My girlfriend, and I, And Relationship OCD (ROCD)

In episode 16 of The OCD Stories podcast I interviewed my girlfriend – Nami. Nami is an artist and illustrator. She designed the logo for The OCD Stories. She has had her own battles with the mind, recently with anxiety and before with clinical depression. I thought it would be a good idea to get her on to discuss my relationship OCD and her relationship anxiety.

My girlfriend and I

We talked about my ROCD story, mixed with my girlfriend’s own relationship anxiety. We talk about relationship OCD in dating as it doesn’t get much media coverage. We chat about what helped me recover, what helped our relationship grow stronger, and what to do when you relapse. I enjoyed recording this episode (even if I look bored in the video lol) and I think you’ll get a lot out of this whether your OCD is attacking your relationship or not. Enjoy…


To listen on iTunes click the button, or go to iTunes and search “The OCD Stories“. If you enjoy the podcast please subscribe and leave a review. It helps us reach more people who need to hear these remarkable stories of recovery!

You can also listen on Android and over devices through most podcast apps, such as Stitcher.

Show notes:

Stuart’s ROCD story (2:15)

ROCD and dating (4:00)

The difference between normal dating anxiety and relationship OCD anxiety (5:40)

Staying in the relationship (7:30)

OCD moving to different areas and topics (12:40)

The difference between Relationship OCD and relationship anxiety (15:00)

The importance of doings things you enjoy as part of recovery (16:30)

OCD (and mental health) is a spectrum (20:00)

Everyone has intrusive thoughts (22:00)

How do you know if there’s an issue with OCD? (25:00)

Everyone struggles with mental health (27:00)

What starts ROCD? (28:30)

How you treat ROCD (32:00)

Why does OCD make you suffer?  (33:40)

Doing ERP for ROCD (38:30)

Getting to the root of anxiety (42:30)

Using nutrition to combat ROCD (45:15)

OCD blending into other areas (49:00)

My engagement story, and the importance of living by your values (51:00)

The importance of meditating (56:00)

How do you tell what’s a real doubt and what’s an OCD doubt? (59:00)

How do you find the strength to stand by your partner with ROCD? And how do you look after yourself? (1:03:30)

What’s it like dating someone with OCD? (1:11:00)

Does the compulsion of telling your partner about your thoughts do more bad than good? (1:19:00)

Resources mentioned:

Guy Doron’s podcast episode

Mark Freeman’s podcast episode


Dr Steven Hayes’s podcast episode

The ultramind solution by Dr Mark Hyman (Amazon.co.uk/Amazon.com)

Headspace meditation app

Get out of your mind and into your life by Dr Steven Hayes (Amazon.co.uk/Amazon.com)

The acceptance field guide by Mark Freeman

Shelly’s OCD story

Kat’s OCD story

Kat’s podcast episode

Jon Hershfield’s podcast episode

When a family member has OCD by Jon Hershfield (Amazon.co.uk/Amazon.com)

To your success,

Stuart and The OCD Stories team

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  • Reply Lauren Milano August 1, 2016 at 7:14 pm

    I definitely struggle with ROCD and it ties in other obsessions as well. I just went on a second date with someone. Had a great time, but I know even during the date I was having intrusive thoughts and compulsions. There’s two parts to my thought and question. One, I get anxious that my compulsions make me feel like a liar and like I’m not really connecting with the person or being honest. Number two, I then start to doubt that I really had a good time, felt something, etc and that it was just my compulsion and OCD wanting to feel that way. And then in turn am being deceptive, leading him on, and feeling bad etc. Have you ever experienced these obsessions within your ROCD and did your ERP approach help with this?

    • Stuart Ralph
      Reply Stuart Ralph August 1, 2016 at 7:40 pm

      Hi Lauren, yep I did. Dating was alway very tricky and tough for me. I started to become ok with dating when I focused on the person I was with having a good time and not whether she was right for me or not. This lowered the pressure, as I was only having fun. ERP is useful too. Going on dates is a form of ERP. If you think you may like someone keep dating them even if you are anxious, let it end naturally. Either they do something that you clearly don;t like or they end it with you. This is the ultimate exposure 🙂 Scary

  • Reply Lauren Milano August 8, 2016 at 4:57 pm

    Hi Stuart, thank you for responding. Have gone out a couple more times with this person. Still having anxious ‘thoughts’, but pushed through so to speak and wound up being glad that I didn’t let them take over. I was ready to cut things off because of the thoughts. Instead I was like okay just be in the moment and wound up having a really nice time.

    • Stuart Ralph
      Reply Stuart Ralph August 8, 2016 at 9:56 pm

      Awesome Lauren. That’s great to hear and good for you. Use this positive foundation to build on!

  • Reply Kelly August 18, 2016 at 6:04 pm

    Hi Stuart,

    I was just broken up with by someone who has OCD and ROCD. The main reason he gave me for wanting to end things was because he felt like “something was missing”. He wouldn’t/couldn’t say what that was. From my research and experience with dating someone with ROCD and OCD, I’m having a hard time processing and accepting this. I’ve been broken up with before so I know that denial is a normal reaction, but I can’t help but feel like this was overt compulsion. I asked him if he thought it was real or the OCD talking and he said he didn’t know. After listening to this podcast I feel more confused. On one hand, if he just doesn’t “fancy” me I can accept that and work to move on, but the other side of this, I don’t know whether to try and talk to him and work things out and show that I’m there for him. Do you have any advice for me on how to process these things?

