Relationship OCD – Symptoms and Treatment
What is Relationship OCD?
Relationship OCD, or rOCD, is a newly recognized type of OCD 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.
Symptoms of Relationship OCD
Common Obsessions of 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 of Relationship OCD
The compulsions that a person suffering from rOCD may employ 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
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 Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT), specifically with treatment approaches called Exposure with Response Prevention (ERP), and Mindfulness-Based Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy.
Mindful-Based CBT teaches patients that everyone experiences intrusive thoughts. Individuals will also learn that intrusive thoughts have no power over them and that by responding to their thoughts through compulsive behaviors, their thoughts are given more strength and credibility and their fears and obsessions are strengthened and reinforced. Mindfulness-Based CBT is a very effective OCD treatment, especially when combined with ERP.
ERP exposes patients to situations related to their intrusive thoughts that cause them anxiety. The goal of this treatment is for the patient to prevent himself or herself from completing their compulsive behaviors when triggered by intrusive thoughts. The situations that are confronted will intensify over time, until the patient can face and overcome their most feared scenario. Once they are able to stop themselves from responding to their intrusive thoughts with compulsive behaviors, they can experience tremendous relief from the symptoms of OCD.
If patients are suffering from severe levels of anxiety due to their OCD, they may benefit from participating in treatment at an Intensive Outpatient (IOP) OCD treatment program, as is offered by The Gateway Institute. The Gateway Institute offers Intensive Outpatient treatment options as well as regular outpatient psychotherapy sessions, and a free, 30 minute face-to-face consultation with one of our experienced and caring clinicians at all three of our beautiful locations in Orange County, Scottsdale, Arizona, and the San Francisco Bay Area. OCD symptoms typically worsen over time and can take over a person’s life, so it is very important to seek OCD treatment as soon as possible with a skilled and dedicated OCD specialist who can provide expertise and support during this journey.
Other Common Sub-Types of OCD
It is not uncommon for an individual suffering from one OCD sub-type to also suffer from other sub-types. Treating co-occurring sub-types simultaneously is important in finding balance and healing from OCD.
The Gateway Institute is here to support you in getting the help that you need.
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