Partner Focused OCD
Maybe your dating, friends with someone, or married. Either way, you have a relationship with them. Do you ever wonder if you’ll be able to handle a flaw or perceived flaw of the other person? Meaning, you may be obsessing about your partners’ faults. Not just having a thought every once in a while. But truly obsessing about specific flaws or faults. Like all day. This brings a lot of anxiety. You’re not sure if you need to get out of the relationship. You’re not sure if you stayed, that you’ll ever stop thinking or feeling anxious about this flaw.
If this sounds like you, you may struggle with what’s called relationship OCD, more specifically, partner-focused OCD.
Partner focused OCD can be very distressing to those who experience it. This only comes to an individual who has OCD. Hence the name. What we know is that OCD attack so people value and care about. This means if you experience this, you must really care about your spouse, the person you’re dating, or even your friend. You value them greatly. So OCD jumps on in their and says , “how can I make this harder for you?” You love the person, you care about them greatly. So why are you all of a sudden having doubts?
This is because OCD also takes normal natural things that everyone thinks about. Whether it is the shape of your partners nose, a mole that seems to be in a strange place. It takes these normal natural observations but then as a lot of value to it. Makes you want to think about it, makes you wonder if you’ll never stop thinking about it. It puts you in his problem-solving mode to see if you’ll build a handle of the rest of your life. To see if there’s anything you can tell them to maybe change this flaw. There needs to be a solution, that’s what OCD says. When in reality there is no solution.
You could have your partner remove that mole but it wouldn’t be good enough. It would find something else to make you obsess about. It is very ego dystonic. Meaning the responses and behaviors are against your actual belief system. Internally, you’re probably not that person that really cares about these things, OCD is wanting you to care and put value upon it.
With partner focused OCD there tends to be a few areas that individuals may focus on the most.
Physical appearance. Obviously this can be anything the person sees on the other partner. It can be a mole, a computer stomach, to be the shape of their nose, to be the way they do their hair, it can be the shape of their toes, really anything the brain puts value upon.
Sociability - Individuals may be looking at others personality. The questioning and obsessing about if their social enough. Sometimes their processing if there two social. They look at their interactions with others. Can I be a somebody who is not meet my qualifications of being social.
Morality - Does this person share the same morals and I had. Like I said earlier, these are normal natural thoughts that anyone would have in a relationship. But without OCD is just a thought, it’s observing, maybe a little problem solving, and then they move forward. With OCD, it’s on your brain all day long. They’re looking at every interaction that person has, the words that are coming out of their mouth they are appropriate or not. It will make sure they meet the same moral standards.
Intelligence - individuals may be looking at simply how intelligent their partners is. They may be listening to every single word they say to see if they have good grammar. They may be asking about what can grades they got when they were younger. There seeing their interactions with others to identify how intelligent are they or even competent. They cannot ignore their partner’s intelligence and competence level.
What a lot of this comes down to is that in individuals are looking for certainty. Didn’t want to be stuck in relationship they can handle one of these areas of concern or perceived flaws. They need to make sure. But often, even when they feel like they are sure we can handle it and it’s not all problem anymore, the brain tends to doubt or try to find something else in the relationship. As I said earlier, once you take something you care about and exploit it.
So what is the treatment? The treatment for this is called exposure and response prevention. What this really means is that you are no longer going to be problem-solving if your relationship is right for you or not. This sounds crazy, but the does not need to be much problem solving. Instead it just needs to be simple thoughts. You may be essentially moving closer to the perceived flaws, noticing them on purpose but learning to respond differently to them. For instance, you may be looking at your partner’s nose for a picture of their nose really acting like you don’t care. You may receive the complete opposite statements of whats going on in your head. Statements like, wow I love the shape of that person’s nose. This can be awesome to look this entire duration of my life. So excited to be all to be with this person who has this type and nose. I may or may not be able to handle it the rest of my life.
The exposure part. You are exposing yourself to the upsetting fears or threats on purpose.
The response part. You are responding differently to these fears. Using a lot of uncertainty statements like maybe maybe not. Allowing yourself to no longer do the compulsions. The compulsions of the things you’re doing to gain certainty about the relationship were about the perceived fears or threats in your head.
