What is the deal with Relationship OCD (ROCD)?

Imagine just imagine your brain telling you to break up with someone you love, I mean truly love. The one you want everything with and the one whom you have never experienced feelings like this before with…but your brain keeps saying “what if;” your brain keeps coming up with anxious thoughts that make you question what you are feeling and what you are doing. These anxious thoughts make it impossible to even feel the love you know you have and the experience of not being able to enjoy caring about someone tears you apart.

Imagine seeing random people whom you would never be attracted to, but because you fear commitment and don’t feel lovable, you are triggered by the thoughts of “what if I am with the wrong person and what if I want to be with that [random]person.” The fact is, because you are so deep in anxiety/OCD world, you think this thought means something to you and that you need to listen to it. Your heart begins to pound, sweat moistens your palms, and your brain begins to run a million miles a minute sending messages and causing impulsive actions. So quickly do you decide “Oh my gosh maybe I don’t want to be with X and I need to be with Y.” And before you know it, you have pushed away the one person that you care about the most because of a fear of closeness and an inability to identify anxiety driven thoughts versus real “I should pay attention to this” thoughts. Pushing that person away eases the anxiety because the triggering thoughts are no longer present. So then what happens? You FEEL. Without the anxiety, you feel all the positive emotions you have for that person. You feel the deep care you have, the desire to be with that person, and the deep love. So more than likely you try to pull them back in. But the anxiety comes right back when the person and “threat” of love comes right back. So you are “stuck” once again.

This is the most painful experience one might have.

“But I just felt how I truly feel about this person. How can I possibly be right back to terrified and triggered by questions of if it’s the right move?” The amount and depth of feelings you have fort his person terrifies you and the anxiety begins again. Without getting to the core of the anxious thoughts, you enter a vicious cycle of push-pull, triggered-reassurance.

That is OCD. That is Relationship OCD from a high level.

A few questions come out of this:

  1. How do you get over OCD, specifically relationship OCD?
  2. How do you forgive yourself if you suffer from ROCD and push your love away? If you regret it, how do you forgive yourself? If the other person wants to stick around, how do you handle that?
  3. How do you know it is OCD?
  4. How do you explain this diagnosis to someone you are trying to date? Even if you are better. Will it come up? If it does, how do you handle that?

I would love to hear thoughts from people who might suffer or even those who have handled anxiety and other mental health issues with significant others.


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