sibling has ROCD and is involved with a man who may have ROCD also. If I am misinterpreting that, please let me know. If my interpretation is correct, it simply sounds like both of them have ROCD.
I’ve been tortured with feelings and thoughts of not being in the right relationship, that I have to break up even if I don’t want to (or do I?). For 14 months now. I’ve suffered from BDD and anorexia/bulimia before (still active in some ways) and I am now “diagnosed” with OCD. The thing is I think I’ve fooled them (psyhiatrist and psychologist) – I don’t know wether I even have any intrusive thoughts bc my doubting is produced from a “gut feeling” a lump in my stomach that produces thoughts telling me something is very very wrong and I need to LEAVE. If I didn’t have this lump/feeling Id be the happiest person bc my bf is amazing. I do alot of reassurenceseeking, I “check” how I would feel if I say got married, got pregnant, travelled with him etc etc. I almost allways have a negative response which hurts me so bad. But as I said no intrusive thoughts? I mean, I don’t WANT to have these thoughts, but I wouldn’t have them if it wasnt for the lump/gutfeeling/intuition or whatever. I cry all the time, seldom happy anymore, loads of meds. But I don’t feel as my thoughts are intruding from a separate universe. They must come from me – but I don’t want them to be true. Is this ROCD?
Don’t get too caught up in trying to discern whether you are having unwanted thoughts or unwanted “gut feelings”. Trying to distinguish between thoughts and feelings is an unnecessary, yet very common, aspect of OCD.
The fact that you are “tortured” by your unwanted thoughts/feelings strongly suggests that you have ROCD. And the fact that you are doing compulsive checking and reassurance seeking about your relationship furthers my belief that this is likely ROCD. Simply put, if you really wanted to leave your boyfriend, you wouldn’t think he is “amazing”, and you wouldn’t be tortured. You would just want to leave the relationship, without all of the compulsive checking and reassurance seeking and torture.
While meds are often a beneficial adjunct to treatment, the key to effective treatment is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), and I strongly encourage you to seek CBT with a therapist who specializes in treating OCD.
Also, how can you know if the thoughts are contradicting to your real feelings, because I FEEL these things (by the lump in my stomach), that maybe I don’t want to be with him, maybe I should be alone maybe I should LEAVE him today, I want to live alone, I want to end it etc. I don’t WANT to feel them, I want these feelings gone, they torture me night and day. I constantly dream bad dreams of me preparing to leave or finding someone else – allways with the same lump in my stomach present in the dream aswell as in daily life. I want them to go away I want to be with my boyfriend without the thoughts and feelings. This is why I think I’ve fooled them. That this isnt intrusive thoughts, just how I really feel and that Im in denial, false, ruining his life. I Love him (or do I?) and want to live in peace with him. Ever since this struck me over night on August 2nd 2014 I’ve been so sad, nausea, sometimes unable to eat, crying, feeling like I might aswell die etc etc. I’ve been in therapy for all this time and Im no better. Mindfulness every day, trying to descrese checking, reassurenceseeking etc. But it doesn’t work.
A few thoughts…
1) You can’t “know” if your unwanted thoughts are, or are not contradicting your “real” feelings. Humans don’t get to know with 100% certainty what is “real”. But the fact that you find these thoughts so tortuous is pretty good evidence that you actually have ROCD.
2) You say you want to be with your boyfriend, but without these thoughts. Of course you do, but that is an unrealistic expectation. We humans do not get to control what we think and feel.
3) You say therapy “doesn’t work”, but I have no idea what kind of therapy you are doing. “Mindfulness” is a fairly generic term, and even when properly used, it should be as a part of a structured program of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) focusing primarily on Exposure and Response Prevention (ERP). That said, it is not the therapy that needs to work, it is the individual with OCD who needs to do the work of therapy. While therapy is almost never easy, research has consistently found that ERP is the most effective approach to treating OCD. And that said, I think it is also important to note that your goal should not be to eradicate the thoughts, but rather to find an appropriate way to manage them and respond to them without taking them seriously and without doing compulsions.
Thanks for the article, it helps to know im not the only one. I live in constant fear of hurting anyone i may be with because of ROCD and doubts i get. Ive had everykind of ocd you can think of, handwashing, harm, eveything. But this one is starting to get worse. I used to fall head of heels for girls, but then a relationship i had that immediatly started with doubt because of a difference in religion(and i hadent been in a relationship for 4 years prior to that) messed me up completley. Or at least i think, because now anytime im with a girl i get doubt immediately because im worried if she is the one(as i initially thought the relationship that screwed me up was). Im currentley seeing a new girl and idk what to do. Im atracted to her and like but i wonder how much, i Its really hard to know the difference between the ocd and real feelings is my biggest problem i think. I feel like throwing up and cant eat. Idk if i should tell her my ocd story, Just break up with to tske the stress away or keep fighting and hope it works out. I dont wanna hurt her. Idk if were too diff. Also, i game, she doesnt, she drinks and smokes e cig i dont. We have other stuff in common tho. Any advice?
I’m not sure where you got the idea that you need to know “how much” you like/love someone. Simply put, there is absolutely no reason to quantify feelings, and attempting to do so is a compulsion that will make your obsessions much worse.
Likewise, breaking up with someone in order to “take the stress away” is an avoidant compulsion, and will also worsen your obsessions in the long run. And trying figure what is OCD and what are “real feelings” is a mental compulsion which will make things worse for you.
A better option is to accept that feelings of like/love are not concrete or fixed or definable. They are simply feelings to be experienced. Uncertainty is not the enemy – OCD is. If there are differences that truly matter to you (i.e., things like gaming, drinking, smoking, religion, etc.), then you may eventually need to evaluate whether they are important enough to end the relationship. But to have your choice based on OCD would set a precedent that would likely lead to long term relationship difficulties in the future.
This article does help me somewhat so i appreciate that i have found it.
i have a question for you and, despite the fact that it may sound crazy, i hope you tell me it sounds like ROCD.
I have been with my partner for 6 years now and before my first panic attack a year ago i never once questioned us and i knew i wanted to spend my life with him.
Since that date i have had somewhat constant unwanted thoughts about if i love him and if we are right together and now they have morphed into ‘what if i want to leave’
I don’t have the anxiety daily anymore, in fact its much rarer but the thoughts remain and i cannot stand them.
I cant tell if its just that i have got the anxiety under control or if the thoughts are actually true. i hope not.
I have been seeing a therapist who doesnt know much about ROCD and as im not even sure i have it i dont know how to move forward.
I want this relationship, i really really want to be with my partner and have no complaints about him.
the only thing that bothers me is my thoughts.
I get so upset that i ever question us when i used to be so confident in us.
i just hope that it is ROCD so i can learn to manage and move on from it.
First, everything you write sounds like classic ROCD.
Second, you say you are concerned that you still have these “constant unwanted thoughts”, but are concerned that they no longer make you anxious. Yet, you also write that you “cannot stand” these thoughts. That sounds like anxiety to me. Anxiety does not only manifest as panic attacks. And the fact that you are writing a comment on this this blog article further suggests that you are experiencing considerable anxiety about the thoughts. After all, if you were not upset and anxious about the thoughts, you would not care enough to write about how upset you are.
Third, if you are seeing a therapist who doesn’t know much about ROCD, you are likely wasting your time and money. Would you seek treatment for a broken arm from a doctor who doesn’t know much about broken arms? Of course not! I encourage you to seek treatment with a therapist who understands ROCD and has an extensive history of treating it with Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT).
Thank you so much for this article. Im not sure I have ROCD or am I just not in love with my partner anymore. This has been going on over a year with the anxiety recently back to the fore after having a baby 3 months ago. I’m with a great man but cant’ enjoy my relationship as intrusive thoughts keep telling me it’s over, break up, move out even though he was all I ever wanted before this all started when we were to get married and I started doubting.
I get palpitations and sick stomach daily because of my thoughts. For 8 yrs, I was so happy with him but this last year I constantly analyse how I feel around him, and check online for reassurance to get back loving feelings.
I was recently diagnosed with ocd. I am getting CBT but progress is slow. I even doubt if I have ocd!!! I just want my child to grow up with 2 loving parents together. I’m so distant with my partner yet love when we kiss or hug! He would be better off with someone else who isn’t so confused!! What do you think?
You asked what I think, so here goes…
Everything you have written sounds like a textbook case of ROCD. I have no idea who is providing you with CBT, but it is actually a fairly short-term approach to therapy. If you diligently do the assignments that your therapist should be giving you at every session, then you are likely to see significant gains within 4-6 months of once-a-week treatment. But if you don’t do the work, then progress will be slow or nonexistent. And if your therapist is not giving you assignments, then they likely have no idea what they are doing, and you will need a new therapist.
Hey there! My name is Brittney and I have been suffering from ROCD since I was 16 years old. I never told any of my previous partners about my issue because I was terrified they would not understand and leave me. Well, I am now with someone that really adores me and my ROCD is starting to really get me worked up. I really need some help with this because I so badly want to be happy with him.
I am not always miserable but often times I am stuck in my head. I have explained to him that I have ocd and that I am going to be getting help for it soon because I am tired of being depressed and anxious. He seems to be supportive of that.
The messed up thing about it is…when I am not into someone, I don’t give them the time of day. When I am really into someone, things are amazing until I start to get an attachment to the person…once that happens my ROCD kicks in and I start doubting “do I really like him?” “do I really want to be with him?” “why do I like him?” things of that nature. PLEASE help! I need some assurance. I used to spend hours online looking for explanations of what love is and what it is like to be in a relationship that healthy…I need help.
You said it perfectly – you often times get stuck in your head. This is a perfect description of OCD. And analyzing your thoughts and feelings in an effort to get assurance that you like your boyfriend is a perfect example of a mental compulsion that will only make things worse.
Your goal is to accept that, because you have ROCD, your brain will continue to manufacture questions about your feelings and your relationship. Instead of engaging with those questions, I encourage you to let them sit unanswered in your head, and to instead get on with the business of being in a relationship. These questions do not require answers, and attempting to answer them will just make you miserable.
If you continue to struggle with these doubts, I encourage you to seek treatment with a theorist who specializes in treating OCD.
I’m pretty sure I have ROCD. I had a random thought in the middle of the night a few months ago (after half a year of being madly in love with my amazing boyfriend, thinking about him all the time and daydreaming about getting engaged) that I didn’t love him anymore and that feeling of being “in love” hasn’t come back since. Even when I feel calm-ish it still doesn’t come back. Just thinking about it makes me sad.
Some days I get really depressed. When I see him I just feel miserable because I miss what we had. I don’t want to love anyone else but I don’t know if that “in love” feeling is ever going to come back. I’ve tried being content with just a spiritual feeling rather than a feeling of love but I’m still so young and he’s still so chemically in love with me that I’m finding it hard. Even when we’re having fun together and I don’t feel so anxious the feeling doesn’t seem to be there. I’ve had only 30 second sparks where I’ve truly felt back in love but they’ve been every week or so and that’s not a lot to go on. I’m worried that isn’t rocd because I can’t ever seem to get that “in love” feeling back even when I’m happy. And sometimes I am happy and that worries me. I don’t want to be happy without us.
That feeling of being “in love” is probably better described as infatuation. And while that feeling is quite wonderful, I think it is unrealistic to expect that it will last forever. It is completely normal for that feeling to diminish over time, and it doesn’t mean that you don’t love your boyfriend. It means you have moved beyond the early stage of a relationship, and that you now have an opportunity to develop a deeper level of intimacy.
Analyzing your feelings will not help you. A better alternative is to accept that feelings are fleeting by nature, and to focus on enjoying what you do have, instead of over-focusing on what you don’t have. I am confident that if you allow yourself to enjoy your boyfriend instead of analyzing your feelings, you will find that a deeper, more meaningful relationship is possible.
Hey! I’ve experienced ROCD in all of my relationships I’ve had, however HOCD has always been the main issue within my current relationship. Recently I moved to uni, and my boyfriend is also in the same city. The start of uni was hard as i obsessed whether he still loved me and wanted me due to my own insecurities, but never questioned my feelings for him- i have actually distinctively felt more love and happiness for him the past month.
However, last weekend something triggered in my head, and following that we had a pretty nasty argument, which we sorted out, but which has sparked my ROCD. I suddenly feel very numb, distant and don’t really feel anything? This then turns into obsessive thoughts and feelings like that i don’t want to be with him.. and then i really try to analyse my feelings and in doing so, i feel even less? Our situation is perfect, things are balanced really well, yet i can’t shift this feeling of fear of not wanting to be with him? I’m scared i don’t have ROCD and its real.. then i suddenly question whether i even feel anxious? When i tell him about my doubts, i just feel inconsolable. I just want this to go and be how i was almost a week ago!.. or do i?! AH HELP!
I think it is pretty normal to feel somewhat distant from one’s partner after having a major argument. The problem here is not the emotional distance you are feeling, but your over-analysis of that distance.
My suggestion is that you accept that feelings are not constant, that they change all the time, and to stop analyzing any unwanted feelings you experience. I also encourage you to not discuss your concerns about your feelings with your boyfriend, as doing so is likely an effort on your part to resolve your discomfort. A better solution would be to accept that you are uncomfortable, and to not seek a resolution (which will come in due time if you are patient).
I met a girl through friends about a year ago. I am a 20 year old girl, and I’ve been dealing with homophobic parents as well.
I knew when I saw my now partner of 11 months that there was something really special. I knew I loved her but was really scared, and after about 3 months, we told each other we loved each other. From that moment on I can’t stop having doubts if she is “the one” and if this is right. I’ve read many blogs that say “if you doubt it, or if something doesn’t feel right, break it off”. But i don’t get any relief from these. I’ve thought that I am in denial, but after reading your article, I feel like it describes me the most.
I suffer from anxiety and I’ve had a hard time in college (I’m a junior) from day one. only now I am seeking therapy and feeling like i can make sense of my thoughts. i was wondering if anyone can relate to the “this doesn’t feel quite right” feeling? except that deep down i know it is right, and i want to be with her more than anything. it’s like my doubts and thoughts are fueling this feeling, and not my heart. when i look at her, my heart melts because i am so in love. i can’t stop these doubts, and i was wondering if this could be ROCD.
Everything you write sounds like textbook ROCD. That feeling of “this doesn’t feel quite right” is extremely common in those with ROCD.
Young love can be scary for many people, as the idea of making a commitment to someone can feel overwhelming. And the fact that your parents are homophobic doesn’t help matters, as you have likely been subjected to an onslaught of messages that gay love is not acceptable. It may be possible that the homophobia you have experienced in your own home has perhaps added a layer to your doubts.
Additionally, it is worth noting that, just because you have read blogs that say “if something doesn’t feel right, break it off” means nothing. You can find blogs that say just about anything! And blogs that make blanket statements that “if something doesn’t feel right, break it off” have almost certainly been written by people with absolutely no understanding of ROCD.
I encourage you to accept your doubts as the price of having ROCD and having a relationship. While this situation may be less than ideal, it doesn’t need to be catastrophic. Just accept the presence of the thoughts without viewing them as meaningful or accurate. Think of them as mental static, and get on with loving your girlfriend.
Great article. I’ve come to realise I’ll never have 100 percent certainty regarding the issues that bother me in my relationship. However, my anxiety has been a direct response to things my partner said and did. It had not been an issue previously in life.
The relationship was beautiful and smooth for a long time, until I discovered something she had done behind my back. Something she had numerous chances to address and even played down. I felt I was deceived about specific actions she took and I have been hurt by attitudes she used to direct towards me and regarding certain events. This made me question her motives for certain behaviour, with me and with others. Still, I accept not everyone would get anxious.
I display some of the behaviours listed above; I question if my love for her is real if I was deceived about who she is and so I search for certainty about who she is. I ruminate over conversations and events, then feel guilt about causing her emotional pain when I express anxiety.
Recently, something else came out that was questionable at the very least and ran contrary to core ideas I had about her, based on strong behaviours she displayed. Thank you.
Having ROCD does not inoculate someone from choosing a partner who is dishonest. Someone can have ROCD and be in a relationship with a person who acts badly.
However, not all doubts about partners are ROCD, and you have offered limited evidence that you have ROCD. As you noted, your anxiety is in direct response to specific things your partner has done that you find problematic and dishonest, and you did not have these doubts prior to your partner acting badly.
When a person acts badly, it is quite reasonable to question whether or not you want that person in your life. Of course, if someone has ROCD and has a dishonest partner, the decision to continue or end a relationship may be more difficult. But again, I fail to see any concrete evidence of ROCD in your comments. I see evidence of you very reasonably doubting the character of your dishonest partner, and wondering about whether you want to stay with her.
Only you can decide what is acceptable to you. I encourage you to ask yourself a simple question: would someone without ROCD generally still be upset with your partner’s behavior. If the answer is “yes”, then you have to decide if that behavior is significant enough to merit ending the relationship.
This article has really struck a chord with me, thank you. I have been suffering from what I believe to be ROCD for a year now. I am constantly over analyzing our relationship since the first day I felt nothing for him when I tried to initiate sex – do I love him? Why don’t I feel anything for him? Why am I not sexually attracted anymore? I felt so much love for my boyfriend in the beginning and knew I wanted to have a future with him. When I think of that future now I have a knot in my stomach and cry everytime I think about how I don’t want that no more. I tried to break up when this all started but was back with him a few days later, I couldn’t leave him and I didn’t have any actual reason to break up apart from I ‘didn’t feel anything towards him’. This has been a heartbreaking experience and has consumed me altogether. I feel like I need to break up but get upset at the thought of it, like a greater power is controlling all this. I am trying not to tell my boyfriend how i feel anymore as i feel i am mainly looking for reassurance now that i do love him and we will be okay. Does this sound like ROCD?
Yes all of this sounds like ROCD.
Feelings are not set in concrete – they change all the time. Analyzing your feelings in an attempt to verify that you still love your boyfriend will not provide the peace you are looking for. Instead, conceptualize love as a choice one makes, rather than a feeling one experiences.
Also, discussing your doubts with your boyfriend likely is an attempt at seeking reassurance, which is also doomed to failure. Furthermore, it is a good way to upset one’s partner – nobody wants to hear on a regular basis that their partner is doubting that they love them.
I have had this form of OCD in the past with my ex-boyfriend. Now I need to know if this is a form as well.
You see I have occasionally been dating a friend casually. But there is this other friend who liked me when we were in high school that I felt bad about turning him down the way I did. So I decided to try for him. I thought it was a good idea at first then immediately regretted it because I did not feel comfortable. I told him as much and even he said it didn’t spark either.
For a while I obsessed over it then got over it since I still like this other guy. But the thoughts keep dragging me back to the one I wasn’t comfortable with. Doesn’t help the sexual fantasies I had in the past about him. But I did that about my girl friends as well and I don’t obsess about that. I worry about being around him because it’ll be awkward and what if it brings thoughts I don’t want. I regret trying because now it’s these damn thoughts that won’t go away. Leaving them there seems to help sometimes but not always.
Is it normal in ROCD to obsess about someone you do not want romantically?
This does not sound like ROCD. It sounds like you are somewhat interested in him, but not enough to have a real relationship. Generally speaking, ROCD occurs when a person is in a serious intimate relationship with someone, but is plagued by unwanted thoughts that they don’t really love that person. I am not hearing that in your comment.
Not all relationship doubts are evidence of ROCD. It is quite normal to have doubts about your feelings for people, especially those for whom you have some interest, but not enough to proceed with a more intimate relationship. I suspect many (most?) people can name at least one person from their past who they liked and still think about, but who they just didn’t like enough to proceed with a relationship.
All that being said, it sounds like you have had ROCD in the past, so perhaps you are more prone to doubting your feelings. In any case, your goal should be to accept that you have these doubts about this guy, without assuming they mean anything important.
Hi 🙂 my name is carlos. I am in a two year relationship now, and i am 20 years old. I loved your article because now i don’t feel alone and i strongly think i have ROCD. Everything was normal with my partner until 6 months ago. I cheated him, not physically, but it was still a betrayal. I felt so bad because i figured that i didn’t want anybody except him. I loved him, how could i do something like that? He forgave me, but after that i started feeling guilty and ruminating, got a depression. Two months ago i started thinking ‘well, if you did that it means you actually want to be with other people and see other pastures’ I know its silly to think like that. A mistake does not define me, but these thoughts appear out of a sudden in my head, they rip me from the inside. I am always thinking that i want to have sex with other people, that i dont love my partner, that he doenst attract me. And im afraid of regretting being with him and not ‘living the life’ with a lot of people so i can feel fulfilled. I cant focus on school or even on having fun with family or friends. So my question is, do you think this is ROCD?
While I cannot provide a diagnosis via this blog, I can say that feelings that you don’t love your partner, that you don’t find him attractive, and that you regret being with him, all sound very much like typical ROCD thoughts. But it is important to note that there is nothing unusual in finding people other than your partner attractive and thinking about sex with them. It is unrealistic to expect yourself to never have these types of thoughts. Having a monogamous relationship means choosing not to be sexually / romantically involved with other people, but it does not mean that you will never have thoughts of sex with other people. In monogamy, the issue is not what you think, but rather what you choose to do.
That said, only you can decide what kind of life you want. If you want monogamy, you will almost certainly need to accept the presence of inevitable thoughts about sex with others. Conversely, if you want to have sex with others, then you will need to accept that you are not really interested in living a monogamous lifestyle. There is no one “right” way to live one’s romantic / sexual life. It is a choice you need to make for yourself.
2 years ago I ended a long term relationship with a woman that I was in love with. On the surface it was perfect, but something inside kept telling me “no”.
Finally I broke it off. I was single then for 2 years, having a few casual relationships, but always with this fear in the back of my head that I would ruin something if it went further.
Then the fear of not knowing whether I was straight or gay kicked in. It began by thinking “why would I end a perfectly happy relationship?” At first I told myself it was because I am driven by work. Then, that I am just not able to be in relationships. Finally, I concluded I must not like women. I must have repressed this and been conditioned.
At this point I started building a case. I dress too well. I don’t like sports. I am sensitive. But then I would think, okay, I have never been sexually attracted to men so was this repressed?
I have started seeing someone. From the beginning I have been plagued with doubt and anxiety. Hating myself for not feeling enough, and questioning everything. I was on the point of ending the relationship when I came across this article and your articles about HOCD. I have always just taken it as something different about me and never considered it was actually treatable or even an illness.
It is quite common for people who have ROCD to also have HOCD (and vice-versa).
Unwanted thoughts about sex with people of the same gender does not make one gay. Likewise, emotional sensitivity, not liking sports, and dressing well do not make one gay, nor are they the sole province of women and gay men. The defining characteristic of homosexuality is actually quite simple – having (or genuinely desiring) sex and/or romantic relationships with people of the same gender.
Both ROCD and HOCD are quite treatable. If these issues continue to plague you, then I encourage you to seek out treatment with a therapist who specializes in treating OCD.
I recently found this article when looking up doubting relationships. I have suffered from OCD and anxiety for as long as I can remember. I love my boyfriend dearly and he is my best friend. My OCD about our relationship has been everything from I am worried I am not attracted to him to what if he is not the one for me. It makes me physically ill to think about and is constantly on my mind recently.
A couple of years ago my OCD got so bad that I broke up with him because I was convinced I did not love him anymore. We are now back together but the thoughts still haunt me. When I am with him I cannot relax because I am constantly worried. I often feel guilty for having a good time with him because I worry I am leading him on. It is hard to constantly doubt my relationship. It is something I know that I have to determine but I feel like I cannot see clearly. We had talked about getting engaged soon but I cannot imagine getting engaged with these horrible thoughts going on, it would feel like a lie and I am worried I will not be happy and that it will trigger more anxiety. Please help.
You wrote numerous things in your comment that are classic ROCD obsessions, including:
~ “I am worried I am not attracted to him”.