A lot of rumination comes along with this, rumination is a compulsion, is essentially you just trying to problem solve. We need to change the dialogue to be more uncertain instead of problem solve that’s correct for you to be in a relationship or not.
Whenever I talk about this, someone always say, but what if I’m staying so uncertain that I miss if I actually need to be out of the relationship or not. My response, that’s the risk. When somebody relieves a relationship, they know, they don’t need to problem solve. But either way were not using that as reassurance to count on you knowing. You job is to say, I may or may not miss it and be stuck in this relationship forever. How wonderful is that going to be!
Do you need a little extra help with your OCD? I’ve created an online course that takes you through understanding your OCD and the treatment. Taking you through the evidenced based treatment strategies that work for OCD. It’s everything I teach individuals in my office. You can start for free. I’ll link it below.
Treatment for partner focused ocd
ROCD partner focused ocd
Mental Hoarding OCD | The need to remember
How is your memory? Do you remember the important things? Do you remember the bad things have happened in your life? Do you remember small little details that really don’t matter, but your brain remembers it anyway? What if you felt the need to remember everything, and when I say everything I mean EVERY-THING. The details, It can be conversation, the way the room looked, how fast you are driving, something your boss told you, how many notifications came up on your phone, really anything your brain puts power and value to to tell you to remember. If you don’t remember everything your brain may convince you that something bad may happen. It could just be an uncomfortable feeling because of something that you don’t remember. It could just be that nagging feeling that there’s something that you forgot that you may be obsessing about because he just simply can’t remember.
It’s not just an annoying thought or feeling, it’s anxiety, it’s anxiety of the unknown, anxiety of the uncertainty. If you feel like you must remember every detail about a situation, a place, a conversation, or somebody’s life, and you feel anxious if you missed something, or if you simply just cannot remember; you may struggle with what is called memory hoarding.
So what in the world is memory hoarding? We think of the word hoarding, it’s a collection of things, a lot of things, often things that have no value or much purpose. This is the same with somebody’s memory. Our memories are actually not the best. Just by nature our mind is designed to remember things that it deems important. This is why remember negative experiences in our life, he wants us to learn from these experiences. But how often are we remembering the good? How often are we remembering the small little details? My guess would be not too often.
Memory hoarding is when an individual feels the need, the urge, anxiety to be able to remember every detail about the way they may be living their life. It can be something that was said to them. It could be a facial expression. It can be the way that their driving. It could be even the feeling of wanting to know something about someone else. They may spend a lot of time really focusing on every single moment of the day to make sure they don’t forget something. Really hyperaware of their situations. But, as we know it is impossible to remember everything and this is where the anxiety likes to live. It lives in those moments and those things that you can’t remember.
You may be thinking? Why in the world would somebody want to remember every detail about something? But here’s why, they may feel the need to review their memories to see if they hurt someone’s feelings are not, to know if they harmed somebody or not, to make sure they did not make any mistakes, to make sure you can review and see if there are good person, sometimes to make sure that the memory that they have is true or not. That it really happened.. They need the memory to help them know if the way they were feeling was accurate or not. Sometimes they don’t know why they need the memory they just know the feeling comfortable if they don’t have it. Sometimes it is just plain old, I might need to know this information in the future so just in case I’ll remember it.
This lives in the person’s mind. Hence it being a memory. A mental ritual. Which is essentially problem-solving and ruminating. They may feel like they need this memory so badly because it’s very all or nothing. If I don’t have is my life is ruined. I do remember it out prevent something bad from happening in the future.
Here are some common compulsions or individuals do. The compulsions are things that help you gain certainty in the perceived fears or threats that come to your mind.
Obviously one of the bigger ones would be focusing very hard and straining in order to commit something to your memory.
Carrying around notepads or using your phone to write down notes and details about everything.
Sometimes carrying this around with you anywhere you go just in case you need to recall this memory. People may have bags and bags full of paper of different details and memories just in case.
Reassurance seeking. Individuals may ask others with the memory they are having is accurate or not. They may ask them if they saw the same thing that they did.
Taking pictures or video. A good way to remember detail to take a picture of it. Their phone can be riddled with thousands and thousands of pictures that can be reviewed at any time.
Doing specific random things in order to remember an event or detail.
