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My boyfriend's OCD is ruining our relationship..
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emasauraus posted:
When I think of someone with OCD, I automatically think of somebody who obsessively washes their hands, or flickers light switches. That's why I never realized that my boyfriend had it. His OCD causes him to make me repeat almost everything I say. Even when we're alone in a quiet place and I'm looking right at him, I have had to repeat simple words like "yes" and "no" several times. Even the way that he asks me questions appears to me to be a side effect of his OCD. The strange thing is, he didn't do this for the first couple months of our relationship and I am the only person he does it to. He holds full conversations with other people without a problem. He does perform other behaviors that I hadn't even noticed before he pointed them out, like making sure doors are closed severl times and tapping the screen of his phone over and over. He also told me that he has been doing things like that since he was a child.

My boyfriend was in a bad relationship with a person who treated him poorly for over a year before we met. My question is, is it possible that she is the reason behind his strange behavior? He told me that he's really insecure because she always used to lie to him. I'm wondering if maybe those insecurities have crossed over into our relationship and have caused his OCD to worsen.

I should also mention that he has not been diagnosed.. He refuses to see a doctor for many reasons (he doesn't want to be labeled a "crazy person," he thinks it won't help, he thinks it will be a waste of time, etc.) So, I just need to know some things I can do to help him, and myself, dcope with what he's going through. It's so hard to be patient and I try but I get so easily frustrated. I don't want to lose him because of this.. If any doctors can help me understand or offer advice I'd appreciate it. And I'd love to talk in more detail about his symptoms so you could have a better idea about my boyfriend's OCD.
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Patricia Farrell, PhD responded:
OCD is a difficult disorder for everyone, not only the person who has it, but for everyone with whom they come in contact. I believe the answer to your question regarding whether or not his prior girlfriend caused your boyfriend's problem is already contained in your post.


He told you that he has been doing these behaviors, such as double checking to see that doors are closed and tapping the screen on his phone over and over, for a very long time. In fact, he said that he started doing this when he was a child so we know this is a long-standing behavior and not related to his prior relationship. Of course that relationship may have caused his self-esteem to be lowered and that may have increased his OCD struggles.


Please reassure him that no one will see him as "crazy" because this is an anxiety disorder that generally develops because someone is trying to deal with an extremely difficult sense of anxiety. It just indicates that there are things he needs some help with and that help can only be gotten by seeing a cognitive psychologist. I believe that you and he should discuss this and seek out a psychologist who specializes in anxiety disorders. If you wish, the psychologist may agree to see the 2 of you so that you can both work on his difficulties.


I hope this has been helpful to you and that he does get the help he deserves. It's not unusual for people with anxiety disorders to be concerned about seeking help because of their perceived stigma regarding this.


Both the American Psychological Association and the National Institute of Mental Health of the government have brochures online which you can download and you can also go to my website which includes links to many sources of information.


Dr. Farrell
 
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Patricia Farrell, PhD responded:
OCD is a difficult disorder for everyone, not only the person who has it, but for everyone with whom they come in contact. I believe the answer to your question regarding whether or not his prior girlfriend caused your boyfriend's problem is already contained in your post.


He told you that he has been doing these behaviors, such as double checking to see that doors are closed and tapping the screen on his phone over and over, for a very long time. In fact, he said that he started doing this when he was a child so we know this is a long-standing behavior and not related to his prior relationship. Of course that relationship may have caused his self-esteem to be lowered and that may have increased his OCD struggles.


Please reassure him that no one will see him as "crazy" because this is an anxiety disorder that generally develops because someone is trying to deal with an extremely difficult sense of anxiety. It just indicates that there are things he needs some help with and that help can only be gotten by seeing a cognitive psychologist. I believe that you and he should discuss this and seek out a psychologist who specializes in anxiety disorders. If you wish, the psychologist may agree to see the 2 of you so that you can both work on his difficulties.


I hope this has been helpful to you and that he does get the help he deserves. It's not unusual for people with anxiety disorders to be concerned about seeking help because of their perceived stigma regarding this.


Both the American Psychological Association and the National Institute of Mental Health of the government have brochures online which you can download and you can also go to my website which includes links to many sources of information.


Dr. Farrell
 
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B_Scott_Carmaham replied to Patricia Farrell, PhD's response:
I have suffered from a form of OCD since I was a very young child, though it got significantly worse around the age of 12. My anxieties and rituals are quite severe in comparison to those described of your boyfriend, thankfully in my case, I have nonetheless found a partner who has been supportive of me and is my wife of two years now, as well as a collection of friends who are equally understanding.

