Love the One You’re With? (…And Other Questions in Relationship OCD)

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Love the One You’re With? (…And Other Questions in Relationship OCD)

You wake up next to your significant other with a feeling in the pit of your stomach.  Your anxiety rises as you look over and notice the bed head, bare face and morning breath.  You get in the shower to avoid looking at your partner, desperation rising.  Your brain races about how you will escape the potentially horrible situation you are in.  Are you attracted enough to your significant other?  Do you both think the same stuff is funny?  How do you know if you love them?  Is there another person who is a better match?  Should you be in this relationship at all or is it time to finally end it?

Relationship OCD (ROCD) is an OCD theme where you experience persistent fear and uncertainty about your relationship.  The obsessions demand that something must be wrong and needs to be figured out before the relationship can develop any further.  The OCD thoughts and feelings make ROCD sufferers feel as though they are living in denial of the true nature of the relationship.

Some people with ROCD are serial breaker-uppers.  Others stay in the relationship but suffer for months or years trying desperately to figure out if they should continue on.  Still others feel scared they will ‘have to’ break up with the person even though they desperately want to stay with them.  The presence of relationship obsessions followed by compulsive behaviors that attempt to solve relationship uncertainties make up the structure of ROCD.

Relationship OCD Obsessions

Obsessions about potentially being in the wrong relationship

Obsessions about having the ‘right’ feelings about significant other

Obsessions about the attractiveness of significant other

Obsessions about your significant other’s sexual past

Obsessions about being attracted to other people

Obsessions about having to break up with significant other

Obsessions about your significant other being a bad person

As in all forms of OCD there is an extreme sense of urgency to resolve uncertainty and lower distress.  The resulting panic, anxiety and guilt leads to compulsive behaviors that reinforce relationship obsessions and doubt.

Relationship OCD Compulsions

Mental analysis of quality of current relationship

Mental comparison of current and past relationships

Avoid saying “I love you” until certainty is achieved

Avoid attending weddings with or meeting family of significant other

Avoid cohabitating, getting engaged, married, or becoming otherwise more serious out of fear of ‘having’ to hurt the person

Avoid looking at, speaking to, or making eye contact with attractive people

Frequently breaking up and then resuming relationship

Confessing lack of feelings to significant other

Confessing attraction to other people

Testing for physical arousal or ‘love feelings’ for partner

Reassurance seeking from others about relationships

Avoid movies about cheating or loving couples

Is there a better match out there for you? 

Is there a better match out there for you?  Probably.  There are people out there who are probably funnier and more attractive, and you may have better sexual chemistry with them.  But do you plan to go to the ends of the earth and spend your life looking for that perfect person and perhaps never finding them?  That is not a good idea if it is a value of yours to meet someone and spend your life with them.

In fact, that fantastical person will also have things that don’t perfectly match up with you.  We all must select a decent match and decide to accept their downsides rather than picking someone else and accepting their downsides.  There is a time where the searching needs to end if we are ever to have a life partner and begin spending our lives with them.  While this may sound like selling out or living in denial to the ROCD sufferer, it is the normal process each person experiences when choosing a life partner.

What is love?

How will you know if you are in love?  How you do know if your love is strong enough to continue on in the relationship?  There is no blood test to find out.  Love is a feeling and not a perpetual state; sometimes we feel it and sometimes we don’t.  OCD tends to attach itself to immeasurable and unprovable things.  When the distance to the answer is a long and confusing one, OCD has more material to complicate and force certainty-seeking compulsions that is its life force.  Relationships will involve both pleasant and unpleasant feelings, and ROCD sufferers will mistake difficult internal experiences as evidence.

“That’s just a movie!”

OCD loves to use comparisons to make you doubt your relationship and do compulsions to resolve the doubt.  You may see a romantic couple in public laughing, one snapshot in time, and believe your relationship is not as connected or exciting.  In movies, we are constantly bombarded by the fantasy of true romantic love, relationships, and sexual attraction that don’t actually exist in real life.  There is no musical score playing in the background when you walk in New York City holding the hand of your significant other.

Before getting engaged to my husband, we were watching a scene from a ridiculous movie, the title which is escaping me.  During a proposal scene, the male character got down on one knee, opened his hand, and there was a butterfly.  When it flew away the engagement ring was exposed.  In the next scene the butterfly was in a cage, somehow captured as her pet and reminder of the engagement.  Seeing my reaction to this proposal, my then boyfriend exclaimed, “That’s just a movie!  I can’t hold a butterfly in my hand, it would be crushed!”  Needless to say, I did not get my butterfly proposal, but I married him anyway.

OCD vs. wrong relationship

It’s not only one or the other.  Many of you may think that if you can know for sure you have OCD then you will know for sure that your significant other is right for you.  You may also fear that if you don’t have OCD and have been misdiagnosed, this means you are in denial of being in a relationship you really shouldn’t be in.  You may fear extreme consequences such as a life that lacks the relationship you’ve always dreamed of.

You may imagine your true soul mate waiting for you to find them as you are all tied up with the wrong person.  You wonder if the doubt you feel is a sign you should be paying attention to.  You think, “Maybe this doubt means something.” This is why ROCD can be so confusing.  You can have ROCD with a good match and ROCD with a not-so-good match.  Figuring out if you have OCD is not a way to choose to stay in a relationship.  In fact, if you are seeking certainty about the relationship or if you have OCD you are doing a ritual that is reinforcing uncertainty about your relationship.


All relationships involve some level of risk.  The nature of relationships can be a huge trigger for intrusive OCD thoughts and desperate feelings of uncertainty.  Nobody has 100% certainty that it will work out.  For example, I have no idea if my husband is packing his bags right now as I type these words.  This risk is inherent in everything we do.  I am currently on an airplane and I don’t know for sure it won’t crash.  I’m taking my chances.  Individuals with OCD tend to be risk avoidant, especially when it comes to his or her OCD theme.

The OCD brain is more sensitive to uncertainty.  This causes the sufferer to attempt to answer the questions about the relationship that others let fade naturally without much attention.  In direct attempt to avoid risk and reduce uncertainty, sufferers perform compulsions to make sure bad things don’t happen in regards to the relationship.  Just as a person with ‘checking OCD’ would check the stove to be sure the house won’t burn down, those with ROCD check their brains to be certain that they are not making a mistake in their love life.

Feelings barometer

Feelings come and go.  We don’t decide when we feel things; feelings just happen.  At some point today you may feel a loving feeling toward your significant other and at some point you may be annoyed by him or her.  At some point you may feel like spending time together and at some point you will want to be alone.  If we depended on feelings as a decision-maker about whether to be with our partners, we would be breaking up with them multiple times per day.

People without OCD are able to shock absorb these shifts in feelings.  Those with ROCD feel every minor bump in the road.  These normal shifts in feelings towards your partner can all of a sudden feel like your entire life may be on the wrong path.  You will feel an urgent need to dissolve the uncertainty so you can take the proper action in the relationship and avoid ruining your entire life and/or your partners.  This is just the way OCD feels before it’s treated properly.  You are actually not in a different boat than all other people in relationships.

Mindfulness and ROCD

Mindfulness is having awareness of the current moment and having acceptance of all it offers including distressing ROCD thoughts and feelings.  Developing mindfulness skills through formal and informal meditation can help you to observe the ROCD spikes and let them pass without reacting with compulsions.  OCD spikes will always go away in time, you don’t have to do anything but watch and wait with openness.

In Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT), a mindfulness-based therapy for OCD, we teach clients to ground their decisions on their values rather than fluctuating internal experiences.  This can be very helpful with ROCD where the sufferer should always have skepticism about his or her intrusive relationship thoughts and feelings.  If you value sharing your life with a significant other, focus your actions towards living out that value rather than focusing on the lack of connection you felt at Valentine’s Day dinner.

