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Relationship OCD: What It Is & the Big Signs of a Partner With OCD

Meticulous, neat, and overly fussy – while these traits may seem beneficial in a partner, they may also point to the warning signs of relationship OCD.

Relationship OCD: What It Is & the Big Signs of a Partner With OCD

When you and your partner decided to move in together, you probably noticed that they kept the house neat and organized. It’s a good thing, right? You’ve managed to find yourself a keeper. You don’t think of relationship OCD, or even a warning sign that something’s not right.

Being neat and organized is a generally desirable trait in a person. I mean, who wouldn’t want someone who makes an effort to keep things in order? Lots of people complain about having a messy and untidy partner. So why not enjoy the fact that you have someone who does all the cleaning up for you?

However, there is a big difference between a well-trained barracks Marine and a rigid Sheldon Cooper. While it is true that a neat, well-organized person is a plus in a shared living space, a strict, uncompromising, anal partner could be a domestic nightmare.

[Read: 15 things to know before moving in with your boyfriend]

What is obsessive compulsive disorder?

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is a type of mental disorder. The affected person experiences recurring thoughts that need to be acted out. These thoughts are called obsessions. Obsessions are incessant and uncontrollable for the person involved, to the point of anxiety and discomfort, released by doing something to alleviate it. The subsequent action is called a compulsion.

For example, a person who is obsessed with cleanliness thinks that the floor is so riddled with germs that they’re sure to get sick from those germs. In order to lose the fear of getting sick, the person feels compelled to scrub and clean the floor many times over. [Read: 13 avoidable habits that will change your life for the worse]

OCD is a serious mental disorder that often requires professional help. It is important, however, to determine whether your partner clearly exhibits the symptoms of obsessive-compulsive disorder or is just really organized.

What is relationship OCD?

Regular OCD is bad enough, but what exactly is relationship OCD?

It’s normal to worry about a relationship and to ponder where it’s going. There’s nothing particularly obsessive or upsetting about that. However, when those thoughts start to become constant, a line gets crossed. [Read: Relationship anxiety: 20 mistakes you need to stop making]

A person with relationship OCD will worry continuously about the relationship. They will worry about where it’s going, where it’s not going, overanalyze, and perhaps overthink everything to the smallest possible detail. You might think this just being meticulous or caring, but it goes beyond that.

Relationship OCD can ruin a union. For the other partner, having someone they love worry so much about what’s going on between them can be heartbreaking. In addition, the constant questioning, doubts, and overanalyzing can cause them to feel that they’re not trusted. [Read: How to stop overthinking in a relationship & calm your mind down]

Signs you have a hint of relationship OCD yourself

Here are a few signs of relationship OCD in particular:

1. Dwelling on your partner’s imperfections

2. Measuring your attractiveness against others. Also, wondering whether your partner finds them more attractive than you

3. Always questioning your relationship and whether its worthwhile/going anywhere

4. Picking your partner’s personality and questioning whether you think they’re untidy, boring, or unexciting

5. Always looking at what you perceive to be missing from the relationship [Read: Relationship doubts: How to recognize them & make the right decision]

6. Wondering whether the relationship is right for you

7. Questioning whether someone else might be better

8. Worrying that your partner is cheating and analyzing tiny details

9. Comparing your relationship to other people’s

10. Assuming the worst at all times

By understanding what relationship OCD looks and feels like, you can spot it in yourself and your partner.

Signs of a partner with OCD

Don’t jump to conclusions and assume that cleanliness is a sign of OCD! Here are the real signs that your partner may have obsessive-compulsive tendencies, and therefore relationship OCD.

1. Painstakingly elaborate organizing

The most recognizable of all the signs is their near-superhuman tendency to organize things. People with obsessive-compulsive tendencies will spend time and effort organizing things to the most minuscule detail. They may go even further by organizing household objects that really don’t need it. [Read: 21 signs of a clingy girlfriend and how to avoid turning into one]

Opening their closet might reveal clothes sorted according to type, color, and season, shoes pristinely shined to the sole, and accessories polished and kept in separate compartments. In the same way, the garage will be so organized that it’ll be worthy of being displayed as a real estate showroom. Everything is labeled and color-coded. And don’t be surprised if your trash is also sorted into categories and subcategories. This type of behavior could lead to relationship OCD.

