Non-traditional
Relationship

OCD

Non-traditional relationship OCD involves obsessions, compulsions and difficulty with uncertainty that revolve around important and platonic relationships with people, pets, places, ideas or things. Just like with traditional relationship OCD (ROCD), the preoccupation can center on the relationship itself or on specific qualities or characteristics of the other half in the relationship. As with all OCD subtypes, the obsessions are followed by behaviors or purposeful thinking to gain certainty and relieve distress. This ROCD distinction - relationships that are platonic - is not its own subtype of OCD but rather a recent expansion of relationship OCD.

What Constitutes a Relationship?

A relationship is defined as a connection between two or more people, objects or ideas. Sometimes we narrowly define a relationship as a romantic partner connection. But truly, one can have a relationship with so many things inside or outside of themselves. We have relationships with friends, our children, nieces or nephews, pets, our boss and coworkers; we even have relationships with the café barista, grocery store clerk and the neighborhood Amazon driver. 

When we consider the expansive definition of a relationship and contrast that with the narrow definition of relationship OCD, it's clear there's an inconsistency. Broadening the content of what's considered ROCD allows for a more accurate diagnosis and application of treatment. 

Types of Platonic
Relationships

  • parent / child

  • pet owner / pet(s)

  • employee / boss

  • student / teacher

  • individual / job or college major

  • individual / their home

  • individual / doctor

  • individual / celebrity

Obsessions

  • doubts about the integrity of the relationship

  • questioning the happiness and/or health of each person, pet or object

  • second-guessing your decision-making and whether it's "right"

  • persistent thoughts about whether you are fulfilling all aspects of your role or title

Compulsions

  • checking in with the other person for reassurance that things are still good

  • self-reassurance that you are doing the right thing or are in the right place in life

  • reassurance-seeking from friends and family

  • internet research 

  • reading stories to compare your relationship with other's experiences

  • scrutinizing the behavior of the other person or pet for signs that confirm or disconfirm your belief or suspicion

  • relationship-testing