Choose don’t feel

Since you are not depending on passing feelings of love to decide whether your person is right for you, what do you use to decide?  For one thing, only decide for right now, this exact moment.  Unless you plan to have a sit down, at this very moment, to break up with your significant other, choose to be with them for now.  Every moment is a choice.  You don’t have to worry about what you will decide in 1 year, 3 months or 10 minutes.  Right now you are choosing them and all their annoying habits.  What day should you break up with them?  On the day you break up with them.  It will just happen, you won’t have to decide.  You won’t be on the fence.  Live it out, don’t figure it out.

6 month waiting period

How do you know if you have ROCD or if you are making a relationship mistake?  You don’t get to have that certainty and if you keep trying to get it, you will reinforce your obsessions and feel even more confused.  And none of the rest of us have it either, but your brain tells you to care about that lack of certainty.  I often talk my ROCD clients into taking a 6 month hiatus from deciding about his or her relationship.  I mean, 6 months won’t ruin your life, right?  Every time a thought comes in that you might be making a huge mistake, reply by saying, “Oh well, I’ll figure it out in 6 months.”  Decide to just possibly be in the wrong relationship for 6 months and waste just 6 months of your life with your true love waiting for you somewhere else.  Six months isn’t too much of a sacrifice.  If 6 months seems too long, try one month.

The reason why I encourage this moratorium on deciding about the relationship is that this decision involves ceasing mental rituals and reassurance seeking.  When you stop doing compulsions you gain clarity and it will feel less important.  We only spend time on things that are important and continuing to ruminate about the relationship deems it a problem.  In time it will begin to feel less urgent to decide.  Trust that the answer will come on its own.  You can’t force a decision; the decision will come to you.  Perhaps you will no longer feel a decision needs to be made when you stop performing certainty-seeking rituals.  At least give yourself the chance and try it to see what happens.

Exposure and Response Prevention

In Exposure and Response Prevention (ERP), clinicians work with clients to do exposures to intrusive thoughts about the relationship and guide them against performing certainty-seeking rituals that reinforce the obsessions.  An example of an ERP assignment might be watching a movie about relationships with disastrous outcomes.  I have assigned the movies “Match Point,” “Take this Waltz,” “Unfaithful,” “Closer,” and “The One I Love (currently on Netflix),” which all tend to bring out ROCD thoughts and uncertainty.

Imaginal exposure scripting is a process where the ROCD sufferer creates a script of his worst fears of the relationship coming true, with all its horrible consequences.  The purpose of exposure work is to intentionally produce ROCD thoughts and feelings so that the client can practice experiencing uncertainty without performing compulsions.  Over time, the same internal and environmental triggers no longer create the extreme anxiety levels once present because of the habituation process.  The sense of urgency to decide can soften and the intrusive thoughts won’t seem to matter quite as much.

Wait, watch and experience

Since ROCD crosses over with real life more than say, harm or pedophile OCD, sufferers have a tendency to buy into their obsessions.  They tend to believe the compulsions are productive and that an answer will be unburied that will end the suffering.  Try not to focus on the content of the obsession.  If you are excessively worried about any topic and do compulsions in attempts to gain certainty and relieve suffering, you are stuck in the OCD cycle.

The problem is not the relationship; the problem is that you are having intrusive and unwanted thoughts and feelings about the relationship.  If you get good at experiencing these symptoms, you can more readily take the actions of being present in your relationship.  So this article is ending now.  And you still don’t know if your significant other is right for you.  Good.  This is not possible so stop trying.  Just enjoy every nice moment and wait for not-so-nice moments to pass.  They always will.

Stacey Kuhl Wochner, LCSW, LPCC is a psychotherapist in private practice in Los Angeles, CA specializing in the treatment of OCD.  Follow her on Facebook.

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  1. anonymous February 25, 2015 at 9:58 am - Reply

    Many, many thanks for this article – there is so very little good writing out there on this very brutal form of OCD. Have you thought about also writing something intended to help significant others orient themselves in cases of ROCD? There is some advice in Jon’s Mindfulness book (and hopefully some will find your blog), but I think it would be incredibly beneficial for people in that situation to have something addressed directly to them – and both you and Jon seem to me like the right kind of people to write an article like that…

    • Stacey Kuhl-Wochner March 13, 2015 at 12:27 am - Reply

      Thanks for reading! I’m glad you found the article helpful. Jon Hershfield has a book coming out in December called, “When a Family Member Has OCD” that you may want to check out.

      • John December 14, 2016 at 9:17 pm - Reply

        Thank you! Amazing. I feel validated. It was as if you were a taking notes on my last few years. The relationship article was spot on too. Thank you for caring.

        • Stacey Wochner January 24, 2017 at 7:37 pm - Reply

          Thank you, John!

  2. robert April 11, 2015 at 3:32 am - Reply

    Stacey, thank you for the amazing article you wrote about OCD. I have been treated for anxiety off and on for the past 30 years. Although I identified with obsession problems, I never saw myself as suffering from classic OCD. Now I do. I am still pondering this. My recent obsession is very frustrating. I recently noticed an inconsequential blemish on my cherished girlfriend’s face. The thought, “What if I can’t stop noticing that” came and of course the obsession. A real problem because I see her face all the time of course. Trying hard to totally accept this for a while now. The reality is that I don’t really care about the blemish ( she’s beautiful) Tired of this thought though, very tired.

    • Stacey Kuhl-Wochner April 15, 2015 at 3:59 am - Reply

      Hi Robert, I’m glad you found my article that relates to the new obsession you are having. The idea that you don’t logically care about the blemish but you don’t want to have the thought stuck in your head is characteristic of how someone with OCD thinks. Try to work on not reassuring yourself how much you don’t care about it / how beautiful she is (a compulsion) or to eliminate the thought from your head (another compulsion). Instead, allow the thought to be present without trying to control or change it. I know it is a bummer, but you can change your relationship with the internal experience and it can become much less crowding of the relationship.

  3. AJ May 6, 2015 at 4:44 am - Reply

    Thank you for sharing this article. I came across it from a handout in my OCD Group (I’m a Pure O), and have been struggling with relationship concerns for years. I’ve done the 6-month hiatus, we’re working a 12-step couple program together, have done counseling multiple times. Bottom line, I’m not very happy, and I’m not sure it ever will be. A lot of what you wrote sounds familiar – am I feeling enough? How much is ‘enough’ happy?

    From working my OCD therapy (ERP), I feel I’m correctly oriented not towards ‘confirmation’ but towards symptom reduction so that I can more calmly react with an open mind and heart to the moment. After reading this article, I’m still a little confused on how we can tease apart ROCD thoughts from, well, it just isn’t working. Give it 6 months, live in the moment, and live according to your value to be with a significant other – but the word “loving” or “happy” is missing from that value statement, meaning the value is to live happily with a life partner, not just to exist as roommates.

    Any thoughts or additional clarification you can offer? Thanks again so much for sharing your knowledge and experience.

    • Stacey Kuhl-Wochner May 6, 2015 at 10:16 pm - Reply

      When someone has OCD, the drive is towards certainty. Seeking certainty about the relationship is a compulsion and becomes the driving force in the relationship, rather than living it out with all the ups and downs associated with it. The 6 month shelving of relationship substantiation is a way for someone to stop doing compulsions that may help the OCD sufferer to adjust to being in the relationship rather than figuring out if it is the “right” relationship with certainty. There is no “right” relationship, just where you choose to be. Obsessions can reduce as a result of stopping the compulsions and the relationship decision may not feel so urgent. Valued action is what I would have my clients focus on. The value of ‘happiness’ may find you taking your girl on a vacation or the value of ‘love’ may have you making your guy breakfast in bed. It’s about committed action to the values, not passing feelings. It’s not about figuring out how you feel at any given moment. Thanks for your questions.

