If you or someone you know is constantly mulling over your relationship or having compulsions or obsessions regarding your relationship, you may ask yourself, is this normal? Sometimes, mourning the loss of a recent breakup or excessively gushing over your partner in a new relationship is normal. However, when the obsessions are too consuming, or too much focus on the relationship or the other person in the relationship affects your daily functioning, there's more to the story.
In this article, we address Relationship Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (ROCD), including what it means to have this type of OCD, related symptoms, how to get over obsessive-compulsive relationship disorder, and diagnostic tests that can identify if you or a loved one is suffering from Relationship Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (ROCD). Let's start with the definition of ROCD.
Relationship OCD is interference with daily activities and life skills because of a complete focus on the relationship or the other partner's relationship. For example, repetitive thoughts, behaviors, obsessions, other OCD symptoms, and actions taken to believe that taking these actions will cause the desired outcome or prevent an unfavorable outcome.
According to the NCBI, people who suffer from Relationship OCD exhibit low mood, depression, preoccupation with obsessive thoughts and obsessions, other OCD symptoms, and compulsive behaviors. What makes these symptoms unique with this type of OCD is that these behaviors, beliefs, obsessions, and assumptions have to do with romantic relationships. ROCD is a fairly new diagnosis in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.
When you visit a licensed clinical professional to diagnose this type of OCD, you'll be presented with a series of tests that will let your clinician know if the OCD symptoms you've been exhibiting are because of an actual diagnosis of ROCD. During the second stage of diagnosis, a clinician will present you with a relationship obsessive-compulsive disorder test. You'll be presented with a questionnaire with a few behavioral symptoms listed in the DSM-5.
According to the American Psychological Association, the RTBI is an OCD diagnostic tool. When this tool is used, primary symptoms of relationship obsessive-compulsive disorder (ROCD) involve "Being consistently bothered by unwanted, images, thoughts, repetitive urges," and "being driven to perform certain behaviors or mental acts over and over."
If your score on this inventory shows the likelihood of ROCD or other mental disorders, they will give you a secondary assessment. Based on your initial responses to the level one assessment you took, your therapist, counselor, or medical doctor may deem it necessary to take the next assessment.
The level two assessment for OCD and related diagnosis is called the "Repetitive Thoughts and Behaviors Inventory" (RTBI). Mental health treatment providers use this 5 question assessment to assess your mental capacity. They can use the Repetitive Thoughts and Behaviors Inventory for clients suspected of having ROCD or other disorders to measure the severity of their symptoms.
The RTBI measures the number of positive and negative responses to target questions related to OCD symptoms such as unwanted repetitive thoughts, urges, images, obsessions, or feeling compelled to perform certain behaviors over and over. The severity of OCD symptoms is measured by the amount of time these activities have taken from the client's life, how much distress the client (or their relationship counterpart) is being caused, the amount of control the client feels they have over the situation, and success or failure of attempts made to stop or mitigate maladaptive behaviors that produce negative outcomes with no outside support.
Your therapist, counselor, licensed clinical social worker, or other qualified clinicians will discuss the results with you. Based on your results on the RTBI and other combined factors, your clinician will give you their final assessment of your potential OCD condition. If they feel that you're exhibiting symptoms that fall in line with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) that only apply to your intimate relationships, they will probably determine that you have relationship obsessive-compulsive disorder.
Now that you've gotten the answer to "What is relationship obsessive-compulsive disorder (ROCD)" and gotten a diagnosis, the next step is to get the right treatment to help you learn to live with this type of OCD and mitigate the symptoms. Relationship obsessive-compulsive disorder isn't something you can necessarily "get over."
ROCD is a mental health condition that requires treatment and monitoring, much like any chronic mental health disorders or physical health conditions like heart disease or bronchitis. The goal of treatment is to provide relief from symptoms and an overall improvement in your life quality. You may live with relationship OCD for the rest of your life. This doesn't mean that you have to let it control you. The following are common treatments used for this type of OCD.
Talk therapy is usually the main ingredient in most mental health treatment plans. The goal of talk therapy using modalities like cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is to educate clients on identifying the behaviors and triggers that aggravate the symptoms of their disorders.