I know that it can be frustrating and confusing to deal with idiosyncrasies in other people. Not to make jest of it, but the annoyance in regard to repetition for whatever reason seems to be a particularly female phenomenon. I know it can be confusing as to why he doesn't do the same with others, and I hope that I can shed some light on that.

For people who have lived with OCD since they were a child (like your boyfriend and myself) they get quite good at acting 'normal' when with people who they choose to hide that embarrassing side from. In aspects like conversation, it is very possible that your boyfriend doesn't ask those questions in public because is afraid of getting a frustrated or annoyed response from someone, so instead he chooses to feel uncomfortable (even if it is not visible) and very possibly not gather the same understanding of what a person is saying. The way that I process verbalized speech very often makes me miss the point of what other people are saying, but the only way you can know what your boyfriend experiences in these instances will be by asking him. He may be very hesitant to share, especially if he senses that his behavior annoys you.
Persevere in helping him and remember that the reason why he acts differently around you is because: 1) he trusts you and is able to let his guard down in a way that other people don't have the privilege to experience him in, and 2) he listens and wants to understand you better than he does other people because you are important to him.

The more open and understanding the two of you are with each other, the more you will understand his disorder and be able to help. Immediately pushing a doctor on him will only make him feel insecure--that he is not good enough the way he is now (negative thoughts about one's self are very common with people suffering from OCD). However, once you get a point of openness and understanding between the two of you, you can talk to him about what he thinks is helpful for himself (he knows his disorder better than anyone, especially since it sounds like he keeps it concealed from others) and once you know more about him then you can push him lovingly to pursue those things.

I know that it can be confusing and stressful to be in a relationship with someone with a mental disorder, but consider yourself lucky. Your man doesn't seem to suffer from as intense anxieties as many with his disorder do (although my guess is just gathered from what you wrote in your post and I may be wrong) and they seem for the most part, idiosyncratic. OCD can often get worse through time, so it is good that you are with him in an early stage where you can help and prevent it from getting worse. As many negative symptoms as OCD may have, it also can bring about positive things by the way that thinking occurs in such sufferers. Learn to understand his mind and his way of thinking, such a thoughtful person may be more caring and concerned for you than any other regular guy and may be able to appreciate the finer, beautiful moments in life in ways that people who haven't suffered could not. Also keep in mind that as irritating as OCD may be to you, it is even more frustrating for your partner.

Give it a chance, and see if you both can provide the support each one needs and deserves
 
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emasauraus replied to B_Scott_Carmaham's response:
Scott, thank you so much for your insight. Reading your response really opened my eyes to a lot of things that I hadn't considered. It is great to get some advice from someone who knows exactly what my boyfriend is going through. All I want is to help him through this and I think that with the help of people like you I can learn ways to help us both cope with his OCD.

I feel guilty because I feel that I've been selfish. Rather than put myself in his shoes and understand his disorder, I've just tried to convince him to get help. I guess I never thought that might hurt his feelings and might lead him to think that I think he needs to be "fixed" in some way. I was really only doing that because I care about him. I see him struggle with this everyday and I know how much it upsets him. He's told me more than once that sometimes he just wants to "give up." I just want him to get better so he doesn't feel miserable. Now I realize that by just being there for him and trying to understand him, I can help.

You've really given me a new perspective on this whole situation. What you said about him being more thoughtful, caring, and concerned than a regular guy is so true. I had never thought of it that way before. Thanks again.
 
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Leejacq replied to emasauraus's response:
I think your a pretty awesome girlfriend for being so caring and gentle with him. A little about myself. Im a 25 year old male and have also lived with OCD since i was a child. It has ruined pretty much all my relationships and came very well close to claiming my current one. Like your boyfriend I also ask my girlfriend to repeat herself many times. I tap my phone a certain number of times. I stop myself from writing some words although they are neither rude or offensive and could be as simple as the word chair or table. I lay my clothes down in a certain way and I place my drinks down a certain number of times.

My girlfriend and I had a very good start to our relationship. I was so sweet and giving. She told me she never thought men like me existed. No signs of OCD or much anxiety ever came out until a few months into it. I started worrying about stupid and irrelevant things like I had done in my past relationships. She has always been very social and I've only been when i was single. Recently our arguing got really bad. She asked me why I put down the remote so many times and I snapped out her embarrassment. About a few weeks later we spent a week apart and was very hard for me. Quite paralyzing. She could've gone longer but said for me shed only make it a week.