  4. Jared July 27, 2015 at 12:40 am - Reply

    Thank you so much for this excellent article.

    I suffer from pure O and it has taken on the form of ROCD as of late and it’s rather annoying. At times I suffer from the common “Do I love her enough”, “Am I attracted enough to her” (which is annoying because she is beautiful), and so on. I’ve realized that when I try to mentally review the relationship or picture her in my mind, to generate ‘feelings’, that this is a compulsion so I try not to. It’s really annoying at times though because I know I love her so much and I get so hyper focused on my feelings that I tend to feel numb at times.

    Any advice? Any thoughts or comments are appreciated. Thanks!

    • Stacey Kuhl-Wochner July 30, 2015 at 5:51 am - Reply

      Hi Jared, Feelings of love are spontaneous, so whenever you try to feel love intentionally you will only feel numb. This fact is something OCD uses as ammunition to make you doubt your love and convince you to feed it with compulsions. You are doing great with noticing when an OCD spike occurs and work to reduce your certainty-seeking compulsions. You may find reading about Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) helpful in your journey to peacefully co-exist with your ROCD thoughts and uncertain feelings.

  5. Charlotte November 24, 2015 at 5:10 am - Reply

    Hi Stacey,
    Thanks for your great post. I always come back to this article when I am having an ‘episode’, current trigger is that me and my partner are due to see each other in a week after 10 months apart…. obviously the brain is going into overdrive.
    What’s your advice on telling your other half? I haven’t and I wouldn’t even know where to begin.
    Also, I dont suppose you know any specialists in the UK, mainly around the southeast or Brighton that are familiar with this theme of ocd? I’ve never sought help through fear of not being understood but this theme has been an undercurrent in my past 2 serious relationships.
    I’d like help with it as when im fine and feeling ‘in love’ I feel like I dont even need help… and then when I start to panic, it spirals and I just want the anxiety to go away.
    Thanks again for the article, it really is a great feeling to be understood.

    • Stacey Wochner February 12, 2016 at 12:23 am - Reply

      Thanks Charlotte, I hope your time is going well after reuniting with your partner. I do not know of anyone near you, but we do distance therapy if you are ever interested. I’m glad you found the article helpful in dealing with your ROCD.

  6. Paul December 2, 2015 at 8:36 am - Reply

    Thanks for the information you mentioned, I have ocd and rocd it all started 20 years ago when I was due to get married a thought came in” I don’t love her”
    Now that obsessions became a full blown 20 year obsession everyday, the marriage ended and 20 years later I find myself with the same obsessions sometimes there stronger than others like its there 24/7.last night for instance I woke up at 3 and 5 with it just in my head don’t love her don’t love her, sometimes it’s harder than other days, I’m off work at the moment due to stress n anxiety, it drives me mad some days R/ocd, it’s like a constant doubter just there in your head waiting.
    Anyway thanks

    • Stacey Wochner February 12, 2016 at 12:31 am - Reply

      Thanks Paul. I know ROCD can be quite a struggle. Best wishes as you work towards accepting your thoughts and facing your fears.

  7. Mariah December 6, 2015 at 10:18 pm - Reply

    Thank you for this. I am in my room reading this after I left the library on finals week because I felt like I was going to have a panic attack. Over my adolescent years and up until now (I’m 21) I’ve had other forms of OCD: harm, homosexual, pedophile, religious, anorexia, and now relationship. My first boyfriend I’ve had of 1 year is everything I could want emotionally I couldn’t ask him to treat me any better. I have been obsessing over his height. He is pretty short. 5’4. I am also 5’4. But it bothers me because I always have these thoughts of am I missing out with a taller more attractive person. I would feel jealous of other girls who had normal height boyfriends and feel so bad that I think like this when he thinks so highly of me.The thoughts bothered me so much that I lost my appetite and lost alot of weight,couldn’t focus on school work, I would wake up at 1am 3am and not go back to sleep, was naseous, couldn’t get out of bed and I cried just about all day everyday for a week until my mom made me go back to my therapist and start back on Zoloft. I’m still trying to get passed it and hope it’s OCD but it feels so real. I really do not want to hurt him or waste his time because he is SO good to me and a very good genuine guy. My mom tells me that how he treats you is more important because my dad treats my mom bad because she went for looks more than how he treated her. I’m afraid of making a mistke. This helped me calm down my panic attack some. Thank you.

    • Stacey Wochner February 12, 2016 at 12:34 am - Reply

      Hi Mariah, You don’t have to convince yourself it is OCD vs. being with the wrong person. Either way, you get to decide if you accept him and anything you like and don’t like about him. See it as more of a choice that you make day to day than needing to pay attention to feelings or thoughts. Feelings and thoughts will always change. And OCD will always make you feel like it is a desperately urgent decision. I’m glad you found the article helpful!

  8. megan December 18, 2015 at 9:27 pm - Reply

    Thank you so much for this article.

    I had no idea this was a thing until recently and this article has, in a way, given me some hope. It all started when after a few silly spats my boyfriend questioned whether or not I loved him any more. Since then, I’m constantly bombarded with thoughts about my boyfriend, “do I love him” “have I ever loved him” “why wouldn’t I want to be with him, there must be something wrong between us” to name a few, the list is endless. When the obsession began I knew with almost certainty that I loved him, and that I absolutely did not want to break up and I am terrified that my feelings have changed. What if I actually do want to break up, but am in denial? I want to help myself get better and have been reading about mindfulness but in all honesty I am so scared of accepting/acknowledging the thoughts in case I realise that my thoughts are true. I know that who I love is my choice, and I do not want to lose such a wonderful guy but how can I choose love when all I’m feeling is fear about/towards him? He knows about all this and has been incredibly supportive.

    Sorry for such a long post! Any advice or comments about this would be greatly appreicated. Thank you!

    • Stacey Wochner February 12, 2016 at 1:05 am - Reply

      Hi Megan, I know it is very difficult when there is so much anxiety and intrusive thoughts about the relationship. A major fear of my OCD clients is that they are in denial of their true feelings about the relationship, or whatever the OCD theme is. You must learn to take the risk. If you choose to be with him today, that is all you need to know. Don’t worry about how you will feel tomorrow. You can choose again tomorrow. Your feelings will come and go so don’t count on them to make the choice. Live out your relationship instead of figuring out your relationship. Just take the steps people take in relationships and don’t let your thoughts lead. This will involve learning mindfulness skills to accept difficult thoughts and feelings.

  9. Arnold December 20, 2015 at 3:31 pm - Reply

    Hi Stacey,

    I said I would post this here and alas, here I am.

    Firstly I want to point out that writings on ROCD almost made me cry earlier this year. I’d already had a breakthrough and found articles related to OCD that described similar situations to my own and I’d realised I’d been a fool to ignore OCD as a possible reason for my anxieties over the years. Then I read about ROCD and suddenly all of those relationships that I’d doubted, sabotaged and panicked over made a lot of sense. I’ve not been in many big relationships (no surprises there considering) but I know that I’ve constantly been dogged by feelings of ‘is she right for me?’ , ‘do we have enough in common?’ , ‘am I just stringing her along?’ , ‘am I preventing her from meeting her true soul mate?’ etc. By the time my most recent relationship ended, which was full of these thoughts, I knew it was actually the time to end it and I was then left with intense guilt for the way in which i’d treated her via my feelings (I’d been 100% honest about the thoughts I was having and my feelings throughout).

    But here’s my question – can these same thought patterns and reactions apply to other life choices? Perhaps calling a relationship a ‘life choice’ isn’t the best way of putting it, but hear me out: can it apply to careers as well?