During talk therapy sessions with licensed counselors, ROCD clients learn what's behind their specific symptoms of the disorder and new strategies for mitigating those symptoms by deliberate changes in behavior, including the possibility of adding daily psychiatric medications into their lives. This brings us to the next common treatment for ROCD. Let's look at medications that clinicians commonly prescribe to treat this type of OCD.
Following a physical exam, a series of lab tests, and a psychological evaluation, your licensed mental health care provider may deem it necessary for you to take medication to manage your ROCD. Antidepressants and other psychiatric medications may be prescribed if your mental health care professional feels it's warranted.
A critical component of successfully managing this type of OCD symptoms often involves committing to taking prescribed medications and applying new life skills and behaviors learned in therapy to your everyday life. They license medical doctors and psychiatrists to prescribe medication for mental health disorders.
Don't be surprised if your licensed mental health clinician refers you to a local partner or agency for medication management, as not all providers can legally dispense medication.
Commitment To Permanent Life Changes
Without committing to following through with keeping your therapy appointments and managing your medication, getting help for managing ROCD won't work. Once you receive a diagnosis of this type of OCD, you have to learn to accept that this diagnosis may become a permanent part of your life. As mental health disorders are equivalent to medical disorders, you have to learn to understand that a mental disorder diagnosis is not your fault.
Forty-three million Americans manage symptoms of mental illness in the United States today. You're not alone in this fight. To win, you have to commit yourself to show up in full for the process.
This means attending scheduled therapy appointments, taking prescribed medications on time, and implementing other recommended changes that will help you improve your life's circumstances. Taking part in modalities like cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) and exposure therapy (ERP) will help you learn how to implement new behaviors into your life as therapy gradually introduces them.
Ways To Get Therapy
People with ROCD have multiple options for taking part in therapy for this diagnosis. Clients that have this type of OCD have the option to take part in traditional in-office therapy sessions that include CBT and ERP therapies. Besides traditional therapy options, mental health clients can now also participate in therapy online through therapy apps and subscription-based therapy platforms.
Today's therapy platforms offer mental health clients easy-access to much-needed mental health care services, including therapy, advice, online support groups, and access to web articles for self-support options.
Getting started with online therapy is easy. You can use therapist matching services like MyTherapist.com to get matched with licensed professional therapists in your area. MyTherapist.com will get you connected with a board-certified therapist licensed to practice psychotherapy within your state of residence.
Even though this is distance therapy, they choose providers from a pool of active candidates within your state of residence to ensure no disruption in your continuum of care should you need supplemental offline mental health services or support. Common supplemental services that online mental health clients use are in-office therapy sessions and medication management services.
When you choose online therapy as your preferred method of therapy with a licensed mental health professional, you have the option to take part in therapy sessions with qualified professionals, including psychologists, licensed professional counselors, marriage and family therapists, and licensed clinical social workers.
Regardless of their official titles, therapy clinicians' roles are the same: providing treatment and relief for individuals and families suffering from mental illness issues.
They conduct online therapy visits via the Internet, so you'll need a strong Internet or wifi signal - plus a compatible device to get started. Providers like MyTherapist.com make it easy to get started with online therapy by operating one of the US's leading therapy platforms today.
The BetterHelp.com platform provides mental health clients with access to a therapy pool of over 2,000 licensed mental health professionals. Clients connect with therapists online by desktops, laptops, tablets, and other mobile devices to conduct distance therapy sessions via video, chat, and SMS messaging.
Today's relationship OCD sufferers have more options than ever before to get help for managing a debilitating relationship obsessive-compulsive disorder. With options on the ground and distance therapy options available online, there's no reason that you have to suffer alone with the painful symptoms of relationship OCD. Get help from licensed and board-certified mental health professionals (at a price you can afford) today. Your first consultation is free. Contact MyTherapist.com to learn how you can live a better life with ROCD today.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs):
What is relationship obsessive-compulsive disorder?