~ “What if he is not the one for me”.
~ “I worry I am leading him on”.
~ “It would feel like a lie” if you became engaged to him.
The problem is not these thoughts per se, but rather your viewing them as important and meaningful. OCD is really nothing more than an individual over-valuing and over-responding to the weird thoughts that pop into just about everybody’s head.
You also noted that your relationship doubt “is something I know that I have to determine but I feel like I cannot see clearly”. Actually, I would argue that your attempts to “determine” what these thoughts mean and how you really feel are the problem.
Your goal should be to accept the presence of these and any thoughts that your brain produces, without assuming they mean something important, and without reacting to them. They are just cognitive static that requires no response on your part.
this article really helped me especially in my situiation with my boyfriend who has OCD. We have the same age , but we’re very far from each other. He’s korean and I’m Filipino. We havent met yet but we have plans to meet this year. We know people might judge us because od the relationship we have but what important for me is I definitely love him and I know he feels the same way too. However these days we have some fights because he’s asking me to marry him which is a very serious matter because for me, we need time to knoe each other first. He said he understands me as long as I am willing to marry him , and I said yed but we need to settle all things first. However, one day he brought up the topic again and he wanted to break up with me and he’s now saying that he doesnt love me anymore. I love him so much that I’m willing to give him everything but why is he letting me go? He’s saying that I’m too good for him that I can find a better man without OCD. That we’re so different and we fight a lot. That even our 4 hour conversation for me is a FIGHT for him. Help me. I want him, I really like and love him but how can I hold in our relationship if he’s pushing me…
It is important to note that people who have OCD can also have other issues that are not necessarily part of their OCD. For example, one can have OCD and also be an alcoholic or a drug addict.
Your boyfriend may have OCD, but the behaviors you are noting here do not sound like OCD – they sound like examples of an immature guy who has ridiculous demands from a woman he has never met, and when those demands are not met, he gets upset and says he doesn’t love you anymore. That’s not OCD – that’s being a jerk.
His pressuring you to marry him when you have never even met him is a HUGE issue that indicates the potential for HUGE problems ahead if you marry him under pressure. You should not even consider marrying this man until you have spent considerable time getting to know him face to face.
I have a different style of ROCD. I have partner focused ROCD where I view my partners sexual history as a reflection on my own self worth. It is completely irrational at totally OCD but has been the focus of my life for the last 8 years. For example a woman will tell me that she has had sex with X amount of men. Then I will picture her having sex with this many men and wonder how many men other peoples wives have had sex. And compare my partner to them. I will ask myself how could I be with a woman that has had sex with that many men and what type of man does that make me. If the woman never tells me how many men she has had sex with, I will fill in the blanks and still obsess with her sexual history. My obsessive thoughts have two components. One is the yuck factor of picturing my partner having sex with other men. The other is the self esteem factor that by having sex with other men, my partner is a less valuable mate and therefore it is a blow to myself worth.
Its been a tough mental illness to deal with and I have broken up with some very remarkable women as a result of it.
There is nothing unique or different about your specific obsessions. All ROCD comes down to having obsessive thoughts about one’s relationship and partner. For you (and many others) those thoughts focus on your partner’s sexual history as evidence that the relationship is not OK.
It is worth noting that part of the issue for you appears to be your over-valuing your partner’s sexual history. Simply put, your partner’s sexual history is not your business, and yours is not her business. What she did before meeting you is her life, and it has nothing to do with you or your worth. I encourage you to challenge this irrational idea that your worth is in any way based on your partner’s sexual history.
Finally, allow me to note that breaking up with someone due to your obsessional thoughts is a perfect example of a compulsion. And as you can see, in the long run, this compulsion has not worked – the obsessions merely re-appeared in your later relationships. A better solution would be to not ask your partners about their sexual history, and accept the unknown.
I don’t have anything huge to say except, like many others, this article came as a huge relief to me as well. I’ve been physically ill with panicked, obsessive thinking about my feelings for my partner (exactly as this article described) for about three weeks now. It coincides with both of us graduating from school and bringing our relationship into this next (wildly uncertain) phase of our lives. I’ve been really sick with panic. As I wake up, there is a moment where I don’t remember anything, and then he is the first thing I think about and with him comes all of the doubt and fear. It breaks into every morning and makes it so hard to think clearly. I lost the ability to concentrate on anything else because these intrusive thoughts are so urgent — they need to be addressed, because they directly undercut this thing that I value so so so dearly. I’ve been lost in a haze of concern about this. It’s made it hard to eat and to sleep. I can’t focus on my work, either. I can’t focus on anything. Thank you. Reading this (and all the comments) has brought me my first calm in weeks.
You say that “these intrusive thoughts are so urgent — they need to be addressed”, but I disagree. In fact, these thoughts are just thoughts, and your effort to address these thoughts is the real problem. The thoughts may feel urgent and important, but they are nothing but mental static.
Nobody gets to know with certainty if their relationship / partner is “the right one”…nor do they need to know. I have been with the same woman for the past nine years, and I love her deeply. But I have no certainty that I will love her tomorrow (or that she will love me). My love is a choice I make to commit myself to her, not just some indescribable “feeling” over which I have no control.
I encourage you to value your partner, not your feelings of love or certainty or things being “right”. Behavior is far more important than feelings, and how you behaviorally live out your valuing of your partner is the real measure of your relationship.
For the past 5 years or so, every relationship I have been in (there have been 4), I’ve had a sudden feeling of “this isn’t right” with a depression that comes along with it. I wrestle with this, and eventually, my feelings shut off and I break up. Prior to those 5 years, I got my heart broken a lot and was broke up with a lot. I’m in a relationship now, and we had a big infatuation stage. Now we live together and are expecting a son in June. I don’t so much have anxiety anymore, as this overwhelming feeling of being “over it”. But then I have connection again. This is a consistent pattern. In the beginning, it was classic OCD. Now it’s coming and going of feelings and wondering if I’m really “in love”. It’s been an obsession that the “right guy” will take this all away. But since it’s happened in my current relationship, it shows me it’s me. I think? What about numbness and depression? Does this accompany OCD?? Also, I hVe been a consistent worrier my whole life. And fixated on obsessions outside the relationship when I’m not in one.
The fact that you have been fixated on other obsessions when you have not been in a relationship strongly suggests that you have OCD, and that ROCD is just the most potent manifestation of OCD for you. But it is still just a form of OCD that can be managed using the same tools as any other type of OCD, specifically, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) with a focus on Exposure and Response Prevention (ERP).
That said, it is important to keep in mind that nobody gets to “know” if a relationship or partner is “right”. But four relationships over a five year period, all with the same pattern of obsessing that the relationship / partner “isn’t right”, is a pretty good indicator that the problem is not the partner or relationship, but rather the ROCD.
It is also worth noting that “infatuation” is not the same as love. Infatuation is just a feeling, while love is an action that one can choose (even after the infatuation period has passed). When you say that you are “over it”, I say “great, now the real work of real intimacy with a real person can begin”. Infatuation feels incredibly intoxicating, but if you spend your life pursuing that feeling, you will merely bounce in and out of relationships, as that feeling will invariably fade, leaving you bereft.
And yes, numbness and depression sometimes accompany OCD, but they also sometimes accompany life.
Very very accurate report on ROCD, I know it’s a bit of a double edged sword but I tend
To reassure myself by researching ROCD to try ground myself in understanding that this
100% what it is and to not allow myself to get disheartened, and this is the best article I
I also have to add how refreshing it is to read something that seems to finish with a constructive
“happy ending” on treatment, which is not easy to find considering it’s a fairly unknown subject!
I myself have gone to a therapist who specializes in CBT and other therapies but is still doing talk
therapy, and thinks this is a problem from my past. I really don’t think she understands what this is
and passes it as anxiety from something else manifesting as fear in my new relationship.
All I know is I am all of the above, and my current boyfriend has been the most important thing
To me so far, that’s why this is so distressing as I feel like I’m in a bubble with a completely different
Hopefully I will be able to let this go before it destroys the best thing that ever happened to me
Thank you for an uplifting read.
Thank you for your kind words. It is gratifying to know that you find our article helpful.
That said, I want to encourage you to stop researching and reading articles about ROCD. As you note, this is a form a reassurance seeking, which will only make things worse. Your goal is to accept the uncertainty and anxiety that accompanies your unwanted doubts, without looking for ways to ameliorate your discomfort.
Finally, allow me to note that, if your therapist claims to specialize in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), but she focuses on exploring your past with traditional talk therapy, then she is not a CBT specialist. Exploring your past will not alleviate ROCD and is a waste of your time and money.
Thank you for your reply, yes I can see its becoming a problem, although i dont check as much cause im starting to be able to relax again and sometimes it eases right off and i am now so much more cuddly and conected again then comes back in very sly ways. I have been put on sertraline which has eased the intensity and I am realising more and more whats going on but I constantly feel distorted, as soon as I feel better i think we maybe I’m too young, is this what I wanted, are we just friends, feel scared I’m going to cheat??! It’s just the common crazy doubts its just hard not too reassure myself when I feel like I don’t know what love is exactly anymore and I don’t know how to cope with it. It’s like since this started I’m a completely different person.
I had a feeling that was the case, I think a lot of my past, my personality (being a perfectionist), my views on relationships and my last horrific relationship has not helped what so ever and I can see all the building blocks to how this happened but just talking about the past isn’t helping me. I have spoken to my doctor an she’s got me waiting to see a free therapist that is much more suitable.
A few thoughts…
1) You wrote that you “don’t know what love is exactly”, and I immediately chuckled. Who on earth knows “exactly” what love is? That said, one thing I am sure it is not is some magical feeling of a crush. That’s just infatuation.
2) I’m not sure what you think you are “too young” for. Love (and ROCD) can strike pretty much anytime.
3) As noted above, talking about your past will not help. You need to seek treatment with someone who actually specializes in treating OCD.
What if your partner has said, they think they have ROCD but has now broken up with you again and won’t gt help. Do you have any advice or information for the partner of someone that seems to have ROCD? Is it normal for them to say that’s what it is and then take it all back?
My advice for dealing with a partner with ROCD, who acknowledges their ROCD, who repeatedly breaks up with you, and yet refuses to get help for their ROCD is simple – you need to decide if you are willing to continue being on an emotional roller coaster. Only you can make that decision. But so long as your partner does not seek help, they are likely to continue with this cycle of breaking up with you, retracting the break up, and then breaking up with you again. Unfortunately, this is quite normal in ROCD.
I am in the same situation but he does not know about ROCD. How can I break the news to him without him getting upset? He breaks up with me but never let go completely and I know he is a good man with a lot internal conflicts. I found this article and He fits the profile perfectly! I would like to help him and us. If he does not take conscience of his ROCD then I will need to let go.
As you and countless others have learned, it is quite difficult to be the partner of someone with ROCD. My suggestion to you is the same as that which I gave to Joey – if your partner is able to see the issue, but unwilling to get help, then you need to focus on taking care of yourself. As for discussing the matter with him, I would focus more on presenting him with your concerns, and less on “breaking the news to him” that the has a problem. If he gets upset rather than openly discussing the matter, then it may be time to let go and move on.
Oh my goodness! I read this article and immediately felt relief. I am in a long distance relationship with an amazing partner.. He has all the qualities I want in a partner and it seemed like from one night to the other I developed rocd. Thoughts like, “what if I don’t really love him? If I’m thinking that I don’t love him, I must not. You should break up with him but ugh i don’t want to! Are we compatible? Is he the ONE? How do I know if we’re compatible and if he’s the one?” I know I’m 21 and I’m pretty young to be struggling with this but it takes up all of my thoughts every single day to the point where when I’m with him, I’m checking up on how I feel when we kiss, when he hugs me, when he makes me laugh and I’m constantly thinking, “what if it isn’t rocd and what if I really don’t love him and I’m in denial?” These thoughts give me so much anxiety and the only thing that helps is reading articles like these (temporarily) I refuse to end things when my judgement is clouded by this horrible anxiety. I live in Tallahassee, Fl and I want to see someone about this. Thanks so much for this article!!
Everything you write is classic ROCD, specifically your thoughts like:
~ “What if I don’t really love him?”
~ “If I’m thinking that I don’t love him, I must not.”
~ “I should break up with him but I don’t want to!”
~ “Are we compatible?”
~ “Is he the one?”
~ “How do I know if we’re compatible and if he’s the one?”
~ “What if it isn’t ROCD and what if I really don’t love him and I’m in denial?”
These questions are just typical ROCD doubts, and they do not require an answer. And there is absolutely no way for anyone to find a 100% certain answer to any of these questions. So step number one is to stop trying to find an answer to these questions.
It is also important that you stop compulsively monitoring and checking how you feel about your boyfriend. Again, there is no need to “know” with 100% certainty how you feel, and the idea that you must “know” is just an ROCD lie.
When you have these thoughts, your job is to accept their presence in your mind without taking them seriously and without trying to find an answer.
Hi Tom! Thank you for your response I really appreciate it. My goal is to accept the thoughts and just let them be. I desperately want to break free from this anxiety because I do not want it to ruin something so good.. I was so sure of spending the rest of my life with him before this anxiety hit. It’s like it completely clouds my judgement and makes me forget all the good things about us.. it’s a healthy and loving relationship. Thanks for your help! I will look into it.
I have read this article for about 20 times now. I think I have all symptoms of ROCD. Questions that constantly pop-up are ‘Do I really love her?’, ‘Am I 100% certain she is the one?’, ‘Am I sure I have OCD or am I in the wrong relationship’? ‘We’ve had some fights in the 9 years you’ve been together and you have been annoyed by her: maybe you simply don’t belong together’, ‘Do you really want to spend the rest of your life with her or are you simply affraid to break-up?’. These questions have haunted me for more than 6 months now. I have been with two therapists that have diagnosed me straight with OCD. My dear girlfriend (she is a great person and supported me all these months) and I have recently decided to get married and yet I still feel anxiety on a daily basis and get haunted by thoughts all the time. I have to reassure myself that I love her, that I have OCD and that we will be fine more than 50 times a day. How do I know it is ego-dystonic? I want to get rid of this anxiety and enjoy my relationship, life and engagement. My current therapist is specialized in OCD , but I think I need some hardcore exposure. Do you have any advice for me?
All of the thoughts you mention are textbook ROCD thoughts. That said, I see a number of ways that you could better manage these thoughts.
1) You mention that you “want to get rid of this anxiety”. I think a better goal would be to accept that you have these thoughts and that they make you anxious. They are not going to magically disappear, so it is better to make peace with them. Paradoxically, by accepting the presence of these unwanted thoughts and the anxiety they cause, you will likely be less anxious.
2) You say you have read our ROCD article about 20 times, and that sounds like compulsive reassurance-seeking to me. I think that when you re-read the article you are trying to get assurance that you actually have ROCD, and that the thoughts are ego-dystonic. I suggest that you refrain from reading the article.
3) Similarly, you note that you try to reassure yourself 50 times a day that you love her. This is a compulsion that will make your ROCD worse in the long-run.
4) You have a therapist who specializes in OCD, and if you want more exposure therapy, then I encourage you to discuss that desire with your therapist. If your therapist truly specializes in treating OCD, they should be doing exposure therapy anyway, and if they aren’t doing so, then you need a new therapist.
Hi, thanks for this article. have been diagnosed with rocd a few months ago but for the last few days, have been back to square 1. am confused with this ego-dystonic notion as well. I am not clear at all on my true feelings for my partner or i might be actually v clear: i feel nothing but anxiety and annoyance with very affirmative thoughts such as “i don’t love him”. Yet, this is clearly not what i want. I want to love him. I want to be happy with him. I want the feelings back.
“Ego-dystonic” simply means that a thought is counter to one’s true values and desires. You say you have the thought “I don’t love him” which annoys you and makes you anxious. You also say that this thought is “clearly not what I want”. This sounds like a perfect example of an ego-dystonic thought to me.
Thanks a lot for your answer. I have another question actually. I focus a lot on his flaws and on the thought that I don’t love him. When I have those thoughts (most of the day), I feel quite certain that I don’t love him. This is why I am always a bit confused when I read about “uncertainty” because I don’t feel any uncertainty!! my obsessions are not questions but affirmations! I am obsessed by the fact that I don’t love him and I hate that. I want to love him.
When I get those thoughts, my compulsions are to read compulsively tons of articles on OCD. But when I try to stop giving in to the compulsions, I feel quite low and depressed.
I probably should apply more mindfulness techniques such as “am having the thought that XXX, yep, maybe” and then do something I enjoy/focus on something else (without ignoring it but just to avoid the numbness). What do you think?
You say that you are certain that don’t love your partner. But it sounds to me like you vacillate between feeling certain that you do not love him, and moments in which you either have doubts, or feel that you do love him. If you were 100% certain that you don’t love him, I am guessing that you would have left him by now.
Also, this is the fourth time you have posted a comment on this article, which sounds to me like a compulsive quest for certainty about whether you love him or not. If you were consistently certain that you do not love him, you would not feel compelled to repeatedly read this article (and by your own admission, lots of other OCD articles), and to post comments about your feelings towards your partner.
A more effective response to your situation would be to seek treatment with a therapist who specializes in treating OCD with Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT).
Hi,I believe I’m suffering from ROCD as I have a lot of the symptoms described above(but I haven’t been diagnosed yet). I’ve been dating my boyfriend for 5 months and I began doubting 4 months ago. We’re in a long distance relationship so it doesn’t make things easier. I’ve also suffered from other forms of OCD in the past. Anyways,I decided that I was going to ignore my doubts and it helped me.But there’s something that’s bothering me. I’m 19,and before we began dating, I was crazy about him and I thought he didn’t want me back,but when he finally told me that he wanted a relationship with me, we kissed for the first time (it was my first kiss too),and I suddenly became very hesitant about dating him. I couldn’t know why, was it because I just liked the chase, or because I just wanted what I couldn’t have?My sister encouraged me to date him so I gave it a shot. One week after, I felt comfortable and all these intense feelings came back. I love him and I’m happy with him and happy that I accepted to be with him. But what if the reason I was hesitant at first is because it was my intuition telling me not to date him? I hope it’s not the case but I’m so scared. Can you give me some clarity? Thank you
Everything you write sounds like textbook ROCD. It is worth noting that you have never been in a relationship before (you said this was your first kiss), so you really don’t have enough prior experience to know what to expect from a relationship. The simple truth is that a certain amount of uncertainty is pretty much the norm in relationships, especially in the beginning stages of a relationship. As you have seen, your feelings are not static, but instead change a fair amount. This is normal, and it doesn’t mean that you don’t care for your boyfriend. It is also worth noting that long-distance relationships can be difficult even for those with a lot of dating experience.
You are spending a lot of time analyzing your feelings in an attempt to find “clarity”. But feelings are not like math, and you are unlikely to find clarity. Furthermore, you don’t need clarity. We don’t need to “know” how we feel, we just need to experience our feelings. Accept your feelings of uncertainty as being “normal”, and don’t assume that these feelings are evidence that you need to stop dating your boyfriend.
Hello and thank you for your article.
I would appreciate your help as I don’t know what is happening to me. It all started like a regular ROCD (idea of the one, intrusive thoughts “I don’t love her”, questions “what makes her the one?” and lots of non-stop analysis with anxiety). But now it is something different. Anxiety transformed at some point into resentment, I thought that she is fat, ugly, evil, selfish and capricious baby, that I resent and despise her. I couldn’t understand whether it’s OCD or I really despise her. I got over that and became more or less calm, understanding that I love her. Now I keep thinking about her physical imperfections (she is a bit obese, got long nose etc.) and can’t accept them. I keep thinking, that there are lots of girls more beautiful and hotter that her. I came across instagram of some model and I keep thinking ” she is so gorgeous and sexy, my girlfriend will never be like her and will never turn me on like her. Why do I love her and can’t have smth like this?” It’s like I’m losing contact with reality and keep having “crushes” on someone else. But I love her and hate my self. What is wrong with me?
Of course you find a model attractive…she’s a model. Her job is to be attractive.
That said, ROCD does not exist in a vacuum – it is a part of your life, and the rest of your life goes on, including finding other women attractive. Finding other women attractive (especially models) is completely normal. I suspect that the men dating beautiful models also find other women attractive. I also suspect your girlfriend finds other men attractive. All of this is normal.
This normal attraction to a model you saw on the internet intersects with ROCD when you assume this attraction means that you don’t love your girlfriend. The first step in better managing this issue is to stop comparing your girlfriend to models. Unless you are as attractive and successful as Tom Brady, you probably won’t benefit by expecting your girlfriend to be as hot as Giselle Bundchen. I further encourage you to stop looking at models on the internet, as this will only exacerbate your obsession. I also think you would be wise to accept that you have thoughts about your girlfriend not being attractive enough, thin enough, sexy enough, etc., and to not take these thoughts to mean so much.
The bottom line is this – stop looking for perfection. If you love your girlfriend and she loves you, then you have something precious that should not be undervalued. Focus on what you have, not what you don’t have.
Tom, thank you for your reply.
I do realise how irrational I am and how stupid I sound when one looks at my thoughts. Still I am a perfectionist and I can’t get over it. I am now losing the concept of “the one” (or not bringing it up in the first place) and getting the concept of “the perfect girl” which this model seems to be for now. And I feel like I am obsessed with her, watching her pictures, not getting enough of it and can’t cope with it, I can’t help comparing, can’t find any advantages of my beloved, and I feel somehow disgusted and guilty at the same time. It is not okay to love one woman and be sexually obsessed with another.
I feel like I want perfection, something I can’t get. I also can’t accept the thought that I may want someone more than my beloved one. So that’s what gets me.
You say that you can’t see any advantage of your girlfriend over the Instagram model. But there is one very clear advantage – your girlfriend is actually a part of your life, while the model is just some fantasy girl you have only seen online.
You also say you “can’t help” comparing your real life girlfriend to the fantasy model that you have never met nor spoken to, which suggests that you believe you are unable to do anything about this issue. But I disagree – you can do something that is quite simple – you can stop looking at this model online.
Your looking at this model (and any other online models) is compulsive. I encourage you to stop checking out online models and instead put that time and energy into your real life relationship with your girlfriend. You are not powerless. You are the one making the choice to compulsively look at the online model, and you are the one who can make an alternative choice.
I cried reading this article. I obsess all day long with thoughts of “is he the one”. I do personality tests and compatibility tests etc. It’s insane. The reality is I am very happy around this man. We have so much fun together. The thoughts increased right before we moved in and then even more after engagement. I obsess whether I am in love with him. I obsess to the point that I feel stressed about it constantly. I read articles about what is love vs. in love. I watch movies and cry because those people are so damn sure about love. I feel like a fraud whenever people ask me about my engagement (happened two weeks ago). I honestly think he is the best man in the world for me so why do I obsess to the point I feel like breaking up with him to save him from me. On the outside no one would know. Inside I feel like I am having a mental breakdown.
In my past relationship I obsessed about breaking up with the guy. The obsession was just as intense as it is now but it’s a different topic.
My dad gets obsessed with plans. He drives my mom insane with it. Waking her up in the middle of the night etc. I think I got that from him.
A few thoughts…
You note that you obsessed about breaking up with a different boyfriend in the past, but that this is somehow “different”. It doesn’t sound particularly different – it sounds like a minor variation of the same theme.
As you note, your symptoms worsened when you moved in together. Perhaps the obsession is stronger this time because the stakes are higher – this relationship has moved into a more serious phase (moving in together, and now becoming engaged), and we have seen that people with ROCD often see a spike in their symptoms when their relationship becomes more serious.
You note that you are taking compatibility tests and reading articles about love. These sound like compulsions, and they are likely worsening your OCD. I encourage you to stop these compulsions. You will gain nothing but misery if you try to find certainty about your feelings. You do not need certainty – you need to accept that these unwanted thoughts pop into your mind, and to not take them so seriously.
