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Relationship OCD: questions from our readers

We have dedicated the month of February 2022 to discussing and clarifying concepts around Relationship OCD. Below we collect the most interesting or useful questions about this type of obsessive disorder. If you have any questions that are not reflected, do not hesitate to write to us at info@ipitia.com.

Next month we will dedicate it to persistent or chronic OCD. If you want to participate in the debate, follow us on our Instagram account.


What is Relationship OCD?

Relationship OCD is a type of obsessive-compulsive disorder that revolves around love and romantic relationships.

The person who suffers from has constant obsessions about whether they are truly in love with the person they are with and whether or not their love is going to last.

Some common questions:

  • If the partner is suitable for the long term
  • If they really find their partner  attractive
  • If they  can satisfy them sexually
  • If the relationship will last or not.

They are intrusive thoughts that can occupy hours and control the lives of people who suffer it. 

Even if the relationship is satisfactory, the person with Relationship OCD continues to have doubts and obsessive thoughts. They can spend hours searching for information or reading about relationships and also ask other people for their opinion.

In the long run, this can actually affect the relationship, leading to more anxiety.


What are the differences between Relationship OCD and Jealousy OCD? 

To start talking about Relationship OCD it is important to make a distinction between this type of OCD and another one that also refers to love relationships: Jealousy OCD.

Although it may seem the same at first, they are two different types of OCD.


  • Jealousy OCD: the obsession is the possibility of infidelity.
  • Relationship OCD: the obsession is whether the relationship is adequate and true.


What is Jealousy OCD?

The person with jealous OCD has obsessive and repetitive thoughts that their partner is being unfaithful (without any solid basis or proof) and has a compulsive need to check.

To do this, they perform rituals such as constant questions, checking his social media, email or telephone, following their partner, investigating their past or associating any behavior (any change in mood, physical appearance, schedules …) to a possible infidelity .

These obsessions coexist with an irrational dependency to the partner, above one’s own needs, in a compensatory way.

This compulsive jealousy can deteriorate the relationship and, at times, lead to a breakdown. This increases the feeling of abandonment that the person with jealousy OCD had before starting the relationship. If they start a new relationship, this situation can be repeated, since the basis of jealousy is not a possible infidelity, but the anxiety and fears that sustain the origin of OCD.


What is Relationship OCD then?

Relationship OCD:  the person suffers from continuous obsessions about their partner, whether they’re truly in love with them and whether or not their partner is right for them. 

People who suffer from Relationship OCD can worry about whether their partner is suitable for a long-term relationship, if they really find them attractive, and if their relationship has the potential to last or not. These worries are often felt as intrusive and can end up occupying most of their days.  

However, their relationship can be very satisfying, meaning the thoughts are not necessarily generated by a bad relationship.

Some consequences:

  • Constant mood swings.
  • Constant comparisons of the relationship with previous relationships or with other people.
  • Problems during sex or using it to measure the level of affection.
  • Frequently consulting other people about their opinion about the relationship.
  • Spending hours reading or learning about how love or relationships should be like.

If you think you may have one of these types of OCD and it is beginning to affect your romantic relationships, it is best to put yourself in the hands of a specialized therapist. You can do both individual and couple sessions.


What are the main difficulties experienced by a person with Relationship OCD? 

Difficulties that Relationship OCD causes to the person who suffers from it:

  • Constant doubts about whether you love your partner or not .
  • Doubts about whether you find your partner attractive or not.
  • Feelings of guilt.
  • Personal suffering of not knowing whether to continue with the relationship.
  • Putting your life on pause: not taking steps forward in the relationship such as moving in together, getting married, having children, for fear that they will disappoint.
  • Possibility of leaving the relationship, but not ending the obsessions:
    • Leaving the relationship could be a  temporary relief, but the obsessions will return: “What if I should get back together with him/her? What if he/she really was the perfect match for me?”
    • If after a while, the person finds  another partner, the obsessions will appear again.


Why is this happening?

This occurs because the problem was not the couple, but the anxiety that causes the obsessions.

The person with Relationship OCD usually does not have a well-formed identity and therefore does not know how to fit their partner into their life. In addition, they often have assertiveness problems, they do not live the life they want or communicate their true tastes or needs.

All this creates a feeling of insecurity that generates anxiety and manifests itself in the form of obsessive thoughts.


How having a partner with a Relationship OCD can affect you? 


Relationship OCD not only generates suffering to the person who suffers from it, but also to their partner, who is the object of constant doubts.

