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What is Relationship OCD?

Relationship OCD, or rOCD, is a newly recognized type of obsessive-compulsive disorder that is primarily concerned with fears and doubts about one’s relationship, typically of an intimate or romantic nature. People with rOCD may experience intrusive thoughts, fears, and anxiety about whether their partner is right for them, whether they are attracted to their partner or their partner is attracted to them, and intense doubt regarding whether they need to end their relationship.


Common Obsessions in Relationship OCD:

Relationship OCD causes a person to experience crippling doubts about their partner or their love for their partner.
The obsessions typical of Relationship OCD often question a person’s thoughts and feelings about their partner and may include questions such as:

  • “Do I really love my partner?”
  • “Are we really meant to be?”
  • “Am I good enough for my partner?”
  • “I noticed someone else was attractive, does that mean I don’t really like my partner?”
  • “I can think about cheating on my partner so I must not really be attracted to them”
  • “I didn’t really feel anything the last time we kissed, is the spark gone?”
  • “Do they really love me?”
  • “I didn’t really feel turned on last night…”


Common Compulsions in Relationship OCD:

The compulsions that a person suffering from rOCD may use can lead to more doubt, tension, and distress and can cause much heartache for the individual suffering as well as their partner.  Some common compulsions associated with Relationship OCD include:

  • Seeking reassurance that their partner truly loves them
  • Having sex with their partner for the purpose of ensuring that they are still attracted to them
  • Avoidance of deepening their relationship so that they won’t be hurt when their relationship fails
  • Comparing your partner to other people to “test” their attractiveness
  • “Testing” their feelings for their partner by flirting with other people
  • Ending their relationship due to fears that it was not right or “meant to be”


Treatment for Relationship OCD

It is normal to experience intrusive thoughts from time to time. If you have Relationship OCD, however, you might view these intrusive thoughts about your intimate relationship as threatening and assign a great deal to importance to them. For example, you may have thought that a coworker is attractive and then interpret that thought to mean that you don’t really love your partner and that your relationship is not “right”. This causes you significant distress or anxiety. You may then attempt to soothe yourself with a ritual that temporarily reduces your anxiety. Because anxiety is relieved in the short-term, the anxiety cycle continues with the next intrusive thought.


People suffering from Relationship OCD are encouraged to seek treatment from a mental health treatment provider that specializes in the treatment of OCD.  OCD specialists are equipped and prepared to treat a wide array of OCD subtypes, including Relationship OCD . Like all types of OCD, Relationship OCD can be treated with a combination of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and Exposure and Response Prevention.  Contact Lauren Pellizzi to start treatment. 


Relationship OCD