A relationship obsessive-compulsive disorder (ROCD), sometimes referred to as relationship OCD, is when a person lives with constant doubts about their relationship, questions their love for their partner, and their partner's compatibility. There is a difference between common relationship concerns and the issues faced by someone experiencing relationship OCD rocd or a related disorder. Given that ROCD is a subset of OCD, it is normal for someone living with this disorder to exhibit standard obsessive-compulsive symptoms. With ROCD, it is common to see a relationship-centered around doubts and questions about the rightness of the relationship.
Is ROCD a real thing?
As mentioned, any intimate relationship can have problems or concerns emerge for the duration of the relationship. With that said, ROCD is real, and the feelings and thoughts that someone experiencing this anxiety disorder may feel are legitimate. Obsessive-compulsive symptoms differ from common relationship concerns and are typically unbearable while using up large amounts of energy.
How do I know if I have relationship OCD?
Given that ROCD is a subset of OCD, many of the obsessive-compulsive symptoms are the same. Here are a few common ongoing romantic relationship feelings or concerns that may indicate you are experiencing relationship OCD rocd. Constantly testing your own level of attraction to your partner based on how attracted you are to other individuals can signify this anxiety disorder. Additionally, constant uncertainty about whether you are in the right relationship or comparing your current romantic relationship to a previous one are two more signs. Consistently questioning your relationship's rightness and a relationship based solely on this verdict is a major sign of relationship OCD. While the symptoms may vary slightly from person to person, an intimate relationship plagued by worries of whether a person is right for you and anxiety stemming from these concerns is one of the largest signs.
What should you not say to someone with OCD?
If you know someone experiencing ROCD or related disorders, there are a few things you should refrain from saying to them. Perhaps the biggest thing you should never say to someone with OCD is claiming they do not have OCD. The obsessive-compulsive disorder is quite real, and accusing someone of not having it invalidates their feelings. On the same line of thinking, refrain from telling a person with OCD to stop worrying about something. People living with OCD or ROCD cannot just stop thinking about something. Many living with this disorder have a relationship-centered and partnered centered mindset that can’t just be switched off. While treatment is available, it’s a long and arduous process. Someone with related disorders cannot simply stop having their thoughts on a whim. A less known statement that is best not to say to someone experiencing a form of OCD is to mention if you had OCD in the past and overcame it on your own. Individual cases of OCD differ drastically, and just because one person was capable of overcoming the challenge on their own doesn’t mean everyone can without help.
How do I fix my OCD relationship?
There are a few prominent ways to fix your OCD relationship and overcome negative ongoing romantic relationship feelings. First and foremost, therapy and medication can help someone start to overcome these thoughts and emotions. These treatments can help a romantic relationship become healthier and avoid a relationship centered on validation. On a more personal level, getting one’s partner involved through honest discussions and learning to spot the symptoms can help repair intimate relationships.
What does ROCD feel like?
ROCD can have many thoughts and feelings associated with the disorder. Typically, those experiencing ROCD in their romantic relationships find their relationship centered around preoccupation, doubts, and neutralizing behaviors. Many common feelings involved with ROCD have a relationship-centered and partner centered on “rightness.” Any action that can seemingly jeopardize that rightness in the mind of someone with ROCD may result in shame, anxiety, or persistent doubt throughout a romantic relationship.
Can ROCD go away?
Related disorders to OCD, including ROCD, are chronic conditions that won’t fix themselves and may not even be cured completely in some cases. However, the right treatment can subdue the symptoms of OCD and make a living with the condition more than bearable. Those who have ROCD can still have successful intimate relationships with treatment and honest discussions with their partner. With a lot of hard work and dedication, ROCD and related disorders can stop being a disruption in a person’s romantic relationships and reduce the chance of a relationship-centered on unhealthy emotions.
How do I stop obsessing over someone?
A relationship based on obsession or the rightness of the relationship isn’t healthy. Oftentimes, those living with ROCD or related disorders can see some success in halting a relationship centered on obsession by stopping comparisons, practicing mindfulness, and taking the time to address one’s own feelings and moving forward from them. It’s advised that a person experiencing related disorders try to remind themselves that you are a whole person, but so is another person. Many people have large amounts of time beyond each other, and remembering this can help reduce the likelihood of a relationship-centered and partner centered mindset. Address thoughts as they emerge and determine the specific cause to see if what you feel is a common relationship sentiment or something to do with ROCD.