These are some consequences for people who have a romantic relationship with someone who suffers from Relationship OCD:

  • It can create insecurity by the appearance and disappearance of your partner’s love and affection.
  • It can also create frustration and rage.
  • You can feel pressure from your environment, listening to things like “if your partner really loved you, he would be safe”.
  • You can have doubts about whether to continue or not.
  • You can even end up leaving the relationship when you really don’t want to.


What can you do if your partner suffers from Relationship OCD? 

1. Think that it is just an irrational obsession: It is important not to see doubts as something personal. It is an irrational obsession, which focuses on the couple as it could focus on anything else.

The meaning is symbolic, not direct. That is, it does not mean that you are not the right person for your partner, but that your partner has great anxiety that manifests itself in the form of doubts and obsessions. Usually the cause of this type of OCD is a personal identity problem – which makes it difficult to fit the partner into your life –, as well as unexpressed and repressed desires.


2. Think that there is a solution. It is very difficult to make this affect you less, but there are some things you can think about.

  • This is a temporary thing, if you look for help, you can find a solution to the problem.
  • This does not say anything negative about you, because the cause of everything is anxiety and lack of assertiveness.
  • It is possible to find help: there are psychology professionals specialized in the treatment of Relationship OCD to work with on the root problem.


3. Try to support your partner. As all this comes from the internal anxiety of your partner, it is very important that they feel they have your support. Try sentences like: “I understand that this is very difficult for you if you want to talk I’m here, tell me if I can help you with something,”.

In moments of great anxiety, it is important to have an escape route so it does not turn into obsessions. We recommend that you motivate your partner to do an intense sport or activity to free themselves in those moments. For example boxing, dancing, martial arts, horse riding… All this helps reduce anxiety and, therefore, obsessions.

4. Look for professional help. Encourage your partner to look for professional help. Remind them that:

  • The obsessions come from their anxiety.
  • This type of disorder is very common, it does not only happen to them.
  • There are psychology professionals specialized in the treatment of Relationship OCD.

5. Not only obsessions matter. As we said, at the origin of this type of OCD we find unexpressed or unfulfilled desires and a great lack of assertiveness. Therefore, it is important to talk about your partner’s tastes and needs; and encourage them to pursue your desires even if it requires risk.


Is it considered Relationship OCD to be very afraid that you might stop liking your partner? 


This is a common concern for people with Relationship OCD. When you have Relationship OCD you may have doubts about whether you love your partner or not, whether you like them or not, whether you are attracted to them or not. These concerns can come and go even on the same day. This causes a very confusing situation for the person suffering from it and also for their partner. They have to deal with both the underlying anxiety in the person with OCD, and the insecurity that their doubts may cause in the partner.

The difference between Relationship OCD and normal doubts about the couple are the discomfort that these doubts generate, the time they last and the frequency with which they come. When someone has Relationship OCD, the person can spend hours or even days worrying about them.


Can you have two types of OCD at the same time?


This is not only possible, but most often. Most of our patients usually have two or more types of OCD. The types of OCD that you have can also vary during your life depending on repressed elements of the person


What if (I think) my partner is lying? 


This is not only possible, but most often. Most of our patients usually have two or more types of OCD. The types of OCD that you have can also vary during your life depending on repressed elements of the person

What if I have the idea that my partner will get bored of me?


This thought is also a frequent obsession within Relationship TOC. Again, you have to think that it is an irrational thought and that it is the result of a high internal anxiety. You have to treat that basic anxiety and not focus on the symptom (which is the content of the obsession itself)


How do you overcome Relationship OCD?


In order to overcome relationship OCD it is important to rebuild the internal structure of the person. We work on helping the person establish their own judgment and values. We foment the client to make decisions about their own life, even if this involves having to make important changes with regard to their job or free time. We also work on integrating passion in both their work and private life. We help them to (re)discover their likes, their creativity and to incorporate Eros into their life.

The moment the person comes back to their center, the moment they acquire their own judgment and values, the decision about whether to stay with their partner or not becomes a lot easier. It is more difficult when you’re trying to rate your partner when you yet don’t know who you are. We will help you to find your center again and to live a life that is full of passion, both in your relationship as well as outside of it.



Is it essential that a psychiatrist verifies that you have ROCD before looking for a psychologist to treat it? 

It is not essential. The psychiatrist can help you prescribe medication if you need it. The psychologist can make the diagnosis directly


Is it key for diagnosis that compulsions take at least 60 min a day? 


No, actually the time you spend on the compulsions doesn’t matter. 

What is important is that the compulsions mean that the person suffers from a high degree of underlying anxiety. Therefore, normally we have already reached a high level of suffering, which means that the person can go deeper into therapy. 

Furthermore, a symptom that is key to the diagnosis is the interference caused by the compulsions and/or obsessions in the person’s daily life.