    I’m currently in the process of working out whether to take the plunge and do that masters course I’d been saving up for and which I’d dreamed about doing for five years. When I finally realised what I wanted to do with my life I was elated and I devoted myself to making the money to make it happen and I tried to get experiecne in hte field as well, all whilst dreaming of the outcomes (what the course would be like, what my life would be like after graduation etc.)

    Then the time came to apply and suddenly I was hit with crushing doubts. What if the course isn’t right for me? Should I be more excited to be doing this? Do I hate this field? Am I any good at it? I’d been here before as I’d had the same thoughts at undergraduate level and went ahead with it anyway. In the end, however, I didn’t go on the masters course (despite getting offered places at two institutions) and I backed away. At first I wondered what else to do with my life and in the end I decided to move to a bigger city to get more experience in the chosen field to make 100% certain it was right for me before reapplying. I thought this was a reasonable choice at first… until I saw the looks on people’s faces when I told what I was doing and why. Now it’s coming time to reapply if I’m going to do it and the same thoughts are coming back.

    Now I’ve written this down it doesn’t as similar to ROCD as I thought, but in my head it does. Both relate to making a wrong choice and this having catastrophic results on my life. However, whilst there is loads of literature on ROCD, typing in OCD and career into google brings up articles related to careers that help you manage OCD. Is there much out there on some of these bigger decisions in life? I get that Im going to have to live with the uncertainty as 100% certainty on something was not a reasonable goal, but I feel like my whole life is on hold. I can’t embark on the career I thought I wanted to do and I can’t pursue a relationship because both endeavours bring up the same types of thoughts.

    • Stacey Wochner January 6, 2016 at 2:00 am - Reply

      Hi Arnold, Thanks for your post. The obsessive-compulsive cycle can encompass any theme, including career. People with OCD and other OC spectrum disorders have brains that are highly sensitive to uncertainty. For example, “Is the door locked? Did I leave the stove on? Are my hands clean enough? Am I in the right relationship? Is this the right career path for me?” Compulsions are performed to “make sure” that the bad thing doesn’t happen, but also keep you stuck and unable to move forward. People without OCD do not have 100% certainty either, their brains just allow them to care less about the uncertainty and they move forward with the calculated risk. You will not be able to know 100% and will just have to take the chance, just like the rest of us. Good luck!

      • Arnold January 11, 2016 at 2:51 pm - Reply

        Thanks for the reply Stacey. You’re right it’s the uncertainty that gets to me. I guess part of the problem is this: I imagine a scenario in the future where I realise that I’m in the wrong career/job or on the wrong course (related to the current concern) and I think back to the current thoughts I’m having and the anxiety they create. If I tell people that I’m changing career and that I had such debilitating concerns prior to entering that career I’m going to look and feel pretty stupid regardless of the validity of the original thoughts. Same with relationships really. I break up with someone a year into the relationship and look back and remember having the thoughts nearly a year ago and wonder why I did that (or she starts to look back at it differently as well, telling her friends about me and them having negative feelings towards me).

        Hope that make sense. I’m not really looking for reassurance there I’m just curious as to whether that’s a reasonable attitude or another aspect of the OCD.

  10. Catee December 20, 2015 at 11:43 pm - Reply

    Fantastic article, very indepth and accurate on all spikes I get. So lovely to read! 🙂 <3

    • Stacey Wochner January 6, 2016 at 1:45 am - Reply

      Hi Catee, Thank you for your post. I’m glad you enjoyed and related to my article.

  11. Alena December 28, 2015 at 11:24 am - Reply

    Excellent post. I was checking constantly this
    blog and I am inspired! Extremely helpful info specially
    the final section 🙂 I maintain such information a lot.
    I used to be seeking this particular information for a very long time.
    Thank you and good luck.

    • Stacey Wochner January 6, 2016 at 1:43 am - Reply

      Hi Alena, Thank you for your post. I’m glad you found us and find the articles helpful.

  12. Dana December 29, 2015 at 5:28 am - Reply

    Hello, I have been dealing with cycles of this for 7 years, and with the same partner.

    I would go months with feeling myself and happy, then would literally wake up and feel extremely anxious to the point where I couldn’t work for 2 weeks, barley eat, cry, pace and my mind dkesnr stop thinking if I love my spouse. I tell him what I am thinking every time…… I would tell him I don’t know if I am on love with him anymore….. But I want to be…. But I can’t feel it…… And then I cry and cry and don’t know what to do with myself. This has been going on since two years into dating, now we are married and it’s still going on.
    I can spend literally half of the day searching for answers, or similar stories on line…. I take Effexor, see a therapist regularry(talk therapist) have a psychiatrist and have attended many anxiety groups.

    I haven’t had a full happy day of relief from the thoughts in over one year straight. I use to have breaks from it for months, but now nothing.

    • Stacey Wochner January 6, 2016 at 1:42 am - Reply

      Hi Dana, I recommend finding an OCD specialist in your area. You can look up your zip code on The various responses you engage in make the problem worse. For example, confessing your feelings, trying to feel love, and mentally trying to figure out if you love enough are all compulsions that fuel OCD. Try to work on sitting with these moments of fear with willingness. Label them as brain glitches that will pass, they always do right?

  13. HF December 29, 2015 at 10:45 pm - Reply

    Alot of what I have read here really rings true for me. I have always had fears of hurting my fiance and fears that I am a bad person, even though I would never cheat and hurting my fiance is the last thing I’d want to do.I have recently had feelings towards someone else and fleeting thoughts that I love this person but the only person I want to spend my life with is my fiancé and I know I love him dearly but I keep obsessing over these feelings for this other person and analysing and reinacting the scenario in which I had this feeling in my head to test if its true. I then end up feeling like I am an awful person and don’t deserve to be with him and that he should know I’m an awful person and that I’ve had these thoughts and feelings. It makes me feel awful.

    • Stacey Wochner January 6, 2016 at 1:33 am - Reply

      Hello HF, It seems as if your brain is telling you that you are not allowed to be human. It is normal to have passing feelings of attraction to those other than our significant other. Allow those thoughts and feelings to come and go naturally without trying to figure out and control them. When my clients try to control these experiencing we call this a compulsion. The compulsion fuels that problem.

  14. AM January 8, 2016 at 12:11 am - Reply

    Great article!
    I think I’ve finally found the problem.
    I’ve been dating a wonderful woman for just under a year now. We started long-distance (UK and AUS) which was “safe” for me, and met, traveled and are now living in the same city which is great. I’ve struggled with ROCD in the past and have abandoned many amazing women as a result.
    On paper my girlfriend and I are a perfect match. She’s successful, I’m successful, and we have the same vision in life. I do find myself obsessing over things like facial fuzz and hips which is frustrating because we get on so well. I look at photos of us and I’m blown away by her beauty, but then when I’m up close I notice these things which sometimes make me feel sick.
    I know women have hair but I can’t seem to get past this like I would like to.
    I love her and care for her so much but am unsure whether this is ROCD or if I’ve given up looking for someone without these physical differences.

    If these weren’t issues I feel like if out a ring on her finger ASAP!

    Thanks again.

    • Stacey Wochner January 26, 2016 at 10:19 pm - Reply

      Hi AM, Everyone notices things about their significant other that they don’t like, whether it be an aspect of her appearance or a personality trait. If you have ROCD, the perceived flaws will feel more important and detrimental to the future of the relationship. Moving forward with lack of certainty is the therapy for OCD. Try to reduce the amount of time analyzing if she is right for you; this is a mental compulsion that fuels obsession. Also, if you are looking at picture to “check” if she is attractive this is also a compulsion, no different than getting stuck checking the front door to be sure you locked it. It sounds like everything is great in the relationship if you could just get these pesky thoughts out of your head…now that sounds like OCD. You could benefit from having an assessment with a specialist.

