"Does he love me? No, but does he really love me? He must love me every minute of every day or else he is just pretending." These are thoughts that someone with "relationship OCD (ROCD)" has.
With ROCD, we doubt what is our reality. We are not truly present or IN the relationship. We are one foot in and the other foot in our heads.
Let's get back to basics here.
Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder = Obsessions + Compulsions
Obsessions are any thought, image, or idea that persistent and unwanted. Compulsions are actions that you do to reduce the anxiety caused by the obsession. ROCD is a type of OCD that includes obsessions and compulsions.
An example of an obsession and compulsion in ROCD:
Obsession: "Why am I not passionately in love all day long with my partner?"
Compulsion: [Checking physically/mentally to see how you feel about you partner multiple times a day]
Here is how we can navigate romantic relationships with OCD:
1. Identify your compulsions and triggers.
Open your "notes" app in your phone and jot down the intrusive thought you have followed by your compulsion. Do this as [in the moment] as possible. Observe a pattern.
2. Build a skillset of tools and resources
You can check out my article on OCD resources HERE. It is a great way to get a jump start on building your toolbox. Practice these tools slowly and when you're in a good mood. It's like an insurance policy - you practice when you feel good so that you're ready when you feel bad.
3. Get stupid when you have sex
You read that RIGHT! Sex and ROCD go hand-in-hand (no pun intended, ha!). Lots of intrusive thoughts happen during the act. "Get stupid" means to get as in your body as possible. Be present! Feel all the physical sensations. Get out of your head and into your body.
4. Find a therapist that specializes in OCD.
Lucky for you, yours truly specializes in anxiety and OCD and I am taking new clients virtually. Having a OCD therapist will give you the tools you need to minimize those unwanted thoughts.
5. Know the difference between your ROCD and your "gut" feeling.
This one is tricky for soo many people.
"But what if my gut says they aren't the right person??"
"What if my gut tells me I could do better??"
In this case you must remember that with relationships it's challenging to trust your gut. It's best to go back to #1 and identify your triggers.
Relationship OCD can feel isolating and stressful. Remember, to be present and communicate with your partner. Having healthy activities outside the relationship (like workout out, painting classes, etc) help too! A healthy relationship with yourself is just as important (if not more) as with your partner.