There is no evidence that these thoughts are an accurate measure of your love. Love is an action, not just a thought or a feeling. I encourage you to love your fiancé, despite these unwanted thoughts and feelings.
I been struggling with ROCD for the past year. I been looking at a lot of articles, but I have one question. I do not want to live my life like this anymore. Wether I stay with my partner or not, I do not want this happening to me in the future with whoever I am with. So I am seeking in consulting a therapist specialized in ROCD, but before I waste all my money I want to know if ROCD is curable ? Will it ever go away and does CBT really help treat and cure my disorder.
There is no “cure” for ROCD or any form of OCD. After all, OCD at it’s core is really just about thinking, and there is no “cure” for thinking.
The good news is that you don’t need a cure – you just need to learn how react differently to your thoughts. The goal of treatment is to learn how to better manage your unwanted thoughts by changing your behavioral response to them. And yes, ROCD can be very effectively managed to the point where it is virtually a non-issue in one’s life.
I’ve always had a bit of a habit on becoming OBSESSED with a thought once there is not an absolute value or solution. Such as, where would this career path take me, religion questions, and now relationship. I am just someone who no matter how happy will come up with a, “but what IF this is not who I am supposed to be with.” This person doesn’t match up with criteria a, b, and c I thought I had before dating them. Doesn’t this mean this shouldn’t work out? These types of questions.
So much of what was written above hit the nail right on the head. Especially the extreme guilt of having doubts in the first place. It’s hard to tell the difference between legitimate ones and those made up by the imagination.
My relationship is very serious, marriage discussed, which makes the feelings more intense. It feels as though these thoughts should dissipate once at this point, but as the article discussed, I guess that is not true.
I’m looking into talking to someone but in the meantime do you feel as though this is something I should share with my partner? Is it too much to expect them to understand? Shoe on the other foot it would concern me.
I’m glad to hear that our article resonated so much for you. And the fact that it did strongly suggests that you have ROCD. As for whether you should discuss this with your partner, the only answer I can give is that there is no way for me to know how your partner would respond. If your partner has a very good understanding of OCD, then perhaps he/she would be able to handle the information with compassion and support. However, if your partner is not particularly savvy about OCD, then he/she may not be able to manage the information and may mistakenly think you are saying that you truly do not want to be with him/her. If that is the case, then I encourage you to focus on getting treatment for OCD prior to making any attempt to discuss ROCD with your partner.
Thanks a lot for the article. I began dating my girlfriend 4 months ago (long distance relationship, we’ve known each other for 12 years) and she constantly finds herself doubting our relationship. Unlike me, she has never said “I love you” but she has said things like “I really like you”, “You melt my heart”, etc., as if she was looking for euphemisms.
Sometimes, she wakes up saying how she misses me, than 3 hours later tells me how it could be better if we broke up. Then I convince her it is totally irrational and she agrees with me but may fall into the same cycle again hours later. Sometimes she talks about how practically all relationships are doomed to failure and how “3 years later, you may think otherwise about me”.
She has told me from the get-go that she had emotional issues, and I said I was OK with it and I’ve learnt to realize when it’s not really “she” talking to me. So I don’t know whether her doubts are a sign of ROCD or just show that she’s doubtful about having to make commitments (such as moving) before I can ‘prove’ to her that it is for real (and I can’t really ‘prove’ this to her when we’re 800 miles apart). Is it too small of a sample size to say she’s ‘obsessed’?
I cannot provide a diagnosis on the basis of a third-party (you) report via a blog comment. That said, the symptoms you describe suggest that your girlfriend may have ROCD. Of course it may also be true that she just isn’t that into you. Regardless, I think it would be unwise to continue trying to convince her how irrational she is or that the relationship is “for real”.
If your girlfriend wants help with her issues, she should enter into therapy. The question you need to ask yourself is whether or not you want to continue your relationship with her. That is something only you can answer.
This is me in a nutshell. Thank you for posting this. I am learning about my OCD and did not realize this was a subcategory. Im so relieved, if that makes sense. I just suffered through 4 days of, “I should leave my husband” and I knew it was unreasonable, but could not shake it. Im also having him read this as well to help him understand. Poor guy, but he sticks with me through it all. He is amazing, and I know it. I will be looking further into this and cannot wait to start work on my brain. Im learning about my own behaviors and what have actually been compulsions. Thank you again for providing insight on this.
While I cannot provide a diagnosis via this blog comment, I can say that the symptoms you describe are consistent with ROCD. I’m glad to hear that our article has been helpful for you in better understanding your symptoms.
It sounds like you are considering treatment, and if so, I want to strongly encourage you to see the help of a therapist who specializes in treating OCD with Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), which has consistently been found by researchers to be the most effective treatment for OCD. Take care.
This is me all the way. I don’t want any of the thoughts. Very disturbing. I’ve had rocd for about 2 years. It’s awful. And just started getting symptoms of hocd. Which I dislike even more. It’s completely against what I’ve ever thought so I know it’s not real but dang the anxiety and nauseating feelings associated with these thoughts are terrible.
It is actually quite common for people with ROCD to also have HOCD. In these cases, the HOCD seems to be a natural extension of the ROCD. So when the the person who is already doubting their love for their partner suddenly has an unwanted gay thought, the person thinks “Oh that makes perfect sense – no wonder I have been doubting my love, because I am secretly gay!” Of course this is all just another manifestation of the obsessional doubt that underlies all forms of OCD.
That’s what my psychologist tells me as well. That my OCD is feeding off of my fears. Thank you very much for this response. I fear losing my bf because I know I truly love him but OCD is getting in the way, and I’ve always been with men, I’ve never wanted any type of relationship with a women. I think the HOCD started because I’m an actress and am around a lot of gays and lesbians. I just want to be happy with my bf and just live in the moment like at the beginning of the relationship. I found out I was adopted after 24 years, so all of these doubts and fears started a month or 2 after I found out. I think that also plays another huge role in doubts. What I’ve known my whole life was hidden from me. I’m trying hard to cope but the anxiety is crippling.
I encourage you to avoid efforts at figuring out why you are having these thoughts. Being around gay people, being adopted, and/or having your adoption hidden from you do not cause OCD. Everybody has these types of thoughts. What makes the thoughts part of OCD is when the sufferer takes the thoughts seriously and tries to get rid of them. Accept their existence, don’t take them seriously, and don’t try to control them. They are just weird thoughts.
OCD is the worst disease I’ve ever dealt with. It makes me question every single thing anymore. I know I love my bf but with Rocd it breaks my heart when I get these thoughts. Before all this started I was so in love and wanted to spend my life with him. Then bam just started and causes crippling anxiety with these thoughts all day Long. I hate them so much. And having hocd with it makes it even worse. It makes me sick sometimes. Wondering why I ever worry about this when it’s never been a thought in my mind before.
I have just started therapy and a new medicine. I’d rather die then have OCD some days. PS not saying suicidal just to wake up and not have this or exist anymore. I try hard to get through this. Some days are ok, but most are horrible. Especially when I’m alone I think all day. Chest pains, anxiety, nausea, not sleeping, throat tightens up. I’m sick of the questioning. Now I feel like I just live in a fog. I know they are just thoughts but I feel like they are so real. It’s hard to determine and once I get into the thought it’s hard to sit and let it go. I want them
Out so bad like everyone who has OCD. Well I’m sorry for the long story. Thanks for responding! God bless.
You say that you know you love your boyfriend and that you know the OCD thoughts are just thoughts. I encourage you to remind your self (in a non-compulsive way) of those two things when the obsessions hit, and to avoid doing compulsive behaviors in an effort to reduce your anxiety. They are just thoughts.
You have just started therapy and a new medication. This is a great start (so long as your therapist truly understands and specializes in CBT for the treatment of OCD. Do the work and you will see results.
mine has gotten so bad I’m starting to BELIEVE I dont love him! Even though I was really happy when we got engaged etc, but about a month afterwards these doubts started. At the start I was panicking and crying a lot and atm I feel like I have no emotion because its taken its toll on me. I wanna believe I love him because hes so good to me, can you begin to blank your emotions and believe the ROCD after a while? I just want to be happy again and I can feel within me that I DONT want to leave him.
Of course you are starting to believe you don’t love your partner – that is the fundamental obsession in ROCD. All forms of OCD are about obsessional doubt, and with ROCD the doubt focuses on whether or not the sufferer truly loves their partner. I strongly encourage you to seek treatment with a therapist who specializes in treating OCD.
Hi! I was very moved by your article… I am the partner of one i suspect to be ROCD… he was diagnosed having anxiety trouble. After a divorce, went to a depression and was taking anti depressive pills. That said, we met a couple of month ago and we live 2h away from each other and few time i understood it was bugging him…But it was perfect !!! we where talking all the time, having fun, discovered we have so many things and friends in commun. Finaly we introduce each other to our friends and relatives, and he even introduce me to his 5 years old little boy… He was telling me he was so comfortable with me. that i have everything he was looking for in a girl, even telling me we should live together… then out of sudden he is distant.. and cancel our week end saying he is experiencing doubts about us, about his feeling towards me.. What a unexpected turn. Knowing his path i start looking up about anxiety/love troubles and find ROCD. i sent him the paper and he can totaly recognize himself… What i want to know is, how can I, as a partner, hold his hand through this whitout crushing my heart and protect our relationship…. thank you so much for your answer.
There is no way I can provide you with a legitimate diagnosis of your boyfriend on the basis of your third-party report via a blog comment. While the scenario you describe certainly could indicate ROCD, it could also be that your boyfriend simply does not want to continue the relationship at the level of intensity you had come to expect. It is also worth noting that many people without ROCD get cold feet when a relationship starts getting serious.
I encourage you to back off completely and see if he attempts to make contact. If not, then you would be best served by walking away. And if he does re-approach you, then I encourage you to be very clear in what you want in the relationship. Your needs matter too, and if he can’t meet them (either because of ROCD or intimacy issues or just plain not being that into you), then you will need to simply get on with your life without him.
Thank you! This article explains a lot about me. It made me happy to know my problem and that I’m not alone, but sad because I know I have a mental problem. Not only have I doubted every relationship I’ve ever been in, I also have simultaneously sought other relationships to see how good the next one could be. (This thrill of the chase and a new potential partner to validate my attractiveness is itself addictive.) I often scrutinize physical attributes to the point it suddenly makes me feel like I don’t love her anymore. I keep from getting too close because I’m afraid I’ll want to break up soon and I’ll ruin her life by breaking her heart. Add to this the feeling that a woman is wrong for “real” reasons, like religion, age or cultural background in ways my family and friends won’t approve of and I just can’t go all in on a relationship to follow a path in life. It depresses me because I feel like a bad person always thinking there’s somebody better that I should be with. Few women want to be with me anyway. Because I’m not sure I can overcome this, I’ve become paralyzed in indecision always wanting the situation opposite of what I have. Should I ever even be in a relationship?
Scrutinizing the physical attributes of your partner is a compulsion that will not help. Besides, even supermodels have flaws.
Avoiding getting emotionally close to women you date for fear that you will want to break up with them is a also a compulsion.
You would be better off accepting that you have obsessional doubts about your relationship, and letting those doubts exist without trying to alleviate them. Doubt cannot hurt you – uncertainty is not a threat.
BTW, religion, age, cultural background, and approval by friends and family are not “real” reasons to go “all in” on a relationship. These are completely subjective reasons that strike me as nonsense. I have been with a woman with a different religion and cultural background for the past nine years, and it has been a far more loving and stable relationship than any of my prior relationships that were with women from backgrounds similar to my own. There is nothing objectively accurate about the idea that these are “real” reasons to end a relationship. And if your friends and family object to your choice of partner, that is their problem, not yours.
Very well written article. I feel like I have been struggling with rocd on and off for the past three years. I got married a few months ago, and the rocd really hit me a few months before the wedding. I thought it would go away, but it hasn’t. I have always suffered with anxiety/panic attacks and being a perfectionist my whole life. I went back on anxiety medication (I wasn’t on it before the wedding and really should have been) and it seems to help with the anxiety and panic when I am hit with the thoughts of do I love my husband, did I make a mistake marrying him, was there someone else out there I should have married, is there something missing in our marriage, etc. Even though the thoughts don’t send me into a panic as much as before, I almost feel like I am starting to believe these thoughts and I feel so bad about it. My husband is the best and healthiest relationship I have ever had. I was in a verbally and emotionally abusive relationship for four years before meeting my husband, where I never felt like I was good enough. Do you know if past trauma from a relationship can cause rocd? Do you think I have rocd?
I don’t know of any research supporting the idea that past relationship trauma would “cause” ROCD. On the other hand, we have had many clients whose personal experiences have favored their OCD, and I can envision the possibility that your OCD could be flavored by your experiences.
That said, I don’t think it does you one bit of good looking for why you have these thoughts. They are very typical ROCD thoughts, and you likely have them because you have OCD. Rather than trying to figure out why, you would be better served by seeking treatment with a therapist who specializes in CBT for OCD.
Thanks very much for this article. Very recognizable and hard not to reread every time I feel bad and have doubts.
Besides therapy, what would you advice I can do on a daily basis, when I enter this weird place in my mind again? Take a rest? Seek out company with friends? Talk to my partner about my feelings? Not talk to my partner?
Sometimes I just don’t know what to do with myself on these moments.
thanks, from The Netherlands
The best advice I can give you is to accept the existence of your unwanted thoughts without taking them so seriously, and without doing any compulsive or avoidant behaviors in an effort to lessen your anxiety. “Taking a rest” sounds a lot like avoiding reality by shutting your self off from the world. As for seeking out friends, I say a resounding “yes”, so long as you don’t use socializing as an opportunity to seek reassurance from friends that you actually do love your partner. The bottom line is that you should live your life as you would live it if you did not have ROCD.
I am so extremely thankful for this article being written. It is one of the best articles I have read about ROCD and the reality of the disorder. This is the article I shared with my boyfriend when I wanted him to become aware of what I go through on a daily basis. We just started dating, and I have had the same nagging doubts since the second day we spent time together. They have continued until almost two months later, but I keep going back to him, because I know deep down I love him. He is the only guy that I have never been terrified to commit to. Sometimes I feel really alone, because I do not share much with what I am going through with the disorder with him. It is too early in the relationship for me to want to detriment it in that way. The only thing I can say is that I am happy that I have finally been given the drive I need to search out help and that he did not judge me when I shared this with him.
Thanks for your comment and for your kind words. It’s great to hear that one of our articles has been so helpful.
Unfortunately, ROCD often worsens when one’s relationship becomes deeper or when significant relationship markers are experienced (i.e., meeting a partner’s parents, getting engaged, etc.). For many, the greater the stakes, the more pronounced the ROCD. So in a way, your increased symptoms are a good sign in that they suggest that your relationship is becoming more important to you. I doubt you would have much ROCD with a casual fling which held little importance to you.
I encourage you to stay with your boyfriend and let yourself experience your discomfort without over-reacting to it, because as you note, you know deep down that you love him. Take care.
Hi! I think my rocd is getting better, but by getting better and disappearing, it is as if my thoughts are there, but not panic, I can think quietly sometimes than I dont love him anymore. I recognize myself in the article that is really helpful (sorry, I’m French,I hope you understand). 1 year ago I left my boyfriend (I was totally in depression) I had a lot to do for myself, a lot of problems to solve. during one year I experienced a real emotional marathon and I exceeded some fears and anxieties. Since christmass I am in a new relationship with the lover I left. the panic started again, the two first weeks were horrible: “I do not love him” “I’m a monster to be returned to him” …and so on
We plan to make a trip to Thailand next month, but I can not take tickets: I am afraid to realize that I do not love him, I am afraid to feel bored with him… but as I said, I overcame other OCD (fear of being homosexual, afraid to hurt my nieces), so, maybe I’m also getting cured from ROCD (thanks to my therapist), so I have the intrusive thoughts but no more the panic with it.
But this is a new fear because I tell myself that if I do not panic, the thought are true 🙁 I feel so sad..help
Not having extreme anxiety related to unwanted thoughts does not mean that the thoughts are “true” or “accurate” – it simply means that you have not learned how to respond to unwanted thoughts without panicking.
It sounds like you have had other variants of OCD in the past, specifically HOCD and Harm OCD, and that therapy has helped you. My best advice is that you return to (or continue with) therapy. There is no reason to reinvent the wheel – do what you have already seen is effective.
I was diagnosed with OCD, specifically HOCD about 7 years ago. I received treatment and experienced dramatic relief in symptoms but then moved to a different state, where my therapist could no longer treat me because of insurance/ liability reasons. Since then the nature of my OCD has morphed entirely to ROCD themes, which I had also worked on with my therapist before we ended treatment. I know the tools I should use to help myself, but I can’t bring myself to use them because I still feel compelled to hear from a professional that my relationship worries are in fact ROCD. I search the internet regularly for articles about ROCD to diagnose/ reassure myself, read descriptions from sufferers to see if they perfectly fit my own, ask family members for their opinions, etc. I had bad experiences with therapists before I found the wonderful Dr. I worked with and I’m afraid to seek treatment where I live now because I fear that they won’t really understand OCD and will tell me I’m gay and/ or that this relationship isn’t right.
A few thoughts…
1) You experienced “dramatic results” in the past, so I encourage you to find a new therapist in the state in which you live. You can find a searchable database of OCD specialists at http://www.iocdf.org.
2) That said, you do not need a professional therapist to confirm your thoughts are related to ROCD. Your past therapist already did that.
3) Searching the web for articles about ROCD, reading ROCD descriptions looking for a “perfect fit” with your symptoms, and asking for reassurance from friends and family are all compulsions that only make things worse in the long run.
4) You know what to do, and I encourage you to do it. If you are unable to do it alone, you owe it to your self to seek help with a specialist, which your own experience has shown can help dramatically.
Ever since I went to a psychic, I have had all of these thoughts. Last year a psychic told me that I had to break up with my boyfriend, or the relationship would go sour. She said that my soulmate was waiting for me. I was hysterical, but got past it to a certain degree. However, the last couple of months it is all I can think about. Was she right? I know I love my boyfriend, I have been with him for three years! We have a future together, we have plans. But whenever I think about the psychic I feel like someone is stomping on my chest and I can’t breathe. It is the first thing I think about in the morning, and when I go to sleep.
I’m not sure why you would base your life decisions on the advice of a psychic. Simply put, psychics are con artists out to steal your money. You would be far better served by seeking the assistance of a therapist who specializes in evidence-based, empirically-supported treatment, specifically Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT).
I see so much of myself in this article. Deep down I know that I love my boyfriend and want to be with him always THEN the endless thoughts start, could I love him forever, so many relationship fail why would we work. Are we strong enough, am I interesting enough, will I bore him to death. I compare us and myself to others and even wonder what his relationship was like with his ex; he’s shown his intention to marry but I wonder if I’m good enough. Is it true love? What is true love? Is he the one? What is the one supposed to feel like? Love seems easy but the relationship part confusing and doubt-filled. I’m missing out on such a great part of our relationship because of my obsessive nature and seeking perfection. Feel sick to the stomach at times and always have responses to our conversations practiced in my mind, it’s like a circus in my head. Help!
Much of what you write sounds like classic ROCD. You have all of these questions swirling around in your head, and the trick is to let them exist without trying to answer them. Nobody can provide you with answers to these questions because there are no answers – nobody can provide you with a definitive answer about what love is or what it should feel like or whether your boyfriend is “the one”.
I think you would be well served by seeking the counsel of a therapist who specializes in treating OCD with Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). I also encourage you to address the self-esteem issues that are clear in your comment, specifically your thoughts about whether you are good enough, or interesting enough, and thinking you will “bore him to death”.
I’ve been looking online which is a horrible idea! So my boyfriend and I have been dating for 7 months and lately I’ve had some insecurities with the relationship but we have talked about it and are working through it. This was last week so I’ve already been confused about the relationship and today he told me he has to go away for 7 months for work (which we knew was a possibility). I got upset and starting worrying about whether we could make it or if we’d grow apart etc. He made me feel more comfortable with the idea and reassured me that we would make it work and would fly back and forth. I was feeling ok about it. I went to talk to my therapist and told her about my worries and she said what if you’re the one who doesnt miss him and my mind went nuts. Now for the past 4 days, my mind has been thinking maybe I dont love him or maybe we should break up. I know I dont want to and I don’t want these feelings. I feel numb and like my mind is foggy. It feels like I’m convincing myself I dont love him and I wo’t even miss him or care hes even leaving. Could him leaving trigger this and I dont want to break up, I know I love him. is this something I can get through without breaking up
A few thoughts,
1) Relationship insecurities are completely normal. I’ve yet to see a relationship in which neither party experienced some doubts at some point in time.
2) Just because your therapy suggested the possibility that you may not miss your boyfriend very much does not mean that this is what will happen. All she suggested was a possibility. Many things may happen. There is no way to know what the future will bring other than to live your life.
3) Just because you are experiencing uncomfortable thoughts doesn’t mean you don’t love your boyfriend. You are simply experiencing thoughts.
4) Even if you have doubts, why does that mean you would need to break up with your boyfriend? Doubts are a part of life.
Your goal is to accept that your brain produces doubts, and to move forward with your life without over-reacting to them.
Hi,last summer I fell in love and a month later we started a relationship. After 2 months I started hesitating about my feelings. Of course, that fantastic person did have things I appreciate less. But in my mind everything changed. It was like: If only my partner had not have x, then he would be the perfect partner. I was thinking all the time. I said myself: you have to love everything of him. I couldn’t eat, sleep and work. When I was not with him I was having those intrusive thoughts. But later I was checking my feelings when he was with me. I thought I could fall in love with other, so I was checking my feelings with other men. Than the panics started. One moment I feel love and ten minutes later I didn’t feel. I went to a therapist and he adviced to take some time. Than I thought : do I miss my boyfriend. And I thought I didn’t, so than the relation is not ok. So I broke the relationship. Now, 3 months later I don’t understand it. Was it just a question of lost feelings or due to the ROCD? I can’t say I miss very much the person, because I was so nervous and really sick en ill all the time. He still loves me. What do I have to do? This happened also in other relationships.
I don’t know where you got the idea that you are supposed to love everything about your partner. Every human on the planet has traits or quirks or moods that would annoy you at one time or another. Likewise, your idea that your partner should be “perfect” is a recipe for dissatisfaction. Nobody is perfect.
My suggestion is that you stop analyzing your feelings, and instead choose to simply experience them. Feelings are innately unstable – one can feel profound love for their partner on Tuesday afternoon, and feel much less lovingly toward their partner on Tuesday night. It would be completely unnatural to walk around feeling profound, perfect love 24 hours a day.
You indicate that this pattern has occurred for you in other relationships, which suggests that you have ROCD. The good news is that this is treatable. I encourage you to seek treatment with a at therapist who specializes in treating OCD.
This brought me some relief but I’m still a bit confused. I’ve been with my bf for awhile and everything was great. Then one night I got a thought “you don’t love him, this is all just forced”, then I had what I believe to be a panic attack and started shaking and wanting to cry. I didn’t even want him to touch me. I started thorwing up when I got home. It was terrifying. Now for over a year in always wondering if he’s the one, if I even love him. Some days I feel like I totally do. Other days I’m depressed and feel like maybe I don’t. It hurts so bad. Then this guy I used to talk to started messaging me and I found him attractive again and it scared the hell outta me. I don’t want to be with anyone else I want to be(at least I really really pray) with my bf now. He was what I wanted and then outta nowhere all this questioning. It’s breaks my heart. I started even getting moments where everything he did made me angry and that hurt to. Then all of the sudden I think my libido has taken a hit. We used to have sex all the time. I loved it. Now idk what’s happening. I just want to be back in love like before. I hate this questioning. I feel like I’m losing it! I don’t want to lose him
1) Just because you had a thought does not mean that the thought is automatically a reflection of reality. What if you thought “my boyfriend is a potato”? Would that mean he is a potato? Of course not. People have countless thoughts, many of which are utter nonsense.