My anxiety and my OCD have always been focused on my relationships and I this way they where practically gone when I was single. One of the terms of our working things out is that I'd seek help. I've only been 2 times to a counselor and let me tell you I can't wait to go again. Although your boyfriend might not have it this bad it can if left untreated rule more than just your ability to function everyday but will strangle your relationship. I was also able to hide it from her and for the first few months was able to show her who I'd be without OCD. Sure as dung almost like clockwork it came back hungry for another relationship to devour. I'd say I do have more obsession than most but it is outweighed by love. People who suffer from this do need reassuring but need to also be put in their place because having wether a day is good or bad depend on how she acts is not right.

We do in some ways experience love in different ways. Also many of us feel like actors in a play. Wishing to be normal and constantly trying to play that part. It's quite a burden to wonder every day how being normal would feel like. Having the weight of anxiety guide most if not all of your movements and thoughts. One of the only reliefs I get is when she approaches me for affection. It temporarily takes some of the burden off. For me to reciprocate intimacy is not hard but to initiate it is. I want to just can't bring myself to.

All I'm trying to do is give you a more detailed account of what goes on in men with OCD. We're not all the same but we all share some patterns. If you need to know more about anything please ask. I'd also love some advice from anyone who is able to give any.
 
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Leejacq replied to Leejacq's response:
I think your a pretty awesome girlfriend for being so caring and gentle with him. A little about myself. Im a 25 year old male and have also lived with OCD since i was a child. It has ruined pretty much all my relationships and came very well close to claiming my current one. Like your boyfriend I also ask my girlfriend to repeat herself many times. I tap my phone a certain number of times. I stop myself from writing some words although they are neither rude or offensive and could be as simple as the word chair or table. I lay my clothes down in a certain way and I place my drinks down a certain number of times.

My girlfriend and I had a very good start to our relationship. I was so sweet and giving. She told me she never thought men like me existed. No signs of OCD or much anxiety ever came out until a few months into it. I started worrying about stupid and irrelevant things like I had done in my past relationships. She has always been very social and I've only been when i was single. Recently our arguing got really bad. She asked me why I put down the remote so many times and I snapped out her embarrassment. About a few weeks later we spent a week apart and was very hard for me. Quite paralyzing. She could've gone longer but said for me shed only make it a week.

My anxiety and my OCD have always been focused on my relationships and I this way they where practically gone when I was single. One of the terms of our working things out is that I'd seek help. I've only been 2 times to a counselor and let me tell you I can't wait to go again. Although your boyfriend might not have it this bad it can if left untreated rule more than just your ability to function everyday but will strangle your relationship. I was also able to hide it from her and for the first few months was able to show her who I'd be without OCD. Sure as dung almost like clockwork it came back hungry for another relationship to devour. I'd say I do have more obsession than most but it is outweighed by love. People who suffer from this do need reassuring but need to also be put in their place because having wether a day is good or bad depend on how she acts is not right.

We do in some ways experience love in different ways. Also many of us feel like actors in a play. Wishing to be normal and constantly trying to play that part. It's quite a burden to wonder every day how being normal would feel like. Having the weight of anxiety guide most if not all of your movements and thoughts. One of the only reliefs I get is when she approaches me for affection. It temporarily takes some of the burden off. For me to reciprocate intimacy is not hard but to initiate it is. I want to just can't bring myself to.

All I'm trying to do is give you a more detailed account of what goes on in men with OCD. We're not all the same but we all share some patterns. If you need to know more about anything please ask. I'd also love some advice from anyone who is able to give any.
 
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emasauraus replied to Leejacq's response:
Thanks for your response Leejacq. Another thing my boyfriend will do is, whenever we have a fight, he has to hear me verbally reassure him that we aren't broken up. I have never once done anything that would lead him to believe that I want to end our relationship but he is so insecure. I think this goes along with what you're talking about. He has to hear himself ask me if we're still together and if I am going to break up with him and then he has to hear me answer. And then he usually makes me repeat myself. This is extremely frustrating because he usually does this when we've both gotten over the issue. He'll ask me these questions after we've been kissing and laughing and acting normal again because he has so much anxiety and worry about me leaving him. And now he's paranoid that I'm not as serious about our relationship as he is. For some reason he's got it in his head that I don't feel as strongly for him as he does for me.. I don't know what to do. I do all I can to show him how much I care and he still has doubts about my feelings. I love him so much and I don't want to end this relationship but it's so hard to deal with sometimes. I am trying my best to try to put myself in his shoes. It has become clear to me, especially recently, that he has serious anxiety issues. I really want him to get help, for both our sakes. But I know that I also need to continue to show him how much I care about him. However, I'm afraid that won't be enough..

