For many people, obsessing over various aspects of our lives is quite common. For some, we chalk it up to our perfectionist mindset or Type-A personality; for others, they blame their OCD.
Regardless of the reason or frequency, obsessive thought patterns can negatively affect our day-to-day activities, routine, and — most importantly — our relationships.
What is Relationship OCD?
Relationship OCD, also known ROCD, is a type of OCD where individuals are consumed with doubts about their relationship. The kind of obsessive thought pattern the individual is experiencing is what splits ROCD into two classifications:
Relationship-Centered Obsessive-Compulsive Symptom (ROCD Type I)
Type I ROCD is when a partner is obsessive over if the relationship is right for them, or if their partner feels the same way about them. It causes the individual to continually survey and analyze the relationship, asking themselves and those around them if the relationship is right.
Partner-Focused Obsessive-Compulsive Symptom (ROCD Type II)
Type II ROCD typically picks apart their partner, continually analyzing their qualities or traits (or lack thereof) such as looks, social life, stability (fiscally, emotionally, etc.), intelligence, and morals.
Regardless of what type of obsessive thought patterns you may be experiencing, one thing is for sure: it’s detrimental to both partners in a relationship.
How Do We Make the Obsessiveness Stop?
Like many mental health issues and OCD patterns, there are lifestyle changes and self-care exercises that can help us ease some of the anxiety stemming from obsessive thoughts. Here are some examples.
Obsessive thoughts begin when our mind wanders and doesn’t have something to focus on. Practice recalibrating your mind throughout the day, and catch yourself in the “act” before the snowball of obsessive thought patterns starts. Close your eyes, focus on your breathing, and think of a place or time that brings you peace and tranquility. Your goal here is to calm the mind before it begins to race.
Own The Feelings, and then Move On
“It’s important to remember that you are a whole person, and so is your partner. This also means that you have so much more around you than JUST your partner,” Romano said. “It’s helpful to take time to focus on what is going well, friends that you can connect with, taking up a new hobby, reading that book that’s been sitting around. Recognize the thoughts when they start and notice them. Notice how you feel, what you experience in your body and understand that these thoughts will pass as well as feelings. It’s all temporary and pushing them down may force you to ruminate more. You are more than your thoughts!”
Make a List
Many times when we are stressed or anxious, we home in on the negative aspects of our lives, including in our relationships. We need to stop that negativity in its tracks by looking at the big picture of the relationship. A great way to do this is to make a pros and cons list.
Encourage yourself to take an in-depth look into the relationship and extract all of the positives of both the relationship and the person you are in the relationship with. It’s easy to focus and list the negative aspects first, so give yourself time and permission to work on this exercise in a calm, relaxed setting. Usually, after creating a list, within any area of our lives, it allows us to see the big picture in a favorable light, thus quelling any worries or anxieties we may be focusing too much on.
We live in a society where, all too often, we measure the health and status of our relationship by comparing ourselves to our peers, those on social media, and what we see online and on TV. Considering our past can also cause us to obsess and overthink once we enter a new relationship. It’s important to differentiate between what is a potential cause for alarm in a relationship, and what needs to be accepted and deemed as healthy or normal.
Moving Forward with ROCD
On a personal level, I find myself attempting to stunt ROCD patterns regularly because of issues in my past relationships. I also struggle with continually reassessing my relationship based on perceptions of those in relationships around me, or after hearing what others have to say about my partner and me.
I’ve found the best way to combat my relationship obsessions is to let my significant other know why I am feeling insecure in the relationship, as well as discussing my obsessive thought patterns with my therapist. Through mindfulness, positive thinking, and open communication, this obsessive pattern can be silenced, thus allowing for space and growth within the relationship and as an ever-evolving individual.