2) Of course you found another guy attractive – there are lots of attractive people in the world, and you will stumble across thousands of them throughout your life. Finding someone else attractive does not mean you don’t love your boyfriend.
3) People with ROCD often experience a reduction in libido. Likewise, people in long-term relationships often see a reduction in sexual interest and activity with their partner. The early stage of a relationship is full of crazy lust which is unlikely to continue in perpetuity.
4) This idea that many people have about finding “the one” is toxic. There are over 7 billion people on the planet, so if there is only one person who is “the one”, the odds of finding that person are incredibly slim. And what if you find that person, and then they die. Are you then doomed to a life without love? A far better way of looking at love is that it is an action – a choice. Love is not just a feeling, but rather, it is an action that we choose to do.
First of all, like so many other readers, I’d like to say thanks for posting such an articulate piece about ROCD. I showed it to my boyfriend right away and it’s really helped us to start fixing some of the cracks that had formed in our relationship. I’m still having the thoughts but now I have EVIDENCE that they’re not real and over time, I will get better at ignoring them. Can’t wait for that day!
I now have a burning question for you. Is there an equivalent of ROCD that focuses, not on romantic relationships, but on friendships? My brother and I both have a very persistent problem with trying to make friends, constantly asking ourselves questions like ‘Do they know the real me?’ or ‘Am I one of their close friends, or do they just see me as an acquaintance?’ For me, it’s tied into certain compulsions, for example I periodically throw out tons of clothes and buy a whole new wardrobe which I hope will better reflect the ‘real me’. Over time, this has led to symptoms of depression for both my brother and me due to persistent loneliness and insecurity. It feels very similar to the ROCD thoughts and compulsions you describe here.
What do you think?
The reason your “friend ROCD” feels so similar to your “intimate relationship ROCD” is that they are essentially the same. One can have ROCD related to any relationship.
I think the reason ROCD generally flares up related to intimate relationships is that most of us place more importance on intimate relationships. While friendships are important to most people, we don’t marry or have children or buy houses with people who are “just friends”. Simply put, intimate relationships are more important of most of us, and ROCD (like all forms of OCD) loves to prey on what we value most. But ROCD can and does impact other relationships as well.
I wonder if I may fall under this. I have never been diagnosed with anything, but I have always been an overthinker/worrier. I am in a relationship with a wonderful guy. We have been together for a little over 2 years and live together as well. I’ve never had doubts about him, our relationship isn’t perfect no ones is, but this relationship is truly amazing for me. I’ve never had anything like it, but then out of the blue about a week ago I started questioning my love for him thoughts ranging from “do I love him”, “am I just convincing myself “, “if your thinking this way it must be for a reason” “your terrible person for doing this to him” “am I happy with him”. I honestly don’t know where or why these thoughts started to occur. I feel like I am driving myself insane. It is affecting me terribly because all I can do is circle around these thoughts it gets in the way of work and school. I feel like the more they continue the more I will convince myself that I don’t love him and I will end up making one of the biggest mistakes of my life and leave, and I don’t want to go through that. I just want these thoughts to stop and be myself again.
Let’s look at the evidence:
On one side, you have an “amazing” relationship with a “wonderful” guy that has endured for two years.
On the other side, you have a thought that comes “out of the blue” that maybe you don’t love him.
How is it that this thought negates your relationship?
Simply put, the reason that you had this thought is that human brains, by nature, think constantly. They never shut up! But lots of our thoughts are just mental static – crap that we needn’t take too seriously.
I encourage you to stop taking your thoughts so seriously. The more you try to figure out if these thoughts are important, the more misery you will create for yourself. Instead, note the presence of unexpected thoughts, just as you would note the presence of a mailbox on the corner as you drive by. The thoughts are there, but not particularly important.
Thank you! I have just randomly stumbled upon this website and this is the first I have ever heard of relationship OCD. This describes what I have been going through for the last 3 years exactly, and although I have been having therapy and taking medication for over 2 years and my symptoms have greatly reduced, it is such a comfort to have a label for these thoughts, and to know that other people have experienced something similar. I don’t believe that this is a widely recognised phenomenon in the UK. Thank-you, thank-you. I will follow some of your suggestions.
Thank you for your email. It’s great to hear that our article has helped you to better understand what you are experiencing. I encourage you to pursue Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), as this is the treatment that has consistently been found by researchers to be the most effective approach to managing all forms of OCD.
Thank you so much for explaining this so well. Ive dealt with multiple forms of Pure O for a long time and just recently started struggling with this type. I didn’t even know there was such thing as “ROCD” until I read this. I got married almost a year ago to my best friend and love of my life. A couple months in, I started to have these unwanted thoughts of this other guy I knew in high school. Never dated him. Only think he’s attractive now. The thoughts consumed me of comparing my husband to him and made me feel terrible!!! It died down for several months and has recently come back. I’ve found that a trigger is when I don’t have those lovey dovey feelings for my husband, I get scared and start doubting. I always want to figure out why I’m having these thoughts of this other guy…do I like him more than my husband? Do I find him more attractive? Did I want to be with him all along? I must not love my husband enough or at all if I have these thoughts! I’m pretty certain this is ROCD, but sometimes the thoughts seem so real! I know I love my husband and love is a choice, the feelings come and go. But this is really hard to deal with sometimes! Makes me feel awful.
It is completely normal to find other people attractive. Likewise, it is completely normal to have moments or periods in human relationships during which one or both parties don’t feel “lovey dovey”.
Your effort to “figure out” why you are having these thoughts is a compulsion which only serves to make the obsessive thoughts worse and more frequent. I encourage you to instead accept that your brain creates these thoughts, just as it creates lots of other unimportant thoughts that don’t deserve much attention. The thoughts are only “awful” if you fear them.
About three weeks ago my fiancé got home from a trip and was a little drowsy so we took a nap. We woke up two hours later and it was like something snapped. The rest of the day he was down and I could tell something was off but I didn’t want to say anything. The next day after work he said he was having these terrible thoughts as if he cheated on me but said he didn’t. He even asked three of his friends to make sure he didn’t slip into some weird unconsciousness and do it then. I was very confused and started to get angry, he reassured me that he didn’t cheat but just had these bad thoughts. A couple days later he told me his thoughts had now moved from “what if he had cheated on me” to “what would happen if he did in the future”. He said these thoughts were over powering and it would make him sick thinking about the outcome. The thought then moved on to “what if I don’t love her” when he told me this we were both in tears and I was starting to question everything. How could this have happened after a nap?! He was fine when he got home, then BAM. This is all very confusing for me, what can I do to help him and save our amazing relationship.
The thoughts you are describing are extremely common in OCD. The best thing you can do for yourself, your fiancé, and your relationship, is to not take the thoughts seriously. Imagine that your fiancé awoke from a nap and said “I am having these thoughts that I am a horse. I know the thoughts are ridiculous, but I am having these unwanted thoughts and they really bother me”. You might be concerned, but my guess is that you would not be upset or angry with him.
Your fiancé’s thoughts are no more “real” or “accurate” than if he had a thought about being a horse. The problem is only exacerbated when you take his thoughts personally. The bottom line is that they have nothing to do with you – they have to do with the fact that the has OCD.
You don’t need to save the relationship – you (and he) only need to stop over-valuing the goofy things his OCD brain conjures up.
I wonder if you can help me and i’m probably seeking reassurance here…
I am pretty sure i have suffered from ROCD before – November 2014 was when it started and sent me into a whirlwind of anxiety about whether i loved my partner, if we connected enough, had enough chemistry etc. and all because i had 1 thought about us breaking up!
As the anxious feelings started to die down the thoughts have remained though they are more along the lines of, maybe i don’t want a relationship and maybe i want to leave etc. it scares me to not feel the anxious feelings anymore.
I’ve been with my partner 6 yrs and we have a lovely life together, we had just moved in before this hit and got a dog I was imagining our future and was so very happy.
Now i think i’m starting to believe the thoughts that i want to be alone and leave him 🙁 Is this common in ROCD? I’m pretty sure i don’t want to leave him but the thoughts torment me every day and its taking a toll on me and feels like its tearing apart my dreams for the future.
I know if i didn’t have the thoughts i would be happy with him but i don’t know whats real and whats not anymore 🙁
Maybe the thoughts are true and that’s why they wont go away
While I cannot provide a diagnosis via this blog, I can say that everything you write is textbook ROCD. Nothing says this more clearly than when you wrote:
“I know if i didn’t have the thoughts I would be happy with him.”
I encourage you to stop analyzing your thoughts and feelings, as this is a mental compulsion that makes things worse, not better. A better option is to accept that doubt is a natural part of life and relationships, and for those with ROCD, doubt feels unbearable.
These issues seem to have plagued me for over 10 years now. I have these fears and doubts about relationships, sex and sexuality and I just cant seem to shake them. I can even pinpoint the day that my first “what if you’re gay?” thought happened. Before that, growing up I never had one doubt and it would never have even crossed my mind. They’ve made me depressed and I’ve even taken an overdose just to stop the thoughts. I also used pornography a lot as this seemed to lessen my anxiety and turn me on. But it never fixed me.
Now I am in a good relationship and told my girlfriend about these thoughts I’ve had. I’ve also had sessions with a psychologist who said it’s OCD. I want to have sex with my girlfriend and if I can lower the thoughts then its great, but at times I’m so focused on pushing out unwanted thoughts that I fail to get aroused, or lose my erection. Or feel I’m having sex to prove something to myself.
I live in the UK and have booked an appointment with a CBT and hypnotherapy counsellor who says they have dealt with these issues successfully in the past. But what if it doesnt work? Have you had cases of failed treatment? And what then? Living alone forever?
A few thoughts…
~ This all sounds like classic HOCD.
~ Trying to force the thoughts out of your mind will never work. In fact, your effort to force the thoughts out of your mind is a compulsion, and it is making your HOCD much worse.
~ A better solution is to accept the presence unwanted thoughts and to live your life exactly as you would if you did not have these thoughts. There is no legitimate reason why you cannot have unwanted thoughts present in your mind AND have sex with your girlfriend.
~ Likewise, you do not need to “prove” anything to yourself about your sexual orientation. You just need to accept that your brain, like everybody else’s brain, produces weird, unexpected thoughts.
~ These are just thoughts – you do not need to value them as being important or meaningful.
~ Any therapist who uses hypnotherapy to treat OCD has no idea what he/she is doing. The best treatment for OCD is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), with an emphasis on Exposure and Response Prevention (ERP). If the therapist does not have extensive experience with ERP for OCD, find a new therapist immediately.
Hello, this article helps me a lot when I have a tough time. I know I’m not alone. Thank you.
I was diagnosed as OCD officially 10 years ago, I broke up with my ex because of ROCD but at that moment ROCD isn’t well known. I’m currently in a relationship (3 years), I can see the exactly same pattern in this relationship and finally I know this is ROCD after google it. There’s a question I can’t shake it off from my head, I’m so confused as most of the sufferers here know that they love their partners so much deep inside their hearts. Most of them only lost the feeling or doubt that they don’t love their SO, but for me I don’t even KNOW or I don’t even THINK I love my partner. It makes me wonder if I am suffering from ROCD or I really don’t love my boyfriend. What do you think?
There is no way for me know if you really feel love for your boyfriend. But the fact that you have chosen to write a blog comment on an ROCD article suggests that your thoughts about love upset you you enough that you want to find a way to better manage them. Also, your focus on knowing with certainty that you feel love for your boyfriend sounds very much like ROCD.
That said, I think it is important that you stop trying to know what you feel, and to instead decide how you want to act. Love is not a magical feeling that descends upon us from the heavens. It is behavioral choice we make that relates to other people. Instead of worrying about whether you feel love for your boyfriend, I encourage you to act lovingly towards him. In other words, love is an action that we do, not just a feeling that we have.
Does ROCD effect friendships too? I have this friend that I’m really close to and all of a sudden I had this thought/ feeling that I didn’t want to be bothered with her anymore. It completely caught me off guard and now it’s all I think about. It’s just constant doubts and questions. Did I really mean that? Is that really how I felt, do I not care about her anymore, were my feelings ever genuine in the first place, am I just forcing myself to be her friend, if I don’t want to talk to her does that mean that I don’t want her to be my friend anymore. I know this sounds ridiculous but It’s really tormenting. I know that if I really felt that way the thoughts wouldn’t bother me but my mind keeps telling me that I need to worry…
ROCD is not limited to romantic / sexual relationships. It can focus on friendships, family relationships, or any relationship. I believe the focus on romantic relationships is most common because it is a relationship in which a person often presumes that there is supposed to be just one person who gets this special designation (spouse, girlfriend, boyfriend, etc.), whereas we expect to have many friends and family members. Additionally, there is huge societal pressure to find “the one” with whom you have this singular relationship. Furthermore, many people see divorce as unacceptable, or at the very least as a horrible outcome, so the pressure to be “sure” is very high. Finally, romantic relationships are very emotionally involving, and our feelings about partners are very intense, so the idea of being in a “wrong” relationship can feel terrifying, as can the idea of ending a relationship. I’ve yet to meet anyone, with or without ROCD, who likes the feelings they experience when realizing that an important romantic relationship is ending.
I just recently found out about ROCD and I feel so much relief to know what is happening to me. I have been with my amazing boyfriend for two years and he makes me so incredibly happy. We’re both struggling college students with our fair share of problems but knowing that he’s by my side at the end of each day gives me such a warm feeling inside. I started feeling these symptoms about a month ago and they literally appeared out of nowhere. I was having a relaxing night with him and then all of a sudden I’m hit with these obsessive thoughts and crippling anxiety. It was to the point where I couldn’t even be near him without having an anxiety attack. Although now it has calmed down, I still have these thoughts and it’s the most devastating thing I’ve experienced. I KNOW that I love him and I want to continue building a future with him, yet so many things trigger the thoughts.
Meditation and writing has really helped me in the mean time and communicating with my boyfriend has been helpful too; he’s extremely understanding and is helping me cope with this. Sadly, here in New Mexico I can’t seem to find a professional who may specialize in this and treatment. Any advice?
So you have an “amazing” boyfriend with whom you are “incredibly happy”. He is “extremely understanding”, your relationship provides you with “such a warm feeling inside”, and you “KNOW” that you love him.
That all sounds pretty great.
On the other hand, you have a thought that comes from “out of nowhere” that maybe you don’t love him. And you take that thought seriously, despite all of the wonderful things noted above.
I am not trying to diminish the extent of your suffering – I just want you to see how you are over-valuing a simple thought, and under-valuing all of the good things in your relationship.
The bottom line is that we do not get to control what thoughts pop into our heads. But we can challenge their importance, and that is exactly what I suggest you do. Don’t let this silly thought undo the very meaningful and valuable relationship you have with this man!
I can’t believe I have found this article. Just finding it has relieved an immense amount of anxiety for me.
Though I am not one to self-diagnose, I have been trying to tackle something that I am doing in my most recent relationship. I am fixating on the fact that she pulls her face up a little bit more on the right side than the left when she smiles. In my past 2 other long term relationships, it was his bald spot, and her crooked nose that I fixated on, respectively. I would constantly be checking them out at different angles, in different lights, to see if I was still attracted to them. With my current girl, every time she smile I analyze if I think she is cute or not. I have consulted friends to confirm that she is, in fact, attractive. I also have started comparing our relationship to others and thinking maybe I could find someone smarter.
It makes no sense. I love her. I am EXTREMELY fearful of hurting her, yet sometimes I think I should just break up with her because I feel that I am stringing along someone I’m not certain about. But the thought of her crying over me kills me enough to make me stay. Plus, I want to stay. Please help me. 🙁
Over-attending to a parter’s physical imperfections is a fairly common symptom in ROCD. And the fact that this same symptom has appeared in three consecutive relationships is a pretty good indicator that you have ROCD.
The bottom line is that everybody has physical quirks that could be described as “imperfections”. I am quite confident that all of your partners could list various aspects of your body that they found less than perfect. Analyzing your partners’ imperfections is a compulsion that will only make you feel worse. Likewise, asking friends for reassurance and comparing your partner to others are compulsions that will have the same result.
I encourage you to accept that your brain is trying to tell you that these minor “flaws” are important, when in fact they are not. Simply put, you are over-valuing the physical appearance of your partners, and I assume that their love and companionship is based on more than them being physically flawless. Ask yourself this: If you were in love with the same person, but blind and thus had no way of knowing these alleged flaws existed, would the flaws lead you to want to end the relationship?
Thank you for this article! I am in the process of finding a therapist who specializes in CBT to confront this issue. It’s manifested mainly in “do I love my partner enough?” But it has also morphed into partner focused obsessions of traits and compatibility. Have you heard of a case where this OCD was manifested by the sound of a partner’s voic? Most of the time I find my boyfriend’s voice soothing and pleasant as it’s nice and low, but during obsessive periods, I’m convinced that something isn’t quite right with it and worry that I actually hate it. I started googling (something I know I should not do) to see if irritation with a partner’s voice means anything. Several concluded that it was a sign you were incompatible with your partner, which of course sent me into panic mode to the point of nausea and significant anxiety. Does this sound like another obsession?
Obsessions in ROCD can focus on numerous things, including physical characteristics of the partner. Just a cursory glance at the comments on this blog article will show you the breadth of concerns that people with ROCD have about their partners. People come up with all sorts of irrational reasons to deem someone “incompatible”, and I see no reason why sometimes disliking a partner’s less-than-ideal voice would be left off that list. So, yes, this does sound like yet another obsession.
And for what it’s worth, the internet is full of nonsense that should not be relied upon when making relationship choices.
Thank you for your reply!
I understand on a cuckolding kernel that the internet is full of crap, but sometimes my emotional impulses override my rational thought process.
It’s not even that my boyfriend’s voice is less than ideal, it’s that something in his manner of speaking causes me to have an off kilter, something’s not quite right feeling. I notice that when I dwell on the obsession, his voice starts to bother me more, which perpetuates my ruminations. I start to catastrophize and think, “if I find his voice bothersome, I must not love him and we won’t work out.” I think part of it is overall stress: my boyfriend was laid off six months ago and is looking for work. We’ve been spending a lot more time with each other as a result, and I think I may just be craving some time alone more often.
Still looking for a therapist, but alleviate your response!
A few thoughts…
You wrote “sometimes my emotional impulses override my rational thought process”. That is true for every human ever born.
Likewise, having a “not quite right feeling” is just a feeling, and is a standard part of the human experience. You are not obligated to value this feeling as being particularly meaningful.
Yes, if you dwell on an obsession, it will bother you more. I encourage you to not dwell on your obsessions, but to instead accept their existence without paying them any attention at all. They are just existential static.
I see no rational link between “I find his voice bothersome” and “I must not love him”. The connection is a product of your OCD that is no more rational than “I find his earlobe bothersome” and “I must not love him”. I suspect that there are things about you that he too finds less-than-ideal…
Thank you, Tom!
I’m doing generally better now. Looking back at my earlier posts, I realize how ridiculous they sound and the degree to which I was catastrophizing.
There are certainly aspects of me my boyfriend finds less than ideal: my neuroses being one of them.
Hopefully with continued therapy, exercise and meditation, I will continue to improve.
I appreciate your thoughtful replies.
Thank you Jean!
Lately I’ve been obsessing if this girl I’m talking to is right for me. Recently if I look at another attractive girl I have thoughts that I have the girl I’m talking to. There’s times where I think this girl is girlfriend material and is beautiful but there’s always something that triggers opposite thoughts like “is she ugly?” for example. This is the first girl I’ve had relationship thoughts about in over a year and she’s helped me so much with all my stress and anxiety. She helps me see my emotions and I can vent to her about things and I like it. It’s worth nothing that I have HOCD here and there too and that comes into play if I’m flirting with this girl. I feel so bad if I look at another girl, I know people can be really attractive but this is bothering me so much.
There’s are millions of attractive girls who are “girlfriend material”, and there is no way of knowing if any of them are right for you other than to have a relationship and see what happens. Even then, you will still encounter many girls that you find attractive. This is normal.
BTW, this is the fourth comment you have posted on our blog in the past three months. That seems to me like you are using the blog as a source of reassurance seeking. I encourage you to no longer write comments, but to instead follow our advice, which has consistently been to accept the presence and discomfort or unwanted thoughts, without taking them seriously and without doing any compulsions in response to them.
Hi! I’m definitely suffering from ROCD, I recognise myself in basically everything written here.
I am terrified. All these intrusive thoughts are tearing me up inside. I know deep down that I love my guy, and I want to be with him and no one else. But the anxiety makes everything so horrible and makes me feel things I know aren’t my real feelings.
Right now the intrusive thought most active in my mind is the fear of getting a crush/falling for someone else. I’m afraid of meeting new people in case I’ll get a crush on them or something – and I’m afraid if I do get a crush on someone I’ll feel so guilty, I’ll have to tell my boyfriend and/or break up with him. (And now because I wrote this out I’ve started to cry). I don’t want to have to leave him. He’s everything to me.
I realise that this fear comes from the ROCD, but I’m afraid it won’t go away, and I’m afraid it’s gonna happen. So afraid. I don’t know what to do. Any advice?
My advice is two-fold.
1) You need to understand and accept that finding other people attractive is normal, and that it doesn’t mean you need to end your relationship. There is no way you are going to get through this or any relationship without ever finding other people attractive. And you may even have “crushes” on some of these other people. This is normal and OK.
2) You need to accept the presence of unwanted thoughts and feelings without trying to control or eliminate those thoughts and feelings. Avoiding interactions with other people out of fear that you will find them attractive is a compulsion that only makes things worse for you.
Ultimately, love is not about what you feel, but what you choose to do. In other words, your love for your boyfriend is measured not by whether you find others attractive, but rather by how you act towards your boyfriend.
Thank you for replying!
I understand what you mean. However, I don’t quite get what you mean by “crush” – writing it in the quotation marks? Do you mean that those types of crushes are just attraction-crushes? That it’s not the same type of crush as when you’re single?
There was no hidden meaning in my reply – I put the word “crush” in quotation marks because I was quoting your use of the word “crush”. Now you are analyzing the word “crush” in an effort to get certainty.
Your over-analysis is the problem, not the solution.
I have struggled with “something” for the last 18 years, and always been diagnosed with depression and anxiety. I have never found a description that so perfectly fits what I go through when I have one of these episodes. It usually destroys the relationship, and me for a long time afterwards. It’s been so long since I had my last episode that I’m now married and having fertility treatment to start a family (who’d have thought!). As such this recent attack has completely taken me off guard, but I’m doing everything I can to “nip it in the bud” now and not let this become too destructive. I’m starting a new CBT course today (I’m in the UK) and will definitely mention this to my therapist – I am 100% sure this is my issue. Thank you so much for writing about it – please please please do more to raise awareness and treatment for ROCD.
I’m glad to hear that our article has helped you to better understand what you are experiencing. I encourage you to be very direct with your therapist about ROCD. If they do not have experience treating ROCD, they will almost certainly be ill-equipped to treat you effectively. You need to see a treatment provider who truly understands ROCD and knows how to treat it properly. Take care.
