We’ve talked about Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) as unwanted or distressing thoughts and compulsive behaviors. There are times that it is more than the physical rituals – especially when it involves people in our lives and not just things!
Most times we envision OCD as hand washing ritual – compulsive checking etc. but there are other exhausting types and manifestations of OCD – ROCD, this is a different sub type of OCD. Relationship Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (ROCD) is a form of OCD in which an individual sufferer experiences intrusive thoughts about the strength, ideal, desirability, compatibility and faithfulness of his/her relationship.
Emeka is a 27-year-old young man who is doing well – his family had been telling him to marry (settle down) since about 3 years. This was because when he was 23 years old his university sweetheart was purportedly caught in another relationship and he had consistently believed he made a mistake going out with her and he was foolish. He unwillingly started a relationship with Rose. He enjoyed the relationship, everything seems fine until he started meeting all her friends and Alas, they are all men! Emeka started complaining subtly and resists her desire to go out alone which makes Rose to start lying about where she’s going and with whom she’s spending her time. Unfortunately, by the time Emeka does a little digging sees the inconsistencies in her stories before long he started imagining seeing her with another partner, he started doubting if he’s meant to be in that relationship, thoughts pop up that maybe he should test if she’s more attracted to others, started noticing his partner’s imperfections, feels no one is good enough for him and will suffer if he continues with her, etc. Rose had to be constantly trying to reassure him – unfortunately he discovered every time he watches romantic movies, sees romantic couples – the thoughts come and he needed to say some prayers about his future before he feels relief.

The case study is the imagination of the writer and not any real patient in our facility.

What is ROCD?
Doubts and fear can eat at the heart of our relationships and destroy even the very best relationship. Everyone most probably has fleeting thoughts of problems of doubts in a relationship because we cannot see the future as marriage is expected to be a life long entanglement. However, when we feel overwhelmed by constant nagging thoughts of uncertainty in a relationship and is a recurring theme in relationships, it may be ROCD.
This type of OCD can be relationship centered or the partner centered , both are equally disturbing and causes a lot of behavioural problems in the sufferers including stalking the partners, checking personal effects , affecting work and essentially destroying the relationship even marriage. Many might say I was feeling like that in my last or current relationship but the difference with those with ROCD isthat the sufferers believe these doubts or fears mean that the relationship or the patner is fundamentally flawed and they need to act to rectify it. Funnily, the acts they do include mental acts (praying at specifc times or frequency, etc)

Signs of relationship ocd
1. Engaging in rituals or repetitive behaviours to solve relationship fears including going to pray in certain places/times etc
2. Seeking reassurances from others or even partner
3. Consistently scanning for evidence to proofs fears are real. Emotional dectectives are trying to quantify their patners love
4. Consistent comparisons including imagined people.
Why is it a problem?
The rituals done by the sufferers of ROCD is often unproductive. They also don’t ease the fears and doubts about the relationship which naturally happens in normally evolving relationship where finding the partner is faithful makes people more trusting. Therefore the compulsions only provide temporary relief and ultimately reinforce the fears, making it worse on the long term.
Also, leads to unhealthy relationships and emotionally damaging others, unfortunately people quickly dismiss their symtoms as they are too picky or use a parlance (Ruth abokoku).
How do I track if I am suffering from ROCD
i. Time factor : if the thoughts or obsessions (acts) take more than 1 hour a day
ii. if it impairs the relationship it should enhance
iii. If the compulsions reduce the distress but on the long run increases the distress
Finally ROCD is treatable and this is based on helping people see doubts and fears is common and almost natural in relationships and that attracts changes but its not the determinant of a successful relationship.
We can help you deal with the issues in your marriages and relationships and it starts with steps we take! If you or any loved one is currently going through this, do not walk this tortuous road alone – Contact [email protected] or 081 2827 6962, +234 2291 4084 to book an appointment with a licensed therapist.