    • Stuart Ralph
      Reply Stuart Ralph August 21, 2016 at 4:51 pm

      Hi Kelly, sorry to hear this. There are no hard and fast rules. It’s really up to you to play it how you see fit. If this is an rOCD thing then you can offer to be there for him as a friend, and see how it progresses. Be kind to yourself and protect yourself from getting too involved until the time is right. But just be there for him as a friend if you like. This will remove all pressure. If things progress they do. That way you are less likely to get hurt further. Stu

  • Reply anonymously scared December 13, 2016 at 6:41 pm

    I don’t know if you still check this but I have had OCD my entire life and was recently diagnosed with severe OCD which currently is taking the for of ROCD. I am seeing a therapist and have been learning different techniques to deal with it, but I can’t help but constantly look for reassurance still… If not from my partner then online. I wen through the whole “what if he hurts me” then “what if he cheats on me” then to “maybe I don’t love him” well since being put on SSRIs my thoughts have improved and I know I love this man with all my heart… However now my fear is because we went through such a rough patch and I mentally and physically drained myself and him (I didn’t know how to deal with it at first so it unleashes a lot on him not abusively though)… Now that I am getting better he is just exhausted from having his protection on. And now I am afraid the spark won’t come back that we won’t be ok. That this will break us even though I know I love him and he loves me. I am not asking for reassurance but tips to get through this time. I am really struggling and I know he is trying to recooperate but I think I am expecting to much and to feel something and with expecting to feel something and not feeling it… It is making my anxiety worse…

    • Reply anonymously scared December 13, 2016 at 7:01 pm

      Also I notice when I start to get happy my thoughts zap me out of it. I don’t know what to do.

    • Stuart Ralph
      Reply Stuart Ralph December 21, 2016 at 7:44 pm

      Hi, therapy will work over time. It’s important to put what you learn in therapy into action every day.

      ERP is great for recovery. This will help you with the reassurance seeking.

      I highly recommend reading the book “the mindfulness workbook for OCD” there are some great tools in there that you can start practicing.

      As for the feelings. Stop looking for them. The more you look the more likely you are to get anxious. Focus on living by your values. Emotions come and go, love is more than just an emotion. Check out my podcast with Dr Reid Wilson he offers some good advice on ROCD. You can find it on itunes or youtube.

      Stick with therapy, do lots of reading around OCD recovery and it will improve. 🙂

      The key is to put your focus on OCD recovery not the relationship. As OCD is the problem.

  • Reply Wan September 26, 2018 at 2:51 pm

    Stu, what does recovery from ROCD looks like? I want to beat this thing, I’ve been suffering for almost 7 years now and I’m tired. I found about rOCD a year ago and everything finally made sense. I was puzzled how my opinion on my relatioship could change drastically in one day (for example, “I need to break up” in the morning, then “I want to marry this woman” in the evening). Crazy.

    • Stuart Ralph
      Reply Stuart Ralph September 27, 2018 at 10:00 pm

      Hi Wan,

      Sorry to hear you have been having a tough time at the moment, it does get better.

      Speak to a CBT therapist, OCD specialist or your doctor – OCD is very treatable. Contact one of the OCD charities too such as IOCDF.org. There are many good books on OCD that can help such as “the mindfulness workbook for old” and “getting over old”. Hope that helps, and all the best.

  • Reply Polly October 19, 2018 at 3:23 am

    this comes from a person who is with someone with intrusive thoughts OCD. First I know you are not a relationship counselor but I think I need the prospective of someone who is dealing with this. Your website has been great for my own information about might go on in my partner’s head.
    My gf has been struggling with intrusive thoughts and it’s hurting our relationship a lot. Relationships definitely trigger her OCD. We’re going through a rough patch at the moment and I think a lot is due from her wanting to confirm that our relationship doesn’t work and that it’s not worth going on despite our feelings and the fact that we actually work very well. I didn’t react properly when she told me she didn’t think we were worth it. She tends to release all her doubts on me and it’s very hard to hear. I know where it stems from and most of the time I am able to cope but this time I am afraid that my reaction means I’ll lose her.
    I understand that breaking up for her means that she is running away from what she perceives as danger. I also realize I just want her to be happy even if it is not with me but I want to be here for her. How can I help her in this situation?

    • Stuart Ralph
      Reply Stuart Ralph October 20, 2018 at 9:54 am

      Hi Polly, sorry to hear you are having a tough time. If she isn’t in therapy that will help – CBT (cognitive behavioural therapy) therapy is best for OCD. For yourself I recommend you read “When a family member has ocd” by jon hershfield. This will give you some tools and ideas on how to support your GF. I also did an interview with him on this topic you can find it by searching the title of his book and “the ocd stories” in google. All the best

      • Reply Polly October 22, 2018 at 2:08 am

        Thanks fro your answer. She left this weekend and doesn’t want any contact so it’s out of my hands. She confessed that she had not done he meditation exercises in months and refused to get help, so her anxiety was out of control. I know it’s not my fault but I really feel like I failed her. she hid it so well and it all went down so abruptly. I’ll see what happens but I think I can’t do anything anymore.
        It’s very sad, I should have payed more attention and researched more…

        • Stuart Ralph
          Reply Stuart Ralph November 1, 2018 at 7:35 pm

          Sorry to hear that Polly. I wish you all the best, and try to share with others (if you want) so you don’t feel alone. Hope you feel better soon.

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