2. Strict adherence to a schedule

Just like their belongings, their daily activities are all sorted out and scheduled. Take Sheldon Cooper from The Big Bang Theory; every day, he has a scheduled activity that cannot be broken or moved to another day.

In the same way, expect that you won’t be able to invite your partner for a spontaneous and interesting activity because Thursday night is laundry night. People with obsessive-compulsive tendencies follow their schedules religiously, and it will cause them great discomfort if they fail to do so. [Read: Time management techniques for couples]

3. Ritualistic behavior

People with obsessive-compulsive tendencies tend to display an amount of ritualism in their daily activities. They treat certain activities like a strict recipe.

For them, activities need to follow a proven step-by-step process, even though it is absolutely unnecessary. If you attempt to do their ritual the “wrong way,” watch them tear out their hair in frustration before you get shooed away, so that they can do it themselves. All of this can lead towards relationship OCD and related problems. [Read: 18 bad habits that’ll make your partner want to leave you]

4. Everything should be in order

Objects are organized in their exact place and should be left alone in their perfect state. They will notice if you placed the green toothbrush in the left glass instead of the right, or if the television is 15 degrees off from its normal angle. They spend a lot of time doing routine checks to see if the things around the house are in perfect order. If not, they will do it again from the start.

5. Rigidity

Obsessive-compulsive people appear rigid and constricted by their dedication to sorting and organizing things. They have little or no time for other activities that get in the way of their schedule. When it comes to relationship OCD, this can mean little flexibility and a lack of compromise.

Simple tasks often take longer to accomplish because they are inflexible and will not opt for more convenient ways. To a person with obsessive-compulsive tendencies, there’s no such thing as, “This should be fine.” Instead, everything must be absolutely perfect, and there’s no room for compromise. [Read: How to get over trust issues in your relationship]

6. Irritability and obsessive worrying

Your partner is always worried about simple things that “normal” people don’t care about. Imagine that you’re on vacation at a beach resort, and instead of enjoying the scenery, your partner is restless, constantly pacing about and asking you about things at home or work. They can’t seem to be at ease unless they are on top of things. This often serves as a flashpoint for arguments.

7. Repetition

As a part of their rituals, they tend to repeat certain activities just for their satisfaction. Car doors are opened and closed several times, light switches are turned on and off many times over, they lock and unlock doors, and other, similar actions. In addition, they always count and recount household items and their belongings to make sure that everything is balanced and symmetrical. [Read: Signs of anxiety: How to read the signs ASAP & handle them better]

8. Excessive self-consciousness

If you think that their obsessive-compulsive behavior only covers material objects and personal activities, it also affects how they deal with their looks. They often take a lot of time grooming and making sure that their appearance is acceptable to their standards, even if it becomes inconvenient and painstaking.

How to deal with your partner’s obsessive-compulsive disorder

Once you’ve noticed that your partner shows the signs of obsessive-compulsive behavior and relationship OCD, here are some tips to help you and your partner cope.

1. Talk about the issue

The first thing to do is to discuss how your partner’s behavior is affecting your relationship. Be clear yet careful with your words, so as not to offend or cause immediate distress. Point out the exact things that you find problematic. Explain how you feel about what your partner does. Also, listen to your partner when they explain their side of things and how relationship OCD feels to them.

2. Be supportive and understanding

As their significant other, you must be the first one to extend empathy and understanding. You must show them you are there to support them, not to criticize or judge. [Read: 15 rules of being a great partner in a relationship]

3. Encourage improvements

Help your partner by reminding them that some of the obsessive-compulsive behavior they engage in is unnecessary. Point out that other options are available. This allows them to abandon their rigid routine. Praise improvements, and reassure your partner to encourage them to adapt.

4. Seek professional help

Even though you’ve read and researched ways to assist your partner in dealing with OCD, there are instances in which the assistance of a professional may be the best choice. When trying therapy or counseling, you should do it as a couple. This shares understanding of the condition, as well as showing support.

[Read: Why we need to break down the stigma of mental illness]

Obsessive-compulsive behavior and relationship OCD could cause problems for you as a couple, if ignored. Dealing with it requires knowledge, as well as emotional support and understanding for your partner.

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The editorial team of LovePanky comprises relationship experts and real-life experts that share their experiences and life lessons. If you want the best love ad...