So what’s the treatment? Treatment is called exposure and response prevention. Your goal would be to reduce the compulsions you are doing down to a point where you are no longer doing them. You may be risking that you’re going to lose a memory. You actually want to lose a memory. You want to risk whatever that perceived threat is in your mind on purpose to test out the theory to see if it’s true or not. For instance if my brain says I don’t remember the thing my teacher said so if I don’t write them an email to verify I may not go to college.
Using exposure and response prevention we would definitely not send that email. You would actually work really hard to not have that memory. Allow yourself to feel uncomfortable or anxious if needed. Allow that feeling to go down all by itself without controlling it. Using a lot of maybe maybe not statements to say “I may or may not go to college we will see.” And have you risk this.
When the brain is mentally replaying situations, your quickly responding with uncertainty answers or agreeing with the threat. Something bad may or may not happen. I’m willing to take that risk and not have this memory right now. Closing times where you feel like you need that memory and you’re starting to focus, distract yourself do something so you can’t remember on purpose.
You are essentially facing your fears and responding differently to them. The compulsion’s are the things that are going to keep you trapped. But you must respond differently to the upsetting fears you have. Act like you don’t care. Get in the mindset of not wanting that memory.
Treatment For Mental Hoarding
Fear of Forgetting a memory OCD
Recovery of OCD
We talk so much about what to do when you’re in your OCD. But what about when you’re not in your OCD? What is life look like after OCD treatment? You finally feel like you’ve overcome a lot of your OCD symptoms. So what now?
Now it’s time for you to live life. To enjoy the things that OCD has robbed you of. While I want anybody going through treatment to focus their efforts on enjoying life. Many may see this as an all or nothing approach. I cannot enjoy life until OCD is gone. Stay away from this kind of thinking. There are moments where higher symptoms may come in moments where symptoms will be gone. You can live life and enjoy regardless.
What I find is that individuals who are at the end of treatment and are not feeling many symptoms describe it as kind of a strange feeling. There almost not sure what to do because the anxiety has been there guiding light for years. This told and what to do, how to think, and how to behave. All of a sudden individuals are now set free and needing to learn to live life without these anxiety prompts.
Life after OCD means learning to live in trust in yourself. Trust that anxiety was a liar this entire time. OCD completely lied and had no value. Often individuals need to learn who they are without their OCD. It feels uncomfortable. It actually takes a lot of effort to understand yourself without OCD. Just like doing and exposure individuals learn to tolerate this feeling without their OCD. It’s almost like losing a buddy that’s been with them for so long. Even though it’s wreaked havoc on their life some may feel lost without it. This is where trusting in your self goes a long way.
Individuals learn to live life again. Do things they never done before. Enjoy life and follow your value system. It is absolutely okay to feel uncomfortable after OCD treatment. This feeling will pass the more you start living and enjoying life. Ultimately you are living your life the way you want to, not the way OCD wants you to. You might start identifying goals that you want to achieve, what you want to get out of your life.
You may need to start working on self compassion. It is not your fault that you have OCD. We don’t focus on the time lost were missed because of your OCD. We focus on what you’re going to gain. Start working on any residual depression that comes your way.
We also know if you have OCD then you have OCD. So life after OCD treatment turns into maintaining the progress that you have made. Meaning, you are willing to do treatment strategies and exposure and response prevention anytime you have an intrusive thought. Anytime you feel like OCD is rearing its ugly head. So life after OCD really means life. Feeling relief, gratitude, excitement. But not forgetting about what treatment looks like and maintaining progress.
If I wanted to get really fit, I started exercising and eating healthier. I get to a point where I’m happy and content. I’m living my life. Do I stop exercising? Do I stop eating healthy? If I do I may end up in the unhappy rut I was in before. Where I might not have to try as hard to stay in this happy zone, I still need to do something to maintain the progress.
This is just like your OCD. Remember where you come and what you’ve done. Enjoy life. Have some self compassion, talk about all the successes that you’ve done and where you’re going. Focus a lot of your time on gratitude. The things that you are grateful for every single day.
Freedom from OCD
Nathan Peterson, LCSW
OCD can be tricky! I want to provide useful information for your OCD, anxiety, tics, tourette's, BFRBs, and many other anxiety related disorders.