Dating with OCD: How to Date When You Have Obsessive Compulsive Disorder
Relationships can be messy. They can be filled with anxieties, highs and lows, hardships, and even drama. So how do you handle all of that on top of having Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)?
Navigating OCD in relationships can be a challenge to figure out, but it’s definitely possible. Dating with OCD can be fulfilling and worth it if you put in the work. Instead of letting your OCD symptoms hold you back, use them as an opportunity for growth and understanding between you and your partner.
Build a healthy and strong bond together with this guide on figuring out how to date when you have OCD.
Dating with mental illness, or even dating in general, is only possible when you have open communication. When dating someone new, being transparent about your condition early on can help prevent misunderstandings and build stronger trust between you.
Even though OCD is common, with about 1 in 100 adults affected by it, it’s not unusual for those with OCD to want to hide the severity of their symptoms due to embarrassment and fear of rejection. Take it slow and disclose what you’re comfortable with. Empathy and acceptance are crucial aspects of intimacy, so trust that the right partner will be able to provide those things for you.
Understanding Your OCD Together
Like with any chronic condition your partner may have, it is wise to inform yourself and your partner of the symptoms and treatments of OCD to learn how to navigate them together. The primary symptoms of OCD are obsessions and compulsions, but OCD manifests in different ways for everyone. Once trust has been built, take the time to educate yourselves on the symptoms specific to you. Some of the common subtypes of OCD are:
This is probably the most well-known form of OCD. Those with contamination OCD are afraid of coming into contact with germs or possibly passing them on to loved ones. This can lead to compulsive behaviors such as:
- Constantly washing your hands
- Persistent cleaning
- Avoiding public areas, items, or even children
- Avoiding sexual activities due to fear of bodily fluids or STIs
Those with harm OCD are burdened with unwanted violent or aggressive thoughts towards themselves and/or others. Although these intrusive thoughts are common to everyone, those with this kind of OCD cannot shake these thoughts and are deeply disturbed by them. Some compulsive behaviors to mitigate these obsessions are:
- Locking away knives or other sharp objects that can harm someone
- Constantly calling loved ones to check if they are okay
- Repetitively checking the body for any self-harm indications
- Frequently reviewing memories to ensure that no one was harmed
This subtype is accompanied by a strong feeling that something “isn’t right” with the compulsive need to fix it. To ease the mental discomfort of these obsessive thoughts, actions are often repeated over and over until it finally feels “right”. Some compulsions that can originate from this are:
- Shutting and opening the cabinets
- Rewriting or verbally repeating words
- Rearranging items repetitively
- Fixating on retrying a quick kiss on the cheek
Relationship OCD (ROCD)
Everyone has relationship doubts, but those with ROCD find themselves unable to deal with the uncertainties that come with relationships. They may obsess over whether or not the relationship is right for them, and have obsessive thoughts such as “what is this is the wrong relationship for me?” or “do I actually love them?”. ROCD compulsions can look like:
- Checking other people’s social media posts to see how their relationships are doing
- Fixating on whether or not certain memories with their partner were actually “good”
- Repeatedly taking relationship quizzes or looking up articles online
- Constantly seeking reassurance from partner or others
Learning more about your condition can bring clarity and insight into how it affects you and your relationship. It can bring more confidence in taking on these symptoms together, and lower overall stress that may come from dealing with OCD.
Support Each Other
Now that you both have a better understanding of your condition, you can figure out how to better support each other. When you are living with a chronic condition, it can be easy to normalize behavior and thoughts that are actually detrimental to your everyday functioning. Partners can be great points of reference for understanding how OCD truly affects your daily life. They can also be pillars of support when it comes to treatment; for example, they can help with exposure exercises or reinforce the treatment practices your doctor/psychologist has recommended.
Another great resource to consider is OCD support groups. It can be easy to feel isolated when you are struggling with mental health issues, and support groups full of peers that have similar experiences to you can help you feel less alone. It can also be helpful to your partner to join, as it will validate their own experiences of the relationship and give perspective on how to better support you.
Managing OCD and dating can be hard at times, so it’s important to be patient with one another. You are human, and so is your partner; sometimes both of you will drop the ball in the relationship. Keep an open line of communication and be honest about your feelings, especially when it comes to issues you may be experiencing in the relationship. Listen to their feelings and concerns as well, as being in a relationship is about balancing your personal needs with theirs. The same empathy and compassion you used to build trust with one another should be a persisting aspect of your bond, as it solidifies the foundation of support you need to navigate your OCD and relationship together.
Care for Yourselves
Remember that any chronic health condition can wear on not only you, but your partner as well. Make sure to establish personal boundaries and check in with each other on both of your needs. Encourage your partner to reach out to their own social support system when they are feeling overwhelmed, and do the same when you need more support. This means spending time with your friends, family, and others who understand what you’re going through. Engage in your favorite self-care activities when you need alone time, whether that’s reading, going out, exercising, etc.
Managing OCD and your life can be challenging, but it’s possible with the right help. If you or a loved one are seeking out support for your OCD, The Meadowglade has individualized diverse programs designed to keep your comfort as our number one priority. If you or a loved one would like to recover in a deep-rooted and long-lasting way, contact our admissions team today.