It's also frustrating because this was all cause by his former girlfriend and we both have to suffer the consequences. He knows I am nothing like her, but yet he still lets the memory of her create a strain on our relationship. The insecurity he had with her has leaked over into our relationship even though I have never once done anything to hurt him. I so wish he could just forget her because she isn't worth one more second of worry. But I know it's not that simple. I fear that she damaged him permenantly. I only hope I can help him see that there are better people out there.

Sorry to ramble.. But anyway, thanks for sharing your story. It's great to hear from people who are going through something similar to what my boyfriend is going through.
 
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Leejacq replied to emasauraus's response:
This is amazing Emma! Your practically describing me haha! It's been a few visits to the counsellor now and let me first tell you there is so much hope for you two. I previously thought there was no way to suppress whatever I felt but since acknowledging I might have a burden most others don't have my life and relationship have completely turned around. Just admitting I have this lifted a huge weight off my shoulders. I can breathe again.

I constantly needed reassurement even after the fight. Sometimes days after. I never felt secure and couldn't think of anything else other than how committed I was and how I thought there was no way she could be as much. I need to tell you this can and will change but you need to maybe initiate it because from experience people like us need to have an ultimatum put before us. Black or white together or not. Healing or not. Don't hurt yourself more by just hoping this problem will go away on its own because it won't. It needs to be pushed. Your a good person and I understand your desire to wait until he's ready but Emma your just it's not a realistic dream.

This is just my recommendation and please don't do it of you don't feel comfortable. Give him this choice of either fixing himself or you leaving. Your not a bad person for doing so. I can tell you once he gets help not even a couple weeks later he will feel like a new man. Soon he would talk to you about all his habits and won't be able to shut up. My relationship now is much better and if we argue I now have the power to drop it and wait until I can first run it through my counsellor before really getting mad. Most times that means the argument is done within minutes and there are no stupid reassurements for hours or days after and we can get back to being the way we need to be. I also picked up a 5 htp which is a serotonin booster. Look it up you need no prescription for it and it has been very useful for me.

I hope this shows you there is hope. You might not want to but I think if you were to show him these posts it might sting him a bit at first but he would realize how much you love him. Also if he needs someone to talk to who has similar experiences there is no better therapy than that and we could have a good dialogue.
 
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Leejacq replied to Leejacq's response:
You shouldn't have to expect yourself to some how become ok with this and put up with it. Wether he is with you or not it will continue to be a affecting him until he gets help.

Also I used the excuse that my previous relationship caused it for me and even though she was the worst person to be in a relationship and she should have it marked on her head that she will ruin anyone's life. I still know that this was a part of me from earlier. Even though she brought me down so low and she did in ways make it worse I still know it didn't bring it into existence. Please approach him. It's not fair for you and he needs to be set free of this so he can be the guy he can be for you. At the beginning of my relationship I also was free of rituals and insecurity and this allowed my girlfriend to fall in love with me. She saw who I was and can be without this anxiety. Somewhere along the way it started again and I think this is what your also describing as your experience. There are many kinds of anxiety disorders and they usually come hand in hand with OCD. I strongly recommend you don't keep feeding his OCD and anxiety with reassurement because it is a temporary fix. Reassure him and not his anxiety if you know what I mean by that.

All this is only my experience and I don't mean to tell you this is the only way but through many years and broken relationship and insecurity this is the only thing that pulled me out of this. Don't be scared to hurt feelings because feelings are temporary and if you know you are hurting his for the better of your relationship he will appreciate it after. If you have the strength to be the one girlfriend to understand and pull him out I am telling you you have saved someone from a life not fit for anyone. You two can do this and come out very happy and stronger. If you feel like really getting to the issue show him these posts. All you have said is great things and if there is one reassurement which is worth giving he will see it in your writing. Let me know how things go.
 
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frantre responded:
I am going through the exact same thing with my boyfriend right now. He was symptom free at first then gradually the ocd got worse and worse. He makes me repeat almost everything I say and in a certain way so that he knows he heard me. It has been several months and the ocd has not gotten much better. Really I'm just looking to see how your relationship ended up because right now it feels like the ocd will never get any better


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