Relationship
OCD

Relationship OCD (ROCD) involves preoccupation with aspects of an intimate relationship or partner that lead to distress and uncertainty. This preoccupation can center on the relationship itself or on partner-specific qualities or characteristics. As with all OCD subtypes, the obsessions of ROCD are followed by behaviors or purposeful thinking to gain certainty and relieve distress. This may include comparing the connection or love to other relationships and evaluating the "rightness" of the relationship. 

Obsessions: Relationship-Specific

  • having doubts about the relationship

  • asking yourself, "Is this the right relationship for me?"

  • preoccupation with and doubts about your partner's interest and attraction to you

  • persistent and relentless questioning if you are truly happy and/or satisfied in the relationship

  • frequent, time-consuming questioning of your own feelings about the relationship

Obsessions: Partner- Specific

  • preoccupation with real or perceived physical flaws of your partner including height, facial features, skin complexion, rosacea, acne, etc.

  • doubting your partner because of social, moral or religious qualities

  • thoughts of "they're not intelligent enough" or "they're too extraverted/introverted"

  • comparing partner's affection for you with other couples on social media

  • questioning what it means to find someone else (besides your partner) attractive

Compulsions

  • avoidance of places or situations that trigger obsessions like parties or the gym

  • self-reassurance that you are in love, your partner is great, and this is the "right" relationship

  • reassurance-seeking from friends and family

  • internet research 

  • reading stories to compare relationship and/or partner details

  • taking an online quiz

  • asking partner for reassurance that they love you and are attracted to you

  • making lists to get clarity on your relationship or partner

Additional Symptoms

  • extreme distress from the uncertainty and doubt

  • difficulty shifting focus away from the obsessive thinking

  • assigning meaning to the obsessions by saying "If I was truly in love I wouldn't be in doubt about my partner"

  • OCD thinking about your relationship usually continues into future dating experiences and relationships

The Problem with Seeking Certainty

Relationship doubts are a normal part of forming intimate connections and getting closer to a partner. The difference with normal doubts and ROCD is that with ROCD, the preoccupation and distress become increasingly more upsetting, time-consuming, and impairing. Making a list in your head of all the fun times you've had with your partner to get certainty the relationship is good will probably be relieving as you are selectively thinking about these positive experiences. But without fail, the OCD is triggered again which ignites the uncertainty and distress. You are thrust into finding relief and certainty again which perpetuates the cycle. There is no way to conclude without a doubt that any relationship is worth committing to. Living with doubt feels intolerable yet it might be your only option.