How do you know that it’s ROCD or simply just not the relationship for you?
I recently got asked a great question from one of my readers on Relationship OCD. The question “How do you know that it's OCD or simply just not the relationship for you?”.
That is the golden question. Is it OCD or is it the relationship that is the problem? If only we could know the answer, then all our troubles would cease to exist. The problem is actually asking that question only makes OCD worse. It keeps you questioning the relationship which only creates more doubts. OCD is called the doubting disease for a reason.
When you can become happy with the uncertainty of that question you will soon find it stops coming up as much. Acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT) teaches everyone but in our case the OCD sufferer to accept the thoughts in our heads. The mind (and OCD) wants to protect us so it asks us questions. How we answer them allows the brain to see if they are important to us. If we answer the question, or try to prove it wrong we are telling our brains to ask us again, and again. With OCD the key is to learn that we don't have to answer the questions or thoughts in ours heads, if we don't want too. This is the best way I have found to rewire the brain.
Meditation also aligns with ACT. The headspace app is a good tool for getting good at meditation.
Illustration by NamiChikhlia.com
With ROCD and OCD generally, I find it helpful to see OCD as the 'matrix'. An illusion. When we go through ROCD periods it can seem so real that we are 'in the wrong relationship', 'that our partner isn't the one', or 'that we just don't click with them'. These periods can be agony, filled with anxiety. But also we go through days where our relationship is bliss. When you notice this pattern I see it as 'seeing through the matrix'. On those clear days it's obvious it's OCD that causes the bad days. So I make a firm mental note of these epiphanies. So next time I have an OCD episode I can remind myself that it is OCD. It doesn’t remove OCD instantly, but it stops me from having a big episode.
There is a great book on relationship OCD called Love you, love you not. It has lots of useful information and advice. Below are three bits from it that may help you with this question.
1. If you are ruminating on this question or similar questions for more than 20 minutes a day, it's OCD. This has helped me in my recovery. That if I'm over thinking for long periods of time, I know it's OCD. I then trust that knowledge and accept my doubts. They will then slowly fade.
2. Despite what Hollywood has told us, there isn't 'the one'. Or at least in the way they portray the one. They show love as constant bliss, and falling head over heels at first sight. Real love takes time, it is the merging of two people. Love is something you work at. Love is not something you feel, it is something you do.
3. Act as if. When sufferers get these doubting questions they will often retract from physical or verbal displays of affection. For example when OCD is strong you may hold back from hugging or saying 'I love you'. This is often from fear of leading the other person on. When you get intrusive thoughts telling you not to say 'I love you' that's when you need to say it most. This will show your brain not to worry.
The final bit of advice I have at the minute is to live according to your values. For example if you are an animal lover, and your partner kicks every cat he sees then this is a big value clash for you and probably will end the relationship in time. Don't obsess on little value clashes though. Like if he leaves the toilet seat up and your value is tidiness. This is minor, don't fixate on it. Only be concerned with major value clashes. But I'm sure they would have become apparent by now.
I still have ups and downs with ROCD but it is much more manageable. Every day I am learning and getting better. ROCD can actually make us better partners and create stronger relationships, so there is a silver lining to going through this.
Don't get down if you take a step back, just keep taking positive actions.
I hope that helps, and I'm here when needed.
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