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Compulsive Behaviors in Relationships

Compulsive Behaviors in Relationships

When you think of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, you probably thinking of someone being obsessively neat, constantly washing their hands, and making sure the windows and doors are locked. There is another form of OCD called ROCD also known as Relationship Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. This is when you have distressing thoughts targeted towards the “true nature” of your partner’s love. You spend all of your time trying to decide if you find your partner attractive, sexually desirable, and if your relationship with that person will survive in the long-term. Because this is a mental disorder and symptoms are not very noticeable, ROCD can go undiagnosed. Those with ROCD need to learn that love is never perfect and to never doubt a good thing that is right in front of you.

Having ROCD is having thoughts swimming in your head with feelings of doubt and uncertainty in your relationship. The number one question on your mind is “What if I don’t really love my partner?” You wonder if what you and your partner have is true. You need to know the answers to many questions in order to unrealistically determine that you are one hundred percent in love. You could be questioning whether or not you are attracted to that person, how often you think of him/her, what it means if you notice another guy/girl, and much more.

The problems with your mind being preoccupied with these distressing questions is that you could lose a great relationship with a loving partner. Your partner could be struggling about whether or not to continue being in a relationship with you if you are constantly doubting that person’s feelings for you. It is important to learn is that it can never be a fact whether the relationship you are in is right or wrong. If you continue to be afraid you will hurt your partner, chances are that is exactly what will happen.

Luckily, there is treatment for ROCD such as psychoeducation to help you understand how ROCD works and how it affects your daily life. There is also Cognitive Behavioral Therapy to identify and challenge distorted thoughts with realistic ones. Mindfulness training will help you be aware and accepting of obsessive thoughts instead of resisting them. Exposure and Response Prevention gradually exposes you to relationship anxiety situations to make you realize that your fears may be real but they are not realistic.


Castle Craig Hospital is a landmark of addiction and mental health treatment in Scotland, serving the UK, the EU, and patients from all over the world. Our commitment to long term abstinence has created a successful program of clinical and complementary therapies for mind, body, and spirit. Serving over 10,000 patients for more than 25 years, the Castle Craig model is proven in changing lives. Call our 24 hour free confidential phone-line for information: 0808 231 7723. From outside the UK please call: +44 1721 788 006


Page published: October 17, 2017. Page last reviewed and clinically fact-checked January 27, 2020