Updated: Mar 3, 2020
Blog post written by, Lissette Cortes, PsyD
“I love him, I love him not, I love him, but really, do I? “ This is often an internal dialogue of ROCD, relationship OCD. Individuals with ROCD are consumed by their doubt around their feelings towards their significant other, their attraction to them, their relationship and their partner’s love for them. ROCD has been defined as relationship focused uncertainty or anxiety. Individuals with ROCD often worry about being with the right person, loving their partner as much as they love them and vise versa, that they might lose feelings for their partner, or that they might cheat on their partner even though they may not want to.
Like in other OCD subtypes, in ROCD the concept of “enough” is never truly achieved. Clean enough, organized enough, true enough, safe enough are finish lines that are either never achieved in OCD or if they ever are, it is only for a short lived time. People with ROCD constantly analyze their relationship and their feelings about it, compare their current relationship to their past relationship, will search in social media for any sign that their partner is cheating, and will even avoid being with a person they may find attractive due to fear of potentially cheating on their partner. Inherently, ROCD like other types of OCD is rooted in an insatiable need for reassurance.
For individuals with ROCD, although their partner reassures them that they love them, that they are faithful and that they want to be with them it never feels like it’s enough. This often leads to repeatedly breaking up as an effort to alleviate anxiety and uncertainty. However, this only feed the cycle of distress and causes more and more intrusive thoughts, worry and fear.
So what do we do when love does not feel like it’s enough? ROCD is treated like other OCD types through exposure and response prevention. In essence being able to change these cycles of doubt and reassurance seeking so much so, that uncertainty is much more tolerable and relationships are much more fulfilling. With proper diagnosis and treatment people with ROCD can live fuller more stable and functional lives.
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