  15. Liv January 18, 2016 at 2:54 pm - Reply


    I came here out of doing compulsions. It stinks. I am just so stressed out about this rOCD. The first 2 years of my relationship with my SO were amazing. We worked hard and loved even harder. Then something traumatic happened to me and it induced the thoughts. I warned him I knew it was going to be bad because I have a history of OCD. For the last year I have been struggling. Yes, I have gotten better in many ways but I still get very frustrated any time I have any sort of doubt. I doubt it actually is OCD and that I’m the one exception who’s just in a bad relationship (which is untrue because he’s amazing). Is there anything I can do to help myself? I am desperate to work through this with him because I love him.

    • Stacey Wochner January 26, 2016 at 10:40 pm - Reply

      Hi Liv, Have you ever been in therapy with an OCD specialist? If not, it is highly advised in order to learn all the skills necessary to treat your OCD. In the mean time, try to work towards accepting the episode rather than trying to get out of it. You do not get to decide when the episode will end. My clients who arrive in the episode with willingness eventually find that they feel better much sooner. You can read “The Mindfulness Workbook for OCD” to help you with using mindfulness to accept where you are. If you try to change it the opposite will happen. The good news is you do have a choice. You have a choice to stay with your amazing guy despite your doubt.

  16. M February 11, 2016 at 2:21 am - Reply

    The beginning part sounds so much like me. I have been looking up information about rocd for awhile and I feel like I have it since I feel like I have the same symptoms. But there are times when I get stuck on the thought of you don’t have rocd you are married to the wrong person. Is this a common thought of rocd that the suffer feels they are actually with the wrong person and it isn’t rocd? All of these thoughts give me such anxiety I feel like I could jump out of my skin. Any advice would be appreciated thanks.

    • Stacey Wochner February 12, 2016 at 1:18 am - Reply

      Hi M, Yes this is a thought common with ROCD. There is no “right” person. Each person you would try to be in a relationship with will have things that bother you about them. When that trait rears it’s ugly head, ROCD capitalizes on it and tells you that you are with the wrong person. The therapy is to wait out those moments of uncertainty and try to resist treating those moments like big problems in the relationship. The are just passing thoughts and feelings you can watch like a storm passing through.

  17. Mp February 12, 2016 at 2:12 am - Reply

    Hi Stacy,
    I never knew I’m suffering firm rocd until yesterday after two years together with my loved one. I wanted to marry a beautiful girl with certain physical features but ended up marrying my wife as she was all over me even after I told her couple of times she is not the person I want to marry but eventually I felt she should be fine and married her in couple of months .
    From day one I started thinking I have compromised and blaming her for chasing me after I said no to her. I don’t feel she is attractive and always look at other woman matching my version of beauty , also I think I can’t get the quality of life with my wife unless I marry the beautiful girl of my idea and wanted to divorce her rather than compromising this life.
    I was diagnosed ocd and was on medicine for over 10 years and after the marriage I stopped that medicine for ocd and became more stable that led me to a belief I have no problem with ocd, could be misdiagnosed , i take medicine for attention deficiency that gave me a second life. But later I noticed Ocd targeting my relationship and not sure if is ocd or my learned way of ocd. I’m in denial and just think I’m losing each day because my wife is not attractive up to the mark I wanted or I could have got the right one.


    • Stacey Wochner February 16, 2016 at 3:49 am - Reply

      Hi MP, It is a choice to stay married every day, but you certainty don’t have to. If you plan to stay married, try to learn some mindfulness skills to make the most of the choice you are making. Acceptance and Commitment Therapy is something you may want to read about. Whether it is OCD or not, we all can benefit from learning to live our lives through openness and willingness to live in the moment as best we can with whatever it is offering.

  18. KG February 13, 2016 at 12:49 am - Reply

    I’ve read this article more times than I can count. It’s very weird, yet comforting seeing all of your thoughts written out by someone else.

    No matter what, my brain just keeps telling me that there HAS to be a way to tell if I’m in the right relationship. There HAS to be a question I can ask/answer myself that’ll clarify things.
    My latest concern comes from comparing past relationships. I can recall times of feeling in love with my last two girlfriends, but am panicking because I don’t think I’ve felt that same way with my current one. That can’t be a good sign. BUT, when I’m not having anxiety attacks, and am happy, I really want to be with her. Am I just forcing myself to think that, because it’s the easier thing to do (as opposed to ending things)?

    Thanks again for the wonderful article.

    • Stacey Wochner February 16, 2016 at 3:57 am - Reply

      Hi KG, Thanks for your comment. The idea is to live things out rather than figuring them out. For example, let’s take a look at the question that you asked, “Am I just forcing myself to think that, because it is an easier thing to do as opposed to ending things?” If you spend time answering this question you are doing a compulsion that feeds OCD. Instead try to face uncertainty by saying, “Yes I may be making a big mistake, I may not love her as much as others, but it is what I am choosing for myself today and that is good enough. I am doing this for myself so that I can enjoy what I do have and not let OCD run my life.”

  19. AE February 15, 2016 at 8:59 pm - Reply

    Hi Stacey,

    I agree with all the other comments that this helped my anxiety greatly. Seeking reassurance from friends, family, and my boyfriend seems to be a compulsion of mine so I wanted to run it by you since you are so specialized in this.
    I have never lived with a boyfriend before and me and my current boyfriend are planning a big move across the country (career reasons) to live together come July. On top of that I told him some important news recently that I wanted to share with him because I knew how much I was in love with him. Then around the same time period we had our first big fight. Gradually the thoughts built up and now I feel these “is this right” questions popping into my head.
    I’ve had obsessive thoughts before regarding homosexuality years ago which eventually passed on my own after asking everyone for reassurance and running a million scenarios in my head, among other topics that I can usually quickly pass by realizing it’s just a thought and not reality. This now with my boyfriend reminds me of exactly how I felt back then with the homosexuality fear.
    My guy is amazing, I always want him by my side, he makes me laugh harder than anybody, his hugs make me melt, when planning our move and I’m distracted from my thoughts I feel GREAT!!!! But then when the thoughts kick in like “do I love him” “am I happy” “do I like those flowers and presents from him” “look at that picture of us am I as happy now as I was then” “can I picture marrying this guy”…trying to imagine scenarios and the list goes on and on.
    They make me so upset that I cry and cry, lose my appetite, and have come quite depressed over the whole thing. I’ve had one appointment so far with a psychologist. Debating being started on medications but really wanted to avoid that!!
    Any advice you have I would love because I am feeling so bad of exhausting my friends, family, and boyfriends ears on my rants of needing reassurance!
    Thanks so much 🙂

    • Stacey Wochner February 16, 2016 at 4:11 am - Reply

      Hi AE, Well first off you will want to stop asking for reassurance and mentally analyzing if he is right for you. With ROCD, the normal ebb and flow of a relationship feels like life and death. You can remind yourself that during those moments of fear, that the OCD brain is glitching and that you don’t have to attend to false alarms. The idea is to practice riding the wave and not giving it too much power. Working with an OCD specialist to help you with Exposure and Response Prevention is also recommended. You can look up your zip code at to help find a local specialist in your area.

  20. anonymous February 18, 2016 at 4:56 am - Reply

    Hello Stacey, thank you so much for your informative article and responses.

    I am writing from the other perspective as a partner. I am in a relationship with my partner who has OCD and anxiety, along with related insomnia. I also have mild anxiety and panic that I deal with when in ongoing emotionally stressful situations, mostly I know that this stems from psychological abuse and living with a bi-polar parent where I was constantly trying to control my emotions and it escalated into anxiety over the years. I have practiced the mindfulness, living with thoughts, however painful or bothersome and that is what has really helped me over the years.

