My OCD has a warped way of interpreting matters in my life. For instance, when I grow comfortable in relationships, it tries to persuade me that I’m just not happy – that I don’t belong with this person. Because God forbid my world doesn’t revolve around him each second.

In the past, it even made me break up with or pull away from guys out of fear of hurting them or leading them on. Thankfully, those mishaps led me to where I am today – with a man who understands these intrusive thoughts as much as I do now.

I’m glad I recognized this as a symptom of OCD (and simply being human) before I allowed it to destroy my current relationship. I must admit, it’s brought me close to a breaking point; and at times, I even think I’m better off alone because I can’t deal with the torment my mind endures.

The guilt. The shame. The terror for having one fleeting thought.

Everyone has questions and doubts in relationships. Everyone gets “bored” from time to time. Everyone wonders. It’s human nature for your mind to explore – but it’s what you do with these thoughts and emotions that defines you and your relationship.

If only I had known that people experience these fleeting notions every second of the day. Some thoughts just stick. They play on a loop, and the more attention you give them, the stronger they become, and the more real they feel.

For me, these “doubts” started as early as my first relationship. I didn’t realize it then, but I wasn’t losing feelings for the guy I was dating. Instead, I was developing stronger ones – just in a different sense. The butterflies had flown away, and I no longer wanted to spend every waking moment with the guy. I did, however, feel secure and content in his presence. But at the time, my OCD lied to me and tricked me into thinking that I no longer cared for this person, because why else would I not be over-the-moon while holding his hand?

Long story short, one simple fear of losing connection attracted a million others, my mind focusing only on flaws, until I was buried beneath my own shame.

I pulled away. He cut all ties. And it was then, in the midst of devastation, that I realized the doubts were meaningless.

Since then, I experienced these exact emotions in every relationship I’ve had. One night, I wasn’t in the mood to make out with my then-boyfriend. We were arguing a lot, and I didn’t feel the connection that night. But all of the sudden, I become overwhelmed with the idea that I was no longer attracted to him.

Another time, an image of me kissing another guy who wasn’t my boyfriend popped into my mind. It was a totally innocent thought – I have never cheated and I never will. But from that point on, I felt so much guilt, as if I had kissed someone else and not just subconsciously imagined it, that I couldn’t even look at my then-boyfriend. I felt like a monster for something I couldn’t control.

But what’s so important to realize is that you are still human, and your mind can still wander without it becoming an issue. You can’t decide what thoughts come into your mind, but you can help how you respond to them.

DO NOT feed these ideas. DO NOT give them more meaning than they hold, unless there is a legitimate reason to. And you will know if there is, because the thought would not be so distressing. You’d want to end things with the person so you can move on with your life. Sure, you’d likely feel disappointed in the situation or upset over hurting the person, but you wouldn’t spend all day worrying and obsessing over whether or not your feelings are valid.

There is a difference between normal doubts and concerning ones. If you genuinely feel that you are unhappy, that you aren’t being treated right, or that the relationship just isn’t working, it’s time to have a conversation with your significant other. You don’t want to put on a front and have your emotions build up until you make a rash decision or start an unnecessary fight. Communication can make or break your relationship. Never be afraid to ask for what makes you happy; but also know that you need to meet your partner halfway.

However, don’t allow yourself to become someone who only wants what they can’t have and never realizes what they have until it’s gone. That person hides in all of us, tempting and nagging, making us believe we will never be satisfied, that perhaps we don’t deserve to be. Acknowledging those ideas is OK. Acting on them or letting them control you – that’s when issues arise.

This isn’t easy. I struggle with it every day because of my ROCD. But there’s a reason I push through and stay in my committed relationship: because I truly do love my boyfriend, even if my anxiety wants to convince me otherwise.

You don’t have to feel guilty for having doubts. In fact, it’s healthy to have them, because it means you are taking your relationship seriously. So take a deep breath and understand that you are normal – and what you’re feeling is normal, too.

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