What Is Relationship OCD?

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Author Name: Beth Rush
Date: Saturday February 18, 2023

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Most people experience occasional doubts in relationships but sometimes it can go so far that the anxiety ends the relationship. If you feel consumed by a waving level of attraction or uncertainty and anxiety, there may be something deeper going on. If the feelings are frequent and persistent, you may have relationship OCD. 

Relationship OCD is a real diagnosis. Here is an overview of what it is and how to cope. 

Relationship OCD

Relationship OCD (ROCD) is a form of obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) that involves intrusive thoughts and behaviors related to your romantic relationship. You may experience repetitive thoughts of uncertainty or fears in the relationship. It can look like questioning if your partner loves you or if it will last forever. 

The thoughts can eventually lead to behaviors that are done for constant reassurance or even end the relationship. It can cause a great deal of stress on both partners in the relationship and the relationship as a whole. Individuals with OCD are typically single, can find romantic relationships hard and report significant stress.  

Signs of ROCD

People with ROCD tend to respond to their doubts with compulsive behavior to relieve the anxiety of the intrusive thoughts. You may have rituals you go to when the intrusive thoughts start flowing. There are some typical compulsive behaviors in ROCD. 

  • Constant comparison. You may constantly compare your relationship to other relationships, whether it is friends, fictional TV shows or past relationships. 
  • Searching for evidence. To affirm the relationship, you might be an emotional detective. You will try to seek proof that your partner is a good match and truly loves you. 
  • Reassurance. Sometimes seeking reassurance from a partner or others about the relationship is a sign of ROCD.
  • Mental Monitoring. Spending hours breaking down thoughts or feelings about the relationship. 

The behaviors won’t ease the doubts or make the relationship better in the long run. It provides temporary relief and makes the anxiety worse over time.  


The reason for ROCD is unclear, but some factors can contribute. Some reasons people risk developing relationship OCD are:

  • Trauma
  • History of abuse
  • Sudden life changes
  • Anxious attachment style 
  • Loss of a loved one

It is not uncommon to have ups and down with relationship anxiety from time to time. People with relationship OCD may experience it more frequently.  

Types of ROCD

There are two forms of relationship OCD. You may experience one or the other or have a mixture of both. 

  • Relationship-focused: Your symptoms are centered around the relationship as a whole. You may question if you are really in love with them or if the relationship is what you want. 
  • Partner-focused: In form is centered around questioning the characteristics of your partner. You may love your partner but have questions about their personality or other characteristics. 


The first step to tackling this condition is to talk to your doctor about managing symptoms. Since OCD symptoms are already linked to difficulty maintaining and establishing romantic relationships, you will want to find ways to control them. Getting treatment for your symptoms will help you and your relationship thrive. 

Treatment for ROCD can either be psychotherapy, medication or a combination of the two. Psychotherapy helps work on challenging areas like poor social skills, low self-esteem or anything that could get in the way of developing a healthy relationship. Medications can be prescribed to reduce symptoms of OCD. They are similar to antidepressants and help with serotonin reuptake. 

The Bottom Line

Relationships are complex on their own. When ROCD is added into the mix, it can make things even more challenging to deal with. To have a happy and long-lasting relationship, it is best to identify if you are suffering from this and find a way to manage the symptoms. 

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