4 Signs Of Relationship OCD And How To Make Sense Of It


, ,
Signs Of Relationship OCD And How To Make Sense Of It

What is relationship OCD and what are the best ways of dealing with relationship OCD? This article is going to talk about all that and more.

Relationship OCD refers to someone who has become consumed with obsessive doubts about their partner and their past.

Experiencing changes in the emotions we feel towards a romantic partner is a natural part of developing an intimate relationship. At the same time, we all might pay more attention to our partner’s flaws as the relationship progresses.

But for people in the grip of relationship OCD, these doubts and worries dominate and undermine the relationship. In the grip of relationship OCD, confidence in a relationship will drain away and the sense of possibility and optimism disintegrate.

Related: What Is Relationship OCD? Symptoms, Causes And How To Cope With It

When does Relationship OCD tend to start?

The fact that we suffer from this variant of OCD often only becomes an issue post-adolescence, before then, obsessional problems and attachment issues can be harder to recognise.

When we mature and start to become interested in emotional and intimate relationships things start to become more complicated.

Often, though we might have recognised and lived with the fact that we tend to veer towards obsessional thinking and behaviour, it is only in adulthood that these problems become evident.

Emotional and intimate relationships, particularly in the early stages, can introduce a level of unpredictability into our lives, this can be difficult for people who prefer certainty and predictability.

Though obsessional patterns of thinking tend to be driven by an attempt to minimise anxiety and stress, over time the anxiety and stress become harder to manage and the obsessional behaviour increases.

Relationship OCD

How do obsessional problems develop?

Obsessions tend to start when an idea takes hold and jumps from being a thought or a worry and becomes an action. It becomes a behaviour like washing hands, checking the doors are locked, repeating certain words or phrases to yourself.

Sometimes the ideas behind intrusive thoughts are complicated and have long histories that began in childhood.

You may not be able to remember how your obsessional thinking and behaviour started, and because the nature of obsessional problems creates a dense labyrinth of specific rules and details, it can be difficult to know where the problems began.

In the grip of relationship OCD instead of being able to enjoy the relationship, confidence in the other person drains away and the sense of possibility and optimism disintegrates. We can become quick to lose confidence in the new relationship and end up single and alone again.

Sometimes the trigger to obsessional thinking is in retroactive jealousy, where we might find out something about our partner’s past and then find that we can’t stop thinking about it.

Related: Dating Someone With Relationship OCD? 7 Strategies For Supporting Your Loved One

‘We shared a house at university and started dating, and then afterwards, we moved South and got a flat together. Then I found out that she’d slept with one of my old housemates at university. I don’t think she’d meant to tell me.

I felt excluded, that she’d been keeping secrets from me. Our relationship was good until then, but I just couldn’t trust her after that. I kept wondering who else she’d slept with? I started to become withdrawn and had all of these intrusive thoughts about her.’ – A client’s story

‘When I met him I noticed that he used to sing and hum tunes when we were together. He’d do it when we were silent. Whenever we were together I’d notice it. At first, I found it endearing, but then it bothered me. I commented on it, he said he’d never noticed he did it.

Then I found it irritating when I thought about him. I started doing all of my rituals. I’d try to stop myself from focussing on it. I tried to reassure myself that it was ok. I tried to get him to stop it, to make him fit some idea I had of what a partner should be like.

I tried not to get into thinking that it was a bad sign. I went through all my rituals. Anyway, I couldn’t get it out of my mind and that was it, we broke up.’ – A client’s story

Sometimes relationship OCD will be triggered by a particular characteristic that we notice in our partner, to start with it might be something that we like about them, but then when our relationship OCD gets hold of it, the relationship is undermined.

Signs of Relationship OCD

As well as a range of compulsive behaviours that we might develop as an attempt to limit anxiety, signs of relationship OCD include:

  • Monitoring and checking thoughts, feelings, and behaviours.
  • Comparing our relationship with other people’s.
  • Constantly trying to reassure yourself about the relationship.
  • Trying to correct your partner’s behaviour, and to make them fit some ideal you have about what a relationship is supposed to be like.
Relationship OCD

Making Sense of Relationship OCD

A lot of writing and information on relationship OCD guides readers towards managing their obsessional problems through a mixture of cognitive strategies and meditation. Mindfulness is often suggested as part of a tool kit that readers can use to help them break their obsessional thinking and develop better emotional stability.

I suggest a different solution. In my view, while these are good approaches to the problem, and while it is essential to develop a more stable position, once we’ve broken the negative cycle, and found a way out of the rabbit hole and the quicksand of obsessional thinking, then we can do more to help ourselves.

Developing good habits that support our emotional stability is a staging post, not the destination. If we can develop a way of finding out how our obsessional problems started in the first place, then we can do more to help our relationships thrive.

Instead of being obsessed with our partners’ lives and asking them one question after another, we can start to develop a clearer perspective and understanding of the origin of our worries.

This can enable us to find ways to live better and more satisfying lives and so be able to enjoy our relationships more.

  • We have developed relationship OCD not because there is something wrong with us or our relationships, but because of things that have happened to us.

Related: When Your Relationship Anxiety Makes You Feel Unloved

It isn’t that there is something wrong with the ways our brains are wired. It is more the case that things in our past have hindered us from developing a more stable and less reactive, obsessive, and destructive psychology.