My boyfriend and I have been together for 2.5 years – He´s my best friend and I cant imagine my life without him.
we have decided to move in together and i am planning on buying a house. recently he broke down and told me hes been having doubts. its when him and i are apart he thinks something is missing. i asked him to see a relationship councillor to discuss it (because it also happened 6 months ago). The counciler has asked a lot of questions, suggesting reasons why he might feel like that and now he seems worse than ever. He is so distressed because he is worried about what hes doing to me, but he loves me and cant imagine his life without me & can see us having a family. He feels the need to tell me everything and then gets more down about it and feels like hes ruining my life. he is obsessed with the idea that something is missing and tries to pin it on the way we kiss, or have sex. I have no idea what to do – there is no indication that anything is wrong until this – I love him but also dont want to spend my life wondering how he feels. … i feel like i have no way to make it better.
I’m just not sure what to do… I feel incredibly helpless and also quite hurt.. help!
While I cannot provide a diagnosis based on a third-party report on a blog, the symptoms you describe certainly suggest that your boyfriend may have ROCD.
The only thing you need to do is to be understanding of your boyfriend’s plight and take care of your own needs. On the other hand, your boyfriend needs to get into treatment asap in order to address these issues. I strongly encourage you to talk to your boyfriend about seeking treatment with a therapist who specializes in treating OCD with Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), and NOT with a relationship counselor who will almost certainly be unable to effectively treat OCD.
I’ve been through this and it is a living hell. I have suffered from Pure O before, but I dealt with it for many years (started having the intrusive thoughts at 6 or 7, they overwhelmed my life at about 15) to the point that I more or less got used to them. I did exposure therapy for it so I sort of brush the thoughts aside.
But relationship OCD is a whole different story. You have to worry about hurting someone else, and if you care about the person, it kills you inside.
The whole thing becomes all consuming. I felt like Carrie asking questions in Sex and the City, I’m asking myself questions in my head pretty much all day long!!
I ended a long-term relationship as I couldn’t deal with this anymore (and there were other non-ROCD related factors). Luckily we are still friends so that means an awful lot to me (we also share a dog and we both love him to pieces, I can now see him regularly).
But my mentality is like “I’m too damaged to ever happy in a relationship”. I’ve already been a psychiatrist’s guinea pig when it comes to OCD drugs. I’ve tried so many SSRIs I can’t even remember them all. Exercise and therapy helps, but only so much.
The fear that one is harming their partner by staying with them under false pretenses is extremely common in ROCD, and is noted in the article above. I certainly understand why you would be frustrated by the failure of the many medications you have tried. Most treatment providers are clueless about OCD, and have never even heard of ROCD. And medication is NOT considered to be the first-line of treatment for most people with OCD.
If your treatment providers had any idea what they were doing, they would be recommending that you have a course of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) with an emphasis on a specific technique called Exposure and Response Prevention (ERP). This is the treatment technique that has repeatedly and consistently been found by researchers tone the most effective treatment for OCD.
I have been struggling for nearly 25 years. I’ve always reached out to friends and all loved ones and always felt as if my words were going unheard. When I finally realized there was “something wrong” and went to my gf to finally get help, I came home to an empty house. I never understood myself what was wrong. Since she left I neglected myself, thinking I could get through this on my own. Today I’ve married, have 2 incredible kids and ran into that exgf that left without knowing my struggle which ignited this all over again. My wife and I discussed this and I set out for help, PROFESSIONAL HELP. I was instructed to read on ROCD and wife found this article. She told me after 10 years together she now gets my struggle. I read this and within 3 min I’m weeping because I feel like someone literally opened my head, took all my symptoms, feelings, and wrote this article. I’ve sent this to several friends and all are at a loss for what I’ve been through and endured for all these years. I’ve never heard of this prior to seeking help, and can’t thank you all for the comments, thought I was alone in this. I finally feel like there is a light at the tunnel.
Thanks for your comment. It is very gratifying to hear that our article has had such a profound impact on your understanding of your struggle. Unfortunately, your story is not unique, as most people, including most therapists, have a very poor understanding of OCD.
I encourage you to seek treatment with a therapist who specializes in the treatment of OCD with Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). In the meantime, count your blessings that the ex took a hike. Anyone who leaves you because of a your OCD doesn’t deserve you.
Thank you for writing this article. Needless to say I came across this when acting on compulsive behaviours & tirelessly searching the internet for relationship issues/anxiety! It’s great you take the time to reply personally to each poster too.
I’m 30(F) from the UK & have been with my partner for 3 years. I had doubts from day one – partner-focused & also around long-term compatibility (he is 12yrs older) & I regularly act out almost all of the compulsions listed above. My partner is understanding but I also experience the extreme guilt that I am putting him through this & he would be better off without me. I get jealous of other couples/other girls’ partners and get ‘grass is greener’ all the time. I obsess constantly and I don’t want these thoughts – they’re exhausting & associated with guilt & feelings that I’m a horrible person.
Like some posters on here, I feel the lines between a ‘true’ feeling & manifestation of the rOCD are extremely blurred. Some days I feel I love him & others I feel I mustn’t because of these ongoing thoughts/feelings. It stops me connecting fully with him & our intimate life has suffered. I think it is more rOCD because I also have trichotillomania?
The “extreme guilt” you experience is quite common in ROCD. But fighting your OCD will never work. Trying to differentiate between “true feelings” and ROCD is an impossible task. A better solution os to accept that you have ROCD, and do no analysis whatsoever when you experience doubt about your feelings. Let the thoughts and feelings exist without responding to them in any way. They are just mental noise.
Also, I know of no specific relationship between ROCD and Trichotillomania. Many people with either of these conditions do not have the other.
Thank you very much for this great article. It confirmed my doubts about my boyfriend’s ups and downs in his feelings for me and towards our relationship. Being a 47 yrs old man, he has been struggling with OCD since he was 13. I don’t know his type of OCD but for example one time he spent a few hours wandering around the central train station to find 10 people with nose piercing! We started to date 10 months go and he is one of the funniest, nicest guys I have ever seen. I love him! He told me that he loved me too but later he said he is not sure anymore and he doesn’t know why! he overcame theses doubts but a while later they came back. He is telling me that he enjoys our time together, he likes me a lot but he thinks his feelings are not evolving. he doesn’t know what he wants to do because he has no tangible reason why he feels this way. He says maybe he has to feel happier and maybe his feelings for me should be stronger..I think we are perfectly fine together before these re-occurring episodes happen. He says: how do you know its OCD and not my real feeling!!” Anyway, if you could plz help me with how to convince him to see a therapist I would be eternally grateful!
While the symptoms you describe are consistent with those of ROCD, there is no way for me to provide a diagnosis via a third-party report on a blog. That said, I encourage you to discuss your concerns with your boyfriend, and how it is important to you that he at least seek an assessment with a therapist who specializes in treating OCD (most other therapists will be clueless and will assume his confusion automatically means he does not really want to be with you).
In the end, you will need to decide if his current lack of clarity is acceptable to you. If not, and if he is unwilling to take steps to meet your emotional needs on this issue, then you may need to evaluate whether you want to stay in the relationship.
Here I am again having an emotional day as I keeping thinking I want to break up with my partner of nearly 10 years with whom I have a beautiful daughter. I get thoughts of hating her, my parents and that I want to leave a lot. If I have a good day, I get scared it won’t last. I’m irritable a lot, unhappy yet I have everything I ever wanted. There are times when I have break up conversations in my head and it upsets me so much. I can’t get the feelings back. I told my partner I love him so much this morning then my head tries to say you are lying. I’ve lately started thinking maybe he is sick of this and we won’t last so I’m feeling distant from him. I’ve been diagnosed with ocd and had CBT and am on medication. I just think maybe I’m wasting everyone’s time. I believe I love him but I have a habit of analysing all the past moments when I felt distant or annoyed with him and then convince myself it’s the relationship is wrong. He is a hard working and caring man who deserves only the best in life yet I find I’m irritated by him, his face being red and stupid things like that. When I’m at work, it’s not so bad. Days where I have slept badly are difficult.is this rocd or not
Your “habit of analysing all the past moments when (you) felt distant or annoyed with” your partner is a compulsion that will only worsen your OCD. Furthermore, I suspect that even those without OCD would find their partner’s incredibly irritating if they spent excessive amounts of time analyzing their faults. The bottom line is that everybody has lots of faults. Lots and lots of faults. And after being with someone for nearly ten years, you know each and every one of your partner’s faults.
You say you “had” CBT (past tense), and I encourage you to return, as it can help you learn how to respond to these unwanted thoughts more effectively.
Thank you so much for the information, this is totally me! I have been dealing with this for 9 months now, ever since i moved in with my boyfriend. I worry that I do not love my boyfriend, and that I am not attracted to him, and that I am living in denial of my true feelings. I constantly search for the feelings that used to be there, but I just feel empty. I try to picture us in different situations that used to make me feel exited and warm/happy, like picturing us on a vacation somewhere, or even getting married. But it just feels so weird and wrong and I end up getting really anxious. At the same time I am so scared that this means i have fallen out of love with him and have to let go of him, because I dont want to loose him!
I have tried different therapists. but none of them seem to understand this, and if i mention ocd, they just dismiss it. It is so frustrating! I have never experienced anything as torturing as this obsession, although i have had issues before with health-anxiety and eating-disorders (dieting and over-exercising) Maybe it is connected in some way?
Thank you again for this great information, it feels so good to be able to name this problem.
Everything you write sounds like classic ROCD. The reason your therapists have been unable to identify the problem is that about 99% of therapists have absolutely no clue what OCD is or how to treat it appropriately. They think of OCD simply as compulsions like hand washing and checking stove knobs, but that sort of thing is just the tip of the iceberg.
This is just like me. Periods of these obsessive thoughts and fears have occurred right after major life changes that affected our relationship – ex: i graduated college, moved back with my parents (we were previously living together), then moving out and we are back to living together. I do the SAME THING, picturing past times when i KNOW i was happy. And then of course i question and wonder whether i was actually happy then. Imagining our future just seems bleak and no longer appealing. It’s like, I still want that bungalow we imagined together, and that wedding near the lake, and naming our kids Elijah and Zara, but i don’t feel the pleasure from it anymore. It’s also helpful to note that i have clinical depression, and therefore anhedonia has a very great effect on all of this. But thank you for your post, it really resonates with me.
I am on the other side of the situation. In love with a messed up man (his own words) and feeling devastated and frustrated at the same time. The overt and avoidant compulsions you listed are carbon copy of his own feelings and his guilt and the sense that he is doing something morally wrong. Last weekend while desperately crying he said “I cannot be in a relationship with someone capable of unconditional love as I would always feel I am taking advantage of you”, “I shouldn’t have approached you, now I have hurt an angel”, 3 hours later he texted me “Please, forgive me, the thought of not being forgiven by you is unbearable, terrifies me”. We’ve an amazing connection, physical, emotional and intellectual. He is otherwise a great man, caring, warm, brilliant, speaks four languages, PHD, manages a huge company with great success, we can talk about anything from politics, religion, science, art. I know he loves me, there is no doubt in my mind but how can I help? It’s hard to see such a smart and amazing man becoming a terrifying child when dealing with his feelings. He speaks very highly about his parents, his only sister died of cancer when she was 12 and he was 14. Any relation maybe?
From what you write, it is not immediately clear if your boyfriend has ROCD, or if he is struggling with other relationship issues, or both. ROCD focuses primarily on the fear that one doesn’t actually love their partner. While your boyfriend may be experiencing this, it also seems he fears that he is incapable loving anyone. The best option here would be for him to seek treatment with a therapist who specializes in treating OCD in order to help him address these issues.
Thank you, I never heard of “fear that he is incapable of loving anyone”. He has mentioned that though. In this case he makes himself believe he doesn’t love anyone to feel safe? How does this work? His ex wife cheated on him, but so did my ex. Sorry, I need to understand this to be able to help him; it’s hard to find and love a person capable of so much, so caring and smart. The other night he texted me saying “thank you for no giving up on me”. I know he is hurting and so am I. Can you please explain how does this fear of being incapable of loving works, what can trigger it?
It would not be appropriate for me to further evaluate your partner’s condition via a third party (you). If your partner would like to schedule an online appointment, please ask him to call or email us.
Thank you, I understand. I will forward this information to him. Blessings.
Thank you for the article! This is exactly me. I am with a very good guy and our relationship is very warm and loving. However, I just feel immediately panic and anxious when I find flaws about him such as tell a dumb joke or think he is unattractive sometimes. This is my first relationship so I don’t have any experience or idea of what a relationship looks like and feels like except the information I adsorbed from media. I am comparing my feelings about my partner to what I see from movie and romantic novels. I worry about I don’t like him enough. I never have any “butterflies””intoxicating” feelings for him. Freak out when feel attracted to other people. I did not even realize I have this weird concept in my brain that I should feel constant extreme loving feelings for my partner before I entered my relationship. However I also deeply know although he has flaws, I can put up with them and we are overall very happy together and I want to spend my life with him. I do have OCD from childhood and tend to think things compulsively. I like what you say with love is a choice and it gives me a lot of insight. I hope I can get through this. Thank you.
Thank you for your comments. You appear to have excellent insight into your concerns about your relationship.
Everything you write sounds exactly like textbook ROCD. You will never find anyone who is free of flaws (that person does not exist), and who never irritates you with dumb jokes or other unwanted behaviors / characteristics. Furthermore, you will always find other people attractive – there are lots of attractive people in the world, and your relationship with any one person does not negate that fact.
Choose love and go forward.
I keep overthinking my relationship and keep thinking things like “I don’t want to lose him” and I’ve been crying. I keep saying to him “I don’t want to lose you.” I’m worried about the future. I know I love him, but it’s my mind saying that I don’t & that there’s something wrong. My mind is distorting who he is and making him out to be a someone he’s not. I’m finding it hard, because my memory is appalling and I can’t seem to think of my boyfriend (or think of much at all).
I’ve been through a tough few months. My parents weren’t happy with the religious differences (my boyfriend is Muslim & my family are Christians). It’s been very stressful, so I think it’s led to pshychological problems.
When I’m with my boyfriend I’m fine & I’m happy. He’s all that I want. I keep thinking about breaking up with him because I can’t cope at the moment & I feel overwhelmed. Sometimes he doesn’t feel real.
I just want to be really happy again, like I was. I know we are a great couple, but I feel like I’m spoiling it. I want to be able to just live in the moment.
I’m about to start CBT. Do you think I’ll return to my usual, happy self?
What you write strongly suggests ROCD. it also sounds like family pressure related to the religious differences is adding an additional layer of confusion and doubt. I cannot guarantee that CBT will return you to your “usual, happy self”, but if your therapist understands ROCD, it should help you get some understanding of your ROCD and whether you want to continue being in a relationship with your boyfriend.
This article hit home for me and has helped me better understand my relationship. I’m in love with a guy that has OCD – Pure O. We have been off and on for 4 years and I never understood his thinking or how he wants to marry me one minute and then get “bad feelings” the next. He is always so confident about what he wants and how he feels until it becomes reality. He chased me for a year after our last breakup, I was in another relationship, and told me for the first time he loved me. He told his family and friends that he made the biggest mistake and if he had another chance he’d marry me. My relationship ended and after time I was in a place to give him another chance. We went to his therapist together and while it wasn’t easy I had hopes we’d work through it. He had come a long way from our last relationship and a few weeks ago he said that he had a bad feeling and his gut was telling him it just wasn’t going to work. Just prior to that he flew home with me to meet my family (which was a HUGE step for him) and I convinced them that he had changed. Now, here I am again at the same spot I was 3 years ago – heartbroken. It’s so hard to move on when I know he loves me.
Unfortunately, your story is quite common. People who are in relationships with people with ROCD often get dragged through the wringer. If your partner is unable to more effectively manage his thoughts and feelings, you may at some point need to decide if you are willing to continue with him. Your relationship should not be solely about adapting to him. Your needs also matter.
Thanks for this article! I’ve been in and out marriages and relationships for many years. While I hate labels and excuses this fits me to a T. It’s like I want to send an apology to all my exes because of my behavior. I cried because of the relief and confusion. I’m not alone but I still question my decisions. My therapist threw this term at me ROCD and I was apprehensive. After reading it fits and I feel better, this is just the beginning I know. I’ve been in an on again off again relationship for two years involving other woman and I’d be euphoric then bored or ambevelent. I didn’t understand myself or actions, as I said I’m relieved yet I still question my decisions because of the casualties I’ve caused and missed opportunities. I’m still bewildered. Overall thanks for the article, I will continue to go to counseling for sure.
Thanks for your comment. It’s great to hear that our article has helped you to better understand your experience. Don’t be afraid of labels – they exist for a reason. If you had a broken arm, wouldn’t you want to know, regardless of the “label” of “broken arm”. A psychological label is not a scarlet letter – it is simply a way of better understanding one’s experience so that they can get the appropriate care. Different psychological conditions respond to different treatments, so knowing the right “label” is actually important.
On that note, if you elect to seek treatment, I strongly encourage you to find a therapist who specializes in OCD treatment with Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). Traditional talk therapy will be a waste of your time and money, as it will do absolutely nothing for ROCD (and may actually make things worse).
I feel like this article describes me very well and it brings some comfort but at the same time I have my doubts. I started dating my husband 3 years ago. I was the happiest I had ever been but before we got married I changed birth controls and started having panic attacks. I was wondering if I was marrying the right guy and would pick at and obsess over every little thing about him. I couldn’t think of one good reason why he wasn’t the one so I went through with the wedding. I knew I loved him. I just couldn’t explain why I was panicking so much. I went on anxiety meds and to therapy. The medicine helped to slow my racing thoughts down and the therapy helped me as well. After a few months I stopped going to therapy and stopped taking the meds but started smoking weed. We’ve had our ups and downs but I’ve been happy. Recently I decided to stop smoking and all these thoughts are coming back again. I’m worried I’m with the wrong person. I’m picking out all his flaws. I know I love him and want to be with him. I just hate these thoughts. I noticed I didn’t feel like this until I stopped smoking. Maybe that was helping with my obsessive thoughts more than I realized. Do I have this?
I cannot provide you a diagnosis via a blog comment, but I can say that the symptoms you describe sound like ROCD. And yes, smoking weed may very well have been reducing your obsessional thinking. That said, I would not say that smoking weed “helped” with your obsessions, as it really just temporarily reduced them. Besides, I am confident that smoking weed also reduced and/or altered your thoughts across the board.
Simply put, weed is not a very good long-term solution to OCD. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), which has consistently been found by research to be the most effective treatment for OCD.
Reading all of these comments is like my own journal speaking to me. I’m 24 and have never had a real relationship until a few months ago. My boyfriend is my perfect man. He’s everything I’ve always wanted. When things are good, they’re amazing. But I am tortured by these thoughts that I’m faking it, that I don’t really like him, I constantly have to compulsively check to see if I feel something when we kiss and if I don’t I panic. I panic so much about the fact that I might not like him and this may not be ROCD even tho I have all of the signs, that I end up feeling sick to my stomach. I can’t concentrate on anything because I’m constantly worried that I don’t like him or care for him which I do. I can’t picture him not being in my life, so why can’t I believe that?
Does this sound like ROCD? I am an avoider too, and all the men in my life (my stepdad, and my dad) have left and I think my ROCD stems from the fear of losing someone/them leaving me. I definitely have commitment issues as well because of it, but I am tortured by these obsessive thoughts.
Thanks in advance, Tom!
Yes, everything you are writing sounds exactly like ROCD.
That said, there is no point in trying to figure out if your past relationships with your father and step-father are the root of your concerns. The bottom line is that you can never know with certainty – just like you can never know with certainty if you really like / love your boyfriend. Your goal should be to make a choice – to like / love him or not like / love him, rather than analyzing what you feel and think.
I can’t even picture myself breaking things off with him, which is the hardest part for me. It makes me feel so anxious and sick to my stomach if I even try to think about that. I feel like if I knew I didn’t like him and if this wasn’t ROCD, I wouldn’t have these torturing thoughts 24/7 and would just end things. But then again I’m always scared this isn’t ROCD and that I’m just using that as an excuse. Sometimes I get so anxious thinking about seeing him because I’m scared of not feeling anything when I’m with him that I cancel my plans. He’s my best friend, and there’s not a single reason why I should break up with him yet my mind questions if I like him 24/7. I think I’m so hard on myself to feel something when I’m with him that my mind just goes crazy, when everyone feels love differently. I love him in a way that I don’t want to even picture myself with anyone else and can’t, and that I feel so comfortable with him and it’s so easy and our chemistry is amazing. But my mind won’t connect with my heart on this.
A few thoughts…
Analyzing your feelings is a compulsion.
Trying to figure out if you have ROCD, or if that is just an “excuse” to cover up your alleged denial is an extremely common mental compulsion.
The question “do I really like / love him / her” is the key obsession in ROCD, and it does not need an answer. Just let it sit out there unanswered.
If you are unable to manage this on your own, I encourage you to seek treatment with a therapist who specializes in OCD treatment.
Hello, thks for this very interesting article. What are the root causes of ROCD? I can’t count the number of days I’ve spent obsessively assessing my relationship to check whether I love him or not/it’s right or not. I’ve struggled with ROCD for years now. The Obsessive aspect of it is blatant. I just spent the night ruminating again and again. The thing is that I’ve tried to work on the roots of relationship anxiety: fears of loss, cognitive false-beliefs on love, longing vs loving, fear of rejection/fear of being controlled etc… I hoped that addressing the roots would heal the symptoms, but i would lie if i say that it has really worked so far. Can i say that ROCD is really about uncertainty? the doubt disease? is the key to be comfortable with uncertainty?
As you have learned, seeking the “root causes” of OCD is a waste of time that is unlikely to provide anything resembling relief. A more effective response to your thoughts is to truly accept that relationships often involve uncertainty.
I have dealt with OCD and been treated (mostly the obsessional realm of irrational thoughts/fears) for years. After a session with my girlfriend’s therapist and after she sent me this article, my mind was blown. I never connected my OCD way of thinking/feeling to my relationship issues.
Does this sound like ROCD?
My girlfriend of a few months and she is absolutely amazing. She possesses every core value I want, is smart, intelligent, funny, and we literally talk for hours and hours every time we see each other. When I am not around her my mind starts to compare her to other women. When we are intimate I sometimes numb out, compare her to exes, other women, and how the sex is not as good as previous women. Then I shut down and question if I’m attracted to her and if we don’t have enough sexual chemistry. She tells me I’m the most beautiful man in the world and she loves our sex. Am I in the wrong relationship/settling because I don’t feel like I can say it back? Also, because we are best friends now, I become paranoid that we were only meant to be best friends. How do I know if it’s romantic or we are meant to be friends? How do I know what is ROCD and what is real?
Yes, this sounds exactly like ROCD. And you don’t get to know “what is ROCD and what is real?” That is the nature of OCD – it leads one to doubt what they are experiencing. Your goal is to accept uncertainty without taking it so seriously. Trying to eliminate it will only make you miserable.
I’m absolutely gobsmacked to read about my life in this post!
This could be my own journal.
Glad to hear that our article resonated with you.
this article is so true and so helpful. i have some questions though. I have been suffering from relationship anxiety for about 2 years, and today after i read this i have to ask: would my anxiety be because of ROCD ? also would it still be ROCD if this comes and goes ( the thoughts , fears , and ideas based on no logic at all ). I mean I have good days and bad days, but in the good days the thoughts are always there but i would be mindful and trying to keep my self happy and isolate the thoughts , would this still be ROCD , because I can’t go to a good doctor and ask? can you help me please
A diagnosis of OCD is not dependent on having constant unwanted thoughts and feelings. Many people with OCD have “good days” during which their unwanted thoughts / feelings are either less present or less bothersome.