    My partner and I are interconnected in that his mental states and mine push and push and our stress level rises. is there a way to break free from this but still work together on moving forward? I don’t want him to feel anxious, fearful, worried, insomnia at night thinking and thinking. I feel for him so much going through this. I can’t even feel for myself I focus my energy on him. Perhaps this a coping mechanism from past experiences, that is how I see myself acting. I don’t want to have anxiety attacks and anger outbursts at the sheer frustration of not being able to help and also feeling like a target for the thoughts all the time. We have lived together for several years and together for almost 3. He came from a relationship before mine which he was in for 7 years, knowing that he has ROCD and it was a factor in his relationship ended along with his partner not being a suitable long-term match and cheating on him.

    I know I want to marry him and spend the rest of my life with him and with us to grow together, we share that common goal for the long term, before we met we came in with the right intentions to work and to be aware and its important. Relationships are hard work! I am present and feel like I do work with him, confident he does love me, that is something that is never questioned and he is capable of expressing himself. He is certain about my feelings, but when he is under stress I am under stress. The ebb and flow you mentioned appears like a tidal wave when something happens, minor or major. The part that hurts the most is I am not let in to the thoughts when they are happening. The wave hits and right now we are stuck in a stress and irritation loop where the ebb and flow of life, along with recent family mental and serious health issues, two family moves including ours and major events has created some extreme underlying stress lately. I have much experience dealing with others in my life and family with anxiety, mood disorders and depression but not ROCD at all prior to my relationship. I am trying my best, I have been reading articles online, I have suggested counseling and then I just get angry and constantly being questioned and doubted and whether I am too different for him, even though we have many similarities and share the same long term values. Is anger healthy for me? No, however it is a natural reaction to hearing it all the time. I feel like I need to express myself somehow. He says I need power and control, is this him saying he wants to have power and control over his thoughts?

    He wants us to work together to move forward beyond current stressors and I want to help him be more aware and in the moment recognizing exactly what you have said that life is ebb and flow, not everything is a major catastrophe or a slight against him or the universe conspiring against him. It is ROCD behavior but with anger and annoyance being displayed and attached to the thoughts it is making it extremely stressful for us both.

    How can I deal with the anxiety and stress this is creating for me and develop an action plan to start dealing with this more proactively rather than reactively? Counseling is out of the question for now, he is not open to it. Feel the strong need to get an action plan in place for him and for I as soon as possible.

    • Stacey Wochner March 1, 2016 at 12:52 am - Reply

      Hello. Thanks for your post, it sounds like a difficult situation for you. One thing that stands out is that you seem really emotionally sucked in to figuring out his ROCD to reduce risk for yourself. For your own mental health, you might want to focus the energy away from him and on bringing good things into your life as an individual. Spend more time with friends, learn a new hobby, learn how to meditate to help you accept your current situation or get your own therapy. This is even more important since he is not seeking help at this time and you can’t control that. It is scary for the partner of those with ROCD to feel like they are being questioned and to want to know what the OCD sufferer is thinking. I often ask my clients to not pay too much attention to the content of their thoughts, and to stop discussing every doubt in attempt to not validate them. Talking about his ROCD thoughts is really not the answer. There is a good book entitled, “When a Family Member has OCD” by Jonathan Hershfield that you may benefit from. Best wishes to you.

  21. Maya February 26, 2016 at 11:08 am - Reply

    Hi.. I read the article. But still i have so many doubts. I’m engaged to a guy. Ours is not love marriage but arranged one. At first I didn’t like him. But everybody said he is so gud so I some how agreed. But now I found out that I don’t like him. I think I’m so cruel. Coz he is such a nice guy. Our ideology thoughts everything match perfectly. He thinks like me.. But I’m not attracted to him. All my life I dreamed about a handsome guy with gud qualities. Now im depressed. I can’t share it with anyone. I thought it will resolve with time. One month passed. After 7. Months we are getting married. Im not in situation to call of the wedding. Im helpless. I can’t make his life miserable. What should I do. Do I have ocd? Im totally ignorant .I have never been in a relationship. So all my life I waited for someone. Now all I’m doing is finding fault with him.. Do you think that I will start having feelings for him. Everyone thinks that I’m super happy. I am suffering. I need help. And byw I’m not that gud looking. And he is an average guy.

    • Stacey Wochner March 19, 2016 at 7:11 pm - Reply

      Hi Maya, It is difficult to say if you have OCD unless you have an assessment with a specialist. It sounds like in your culture you have arranged marriages and perhaps little experience in relationships prior to becoming engaged, so this may also be a contributing factor to the difficulties you are having. It could also be a big trigger if you have OCD, since this type of engagement would have a lot of uncertainty embedded in it. If you could find a way to have an assessment with an OCD specialist it could be beneficial. If you do not choose to leave the situation or you cannot because of cultural / familial constraints, you can learn mindfulness skills to help you to be present in the relationship whether or not you have OCD.

  22. Mary March 1, 2016 at 12:32 pm - Reply


    Thanks for the story. Sorry for my English, I am not a native. Last summer I fell in love and a month later we started a relationship. Everything was OK. After 2 months I starterd hesitating about my feelings. Of course, that fantastic person did have things I appreciate less. But in my mind everything changed. It was like: If only my partner had not have x, then he would be the perfect partner. I was thinking all the time. I said myself: you have to love everything of him. I couldn’t eat, sleep and work. When I was not with him I was having those intrusive thoughts. But later I was checking my feelings when he was with me. I thought I could fall in love with other, so I was checking my feelings with other men. Than the panics started. One moment I feel love and ten minutes later I didn’t feel.
    I went to a therapist and he adviced to take some time. Than I thought : do I miss my boyfriend. And I thought I didn’t, so than the relation is not ok. So I broke the relation ship. Now, 3 months later I don’t understand it. Was it just a question of lost feelings of due the ROCD?
    I can’t say I miss very much the person, because I was so nervous and really sick en ill all the time. He still loves me. What do I have to do? Is it possible that the ROCD let disappear your feelings? I am looking our photos and I don’t know anymore how it was.
    And yes, this has happened a few time now in other relationships.



    • Stacey Wochner March 19, 2016 at 7:19 pm - Reply

      Hi Mary, It sounds like you were having some obsessions about whether or not he was right for you, followed by compulsions that are performed to answer that question. Since this has been a pattern for you in past relationships, it could be possible that you are experiencing ROCD, however you would need an assessment to be diagnosed. Think about being in relationship as a choice to follow your values. Is it your value to share your life with a partner? If so, you can make the choice to be with the person you are with even though you will some moments not FEEL love. You can make a choice to be with this person even though you do not see eye to eye on some things. Every person in a relationship has to do this every day, but it is more challenging if you have ROCD. You can also decide that you are not ready to choose this current person. But don’t base this on passing anxious thoughts and feelings, but on that you are choosing to be single.

  23. tube adult March 2, 2016 at 9:30 pm - Reply

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  24. Kathryn November 16, 2016 at 4:10 am - Reply

    Hi Stacey, I have come back to this post so many times to help me cope with my ROCD, and it has been such a blessing. Thank you for being available to us! I am struggling now with something that isn’t really ROCD, but I need some help, so I’m hoping you’re still checking your comments!

    I struggle with a myriad of intrusive thoughts, namely HOCD, POCD, and ROCD. As you can imagine sometimes this makes having a good relationship feel impossible. I have been with my boyfriend for over 3 years, and we love each other very much. we are very happy together, but are always coming back to the same issue: I see my OCD as a sickness that can be treated, but not cured. He sees it, I believe, as something I should be able to fix. I know you cannot tell me what to do, and I don’t really want that, I’m just wondering is there a way out of this? Can we get to a point where we can both accept my OCD? Again, of course you don’t know what’s best for our relationship, I just need to tell someone what’s happening, and hope for some insight.