This isn’t about your current partner. This isn’t about your current relationships. There is more behind these issues. These problems tend to be more to do with us and with our past experiences than anything else.

My psychotherapy practice has shown me that often what gets labelled relationship OCD relates more to:

  • early anxieties,
  • early family relationships, and
  • upbringing – than it does to your current partner.

In other words, your relationship OCD derives from your past. What happens is that the complicated emotional and family dynamics we grew up with get activated and projected into our current relationships.

When we find a way to untangle this confusion, we can start to take the destructive heat and intensity out of our relationship OCD, and potentially enjoy our relationship more.

We can’t change our past, but just because we weren’t looked after appropriately when we were very young, just because we were worried about things when we were small, doesn’t mean that we can’t find ways to look after ourselves better now.

Written By Toby Ingham
Originally Appeared On Toby Ingham
signs of relationship ocd

— Share —

— About the Author —

Leave a Reply

Up Next

How To Know If Someone Is Thinking Of You? 10 Psychological Signs

How To Know If Someone Is Thinking Of You? Psychic Signs

Have you ever had that weird feeling that someone is thinking about you, even when they’re not with you? It feels like a whisper in the back of your mind, a subtle but undeniable connection that transcends the physical distance between you two. So then how to know if someone is thinking of you, for sure?

The interesting thing is that, in this curious world of human psychology, there can be many fascinating and psychological signs someone is thinking of you; all you have to do is know what they are.

So, are you ready to do a deep dive into the world of mind-reading (well, sort of). Let’s explore 10 psychological signs someone is thinking of you.


Up Next

6 Minutes To Improve Your Relationship: How To Have Better Communication With Your Partner

Minutes To Improve Your Relationship?

If you are thinking about how to improve your relationship, then you have come to the right place. How to better communicate with your partner? Communication is crucial to building a healthy relationship, and this article is going to talk about that. Let’s explore how to have better communication with your partner.


The three keys to communication are speaking openly, listening empathically, and reflecting back.

We usually skip reflection, so the speaker does not know if they have been heard.

A simple practice of reflection can build this skill.

Does your par

Up Next

6 Key Psychological Truths About Dating Apps

Key Psychological Truths About Dating Apps

Online dating, dating apps, dating sites – all of these things have taken the world by storm and has made dating easier than before. Or has it? This article is going to delve deep into not just the world of online dating and dating sites, but will also talk about the psychological truths about dating apps.

As recently as 15 years ago, internet dating was popularly seen as — to put it delicately — something for losers. Sites like Match, JDate, and eHarmony were in their infancy; the whole idea of finding a partner on the Internet hadn’t really transcended its origins in the personals section of the newspaper.

But with the rise of the smartphone and GPS technology, online dating has lost this stigma and ballooned into a multi-billion-dollar industry. Nowadays, you can treat your cell phone like an all-day singles bar, swiping on Tinder

Up Next

6 Unconventional Relationship Choices That May Seem Weird, But They Do Work

Unconventional Relationship Choices That Actually Work

Unconventional relationship choices, huh? They’re like the hidden gems of the dating world, the rebels of romance, the quirks that keep love alive. Even though traditional relationships have their own appeal and charm, sometimes it’s the unconventional that brings some excitement into our lives.

From open relationships to living apart together, these relationship choices may be frowned upon, but for many people, these are the relationship choices that work the best for them. To each his own, you know.

Such non traditional relationships go against what most people think is normal, however, they show us that l

Up Next

7 Research Backed Relationship Remedies

Research Backed Relationship Remedies

When it comes to dealing with relationship problems, science can prove to be really helpful and can provide you with some substantial research-backed relationship remedies. This article is going to talk about some of the most effective and useful relationship remedies that can make a huge difference to your relationship.

You may think these should go without saying, but in my personal and professional experience, they have not.

7 Research Backed Relationship Remedies

1. Be Quick to Repair Injury

One day, my wife sensed my odd vibe, I didn’t like her asking, and it gr

Up Next

10 Old-School Period Romance Movies To Escape To Another Era

Classic Period Romance Movies Of All Time

Period romance movies are always mysterious. They take viewers on a journey to the past, whisking them away to luxurious settled moments filled with passion and elegance.

The stories never seem to be joyful ones but they do capture the essence of love from different eras. Here, we’ve collected our favorite 10 of the best historical drama movies that we’re sure will captivate you with their timeless charm.

No one ever said love was easy. And I’m almost positive no ever will say it either. But sometimes, we just need to feel something even if its sadness especially when times are tough for us in reality right now…

Whether you’re happy or sad, these ten historical romance movies will give you the escapism you need and deserve. And if that wasn’t enough for you, here’s an

Up Next

What is a Trophy Husband In Today’s Relationship Dynamics?

Signs of a Trophy Husband: Exploring Modern Masculinity

Most of us are aware of the term “trophy wife”. But have you heard about a “trophy husband”? It is a somewhat new term that is a gender-swapped version of the more popular concept of “trophy wife”. 

In today’s evolving society, where gender roles are constantly being redefined, there’s a rising trend of trophy husbands. These men are not only eye-catching companions but also possess qualities that make them desirable partners. 

Today, let us explore this fascinating concept and understand what is a trophy husband,  the signs to look for, why being a trophy husband is exhausting, and the potential issues that can arise in relationships with them.

What is a Trophy Husband?