Hello,I have been suffering from constant thoughts about my boyfriend for 5 months now. I remembering wakening up one morning, questioing whether I loved him. This was horrific to me and it kept replaying on in my mind,…I felt so guilty about these thoughts, so ended up telling him I was having doubt about the relationship but couldnt specifically say why. These thoughts continued and eventually lead to be not sleeping/eating and unable to concentrate at work and was off for 3 weeks. These thoughts are now alot better however, are still constantly there. I am now obsessing about his work…he works from home and is currently looking for a job in the subject he studied at university. His current work is not conistent/regular, therefore, I keep obsessing over him getting a job that will help him develop his career and stabilise our future. I feel i am putting alot of pressure on it, and it gets me down. It is the first thing that pops into my mind when I wake up. However, I want to be with him and cant picture my life without him and just want these thoughts to go away so I can stop worrying and enjoy life! Am hoping someone can provide some advice!?
Your obsessional doubts about loving your boyfriend sound like textbook ROCD. On the other hand, your concerns about his employment may play into that, or may be rather normal (though excessive) concerns about your shared future. In any case, my advice is simple – find a therapist who specializes in treating OCD.
Me and my girlfriend have been dating for 6 months now. In the past i have been having a LOT of anxiety. About one weekend ago we decided to go public. One day later it has been eating me up inside. I was ready to say i love her and now its like im afraid i don’t feel anything. Im paniked all day every day of the week and im trying to find those feelings again. I don’t know what to do. I realy want to be with this girl but i cant get the thought out of my head.. I don’t know how to handle this. I know i want her.. But i cant feel it 🙁
This all sounds like textbook ROCD. The best way to handle it is to find a therapist who specializes in OCD treatment using Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT).
Big, big thanks for that article, of course. But what strikes me the most is that you’ve answer all the comment. I don’t know what you do or what you sell, as I’ve only read that article, but I want to thank you (a lot!) for answering all those comment and reassuring so many people. You’re doing a really great job!
Thank you Luciano. We are happy to hear that our ROCD article was helpful to you, and are glad to be of service. Take care.
Hi. I have suffered from severe OCD for 12 years now and it has taken shape in various forms. I currently suffer from Magical thinking which in itself is stressful enough. However, I am in a long term relationship (9 years to be precise) and just recently got married. For the whole time we have been together I feel I have always had my doubts. I worry I am not attracted to him, I see an attractive man and I become totally focused on them and makes me doubt my relationship more, I have no sexual desire towards my partner but feel I could do in another relationship, he doesn’t look like what I consider my ‘type’ to be, I want to try another relationship to see if these feelings happen again etc etc. My husband is so thoughtful and kind and tries so hard to understand me. We have so much in common and everyone says we are perfect for each other. But every day I think about these fears/feelings and it is exhausting and terrifying. I don’t know what to do in the relationship as I am scared to divorce and leave him but also hate the idea of hurting him longer. Does any of this sound like ROCD symptoms? I just wish I knew if they were real feelings or down to ROCD.
Yes all of this sounds like ROCD. Besides, after being together for nine years, the spark is likely to burn a little (or a lot) less brightly. In other words, sexual interested wanes for many over time. Furthermore, it is not surprising that you find other people attractive. This is common for many people after being involved for a long time with one person, including those who do not have OCD.
That said, establishing a sexual/romantic relationship with someone else is likely to make your life a whole lot more complicated. I encourage you to first seek treatment with a therapist who species intreating OCD.
I started seeing my girlfriend about two months ago. In the beginning, we got along amazingly. I felt almost completely comfortable with her after just our first date. She’s so great. She makes me laugh and we’re into all of the same things. We’ve already said “I love you” to each other, and when I said it, I honest to God meant it. I love being around her and no matter how hard I try, I can’t seem to find any flaws in her that would make me want to break up with her. Just these past couple of days though, I’ve been having doubts about our relationship. They come and go, and when they’re gone, they’re gone almost without a trace. I can’t seem to figure out what’s triggering these doubts either. I talked to my therapist about them and she kind of hinted at the idea that maybe she wasn’t right for me, but I don’t believe that’s true. There’s no reason that I shouldn’t be happy with this girl at all times, and I genuinely believe that. This has happened with just about every girl that I’ve dated, but I’ve never actually cared this much about losing a relationship to do anything about it. She’s the first girl I’ve dated that I can actually see a future with. I don’t want to lose that.
Everything you write sounds like classic ROCD, especially the fact that this pattern has played out in multiple relationships. Also, it is quite common for therapists who don’t understand ROCD (or even know it exists!) to jump to erroneous conclusions about what their clients really think and feel about their clients. I encourage you to find a therapist who specializes in treating OCD, as that will be your best bet at effectively dealing with these types of obsessions.
Thank you so much for this article! I does not solve my problem but at least give me hope. I am suffering severe in my current relationship and I really need help. I have a lot of painful anxiety everyday and I has been going on for almost a year now. I had similar problem in previous relationship in the past but realized to late that It could have been (probably was) ROCD. Just the word “probably” makes if difficult and raise questions like “is it ROCD or not?” The brain is very smart, I have been so sure that I am in in the wrong relationship but that gives me so much anxiety and sadness so I then seek for other reasons. When I then read something like this I sort of feel a little bit of relief and I at least see a little bit of light in the tunnel. I have also had (or still have) OCD (mentally, not actions) in the past so then I have the feeling that my obsessions can´t be normal. I really want this relationship but without to feel this extreme bad. Do you have information/recommendations regarding a experienced therapist specialized in ROCD in the area Amsterdam, Holland? Perhaps someone in your network. Thank you so much!
While I cannot provide a diagnosis via a blog comment, I can say that the symptoms you describe sound very much like ROCD. As for finding an ROCD specialist in Amsterdam, I’m afraid I have no ideas for you. Unfortunately, the great majority of therapists are pretty clueless about OCD, and many have no idea whatsoever that ROCD even exists.
This article comes as a huge relief to me. I’m a 20 years old female in a relationship with a OCD person. He has compulsive thoughts and fears about “forever”.
At times he feels uneasy around attractive women and has confronted me about that many a times. I told him it was ok to find people attractive and appreciate their beauty. But he feels that he is cheating on me that way. He repeatedly asks me if I’d be okay, if he ever leaves me. We both are at our thresholds of our career. He had thoughts about our relationship whilst he was writing a very very important exam and kind of messed it up.
Even after knowing all these problems and understanding it thoroughly, I feel sad when he has doubts, when he asks for scenarios where we won’t be together, when all I’m sure of, is uncertainty.
It’s kind of scary to imagine a life with a person who constantly reminds you of uncertainty doubts fears and what not. Should I break up with him to avoid any emotional stress later. But if I do, he’ll be distraught and ruin his other papers too. I love him too much for that. And I myself can’t go without having to worry every now and then. What to do?
Should I quit it,
A few thoughts…
1) While I cannot provide a diagnosis via a third-party (you), I can say that your boyfriend’s behavior sounds consistent with ROCD.
2) You are 100% correct that it is 100% normal to find others attractive, even if you love and are physically attracted to your partner.
3) Only you can decide if your partner’s symptoms are more than you are willing to shoulder.
4) Perhaps you should talk to your partner about ROCD, and see if he is willing to seek treatment with a therapist who specializes in OCD treatment.
Thank you SO much for this article! I’m Danish and sitting in Copenhagen, and I’m SO grateful, that you wrote this. It’s just so sad, that there’s a 12 hour plane ride right from here to LA. This is a long shot, but do you know if therapists are as specialised in this Sub-type of OCD, somewhere in northern Europe? I’ve been in really good OCD treatment here in Copenhagen, but still it seems like it’s a bit further ahead in America.
Again, thank you, and sorry bad English 🙂
Thanks for your comment. I am glad to hear that you found our article helpful.
I’ve written on this site before for HOCD. So as you can tell I suffer from a couple pure O OCDs and do have anxiety. About a month ago I started dating this guy who I thought I really liked. The first night we hit it off and since then I have grown to like him. There were a few moments when I thought it wasn’t going to work out because he was being very reserved, but then he proved that to be wrong and came out of his shell. We had a couple really great dates together last week and I felt like I truly liked him a lot and could see a future together. However, the past couple days I’ve been filled with dreadful fear and anxiety that I really don’t like him and he’s not the one. I compare it to my last relationship that was filled with insane chemistry and “love at first sight”. I know this is wrong and I know those exact reasons are why it didn’t work out with him. I just can’t help but feel like maybe this isn’t the guy I am supposed to be with. He showed up to my house last night unexpectedly just to say “hi” and for a kiss on his way home. It was so sweet but I felt like I should have been more excited about it. But, I was also filled with this anxiety at the time. Is this ROCD?
Everything you write suggests ROCD. And as you have noted, you have struggled with HOCD, and it is quite common for people with either HOCD or ROCD to experience both of these OCD subtypes.
Most importantly, I want to note that you have only been dating your new man for about a month, and you are spending what appears to be a large amount of time trying to get certainty about how you feel. I think it is quite reasonable to be uncertain about a relationship that is only a month old. Additionally, comparing this relationship to past relationships that were full of passion is doing you and your new partner a disservice. Every relationship is different. Furthermore, many long-term relationships do not start out with the fiery passion you experienced in your last relationship (which apparently did not stand the test of time). New relationship passion is not necessarily the makings of a stable long-term relationship (no matter what the movies tell you).
I encourage you to let yourself feel uncertain, while at the same time allowing the relationship to grow naturally, without analysis or comparison.
Thank you. I really appreciate these articles and you responding to my comments.
I have a couple questions. Is it normal to obsessively question if I think my boyfriend is special or not. For example, I constantly worry about if he is not “right” for me. It could be a minor issue we have and it will trigger me into an anxious streak. Then I obsess if I broke up with him, if I would even miss him. It makes me very nervous because I don’t want to break up with him and I know I probably would miss him it’s just the uncertainty of it all that bothers me.
Also, I used to suffer very badly from HOCD. However, recently I feel like that is taken a back seat and I never really think about it anymore. It has been constant anxiety over my boyfriend/relationship. Is that normal for one to stop and another to take over? Thanks.
Everything you write sounds like ROCD to me. It is quite common for people with HOCD to also have periods of struggling with ROCD, or even for ROCD to become their primary concern.
Very helpful article. Im glad I found it.
In my case everytime im involved in a relationship with a woman, I go through the same cycle. First, women find my emotional side attractive so they fall for me and open up to me and tell me things about past relationships that I probably shouldn’t know..usually sexual in nature. Then I turn around obsess all day long about every minute detail of the stories they told and when there are gaps my mind fills in the blanks…usually in overly sensationalistic ways. Finally I harp of these thoughts and make my partner feel as if they did something wrong even though it has nothing to do with us…sometimes it results in very emotional arguments and often unstable relationships. I compare our relationship to her old ones and question why we haven’t don’t this or haven’t tried that. Its very immature and I know it but I just cant stop myself. One of the reasons Im divorced is because of this im sure and I have lost some very good relationships because of my inability to just let it go.
Does this sound like ROCD to you? If not, do you have an opinion on what it might be?
This sounds like it could be ROCD…or it could be that you are just, as you acknowledge, immature. After all, what right does anyone have to judge any partner’s sex life before the two people met.
I have a very simple suggestion. When you get involved with someone, don’t ask about their past sex life. And if they start to offer unsolicited information about their past sex life, gently ask them to stop. Your history is evidence that no good can come from knowing details of your partner’s prior sex life.
I was with someone which was mostly long distance who cheated on me. We got back together and I started to become Iess attracted to him before cheating on him and ending it. Following that I got together with a guy and suddenly started doubting my feelings and was constantly in a state of anxiety about whether it was right for me, confessing this to him etc it got to a point where I felt nothing and withdrew from intimacy. A therapist told me I was using rocd as an excuse for real problems. So I ended it and the anxiety disappeared. with my current boyfriend its following the same pattern , We’ve been together 2 year and I think what if he’s not the one, what if I’m just using rocd as another excuse, comparing him to other guys, analyzing his flaws, panic attacks (don’t know if they’re related to this) feeling the urge to pull away when he kisses me. I kissed another guy earlier this year which he knows about and often get crushes. I’m an obsessive thinker and have hocd/pocd thoughts, I’ve not been diagnosed but had confession compulsions when I was younger.When the thoughts aren’t there it’s good again. We’ve just moved in and it’s worse than ever. Does this sound like rocd?
A few thoughts….
1) This all sounds exactly like ROCD.
2)A therapist who hears your symptoms and replies that you are using ROCD “as an excuse for real problems” sounds like a therapist who has no understanding of ROCD. Unfortunately, that is about 95% of therapists.
3) The fact that you have a history of HOCD and POCD strongly supports that your current symptomatology is indicative of ROCD.
4) Panic attacks are not uncommon fro people with OCD.
5) As noted in the article above, when people with ROCD make significant changes in their relationship (such as moving in together as you just did), ROCD frequently spikes.
6) I encourage you to find a therapist who actually knows something about ROCD.
I don’t know if I have this condition or not. This is my first relationship, At first everything was great, but due to this being my first relationship I didn’t know how to act accordingly ( I never cheated) but in his eyes it almost might have been due to telling him later on in the relationship.
This led to me being more honest and opening up about my past encounters as he has only had gF’s. He forgave me, told me that I’ve changed and it’s about what I do now and that he still loves me and at that time I felt like I truly did too.
About a month a go we had a fight about me finding guys pretty but in a non-attractive sense. Unlike him who only thinks I’m pretty and won’t waste a thought on another person. After that fight, I felt like I wasn’t good enough for him and guilty that I tricked him into loving me at the beginning. I started comparing guys and having innapropeiate thoughts about other guys. I would tell him so I felt like I was being honest but now it’s got to a point where he’s fed up of me trying to push him away. I feel as if it’s morally wrong to stay but I cant leave. Please help me.
I don’t know if you have ROCD either, as I have never conducted a formal assessment of you. What I can say is that you may have ROCD, and/or you may have a ridiculously jealous boyfriend, and/or you may have some ill-conceived ideas about what is appropriate in a relationship.
First of all, you note that you didn’t cheat, so he has nothing to be jealous or angry about. You are entitled to your past and you are equally entitled to find other people “pretty”. You do not need his forgiveness – he needs your’s.
Second, I don’t believe for one second that he does not notice that there are other attractive people in the world.
Third, your overall concern about being totally honest also sounds very much like OCD, as does your concern that you are somehow being immoral if you stay with him. Simply put, you are not obligated to be totally honest about your thoughts. In fact, as you can see, being totally honest about every thought that runs through your mind about the attractiveness of others can get you into trouble. So my main suggestion is that you immediately stop telling him about every person you find attractive, as it sounds very much like an OCD compulsion.
That said, I encourage you to seek treatment with a therapist who specializes in treating OCD.
I just wanted to say thank you for this article. It has really helped me to understand myself and the issues I always seem to have. My last relationship ended after many agonising months of worry about whether I truly liked my partner, thinking I was leading him on, whether we were compatible long-term, it drove me to distraction and tears everyday, in the end I called it off to escape the torment. I’ve just started a new relationship, and all the old fears are right back all over again. This article helped me to see those thoughts for the obsessions that they were, and was getting along fine for a while, but now the obsessions have moved into new areas, now I’m constantly obsessing about our compatibility, how viable we are, some aspects of my partner that I suddenly obsess over as ‘not good enough’ and then I feel such awful guilt for thinking those things. I know it is all just the OCD really, but when the thoughts are flying around it can be so hard to let them just be there. I guess the obsessions changed because I was getting the hang of the other ones and OCD doesn’t like to be ignored?
It may be a long road ahead, but thank you again for helping me understand my brain…
I love your description of this process – OCD doesn’t like to be ignored. That’s when it looks for a new avenue of attack.
Everything you write sounds like textbook ROCD. Also, keep in mind that it is completely predictable that the focus of your obsessions will morph over time. So when you experience that your obsessions change, that is not unusual. Besides, as you note, “it is all just the OCD”, regardless of the specific content of any given OCD thought.
I think that I am struggling with ROCD but I’m still not sure (I’ve never been diagnosed properly. It’s not well known in France). It started 5 years ago, when my ex-boyfriend and I decided to buy a house… It started sudenly with this thought : “what if I don’t love him ?”. I didn’t know what was wrong with me because I used to feel really good in this relationship. My doubts and obsessions didn’t give me a rest (at the end, I didn’t want to kiss him anymore because I thought It would not have been my truth) and I felt depressed.
When we got separated I started to have HOCD, HarmOCD…
Then, about a year after this nigntmare, I started a new relationship with my now partner. He is a loving and kind person but after 9 months of relationship my ROCD started again with ups and downs and all forms of intrusive thoughts. During a period of OCD I googled some symptoms (to reassure myself I use to go on Internet) and found informations on the ROCD and I felt in tears because I found what was wrong with me…
This september we moved and a crisis of OCD started again. I will start a CBT this week but I’m really scared to be told It’s not ROCD.
Thanks for commenting. Everything you write sounds like classic ROCD, especially how you ultimately lost a relationship because of your symptoms, only to see the same obsessions appear in your next relationship. If your therapist does not see that this is ROCD, chances are they have no idea what ROCD is. I would encourage you to go into therapy proactively by bringing a copy of this article to your first session.
I wanted to know if OCD and psychopathy can be related?
My boyfriend, who’s diagnosed with OCD since 4 years now is quite remorseless at times, displays uncomfortable sexual behaviour, can go at any lengths to lie to save himself, he lies unapologetically even to me. He doesn’t understand why I cry at emotional situation, he’s totally apathetic to other people’s (His own “apparent” friends, at times) emotional outbursts. He seems driven by money. Whatever care he shows, is only via words and his actions don’t match. I think I’m easily manipulated by his sugary words at times. He’s way too touchy and flirty with other girls, with him not realising it, apparently. He’s very intelligent. He also displays a lot of ROCD symptoms. I really can’t decipher his behaviour. And I’m really tired of compropmising so much, at times, my own happiness. Is he a psychopath?
I know of no research supporting a link between OCD and psychopathy. That said, I think you are trying to hard too understand your boyfriends’s behavior. You describe him as being unapologetically dishonest and apathetic to others’ feelings. You say he has ROCD symptoms, yet you don’t describe any. You also say that you are tired of compromising your happiness in relationship to him. I am unwilling to provide a diagnosis of him based on what you are reporting. I think the more salient issue is that you are choosing to stay in a relationship that leads you to be so unhappy.
This article is amazing. I have been diagnosed for 20 years and suffered all sorts of obsessive thoughts in every aspect of the OCD spectrum. Currently struggling with ROCD. Been married for 9 years and even when everything was fine, I had them. Luckily I can talk to my husband about them. The last few years he’s had a bad time with depression and anxiety. He hasn’t worked in 3 years. We don’t do a lot together because he also has social anxiety.
I can’t talk to anyone about this because they all think he’s a lazy bum who sits around all day and doesn’t want to work.
Even my own psychiatrist gets it, but I leave feeling like he thinks I should divorce him.
I’m always paranoid that divorce is in our future. Because of his anxiety and my reaction to his anxiety, sex had even disappeared.
All of this, I still love and him and my gut instinct is I don’t want to divorce but the obsessions don’t go away.
It’s difficult of course! There’s is a lot of stress of my shoulders but I’m handling it and our communication is excellent, so I can discuss everything with him.
i often wonder if I’m just trying to talk myself into believing that I’m happy.
I’m glad to hear that our article resonated with you. That said, I think you should discuss this matter directly and bluntly with your psychiatrist, including your concerns that he believes you should divorce your husband. And if your psychiatrist is not well informed about ROCD, you should seek treatment with a therapist who is.
This article explains my boyfriend of almost two years (diagnosed OCD). The trouble also surrounds the fact we are both young, we’re both 20 and at different universities, people don’t understand and say I deserve better, but I know him and love him…
He is spiking at the moment and struggling with thoughts of ‘fancying another girl’ that he’s known for two weeks and wanting to pursue those exciting feelings, when I have only been gone for a week following some of our most romantic days ever, where he told me he loves me etc.
This is something he has felt before which led him to break up with me, but to only regret and beg for me back. (Same situation has happened multiple times with just the idea of him being single at uni…)
I am also convinced this is ROCD because when this spikes his other compulsions (Worrying chronically about a harmless rash and online accounts -which can debilitate him) go away. The same pattern happens every time, he becomes extremely distant, says nothing for a few days and then drops a bombshell such a liking another woman or not being in love with me, we then break up, he regrets it and can’t explain his reasons.
Im not sure what to do.
“What to do” is a very broad question. Whether you elect to stay with your boyfriend really comes down to one question: are you willing to stay with someone whose untreated OCD is making your life this uncomfortable. If you had a long-term relationship or marriage, I would say the answer is very likely “yes, so long as he enters into treatment”. But you are 20. That said, only you can make the choice as to whether you should stay or go.
This sounds like me. I am plagued with intrusive thoughts about whether I really love my partner which are extremely upsetting to me and cause me a great deal of panic. I have split up with him on countless occasions this past year because i’ve been so frightened that i’m just lying to him and myself but as soon as I break up with him I feel heartbroken and realise i’ve made a huge mistake. I’m scared of hurting him and in the past i’ve expressed my doubts to him often about how I feel for him. I’m really lucky I have such an understanding and patient partner and I really do adore him. I find when I am friends with benefits with him I feel a lot calmer but then I start worrying that he’ll meet someone else and I find that i’m not attracted to anyone else in those situations so I know I love him and enjoy his company but I just end up getting tortured by my own mind.
This pattern seems very well established, which strongly suggests you have ROCD. That said, you appear to love him, so you are going to need to learn to tolerate the discomfort of the intrusive thought that you don’t, without responding with the compulsive behavior of breaking up to relieve your “what if I don’t really love him” anxiety. I encourage you to seek treatment with a therapist who specializes in treating OCD.
I have a daughter that has been dx with OCD and anxiety. While I don’t know exactly what is going on in her head, from my perspective, it seems like she is obsessed with her boyfriend. Fortunately, they are both able to hold down jobs but other than work, she never wants to be anywhere without him. I never hear anything like this described in ROCD literature.
She has been seeing a therapist for 2 years now but she has backed off to once per month. I believe it is because she is living with him now and she doesn’t want to do the necessary work which might change what she currently has. She is very comfortable with their situation and has very little to do with anyone other than him.
I have never read of ROCD being described this way. Does it sound like ROCD to you?
As her mother, I miss my relationship with her. He has just gotten on a similar work schedule to hers and I am afraid I will never see her again without him.
None of what you describe sounds anything like ROCD. It sounds like your daughter is emotionally over-dependent on her boyfriend.
Wow, what a great, clarifying article. I don’t really know if I have ROCD, but some of the symptoms do match. I started dating a girl recently, and before I started dating her, I remember being quite interested. However, after we started dating, I began questioning my interest and my thoughts regarding her. I’ve lost count of the times I’ve thought “Please let me be in love with her”. We haven’t gone public yet, but I’m afraid I might not have the courage to do it. Sometimes I don’t feel excited about her (which leads to another thought – what if this happens with other relationships?) And yet I see her as a very nice person (caring, intelligent, pretty etc) with great potential for a relationship. Furthermore, since we started dating, I’ve had difficulty sleeping. Sometimes I think that this sleeplessness will only go away if I end the relationship. however that’s not something I want to do. What is your advice?
Love is not some magical feeling that drops from the heavens – love is a choice. The real question is not “do I love her”, but “am I willing to love her”. You note that she has great characteristics (“caring, intelligent, pretty etc”), and that there is a “great potential for a relationship”. So…are you willing to love her? If so, proceed, knowing that you will have doubts, some of which may be legitimate, and many of which will likely solely a function of ROCD.
