Relationship OCD (R-OCD)

by sira anamwong

by sira anamwong

This post originally appeared April 2011. I’d like to wish all of my readers who celebrate Christmas and Hanukkah a very happy holiday…….

I am continually learning about OCD, and the more I learn, the more I hate this disorder. I had never even heard of  Relationship OCD (or R-OCD), but it’s not new, and all of a sudden I seem to be reading about it everywhere.

Basically, those with R-OCD believe that they should no longer be with their spouses (or significant others) either because they do not love them anymore, aren’t compatible, or whatever. I’m not talking about  those fleeting thoughts that we all have once in a while (sorry Gary). I’m talking about unrelenting, strong obsessive thoughts that tell the sufferer to get out of the relationship. These feelings are so overpowering that some people even become physically ill because of them.

One of the reasons why these thoughts are so distressing is because, as with other OCD thoughts, the sufferer knows his or her thoughts are not rational. But these thoughts torment nonetheless. They incite doubt. So it is upsetting and  confusing to not only the person with OCD, but to his or her partner as well.

From everything I read, R-OCD can come on quite suddenly. It is most common in those with other OCD traits, though there do seem to be cases of those with just R-OCD. And it often goes misdiagnosed or even undiagnosed. The treatment is the same for OCD in general: Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (specifically ERP) and/or medication. And finding the right therapist is paramount.

Left untreated, sufferers commonly will either be in an on-again off-again relationship with the same person, or be in a series of failed relationships. How sad is that? That even one of the most basic human desires, to love and be loved, can be shattered by OCD.

Like I said, the more I learn about OCD, the more I hate it.

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12 Responses to Relationship OCD (R-OCD)

  1. Paul K says:

    Happy Holidays Janet and family !!! 🙂

  2. parentsfriend says:

    A really great post. I am always distressed when I see the Meme’s saying, “Unhappy in a relationship? Leave it.” So destructive, particularly when children are involved or the relationship has lasted for years with more good than bad. I think of it as “the grass is greener syndrome”, but it rarely is greener and sometimes it is astro-turf. Anyway, will share this later on this week. Thank you.

  3. Silence says:

    Hey. I just wanted to say that I disagree with the hating of any mental illness.
    It is not a disadvantage to not have this illness, I agree, but having a mental disorder, is a growing process, for accomplishing tasks within oneself, and to help others.

    I believe that anything really special/accomplishing that comes out of a person, comes though with a lot of pain and suffering. If we were all just average happy joes, there would be no special stories. Sometimes, mental illness can make us grow closer to a person if they are understanding, with the sharing of personal experiences dealing with it.

    It would be awesome if you could check out my new blog post, with a factor of life that I just realised. I feel that it personally for me has been toxic to my anxiety, OCD, and depression. Comment below if you can relate.

    • Hi Silence.

      FIRST, LET ME BE VERY CLEAR THAT EVERYTHING I HAVE WRITTEN BELOW IS JUST MY PERSONAL OPINION. You should also know that I’m a fairly bright guy but by no means “super smart.” Also I have a bad case of OCD.

      Here is my interpretation of what you are saying:

      1) Follow your passions and dreams, and focus your efforts there. I agree…mostly.
      2) “Don’t worship the God of other people’s opinions”. I agree.
      3) Only work hard on things you are passionate about. I DISAGREE. Here’s why: We are born into a culture where getting good grades…even on subjects we don’t like…MATTERS.

      It matters because if you want to go on to higher education (college, etc.) so you can learn more about your PASSIONS, you have to have a good OVERALL Grade Point Average (GPA) in order to get into that university where you can study about what you love. (You know this already).

      Is it fair that you have to get good grades in subjects that you don’t like? Maybe not, but that is how our education system is designed. If you want higher education about things you love, you have to “tough it out” and get through the courses you don’t like. This is the way our education system is set up, and there’s a reason for it: For the most part, high schools and colleges believe it’s important to get a “well rounded” education. I HATED THAT when I was in school. I loved learning about computer software and that’s all I wanted to do. That’s how I felt in my teens and 20s, and 30s. However as I got older, I found that what I was interested in changed. Now I’m interested in TONS of things that I didn’t used to care about. I hated taking english, french, and history in high school and college. Now I LOVE that stuff. We change over time. What you hate now may become what you love later. Today I want to learn as much as I can about almost EVERYTHING!
      We live in an amazing world and fascinating things are happening all the time! I wish I could study the human brain and find a cure for OCD! I wish I was great at french now because I live close to Quebec Canada and French is their primary language. I LOVE visiting the city of Montreal in Quebec. What a cool place!!

      The “powers” that designed the education system in our country believe that a “well rounded” education is important. I used to disagree. However as I’ve lived my life, I’ve learned that knowing all that “other stuff” eventually becomes useful.


      My 2 cents about OCD (to hate or not to hate).

      I HATE OCD.

      The good:
      OCD has made me much more compassionate and less selfish. The saying:
      “Be Kind, For Most People Are Fighting a Hard Battle” is true 99% of the time.
      So I sympathize with other people’s challenges much more now, and I want to help them if I can. I have much more compassion for anyone who is “fighting a hard battle”. I have learned much about “what life is really about”. By that I mean I have acquired wisdom as I have struggled with OCD.

      The bad:
      My OCD got really bad when I was about 23. (I’m 54 now.) It was so severe that I was basically non functional for 2 years. I have been in treatment now (meds and ERP therapy) for 26 years. I have a pretty bad case of treatment resistant OCD. I can only do about 50% of what I used to do before I turned 23.

      What OCD has taken from me because I can’t function well enough:
      1. My 18 year marriage to a wonderful woman.
      2. My career…which I LOVED!
      3. My home. When I lost my job I had to sell it.


      • PS: I just re-read your blog post in the “other” blog again. I think you are talking a lot about the fact that you think “status is bs”, yet people crave it. You also say work hard on your dreams (don’t bother to work hard on social status).

        I think you’re right. I think a big part of the problem is how we are “rewarded” for getting good grades in school. When you get a good grade, you get praise from the teacher, and maybe you even become one of the teacher’s “favorite” students. You also get to compare your grade to your classmates’ grades and basically say (if you choose to): “I’m better than you because my grade is better”.

        Our culture cares WAY too much about status.
        Stay away from that stuff. It creates selfish arrogant people.

        My advice goes back to the top of what I wrote:
        “Don’t worship the God of other people’s opinions”.

        In other words, don’t get good grades so you can compare yourself to others and say “I’m better than you.” That’s childish garbage. Get good grades because you choose to do it to make your own life better. Do it so you can follow your passions. Do it for YOU.

        Other people will still play the “status game”. You can’t stop that unfortunately.
        Ignore it. Refuse to participate.


      • Thanks once again for your insightful comments and for sharing, Paul. I always learn from what you have to say, and today is no different. You are a wise man!

    • Thanks for sharing, Silence, and of course you are entitled to your opinion. I don’t hate a lot of things, but when you see something that practically destroys the life of someone you love dearly, it’s not hard to feel hateful. I admire your perspective though!

    • Deb says:

      Liked your blog silence keep up the good work!

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