The Impact of OCD on Relationships

OCD can impact nearly every area of your life. Many people focus on how it affects your career or education. But, on a daily basis, you’ll have to deal with how it affects your relationships. From friends and family to romantic partners, OCD can play a major role in your thoughts and behaviors when it comes to your relationships. Thankfully, there are things you can do to manage your symptoms. There’s no reason someone with OCD can’t have healthy, happy relationships without letting their obsessions and compulsions take over. 

So, what is the impact, and what can you do to fight back against the symptoms that might otherwise try to damage your relationships? 

Romantic Relationships

Many people dealing with OCD have a constant need for reassurance. That can cross over into romantic partnerships if you feel like you’re consistently asking your partner how they feel about you or you need them to express their love in ways that make you feel safe and secure. On the other hand, you might end up being the one validating your feelings and intentions by constantly saying “I love you” or “You look great” to your partner. Either way, it can be exhausting for both people involved.

OCD can also impact the physical side of your relationship, too. It’s not uncommon for people with OCD to have intrusive thoughts and compulsions related to cleaning and hygiene. That can lead to problems with physical affection and also, people with OCD often have a lower sex drive. Some people with the disorder even feel disgusted by the idea of sex. While physical intimacy isn’t everything in a relationship, it’s important. A lack of physical touch can cause your relationship to feel strained. 

Familial Relationships

It’s not just romantic partners that are impacted by the effects of OCD. The common compulsions of someone with OCD can directly affect family members (and friends). For example, if you live with your family or roommates, your compulsions and rituals might end up involving them. Even though you have checked the stove three times already, you may ask your partner to double-check to make sure all the burners are off before you can go to sleep. Having to participate in those rituals can cause people to feel frustrated, and it can test their patience. For parents of children with OCD, it’s often that you get caught up in the compulsions for your child by either giving them constant reassurance or helping them with their compulsions without even knowing you are reinforcing the OCD cycle and it can be exhausting as a parent to manage this.

It’s also not uncommon for people with OCD to struggle with other mental health issues, including anxiety or depression. That can take a toll on the people who care about you. They might feel like they need to be responsible for you or that they need to take care of you. As much as they want to, that can be exhausting and might even have a negative impact on their own mental well-being.

What Can You Do?

Often, the symptoms of OCD can be managed with therapy and the right kind of support. So, how can you maintain positive relationships with people while dealing with OCD? You may want to start by seeking professional help from a clinician trained in OCD and Exposure and Response Prevention (ERP) Therapy. With that in mind, ask the people in your life for that support. Let them know how you feel and ask for their patience.

On the other hand, if you’re someone in a delicate relationship with someone who has OCD, be sure to take care of yourself. Manage your own mental well-being as much as possible. And, as difficult as it might be, don’t give in or participate in rituals. That kind of participation can inhibit recovery and make things worse. 

If you’re interested in learning more about OCD and relationships, don’t hesitate to contact me. More importantly, if you’ve been diagnosed with OCD and need help learning how to manage your symptoms and foster healthy relationships, I’m here. Together, we can work through the techniques necessary to take control of your thoughts and obsessions. Your OCD doesn’t have control, and with a little help, you can have incredibly fulfilling and successful relationships.  Please feel free to contact me for a free 20-minute phone consultation to hear more about how I can help.

Be well,

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