This article describes exactly the way I’ve experienced my two serious relationships. The first one lasted 5 years (20-25). One night, out of the blue I thought “is this really love?” That was it. Endless checking, doubting, analyzing, criticising every aspect of his character and appearance. Two years into the relationship (while still experiencing the above) I developped health anxiety. I really thought I would die, it got so bad that I dropped out of university. I started therapy and medication and got better. Now I have a new partner and the constant doubting and nitpicking has started again. My mind keeps screaming “if you were in a “normal” relationship ( there’s an age gap) you wouldn’t doubt and feel anxious.” Doubts aside, it’s the most balanced and loving relationship I’ve been in. I’m still in therapy but my therapists believes that the thoughts are a warning sign that I’m not in love. I want to accept it’s OCD but it seems too easy an explanation…
Doubts are normal in a relationship. Love is hard, and long-term love is harder. It requires a commitment to not leaving when times get tough, or when the infatuation wears off.
It sounds to me like your therapist is clueless about ROCD. You would likely be much better of with therapist who understands the condition from which you suffer.
I’m so pleased I’m not alone.
I have been feeling anxious and having these disturbing feelings for about a month now. It started when me and my boyfriend (of 5 years) had an arguement later that night I had a panic attack about not loving him anymore. We then went on holiday and everything was great. On our return we have had news about a house in which we can now rent (something we have longed for for ages) since this news I haven’t been able to think of anything else but “do I love him?” “Am I attracted to him?” And it’s driving me mad. I love him very much, he is my best friend and my everything but in these moments of madness I start to doubt everything. It’s now got to the point I’m almost believing these doubts… do you believe this is ROCD or am I just falling out of love? I have an appointment with a GP to try and combat these feelings. But till then are there any things I can do whilst at work, on my own etc to try and resist the feeling? Thank you so much for your article.
Everything you write suggests ROCD. Unfortunately, your GP is almost certainly ill-equipped to treat OCD (and probably has no idea that ROCD even exists). I encourage you to seek treatment with someone who specializes in treating OCD.
I was diagnosed with OCD. But it really only surrounds my romantic relationships. I was just wondering why you said that stalking isn’t ROCD. I’m constantly asking for reassurance. Asking the same questions over and over again for about 3 years. It’s an endless cycle. And I stalked his social media, messages, email, etc. All to make sure he’s not doing anything wrong. The constant reassurance revolves around that mostly. Doesn’t that sound like ROCD?
We wrote that stalking isn’t OCD because…stalking isn’t OCD – stalking is stalking. ROCD focuses on doubting whether one loves their partner. In your case, you are obsessionally concerned that he is “doing something wrong”, which sounds like code for “is he cheating in me”. That’s not ROCD at all – it’s jealousy and doubt and stalking.
Thank you so much for this article. It has brought a new light onto my current problems. I’ve always had anxiety, which has now transformed into ROCD. This is my first time in a relationship, and it is not a simple one at that, being long distance. I’ve had those horrible, intrusive thoughts about not loving her, about feeling like I was lying to her for telling her I loved her when I myself didn’t feel sure of it, and most recently I’ve had crippling fears about breaking up with her. When we are together physically, those thoughts and doubts disappear completely, but as soon as we are apart, they come back, leaving all of my happy memories in a negative shade. I am very afraid I will do something stupid and break up with her, I do not want this but I don’t know how to get over it.
Long-distance relationships are difficult, and frequently fall apart due to the strains that are specific to attempting to stay in a committed relationship with someone when you do not spend much time with them, not to mention all of the stresses that any intimate relationship has to endure. Add ROCD to the mix, and you have a perfect storm of relationship chaos. I encourage you to seek treatment with a therapist who specializes in treating OCD.
This article and the article on HOCD have been so eye opening to me. I am someone who purports herself to be very self aware so the fact that what I was thinking could actually not be true has been very difficult for me to accept. Even when I read this article and get temporary relief, my thoughts come in full force to provide arguments as to why it is not ROCD or HOCD. I have been with my husband for 10 years. First major episode came when I decided to move to his country (9 years ago), second episode when he proposed (6 years ago) and most recently after our ten year anniversary and trying to get pregnant. After the proposal I went on an SSRI after being diagnosed with an anxious depression due to transitions (weeks of low appetite, crying, endless guilt, not sleeping, etc.). The medication took its time to kick in but when it did, it felt like a life changer. The worries were so much less. I was able to purchase a home, get married, etc. But when I tried to stop the SSRI to try and get pregnant, I was fine for two months, but the thoughts came creeping in. I am currently in therapy, and am told that I need to learn to be “more vulnerable”. Not sure if he is getting it.
The fact that your therapist suggests that you “learn to be more vulnerable” as a response to OCD tells me that he knows nothing about OCD and its appropriate treatment with Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). So my suggestion is that you find a therapist who specializes in CBT specifically for OCD.
I am in a long term relationship and have 2 kids. I fear relationships and its down to my parents very poor relationship with each other.
I have been going through
What is love?
Im not attracted to her – she is fat etc etc
I cant keep doing this?
I will be cured if I leave.
Stop stringing her on and be a man.
Cant see it lasting.
I am so confused I feel no matter what I do it will be the wrong choice.
While I cannot provide a diagnosis via this blog, I can say that the symptoms you describe sound very much like ROCD. I encourage you to seek treatment with therapist who specializes in treating OCD.
I’ve been suffering from Anxiety for 1 year and ROCD for 5 months now. This was the first article I discovered around the time I started having intrusive thoughts and it gave me the information that helped me realise that I’m not suffering alone! I love my boyfriend dearly but my mind likes to play tricks on me sometimes. ROCD is one of the most difficult and soul destroying things I’ve ever had to deal with. I’m currently attending therapy and I’ve found the most beneficial practice to be challenging the thoughts as well as, never seeking reassurance. Remember, reassurance is only temporary relief! As soon as you acknowledge the thought but don’t pursue a behaviour, it will gradually get better. Today I had a pretty bad breakdown so I am in no way ‘cured’ but, it will get easier with time and dedication.
Everything you write is spot on. Reassurance seeking is the kiss of death for those with OCD.
I’ve read this article a few times over the past few months.
I am suffering with ROCD at the moment. I’ve had other forms of OCD in the past and received CBT to help treat them which worked.
I am currently receiving CBT for my ROCD but am still plagued with doubts.
I keep getting thoughts like “what if this isn’t OCD”. Which I hate.
I want to be with my partner. I cannot fault him. He is loving, caring, sweet.. just amazing. However my mind keeps questioning whether or not I do love him and making me believe I don’t.
I want my life to be with him and I want him to be there on a night when I get in from work and when I wake up in the morning.
However when I say things like what I’ve just said – my mind makes me doubt it and makes me think I don’t mean it.
I’ve had the ROCD for a couple of years now and the doubts questioning whether it is actually love or ROCD keep getting worse the longer I suffer with it.
Are these types of thoughts normal?
I have lots of the “common” ROCD ‘symptoms’ but I am constantly worry about this. It sometimes makes me doubt whether I do love my partner or not – which I do not want because I want to always be with…
These types of doubts about relationships are not just common in ROCD – they are the primary symptom of ROCD. This is why OCD is often called “the doubting disease”. And of course you are experiencing them – if you have ROCD, you are by definition going to have these types of thoughts.
I’ve had this for the past 6 weeks to the point of full emotional breakdown. I wasn’t upfront about a few things and repeatedly played them down at the beginning of the relationship (not harmful things but I was scared of losing him and made some mistakes in lying) which all came out in September. He forgave me but since then I’d been obsessively ‘admitting’ to things that he said didn’t matter, and had intrusiv thoughts when he was around. My mind then told me I wanted someone else and compared them, but the thought of losing my bf sent me into panic. He since ended things as he couldn’t see me suffer any more and I’m absolutely distraught. My therapist said my subconscious was obviously telling me that the relationship wasn’t the right one, but aside from a few insecurities, we flowers and laughed and relaxed and seemed perfect together. I’ve since had a breakdown as a result and am trying to take It day by day, I’ve never experienced compulsive behaviour like this before, and I still get guilt pangs hit me every few days even though we’re not together any more. 🙁
Your therapist is an idiot. I cannot tell you how many clients with ROCD have told us stories of their previous therapists telling them that their unwanted ROCD thoughts were evidence that they didn’t secretly really want to be with their partner. This line of thinking is evidence of a therapist who has no understanding of OCD at all, and who shouldn’t be treating people with OCD. These thoughts are not evidence of your subconscious anything, but are simple ROCD thoughts. I strongly encourage you to seek treatment with a therapist who actually understands OCD and has training and experience in treating it.
Hi, i live in Brazil and after i read the article, i think i have ROCD, this sub-type of OCD isn’t well-known in Brazil, so i’ll tell my story. I had THE BEST relationship with my boyfriend, i was madly in love with him, i always thought he was the perfect person for me. One weekend i started having insomnia and feeling really anxious for no reason. The day after, ALL OF A SUDDEN, i was in the pool with him and this thought came to my head: “what if i don’t love him anymore?” and this scared me to death because my anxiety was sky high and i was really believing in this thought! Everything was completely ok, and all of a sudden i had this weird thought and started to feel nothing for him, it was literally like i “killed” my feeling, all that amazing love i had was gone in a matter of seconds! It has been 3 months that i feel like that, i feel so depressed and alone, and the fact that i look to my boyfriend and feel nothing just kills me inside! You don’t stop loving someone like that, i refuse to accept that. It’s like a bigger force is choosing how i feel and think! I have no control of my feelings and thoughts.
The “bigger force” you describe is OCD. I encourage you to seek treatment with a therapist who specializes in treating OCD.
Hi, first of all I wanna thank you for making this post. I’m from Uruguay (sorry for my bad english), and I think ROCD here isn’t something contemplated by psychologists. When I was 9 years old I started doing things repeatedly in order to stop feeling that something wrong was gonna happen if I didn’t (for example, like my mother was gonna die). I got over that as time passed.
Now I’m 23 years old and I’ve been with my boyfriend for a year. It’s my first relationship and in March I started comparing it with something I had with a previous guy, whom I was totally obsessed with. I started comparing feelings: With the other guy I felt something really strong but destructive. And with my boyfriend it is love, something healthy but without that infatuation or spark. All that comparison lead me to feel really stressed out, so in July out of nowhere (because despite all that, I never had a doubt about my current relationship), I questioned myself “what if I don’t love my boyfriend that much?”, and since that day I started crying every single day, asking myself if I loved him, if I felt attracted to him, if he is the one, or if i’m in denial.
I was going to a psychologist and told him what I’ve found about ROCD, he told me that he didn’t see that I have OCD and didn’t know about ROCD. And also said that perhaps I want to end my relationship, and that I don’t need to find a reason to do that… That spiked my anxiety to heaven and I decided to change to another psychologist.
First off, congratulations for leaving your prior psychologist, who is clueless about OCD. Everything you write is classic ROCD, and the fact that you have had OCD in other manifestations further suggests that this is what you are struggling with. Hopefully your new psychologist is using Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) with an emphasis on Exposure and Response Prevention (ERP), as this is what will provide you with the most relief.
Hi there. I feel like I’m suffering from this very thing. I have read some of the replies and cries so many times. I know that I love my boyfriend and we were doing just fine until one day I just woke up with these very intrusive thoughts saying I don’t love him anymore or want to be with him when I know that’s not true. I couldn’t eat for weeks and I cried everyday. I’ve also had unwanted/intrusive thoughts about other guys who I don’t even like saying that I like them and want them instead of my boyfriend when I know that’s not true either. It feels like a constant battle in my head. I counter them back with “I do love my boyfriend, go away” or “no i don’t like this guy or want to be with him, I only love my boyfriend” to try and get them to go away but it just makes it worse and then I become depressed and states crying again. My boyfriend makes me so happy and he has stood with me through this all and I feel like sometimes he would be better off but I know I don’t want it that way. It feels like I’m fighting demons in my brain. I just want peace. I want to feel normal again. I want to feel connected with my boyfriend the way I did before this happened.
Everything you write sounds like textbook ROCD.
This article is very helpful, thank you!! Do you have any reading recommendations for the partners in a relationship with someone who suffers from ROCD?
I do not know of any books that are specifically about ROCD. That said, ROCD treatment is the same as treatment for nay other variant of OCD.
I’ve noticed that my mind finds one thing to cling to, and then OBSESSES over it! Earlier this year I was looking up a celebrity that I had a crush on and found out that his mother was murdered. My mind locked on to that and started to create constant crazy scenarios in which my mom was going to die. It lead to multiply panic attacks and intense crying episodes. It stayed like this for @ least a month. I would constantly repeat over and over again in my head the reasons why I was being irrational. My mind tried to convince me that I was getting signs from God that my mom was going to die, that lead me to constantly praying. Well, for the past 6 months I’ve been going through the same torture but about my relationship. But the thing is, it’s not about me not liking him, it’s about him not liking me. He could send me an “I love you” text and thoughts will come into my mind like “That text wasn’t meant for you.” or “He is just saying that so he doesn’t hurt ur feelings”. When he winks at me my mind will tell me “He probably has tourettes”.
Some people conceptualize ROCD as including obsessions about their partner. While we tend to focus more on obsessions about one’s obsessive doubts about their own feelings for their partner, you can apply the same principles either way. The bottom line is to allow the thoughts without taking them seriously, without responding to them, and without trying to to control them in any way. They are just irrational thoughts and they deserve nothing more than a shrug.
Great article, thank you for publishing it, after roughly ten years I can see that it has actually been described, which is comforting. I’ve always suffered from some forms of OCD, depression, at the age of 19-20 I was diagnosed with adjustment disorder.
I had my first relationship when I was sixteen. We shared many interests and liked each other, yet after roughly three months the obsessive doubts began, as described above, the ‘symptoms’ match very accurately. We split after three years, numerous reasons. After two years I had another relationship and the compulsive doubts began immediately after I managed to get close to her. We were together 2 and a half years until she cheated on me and left me.
Currently, after another two years, I am in a relationship again. I liked her and wanted to get close to her – got her to a date, we spend some time together and agreed on a relationship. We have been together for only over a month and I have been struggling with the ROCD since it became clear we were together. It is terribly depressing and hard to live with, both physically and mentally, and I am always afraid of hurting her…
Is a therapy worth trying, can it really…
Everything you write sounds like ROCD. Research has consistently found CBT with ERP to be the most effective treatment approach for managing all types of OCD.
Thank you very much for your response and the advice you give, I really appreciate it!
All the best,
Thanks Michael. Glad to help.
Hi I have some questions this is much harder to write then I thought I have been with the same man for four years and I love him more then anything in this world about a year into our relationship I had the thought of do I really love him I had a terrible panic attack followed by a a deep depression we eventually got through it but since I have had several what I call episodes of intense anxiety and depression due to thoughts that I can’t control and become obsessed with from asking if my feelings are true to thinking about an old friend in a way that makes me sick my now husband has been my rock through all of this and has helped as much as he could but it gets to the point where I can’t handle the thoughts and become so tortured by them that it keeps me awake at night is this a form of ROCD and should I seek help? I’m so tired of feeling this way I look at him and just want cry it hurts so much and I just don’t know what to do.
What you write not only suggests “a form of ROCD” – it is the perfect description of ROCD. And yes, you should seek help with a treatment provider who specializes in OCD.
hi,not sure if u will see my post and i can get a reply but with a hope i am writing.i am having a big trauma due to being left after a 7 yrs of relationship (2 yrs of engagement).My ex-fiance was always acting different (sometimes telling lies,2 times i have caught him cheating/aiming-fb msg&some photos with girls) but always telling me that he is a good person,loving me,begging,asking for pity.i was asking to break up if he doesnot love me but he kept saying that he will solve everything and we should be together.last 2 years we were engaged.he kept talking about commitment issues,and that he is to die because of anxiety and not being able to sleep/breathe.but he did not break up.we started to see psychiatrists for 2 yrs.i asked him to finish the engagement but he kept on saying that “he will solve”.i became a monster bcs of his unbalanced behaviors.doctors werent giving a proper answer.& 7 mnths ago he told me that he doesnot love me anymore &left me all of a sudden.it was a normal day like everyother day of us.i pushed him to talk.& it finished like that.i am still in shock&suffering so deep.while reading this post,i realized that he might have rocd;but i dont know.
Nothing you write suggests that your ex has ROCD. It sounds to me like he is a liar and a cheat who wants to have his cake and eat it too. The real question is why would you want to be with someone who treats you badly, says he no longer loves you, is unwilling to commit to you after seven years, and has broken up with you?
When someone says that they have commitment issues, believe them and run the other way (unless of course you are seeking a non-committed relationship).
I am wondering about ROCD. I have a wonderful partner. Triggers for my worry can be if somebody says something about the comparative physical attractiveness of me and my partner. I was married before, made the wrong choice, now divorced (he turned out to be a liar and the end of the relationship hit me sideways). My behaviours include looking up articles online “do you fancy your partner enough?” which leads to more uncertainty and anxiety. I am intimate with him so I must fancy him but then this mental questioning and rationalising makes me feel worse. I look at him checking whether I “fancy him enough” and I check how many facebook likes we get for our pictures. If there are not likes from certain people I worry what they think of us. A friend of mine spent 4 years with a man she did not fancy at all – I compare myself to her because he like my partner was “lovely”. This said friend said she thinks he isn’t as attractive as me which really upset me because I worried this was the truth.
The trick to managing mental questioning is to not attempt to answer the question. Just let the question sit unanswered. You do not need to know if you fancy your partner “enough”. And just what is “enough” anyway.
And remember, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Hence, what others thing about the attractiveness of your partner is irrelevant. And hopefully your love is not so shallow as to be solely about appearance.
I was diagnosed with OCD in 7th grade and now am going off to college.I have been in a relationship with my boyfriend for over a year, and when we met up to 6 months it was pure bliss.both of us have struggled with anxiety and depression all our lives and it started to kick in at that time. we fought a lot and things were difficult but we got through since we both see therapists.it’s a long distance relationship and overall I feel sooo much better when I see him.We see eachother about twice a month.Lately my OCD has been way more intense and horrible.I doubt my love for him.I’ll think about what it would be like to be with other people sometimes and if i want them.All of my compulsions have been mental.I feel chaos inside my head constantly but I am taking medication so things are better. I feel guilty about being with him if i dont love him even though I am almost positive I do.There are constant ups/downs with my thoughts about the security of our relationship.I am really scared about the fact that this is my first true long lasting relationship.I want it to last forever and I dont want to hurt himHes my pumpkin and my cutie,so why is this happening?hurting him is my biggest fear.
To “Thank you for your help”,
You ask why is this happening. I think there are a few factors involved, including:
1) You have OCD. More specifically, at this point you appear to have ROCD.
2) Relationships often develop difficulties after six months or so. The initial blush of infatuation wears off, and real life starts to intrude on the “pure bliss” that envelops new love.
3) Long-distance relationships are very difficult to maintain.
4) You are a freshman in college, full of hormones, surrounded by thousands of young men.
5) Most people do not stay with their first love for the rest of their lives. You are just learning how to be intimate with someone, and you will almost certainly stumble around with this issue for some time.
Hi, I just came across this post today and saw your response. Thank you for replying.
I’m going to another therapist who said she knew CBT but hasn’t practiced anything yet, I just sit there and talk about my thoughts and my past, which isn’t helping, so tomorrow I’m having an appointment with another one. I’m kind of desperate, as you see.
My obsessions morphe all the time, I even doubted about my sexuality and my boyfriend’s too. My current obsession is about me wanting to leave the relationship or not. I read your article about living in denial but the thing is that, at first, the thought was like “what if I secretly want to break up” which was absurd because there aren’t any red flags and he matches up every core values that I look for in a relationship. But when my previous psychologist told me that wanting to leave a relationship is reason enough to do so, I think my thought morphed and now it is “I want to break up”, or a feeling in my chest that leads me to ruminate. I sometimes feel the urge to act on it because I want to get rid of all this, but I guess it isn’t the solution. We broke up for a week before and got back together.
If your current therapist is just passively sitting there while you talk, without providing structured interventions, then your therapist is not doing CBT. Unfortunately, many therapists say they specialize in CBT when they don’t. I strongly encourage you to be very specific when initially contacting potential therapists by phone by asking them the following questions:
1) Do you have experience treating OCD? (If they don’t have experience…run!)
2) How do you treat OCD? (If they don’t say “CBT with Exposure and Response Prevention”, then they don’t know what they are doing, and you should…run!)
3) Have you treated ROCD? (If they don’t know what ROCD is…run!)
Exactly! She only asked me to write my thoughts down and say to me “I will leave this thoughts aside until my next appointment with my therapist” but for what I’ve read, putting the thoughts aside isn’t helpful, I need to live with them, right?
She also asked me to use a wristband and pick it on my skin when I notice that I’m living more in my mind than in the present. I never did it since I have a history of self harm (stopped years ago and she’s aware of it) and I don’t think it’s productive, I don’t want to hurt myself in any way.
Thank you very much for responding again. It’s really hard when you can’t find the proper therapist and when you even not know If you have OCD or not, though she agreed I had I on the past and tat I had many obsessive tendencies all along in my life.
Do you still see the thought “I want o break up” ROCD related too?
I also fight with the fact that thinking about a future together gives me anxiety. Before this I wanted to marry him and all but now it became a compulsion to think about future scenarios so I feel anxiety and not joy.
I don’t want to bother you anymore, thank you again!!
Based on your description of your therapist’s suggestions, she has no idea what she is doing. If you could easily “put your thoughts aside”, I am sure you would, as would every other person with OCD. Also, the thought stopping technique she suggested (using a rubber band on your wrist) does absolutely nothing for OCD, and has been discredited for over 30 years.
And yes, “I want to break up” is a typical ROCD thought.
This article has been such a huge help. Currently I am in a fantastic relationship of two years with an amazing, loving guy. Shortly before our two year anniversary (when I was about to start my senior year) I had confessed to my partner that I thought he was the one for me and he confessed the same feeling. A few days later I had creeping doubt in my head “Hey, do you really love him? How do you know? You are too young to know what you want, you can’t possibly know if you love him!”
Since that point it’s been a spiral downward. I continually focused and obsessed about these worries. I often asked my friends if they thought I was in a good relationship, I would sit with a friend who was a counselor and have him reassure me of my love for him. I shared these doubts with my partner often and would get so obsessed over knowing 100% that I loved him, that we would work, and everything would be fine. These thoughts still torture me even as I write this. I get so upset, but when I sit with my partner, I laugh so easily. He isn’t perfect, but neither am I and I don’t want to wreck this beautiful relationship with him.
Could this potentially be ROCD?
A few thoughts…
You are “in a fantastic relationship of two years with an amazing, loving guy.” Suddenly you have these unexpected thoughts. This sounds like textbook ROCD.
Nobody is perfect, and perfection is not a reasonable criterion for a successful relationship.
Nobody gets 100% certainty about anything, least of all about something as ephemeral as “love”.
I encourage you to IMMEDIATELY stop asking your friend for reassurance about your relationship – this is making things MUCH worse for you.
Love is how you act – not how you think or feel. Act lovingly towards your partner, and let your thoughts and feelings do whatever they want, without reacting to them as if they are automatically important or meaningful.
After reading this article I feel I have a slightly better understanding of my partners struggles. I have been in a great relationship for seven months now. Everything is AMAZING! Except for the fact that if i even mention a future he freezes and looks like he concept scares the hell out of him. I have tried not to take it personally, but its hard when I feel so sure of our potential and he appears totally freaked out. i’m still trying to figure out if I’m the problem or if he does in fact have ROCD. I know that he suffers from OCD. This has been a struggle for me as I do have self-esteem issues my self. \but I can’t ignor the great relationship we do have. I’m 37 years old and do hope to get married and have children. I don’t know what to do. He says he has feelings for me ( I’m in love with him) and that he’s not “running”. But he can’t even talk about the possibility of living together. He spend every day together and I have never been this happy, for the most part. I don’t want to push him and I don’t want to wait two years to find out he has no real intentions toward me. I really do not know what to do. I have decided to start by understanding his condition…
I don’t know if your boyfriend has ROCD, or if he is scared of commitment, or just not that into you, or not moving as quickly as you, or some combination of these factors, or who knows what. The only thing I know is that you are unhappy with your current situation. The only way to find out if he has ROCD is for him to be assessed by a therapist who specializes in treating OCD.
