Relationship Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (ROCD) is a form of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) which is entirely a mental compulsion. ROCD is where the individual has nagging, unwanted doubts about the strength, quality or compatibility of their relationship. The obsession centers around their partner’s attractiveness, appropriateness as a mate, long term viability as a mate, or sexual desirability. While most of us associate OCD with excessive hand-washing or checking door locks, pure obsessional OCD happens entirely in the mind and is much less noticeable. ROCD revolves around the sufferer’s doubts concerning their own feelings about their partner. It is not insecurity about how their partner feels about them.
Here are some signs that your partner may be suffering from ROCD:
1. “What If I Don’t Really Love My Partner?”
Having doubts about a relationship, especially if it is new, is normal. With ROCD, the sufferer knows how they feel, but the unwanted doubts come back over and over again fueling a cycle of obsession. They worry that they are harming their partner by staying in a relationship with them when they doubt that their love is real and true. They know they love their partner but obsess over their own “What If?” doubts.
2. “What if My Partner is Not The One?”
The myth of “The One” is fueled by Hollywood movie fantasies, romance novels and love songs. People are flawed and complex, while most of these fantasy characters are ideals with little basis in reality. But we are bombarded by the concept of “The One” from an early age. The Princess Fantasy is deeply ingrained in our society where the woman is saved by “True Love’s Kiss” or some such nonsense. Real love is messy, complicated and the world’s oldest endurance sport. Nobody is perfect, but the person suffering from ROCD obsesses over their partners very human flaws and compares them to an unachievable ideal.
3. “What if I Am Not Attracted To My Partner?”
Someone with ROCD knows they are attracted to their partner, but the doubts generated by the disorder overwhelm their own thoughts. They constantly question every stray thought they have concerning their partners’ attractiveness. If they see someone they think is cute or attractive, they then begin questioning whether they could find their partner attractive if they can find someone else attractive. Normal people can see and appreciate beauty in others without questioning whether they are attracted to their partner. Someone suffering from ROCD constantly doubts their own thoughts about and attraction to their partner.
4. “I Enjoy My Alone Time – Does This Mean I Don’t Love My Partner?”
The person with ROCD generates doubts whenever they enjoy any time away from their partner and question their own feelings about their partner. How could their partner be “The One” if they enjoyed a day or a few hours without them?
5. They Fixate On The Long Term Viability Of The Relationship
The person with ROCD will constantly seek reassurance that their choice of partner is “the right one” from friends and family. They will compare their relationship with the relationships of others, even fictitious relationships from movies and novels. The sufferer will compare and contrast their current relationship with relationships from the past. Their compulsive doubts will dig out a normal person’s flaws and compare them to the flaws of their previous partners, and use that as an excuse to doubt the viability of the current relationship.
6. People With Relationship OCD Will Avoid Gestures of Intimacy, Love or Being Around Other Attractive People
People with ROCD fear that they will ultimately harm their partner when they “figure out” that the person is not “The One”. They will avoid being intimate, saying I love you or showing loving and affectionate gestures for fear that they will further entangle themselves in the relationship, making the inevitable breakup that much harder on their partner. This compulsion is fed by their obsessive doubts about their relationship.
What ROCD is not is stalking people you find attractive, texting your ex a hundred times a day, checking your partner’s text messages or emails or being jealous of your partner anytime they are around members of the opposite sex. They do not doubt their partner’s feelings, but their doubts center around their own feelings. It is also not a fear of intimacy or commitment.
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Treatment is relatively simple with a high rate of success from a qualified Cognitive Behavioral Therapist. These specialized therapists use a number of techniques to educate, identify the problem thoughts and teach the sufferer to overcome the obsessive doubts.