    • Stacey Wochner January 24, 2017 at 8:30 pm - Reply

      Hi Kathryn. In any relationship, I think it is important to know that the other person cares and is trying to make things better that are problematic to the relationship. I notice with some clients that they may defend their compulsions and continue to do them, at the same time they are asking the other person to accept their OCD. If he sees that you are making your best effort to resist compulsions, or if you accidentally perform a compulsion you are able to identify it after the fact and discuss it with him, he may feel more comfortable. Your continued effort to show him you have insight about it and are working on it may go a long way. From his end, being able to learn that OCD doesn’t have a cure and that you will make mistakes on your journey. OCD therapy can help you to live a life and have a relationship that is impacted much less by your ROCD.

  25. Jason December 13, 2016 at 7:06 pm - Reply

    Idk if this post is still up but this kinda help I’ve had OCD all my life I am 20 years old, I’ve been in relationships before but this clearly is the best one I’ve been in it’s been bout 3 months which I know isn’t long compared to my last one which was a year and half I was unhappy but this one I am completely happy, until the thoughts popped out of nowhere, I just got done with hocd, and one day I was sitting at work and a thought popped in my I know you need to break up with her which made no sense cause the day before I saw and everything was good, then some days my mind will say I know in my heart I need to break up with her, but when I lay down relax and think and actually listen to my heart and my head they both agree on staying with her and I know need to stay with her, which I know before these thoughts started I was gonna marry her there was no doubt in my mind because she may not be perfect but for me she is I’ve never connected with anyone like this before, I know in my heart I love her cause when I hear a song and think bout her I cry cause of how am love I am with her, like I said when I’m relaxed I know in my heart I need her and stay with her but the thoughts won’t stop, does this sound like rocd or OCD in general

    • Stacey Wochner January 24, 2017 at 7:43 pm - Reply

      Hi Jason. When you had that intrusive thought, “I know I need to break up with her,” that didn’t seem to be inline with how the relationship had been going. But that thought caused a lot of uncertainty, and you have a history of OCD. You can practice noticing a cognitive distortion called ‘thought-action’ fusion. Just because you had a thought doesn’t mean it is automatically valuable or important. You can just greet the thought, say “hi thought” and continue to make a choice to be in your relationship. Try to avoid using thoughts and feelings to verify if you should choose to stay in the relationship. This is a compulsion called relationship substantiation. If you look for feelings you can block them. Feelings of love are spontaneous. Also, if you look for problems you will find them, because no relationship is perfect.

  26. C. December 27, 2016 at 2:01 am - Reply

    This was exactly what I needed to read. Thank you! I thought I *had* to break up with my partner despite not wanting to, but this article has helped me understand that a lot of what’s been going on has probably been OCD-related (I’ve had issues with OCD and anxiety since childhood) and that dealing with the OCD will likely help alleviate the feelings of overwhelming distress and apparent need for an immediate decision. I’ll be bringing this up with my therapist.

    • Stacey Wochner January 24, 2017 at 7:27 pm - Reply

      I’m glad you read my article and it has helped you piece some things together about your OCD and how it shows up in your relationship. 🙂

  27. M.A.R January 25, 2017 at 2:56 pm - Reply

    Hi- I was diagnosed with OCD when I was 16. I went to a public restroom and there was a note written in the door from a girl confessing her love to another girl. That impacted me and started obsessing about me being a “lesbian”. That has been my major OCD thought but many others flow around depending on what is causing my anxiety. I am 35 now, and have a good relationship with a man that loves me and cares for me but I am having doubts about my feelings for him and how much attracted I feel. I love him and I want to be with him but this feeling of being in a relationship that it’s a “lie” because I don’t like him “enough” or because I am a “lesbian” is killing me. I have never been attracted to any girl. Never even wanted to try out. The mere thought horrifies me. Just to give an example of what happens now: When me and my boyfriend are sleeping and he cuddles, if I am feeling hot and take his arms off me, my thoughts pop up and say “you don’t want him to hug you because you don’t love him and you are a lesbian”. Now every night at bed time I struggle with this. Or like the other day, I was so trapped in my thinking (already spent hours of that day trying to figure out these thoughts) and he started to kiss me but I was not responding to his kisses, the thoughts jumped in saying “you don’t want to kiss him because you don’t like him so you are a lesbian”…I am terrified and my guess is that it’s all about my OCD but I can’t help trying to figure these thoughts and feelings out. Also, do you think that a person with OCD could be able to have a married life?…Thank you for reading me and for any advice that you could provide.

    • Stacey Wochner January 30, 2017 at 4:21 pm - Reply

      Yes, people with OCD can have very successful lives and achieve many of their goals. In fact, one of the main goals of therapy for OCD is to help the person focus again on living her valued life and spend less time trying to prove with certainty that she loves her significant other enough or that she isn’t a lesbian. Compulsions serve to try to gain certainty about these questions, but they ultimately make you feel less certain and more anxious. Instead of trying to prove that you are in love or not a lesbian, instead ask yourself daily if you are being the type of person you want to be in your relationship. If you value honestly and thoughtfulness, do the actions of your values and do something thoughtful in your relationship. Live out the relationship and try to suspend figuring it out. I recommend having CBT with an OCD Specialist to help you on this path.

  28. Ashish January 29, 2017 at 7:48 pm - Reply

    Hi Stacey, thank you so so much for writing this article! I feel so relieved to read it and knowing that what I experience is not abnormal and there are people out there that feel the same way! Thanks again! I would like to talk to you more about it and get some counseling/therapy. I read in the comments that you do remote sessions, how does that work? Where should I start/whom should I reach out to to talk more about it?

    • Stacey Wochner January 30, 2017 at 4:28 pm - Reply

      Hi Ashish, I’m glad you related to this article. Remote therapy availability depends on your location. Please email me through the contact us form at and we can discuss treatment. Thanks!

  29. MSP January 30, 2017 at 7:03 pm - Reply

    Hi Stacy- I was diagnosed with HOCD when I was a teenager. I am in my 30’s and have a loving and caring relationship with a great man. My question is about sex drive. Is it possible that HOCD prevents me to enjoy sex and causes low sex drive? In the bedroom I am never relaxed, mostly never present, never had an orgasm with penetration (with any man) and sometimes unwanted images attack me while I am having sex with my partner. I am experiencing low sex drive and have been avoidant lately. My HOCD is telling me “oh, you don’t want to have sex because you are a lesbian” but how could I want to have sex if I am tormented every single time? I feel like sex is the ultimate test where I have to enjoy because that would mean I am straight. HOCD is also coming after my boyfriend telling me “oh you don’t want to have sex because you are not attracted to your boyfriend so you are lesbian” ( I guess here is where ROCD also enters in the game). The sad thing is that my boyfriend has noticed my lack of interest and is concerned (so am I). Other pieces of information: I am taking sertraline. Also, when I was a teenager, my mom was very strict about sex and I remember being terrified about getting pregnant. Please help me to find some peace. Thank you

    • Stacey Wochner March 14, 2017 at 5:04 pm - Reply

      Hello. Yes to all of the above. OCD can be a real “buzz kill” in the bedroom. Enjoying sex involves being in the moment and letting go, and when OCD thoughts and anxiety show up, it can really affect one’s enjoyment of sex. Having treatment for your OCD will be in part to get you back to participating in the life experiences you value, even if OCD thoughts are present. Taking psychotropic medications can also affect sex drive, as well as having been raised with strict views involving sex. I recommend speaking to your OCD specialist about all of these issues to determine which issues are most at plan and learning to manage them.

  30. Hannah February 9, 2017 at 11:27 am - Reply

    Hi Stacey,

    I’m writing this to you because I am on the other side of this. My partner has ROCD, he told me this after a few months into our relationship. He is the best person I’ve ever met and I could see myself spending the rest of my life with him. But I found a couple of pages in his browsing history about this and I feel like that I’m gonna make a mistake being with this person for life.