I’m wondering if my situation sounds like ROCD. I’ve been with my partner for 10 years, and after 5 years I started to get the thought that he wasn’t a ‘good person’. Evidence for this stemmed from him not holding the door or random stuff like that, but suddenly all I could see was that. I ended the relationship and 8 months later realized how crazy those thoughts were and we got back together. Fast forward to today, where since we got engaged I’ve been having the thought ‘is he moral enough?’ And my brain is finding alllll sorts of evidence to say NO! He’s not moral enough! Like sometimes he’ll bring home pens from work and I’ll freak out and make him return them ! I do think this is all in my head but sadly it makes me feel disconnected from him and that is so hard to bear. I love him so much, I’d just like to go back to not questioning and doubting things all the time…
This sure sounds like ROCD to me. You may also want to read our article about Moral Scrupulosity, which addresses obsessions about morality. While Moral Scrupulosity generally focuses on one’s own morality, one can also obsess about someone else’s morals and values (which can be conceptualized as Moral Scrupulosity by Proxy). It is also worth noting that people often struggle with more than one sub-type of OCD, and it would not be unusual to have ROCD along with Moral Scrupulosity issues.
I am totally devastated. I dont know if it’s the ROCD or not, I wonder if I really love, I wonder if he manipulates me, I analyze everything he tells me, I take everything wrong, I’m Always ready to defend myself. In the evening I do not rejoice to see him return… I don’t miss him, I don’t want to go on holliday with him, I’m under pressure… He’s my boyfriend for 6 years (-1 because interruption decided by me…)…
I always wanted him to be my men for life, but I’m not sure anymore, this question comes so often in my head… I am unable to relax and let go… 🙁 🙁 I don’t find any HELP….
Yep – still sounds like ROCD. As noted in my reply to your prior comment, I encourage you to seek treatment.
I’ve been diagnosed with OCD and generalized anxiety disorder. My OCD has developed from just OCD regarding things at work to relationship OCD i believe. I’m 29 and before my OCD i was very happy and in love with my girlfriend. I then then started getting these intrusive thoughts like, do i love her? and they are happening more often since i moved in with my girlfriend. They cause me to feel sick and feel very anxious. I feel like i keep checking with myself and when with her, sometimes make me feel disconnected as i feel anxious. I keep asking myself whether its OCD or not, and am i trying too hard to love. They make it hard to look to the future like i used too but i have no intentions of ending the relationship. Whats the best way forward for ROCD and are these symptons common?
It is quite common for OCD to morph from one theme to another, so I am not surprised that your OCD has become focused on relationship doubts.
It is also quite common for ROCD to begin or worsen when a couple moves in together, gets engaged, gets married, has kids, or in response to any other significant relationship milestone.
“Checking” with yourself to see how you feel is a common compulsion in ROCD, and is making things worse.
The “best way forward” is to seek treatment with a therapist who specializes in treating OCD.
My current obsessive thought is that my ROCD is another word for my being dependent on my boyfriend. It’s not like we do everything together and live in each other’s pockets. We do have a common hobby and spend the weekends together…but my brain is screaming ” Codependent much?” It distresses me and poisons my happy moments with him…
Worrying that one is codependent doesn’t really sound the same as ROCD. If you are worried that you are being too codependent, I encourage youth seek counseling to address this concern.
I know I’m breaking the rules here about reassurance but I just need to know that this is ROCD and that I’m not going crazy… I have had bouts of HOCD in the past and periods where I obsessed about getting terminal illnesses. Now, I’m thinking I might have ROCD. Heres what happened:
Last Wednesday (1/18), I was sitting in class and noticed a guy I thought was slightly attractive looking at me. Normally, I would never even think twice and the thought would just disappear; however, this time, I started freaking out that I have a crush on him. I can’t look at him without getting pangs of anxiety or be in a room with him without getting nervous. And I don’t even know his name. I’m just scared because these are all signs of a crush as well.
I have a boyfriend of 1.5 years who I love dearly and it kills me to even think about liking anyone other than him. I literally have to repeat to myself over and over that I don’t give a f*ck about this other guy but I can’t seem to get him off my mind either. 🙁
You’re right…reassurance is not helpful, so I won’t provide it to you here.
What I can say is that having a boyfriend who you love dearly does not preclude you from finding others attractive.
Also, repeating catchphrases in an effort to reduce anxiety is every bit as counterproductive as reassurance seeking.
You don’t need to get this other guy off your mind – in fact, trying to get him off your mind is a compulsion and it’s making your OCD worse. You would be better served by accepting the presence of thoughts about the other guy, and not taking those thoughts so seriously. They are just thoughts.
I have a boyfriend who I love a lot and we have been together seven months now, but I find myself thinking lately “ohhh what if I am losing interest in him” and comparing our relationship to others. I see other couples all lovey dovy and calling each other baby and sweetie etc and then I think ohhh my boyfriend doesn’t do that and I wish he did. Last weekend we went on a long walk and it was lovely, but we didn’t speak very much and then I think ohh so does that mean we have nothing in common and nothing to talk about, so therefore we aren’t meant for each other …. The OCD gets stronger when he is around and I constantly find myself asking him for reassurance and asking him if I have ruined the weekend with my OCD etc. Do I need to just accept the presence of these thoughts and not take them so seriously ? I have an appointment with a psychologist in June, but that seems so far away and there is nothing available earlier – public health system in Spain you see ! Any advice would be great ! Thanks ! Fleur
Yes, you need to “accept the presence of these thoughts and not take them so seriously”. Yes, Yes, and Yes.
Now I know the nobody likes to hear that, so let me give you the good news. These are just thoughts, and accepting doesn’t have to be the torture that some people think it is. It’s about accepting reality as it is, instead of demanding that it be something it isn’t. Again, these are just thoughts.
That said, don’t be surprised if the public health system psychologist is clueless about ROCD. There’s a good chance he/she has never even heard of it.
Hi- I was diagnosed with OCD when I was 16. I went to a public restroom and there was a note written in the door from a girl confessing her love to another girl. That impacted me and started obsessing about me being a “lesbian”. That has been my major OCD thought but many others flow around depending on what is causing my anxiety. I am 35 now, and have a good relationship with a man that loves me and cares for me but I am having doubts of my feelings for him and how much attracted I feel. I love him and I want to be with him but this feeling of being in a relationship that is a “lie” because I don’t like him “enough” or because I am a “lesbian” is killing me. I have never been attracted to any girl. Never even wanted to try out. The mere thought horrifies me. Just to give an example of what happens now: When me and my boyfriend are sleeping, if I am feeling hot and take his arms off me, my thoughts pop up and say ” you don’t want him to hug you because you don’t love him and you are a lesbian”…I know is my OCD but I can’t help trying to understand the meaning of these thoughts and feelings. Thank you for reading me and for any advice that you could provide.
A few thoughts…
1) The note from girl “a” confessing her interest in girl “b” had nothing to do with you. If you found a note on the ground tomorrow saying “I am so angry at my mom I could just kill her” would you assume you want to kill your mom? Of course not. You need to challenge the legitimacy of this thought having anything to do with you.
2) You say you have never been attracted to a girl and that the very idea “horrifies” you. Again, you need to challenge the idea that your unwanted thoughts are meaningful reflections of your sexuality. They are OCD thoughts and nothing more.
3) It’s quite a leap from “I want my boyfriend’s hot arm off of me when I am trying to sleep” to “That must mean I am a lesbian”. Sometimes a hot arm is just a hot arm) probably almost always actually).
4) My advice is simple: find a therapist who specializes in treating OCD.
Thank you for this article. My boyfriend seems to think that this is my case. I am really not sure now. I know that I kind of love him, but definitely not in love. He is a great guy, but I am not even physically or sexually attracted to him, so I find myself making excuses not to spend alone time with him and finding every single flaw in him to promptly point it out. I am more inclined to think that he is just not the one for me, but now after reading this article, I am uncertain. I’m so confused…
I don’t know if your boyfriend is “the one”, and I don’t particularly believe in “the one”. That said, that doesn’t mean you should or should not stay with your boyfriend. You would likely benefit from making a choice one way or the other, though you may continue to feel uncertain about your feelings. And it is a choice.
I started dating this guy after months of messaging where I thought that he was perfect for me: cares about his family, laughs about similar things, smart, listens to me. The first few days of dating I felt the “butterflies”, which stopped when he told me he was falling for me: I was SURE I didn’t really like him and I had got myself trapped into a relationship with a guy I didn’t find quite interesting or who didn’t make me laugh. Sometimes I was also sure I was gay and that was the main reason for my relationship to be doomed. My therapist helped me and we’re still together and I havefun with him and enjoy myself. A couple of months ago we went on holiday together and I hated some of his ways of talking to me and treating me. I developed a negative image of him as a guy who doesn’t treat me well. We talked about it and he’s improving a lot. Our families don’t like him/me and this is overwhelming and tells me that this isn’t right. I need to know whether I have ROCD or I’m just with the wrong guy. I just have that feeling that this is happening to me because I am not experienced and if I find a guy that “fits”, I will not suffer. A similar thing happened to me before…
A few thoughts…
1) When you say the “butterflies” you initially felt disappeared when he told you he was falling for you, it sounds to me like you got scared (which is a reasonable and common response to relationships moving quickly).
2) You are never “trapped”, and certainly not after a few days. You can always end any relationship.
3) People who have ROCD often also experience HOCD.
4) Families/parents often doubt the wisdom of their children’s relationships. I encourage you to read “Romeo and Juliet”.
Started seeing someone for a couple of months before I left for an extended trip abroad. This relationship was vastly different from the previous emotionally abusive relationships I had been in, it was healthy and loving- finally! Was very confused to discover that love and obsession/desire/pining are not the same feeling. Despite the confusion I really cared for this person and was enjoying being loved so effortlessly by someone else. Doubts crept in here and there like “if I don’t feel huge fireworks, it must not be love.” But I was able to ignore them because I was happy/enjoying getting to know this person. Then about a month before my trip I woke up and felt that I absolutely hated him out of NOWHERE. For the next several months, even abroad, I was in complete agony. All day every day my mind was telling me I didn’t care for this person/that he was ugly/that I was just desperate for a relationship/that our love wasn’t valid/that I hated him/that he didn’t mean anything to me, couldn’t listen to love songs or watch romance movies without panicking. Ended up having to come home because the anxiety attacks got so intense. Thank you for describing so perfectly the torture of ROCD.
1) This sure sounds like ROCD.
2) “Huge fireworks” are vastly overrated. Yes, they are incredibly exciting. But they are not the basis of long term compatibility. And quite often, intense romantic beginnings are followed by equally dramatic, though much less enjoyable, endings. I encourage you to refine your definition of “love”, as well as your expectations of relationships.
I have been doing well with my ROCD for the past five months now. However, my husband and I are trying for kids. I go through periods of being excited to be pregnant and then they terrified about being pregnant. I worry my feelings of ROCD are going to be terrible and what will happen to me. The thought of having a baby is so scary to me but I have always wanted to be a mom. Why is starting a family so scary to me and cause ROCD feelings when I was doing so well?
As our article notes, ROCD often gets exacerbated by big relationship events. These events often lead those with ROCD to wonder if they are in the right relationship as they undergo this next big step towards a more permanent relationship. Typical events that fall into this category include:
~ deciding ot be “exclusive”.
~ meeting each other’s families.
~ taking a first trip together.
~ getting engaged.
~ getting married
~ and oh yeah…deciding to try to get pregnant.
A couple months back everything was so good. But due to stress of uni work and an underlying depression problem, my boyfriend had a bad turn one night and for a month since then our relationship got difficult and my anxiety levels increased, along with my deadline. So 3 weeks ago we decided to have some time apart that will last about a month, to focus on ourselves individually. We have met up a couple times for coffee to catch up. Other than that- no contact. I felt severe anxiety that he was going to leave me during this break leaving me distressed, but he told me how much he loved me and just needed a couple more weeks &we can then begin to rebuild our relationship again. As soon as I had affirmation that he loves me my GAD flipped to Rocd and I’ve been tortured with intrusive thoughts all week. Questioning if i love him and if this feels right and if we should get back together but the thought of him not being in my life kills me. I obsessively Google and seek reassurance from my family.
Everytime we have met up for coffee those short moments I felt true contentment, love and warmth. (I think?!) As soon as I came away from it rocd sets in. (It is rocd?!)
It sure sounds like ROCD.
Hi- can ROCD also be present when you are dating (not necessarily in a committed relationship) especially when you are dating people that are not a great match? I have OCD since I was in high school and since I recall all my relationships serious or not always had some ROCD. Does it matter if you really like the person or not for ROCD to manifest? I feel tormented no matter what. Whether I really like the person or whether I genuinely have doubts of my level of attraction. I have dated guys that I do not feel that much attracted to just to give it a chance and see what happens only to find myself tormented by doubts double time: the genuine ones and the OCD ones.Then those relationships end and I suddenly start obsessing and chasing after the guy that I was not really interested in the first place.Then when time goes by and I understand that ending was for the best, I never know if it was really ROCD or real doubts or both.I also feel tormented when I am in great relationship or with someone I like because OCD tells me “you don’t love him enough” or “you don’t like him enough” So my question is if ROCD can be present when you like the person and you may not really like them?
What you report sounds like ROCD. Keep in mind that ROCD obsessions can focus on anyone – friends, family, lovers, casual relationships, etc. The issue at the core of ROCD (and all forms of OCD) is doubt. Also, you report having OCD since high school, so I am guessing that these current obsessions are a function of OCD.
Reading the compulsions lists, brought tears in my eyes, reacted all of those situations in my head – having sex with my gf just to analyze feelings, avoiding seeing attractive women.. I actually didn’t go to my friend’s bday because I find his gf super attractive, and I am afraid to be all weird and anxious about it.
When I started dating my gf, I was in love like I’ve never been. I just knew this is forever and nothing can change it. She also felt (and still feels) that our harmony and chemistry is amazing. My feelings come in a huge range, of excitement vs. depression, 100% certainty vs. doubt.
I think in ‘black & white’.
She has much more solid feelings.
I know it’s destructive, but I just can’t help it.
I want to mention my gf is 41 yo, which puts tremendous pressure on me.
I am currently moved back to my mom’s, and haven’t spoken to my gf for a month. I know she is fine with it, and will accept me whenever I decide to come back. But this is also what holds me back. Sometimes I wish she just gave me an ultimatum which could make my decision quicker. right now I am slowly tormented, and I believe she is too.
I want to truly love her.
You will always find other women attractive for one simple reason – there are lots of attractive women in the world. Trying to avoid them will not only worsen your ROCD – it will shrink your world down to almost nothing. A better approach would be to accept that there are beautiful people in the world and to live the life you want with your girlfriend despite this reality.
That all being said, don’t be so sure that your girlfriend’s patience will last forever. Not speaking to your girlfriend for a month sounds like a big fat compulsion to me, and at some point, she is likely to walk away. And if she is as great as you say she is, she likely has other suitors just waiting for her to become available.
this explains exactly what I’m dealing with and have been for nearly a year.. I’ve been with my partner for 14/15 months now and in the beginning I felt alive and head over heels and so so happy, he broke up with me about 2 months in, we were separated for 5 days and I felt heartbroken, I spent the 5 days crying, not really having an appetite, just laying by my phone hoping he would message. We got back together but I felt like I started to accept it was over but told myself I’d keep him as a good friend and that would be my way of getting him back.. anyway back together and I’ve been plagued with loads of thoughts “was this the right decision, am I in love with him or even love him” etc, I’ve always been an over thinker but I don’t recall going through like what I am now. When I’m around him I feel a lot calmer, I want to be with him, I want to build a life with him.. I keep reading on another blog by Sheryl Paul that love isn’t a feeling but a choice. If that’s the case, how do you know if you love someone? I’m struggling with “I don’t love him” thoughts and because I don’t “feel” love it’s making me believe it.. I really don’t want to lose him 🙁 deep down I…
I have never heard of Sheryl Paul, but she is right – love is a choice. Furthermore, you don’t need to “know” that you love someone – you need to choose to act lovingly towards that person. Your “what if I don’t really love him” thoughts are classic ROCD obsessions for which finding an answer is impossible. And even if you were to find some semblance of an answer, it would be followed by the same “what if…” question, thus reigniting the whole miserable cycle all over again.
Stop looking for answers, and instead act lovingly towards those you choose to love.
I have chronic anxiety and I’m struggling w whether my relationship doubts are legitimate or if they’re ROCD or something similar. I’ve watched many of my relationships play out in a similar pattern:
From day one there’s FEAR. I have attachment issues from having unavailable parents so I panic about whether they like me ENOUGH – always looking for reassurance. I feel like if they care about me, they should be CONSTANTLY showing it with texts, gifts, compliments, etc.
After this phase & convinced of their love, I worry about whether I like THEM enough. I’m currently w a lovely man (smart, handsome, patient, reliable, loyal, similar values) who wants to marry me, but now I’m scanning for flaws constantly and doubting my attraction / love for him. Some days our connection is strong, but other days I can’t feel it & am convinced that I don’t love or even like him. I fixate on the fact that he’s a serious introvert & I’m an extrovert, I wonder if he’s “good enough,” (i’m no great catch due to my anxiety) I’m rarely able to be present / enjoy our relationship.
i can’t tell if i’m just being hyper-critical / vigilant bc of anxiety or if these are real issues.
Sounds like ROCD to me.
Oh my god, finding this article changed my life.
For the past year and a half I have been unknowingly struggling with ROCD. Finally having a name for it and realizing I am not alone has lifted the biggest weight off of me! Thank you so much for shining some light on this! It can be so debilitating and isolating!
Thank you for your comment. It is really great to hear that our article has helped you to get a better understanding of what you have been experiencing.
I am currently in a relationship with someone who has been identified as having ROCD and is receiving treatment. Its difficult to be on the other side of this and is sometimes hard to want to stick around. Since I believe that with treatment he can overcome these challenges I find myself staying with him. Is there any reading or information that you would recommend for someone who has been or is in a relationship with someone with ROCD? For example, I often feel hurt by his actions (or inaction) and feel as though there is something wrong with me. Also, knowing that thinking about or talking about the relationship brings him anxiety I feel that I have to be very careful what I say around him.
It can be quite difficult to be in a relationship with someone who has ROCD. I wish I could say that there are some excellent books on the topic, but there has been very little written about ROCD. I encourage you to read our book, The Mindfulness Workbook for OCD, which has a chapter devoted exclusively to ROCD.
This is yet the best article I’ve read about ROCD. Made me comprehend it well.
I had encounters with a guy who I thought was suffering from ROCD. HE confessed he was diagnosed with OCD, but I didn’t really know whether it’s pure or other subtype. In three incidences (different times), few years apart, he confessed his emotional feelings towards me,saying that he loves me so much with the intention of romantic relationship. But few months after the intention, he withdrew the idea of a romantic relationship and backed out. The exact same scenario happened, thrice in different times having years apart. He said that he loves me so much, that he got confused. And things like he loves me so much, he doesn’t want to hurt my feelings but always end up doing them anyway. He said he felt love but wasn’t sure if I was the right one. Again, he said the same,exact words in three different instances. I was involved in this kind of situation three times with the same guy. I finally figured out myself that he was suffering from ROCD. I would like to have your advice because of the fact that I really like this guy but because of the hurt I have felt, I cut off our connection. Thanks.
I cannot provide a diagnosis of your friend via a third-party report on a blog. He may have OCD, or he may be a guy who simply gets freaked out when relationships get too intimate. Or he may be a guy who likes to come on strong in order to get laid, and then backs away after he gets what he wants.
The key issue here is not whether he has OCD, but why you are letting this unavailable guy repeatedly back into your life. If he ever again suggests that he wants an intimate relationship with you, I encourage you to say “no thanks”. You have no evidence to support that he would do anything different than what he has already repeatedly done.
Hi, it’s me again. I wanted to tell you I got diagnosed with ocd and I’m going to start therapy with a CBT therapist the 8/3. I feel hopeful, even though I had bad experiences before.
But there’s one thing that is making me obsess so much, I’m obviously going to tell her but I wanted to know your opinion too.
Before my ocd attacked my relationship, I knew I wanted to marry my boyfriend someday. Now, I force myself to picture us getting married or sharing a future, and I just feel anxious or a nervous feeling. Could it be because I’m forcing myself? Because I read people with rOCD who claim to be sure about sharing their future with their partners but I don’t seem to have that security 24/7. I mean, I often have moments where I daydream without forcing myself to do it, and I get this happy feeling and think how blessed I am to have him and that I’d like to live with him and such. But most of the time I try to picture myself doing those things and I don’t get any good feeling. It seems my brain doesn’t matter about the times where I just daydream, it only cares about the times where I don’t get a good feeling when picturing us together and it freaks me out.
This all sounds like typical ROCD to me.
I have been with my boyfriend for five months currently and have had these thoughts since the beginning. I must say that we have broken up twice. He broke it off both times and I was devastated, I was head over heals for him. He was very afraid of commitment because he never saw it throughout his life.
Now that we are back together there is a significant change in how he acts in the relationship, I can see that he is making a big effort and sees his past mistakes. He is being so loving and although the relationship isnt perfect it’s what I knew it always could be and has potential future
Then there’s my anxiety that i have had since the beginning of this part. I am constantly questioning my feelings “do I love him”, “is this ‘real’ lovel”, “do I even know what real love is”, “should I be with someone else”, “am I good enough for him”, “is he good enough for me”. I am constantly compulsively trying to rationalize these unwanted thoughts in my mind but I love him and want to be together. I’ll be fine for weeks and really happy then something hits me as if I’m lying to myself and him. I have not told him about this…is this rocd? If yes, what can I do??
You are asking yourself all the questions that commonly afflict those with ROCD:
“Do I love him”, “is this ‘real’ lovel”, “do I even know what real love is”, “should I be with someone else”, “am I good enough for him”, “is he good enough for me”.
There are no answers to these questions (really, how does one get an answer to these questions – it’s impossible). And “constantly compulsively trying to rationalize these unwanted thoughts” is only making your ROCD worse.
You ask what to do, and the answer is simple – get into treatment.
This hit me mid January and has been ravaging my life since. My girlfriend and I have only been together since October, and things were absolutely amazing. We felt like we were meant to be together and as fast as things moved along, we still felt things had progressed naturally and not forced. I had some doubts back in November but after a day or two they went away. Things just got better with her as time went on, I moved in with her and it felt great. Then in January the doubts came back. And then the obsessive thinking kicked in. It’s to a point now that I almost believe my doubts that I want to be with her. It’s absolutely awful because she is an absolutely beautiful person. I don’t want to miss out on the best thing that ever happened to me but this crap is destroying me. Sometimes I feel so empty and have no interest in anything anymore. I’ve been seeing a counselor and have an appointment set up to get on medication but the appointment is weeks away as I couldn’t get anything sooner… I’ve never felt so low in my life, the last thing I want to do is break this woman’s heart
This all sounds like ROCD to name. Keep in mind that doubt is a normal experience in relationships.
Hi there. I found this article and it just resounds so much with me. I feel like I get this way with every relationship I have and I just freak and run away. I’m so happy the one moment and feel like I’m in love and then the next moment I’m questioning everything. Like every waking hour and it’s driving me mad. I panic because I don’t know the answer. Yes I love him but then do I actually or am I just making this up because I want to feel that way? And I don’t know about the future. One moment I can see us being together and the next I have no idea so surely that must mean he’s not the one for me. Because if he was the one then I’d know for definite right? I wouldn’t be having all these doubts and questions and I would just know and be happy ever after. .
I’m so tired of it all now 🙁