    It’s killing me knowing he feels this way. I know it’s OCD and that he can’t help it. It must be awful for him to struggle with this everyday of his life. But I feel so cruel that I feel like I’m making a huge mistake settling down with him. Who wants to be half loved and thought about this in this way?

    It really hurts me and I’m crying while writing this because I have never been treated better, had more fun, found someone as compatible as him and then I find out he’s doubting everything? He says he wants to be with me forever but this keeps playing in my head all the time since he told me about ROCD. He doesn’t want to talk about it because he says it’s just gonna make it worse talking about his thoughts.

    I don’t know what to do. I don’t want to give 100% on someone that has these feelings in his head. I’m so scared to lose him because he is my other half but I’m also scared waking up one day in a few years and feeling like I’ve made the biggest mistake of my life.

    • Stacey Wochner March 14, 2017 at 4:39 pm - Reply

      Hi Hannah, It can be very awful for the person in a relationship with someone with ROCD. It is hard for both people in the couple to experience the persistent doubts that the ROCD brings. If he his getting therapy for his OCD, perhaps you can be a part of it to help you to understand the ROCD and help you to cope better. You can also read the book, When a Family Member has OCD by Jon Hershfield as well.

  31. B February 12, 2017 at 6:04 pm - Reply

    Hi Stacey- can ROCD also be present when you are dating (not necessarily in a committed relationship) especially when you are dating people that are not a great match? I have OCD since I was in high school and since I recall all my relationships serious or not always had some ROCD. Does it matter if you really like the person or not for ROCD to manifest? I feel tormented no matter what. Whether I really like the person or whether I genuinely have doubts of my level of attraction. I have dated guys that I do not feel that much attracted to just to give it a chance and see what happens only to find myself tormented by doubts double time: the genuine ones and the OCD ones.Then those relationships end and I suddenly start obsessing and chasing after the guy that I was not really interested in the first place.Then when time goes by and I understand that ending was for the best, I never know if it was really ROCD or real doubts or both.

    However, I also feel tormented when I am in great relationship or with someone I like because OCD tells me “you don’t love him enough” or “you don’t like him enough”… So my question is if ROCD can be present in both scenarios: when you like the person and/or when you genuinely don’t like the person that much? It is so confusing that I can’t tell anymore. Thanks much Stacey.

    • Stacey Wochner March 14, 2017 at 4:31 pm - Reply

      If you have OCD, you take the same brain and its glitches with you in every situation. Whether you like the person a lot or a little, OCD may attempt to insert itself to try to make you feed it with compulsions. Sometimes it may tell you that you “should” like the person more when you really don’t, an intrusive thought that can lead to mental compulsions just as well as those when you fear losing someone you really like.

  32. Heidi February 28, 2017 at 11:10 am - Reply

    I really hope that you still reply to comments on this because I desperately need to talk to someone who knows about this. I came across this article a couple months ago & the first time I read it I felt such relief that this is what i have. I have been taking therapy courses online for relationship anxiety but felt like I needed more reassurance of my difficulties so I kept looking & found this article. Almost every single obsession & compulsion you listed, I have/do. It is debilitating & I cannot focus or function at work or with life. I just go home & lay in bed all day doing compulsions. I literally find myself asking myself the SAME THINGS over & over & over. My last relationship was five years ago & ended from what I thought was an aha! Moment, only to learn now that it was an intrusive thought that spiraled into a full blown anxiety attack. Now, with my current partner, i find myself asking Myself “do I love him?” “Does he love me more than I love him?” “Would i feel sad or miss him if we broke up or would I feel free?” “If I’d feel relief after breaking up does that must mean I never loved him” “Does he make me feel like there isn’t anyone else out there for me?” “Am I feeling happy when I see him?” & the list goes ON & ON. I can’t seem to get relief. Only time I do feel better is when I’m on medication that I recently started. It helps me not think about all of it so much & helps me be calm about the relationship. (Even typing “relationship” spikes me) I have moments where I think, of course I love him. & I have moments I just feel so connected with him & wanna shower him with love. But then I think, “is the medicine just making me lie to myself about how I really feel?” “Does it actually make me FEEL like I love & care about him?” ‘I don’t feel like that when I’m not on meds so it must be fake’ Etc
    I desperately want help. I feel so tired & anxious & depressed all the time & I want relief but I don’t want to break up because I know I would hurt him so bad I can’t even stand the thought & I feel absolutely sick over it. I know you can’t tell me anything I will eventually pick apart later on after I’ve read it a hundred times, & I guess this is me doing a compulsion bc I want reassurance so badly, but Does this sound like OCD to you? I’d type out all the thoughts (that are not always questions) that I have & what I do every day but it would literally take forever. I pick myself & my feelings apart constantly. I’m writing this in tears because I feel so desperate. I don’t want to hurt anyone again & this man loves me so much I can’t live with myself if I actually don’t have feelings & I have to end it.

    • Stacey Wochner March 14, 2017 at 3:55 pm - Reply

      Hi Heidi, It sounds like you are experiencing both obsessions and compulsions in regards to your relationship. I recommend that you get in contact with an OCD specialist in your area and have an assessment to confirm an OCD diagnosis and learn the skills to help you manage it. For now, try to allow yourself to be present with uncertainty without trying to figure it out. Let intrusive thought about your relationship come and go like clouds passing in the sky.

  33. Nora March 2, 2017 at 9:39 pm - Reply

    I need help…I don’t know exactly what to do…I’ve been in a relationship with my ex boyfriend for a year an a half. During this time he broke up with me 2 times and came back after a month. The last time he came back he told me that everything was clear, he wants me, I was the one, he asked me to move in together. But after a month all his doubts the same doubts came back. He told me he loves me, he wants me but he is not sure if we can be together for the long term…he asked me if we truly love each other, if we are meant to be, he said we are too different but he never told me how we are too different. He always has this doubts that I couldn’t really understand. He continuously asked confirmation to his parents, his sisters, and his best friend. And he periodically talked to me about his doubts that for me they didn’t have any sense. 2 weeks ago he broke up again telling me that this is the only choice he can make. And after I thought he can have ROCD. I read everywhere and some descriptions are just like him. I wish I could help him but now he wants time to figure out things by himself. Immediately after he broke up he applied for a job in Seattle (we live in Virginia). What should I do? Let him go? Wait? Tell him that he should consider the ROCD problem?
    HELP ME!!! We never had problems in our relationship, we were really good together but at the same time it was like if all his doubts were poisoning us. He wasn’t completely present…and now he is just escaping!!!

    • Stacey Wochner March 14, 2017 at 3:47 pm - Reply

      Hi Nora, I’m sorry to hear about your struggles in your relationship. You can introduce the concept of ROCD to him and have him read a couple articles if he is willing. Otherwise, you will have to allow him to make his own decisions about the relationship or if he wants to investigate if his thoughts are related to ROCD or truly wanting to end the relationship. Try to be supportive of his situation if he does choose to talk to you about it. It sounds like a very difficult situation for you, so you may get your own therapy to help you accept what he chooses to do.

  34. Sarah August 28, 2018 at 6:12 pm - Reply

    Hello I am looking for advice on what to do when you are dating an amazing person but haven’t fallen in love with them -yet. I definitely have many of the obsessions and reassurance seeking compulsions.

    We have been going out for 4 1/2 months and I have had these thoughts for the last 2 months.

    • Stacey Wochner September 13, 2018 at 10:11 pm - Reply

      Hi Sarah, For anyone (OCD or not), try not to focus on what feelings are present or not present. Love is a feeling just like any other and the presence of it will seem to come and go. If you watch out for the feeling of love, it will seem to be non-existent. Because having loving feelings are not about checking and control, but freedom and acceptance of whatever is present. People who say they are “in love” do not feel love all the time and do not monitor for it. I recommend not monitoring / checking to see if you are in love yet or you will block it.

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