My OCD and Me: Why Being in a Relationship is Torturous

I saw my friends last Saturday night. My college group who I feel most at home with. You know the type: the people you can spend hours talking to about politics or your anxieties, the ones who acknowledge and appreciate the fact that you never show up empty-handed, the individuals who make you feel special for simply being you. Those kinda friends.

And it should’ve been great. It should’ve been comforting. It should’ve been exactly what I needed after months away from them, months I’ve spent trapped in routine and in my mind. And it was, I guess. I mean, the few hours I spent with them, I was able to plaster on a smile, laugh at the right times, crack some jokes. But the entire time, all I could do was evaluate my feelings. For my boyfriend, who sat next to me and caught my stray tear before anyone could notice. For my friends, who I couldn’t bring myself to look in the eyes during conversations. For myself, the gnawing hatred and shame that threatened sickness.

I’ve mastered the art of hiding what’s inside me. I’m an open book, but I choose when to share certain chapters, and who to share them with. And I couldn’t let myself go there, because how could I possibly explain this to them? To anyone, really?

It’s terrifying to even write this. I’m sitting on my bed feeling the nerves of someone about to jump out of a plane. You think I’m being dramatic, right? I don’t blame you. Most people do. And maybe that’s the issue. Or maybe I am.

Either way, I need to get this out. It might make you uncomfortable, or not want to be around me, or think that I’m horrible. It makes me all of those things. But if there’s even the slightest chance that someone in my shoes is reading is, and feels sane or relieved or hopeful because of it, then I’m willing to risk it all.

Let’s just get one thing straight: I love my boyfriend. I’ve been with him for over four years. He’s supported me through every adversity I’ve faced throughout our relationship.

Yet lately, that doesn’t feel like enough. Because to me, being in love is synonymous with being numb.

If you haven’t heard of relationship obsessive-compulsive disorder (ROCD, which I’ve briefly covered in an earlier post) you probably think I’m a selfish person who will never be satisfied. Who will always need more. And maybe you’re right. That’s my biggest fear.

But fighting it only makes it stronger. And so, when I get these thoughts telling me that I don’t love my boyfriend, or these feelings of butterflies talking to guys I don’t even view in a romantic light, I can’t even reassure myself that it’s just my OCD. Because doing so is like putting out food for a stray cat, only to come back the next morning to see three more, and being too overwhelmed by their presence that you can’t help but give them what they want – which is everything that you have.

OCD finds loopholes. Unless you literally tell yourself, “I accept that this might be true,” you won’t get past your fear. But how can you say, “I accept that I might be emotionally cheating on my boyfriend,” or, “I accept that I might have feelings for another guy,” and not feel your heart breaking in the process? Not hate every part of who you are? Please, tell me how. Because I can’t do that.

Still, I have to. And I have to expose myself. To continue having these platonic friendships that feel like secret romantic relationships because of the OCD’s warped perspective. So, even doing what it is I am instructed to do in therapy feels like I am choosing to cheat on the love of my life.

It’s isolating. It’s confusing. And it’s hell on earth, to put it lightly.

And so, as I said goodbye to my friends that night, I made sure to swallow the cries that were about to demand my attention. I just barely made it into my car before hysterically sobbing in the passenger seat as my boyfriend watched from the driver’s side. He pulled me toward him as we sat outside our friend’s house, telling me it was okay. But he didn’t know what was going on in my mind. Maybe I’d explained it to him in confessions before, but surely he couldn’t understand exactly how terrible I was. I’d spared details, like the fact that as he held me in that moment, I couldn’t feel him; and all I wanted was to run back inside and get comfort from my friends because I just couldn’t fucking feel it from him. And I desperately felt like I needed it.

Maybe I’m flawed for wanting attention in these moments. Maybe that’s human nature. My mind always jumps to the first conclusion, and so I repeat that there’s something wrong with me. That even my painful self-awareness isn’t enough to save me, or my loved ones, from the monster that I am.

It goes like this: the OCD causes me to feel (or not feel) something, then it tells me the reason I’m feeling (or not feeling) it is because there is something wrong with me, with my morals, with the situation I’m in. So, not feeling my boyfriend’s presence meant that I must be bored with him, right? And then, feeling the need to be consoled by someone else meant that I was actively seeking another guy’s attention, which is basically emotionally cheating, which I was basically choosing to do.


It felt like I’d been drugged, beaten, and dragged into a mess that I was blamed for making. When all I’d wanted to do was visit my best friends. To get away from reality for a night. To get some alone time with the guy that I love. But I just ended up crying myself to sleep that night in the hotel bed, facing away from my boyfriend, then waking up the next morning to cry myself through the rest of that day too.

I could hold the tears back long enough to order a coffee and buy some candles at the outlet mall, sure. To others, I was probably a cheerful girl enjoying Sunday with her guy. But as soon as I had a second away from civilization, I was choking on my tears. I couldn’t even breathe, I was crying so hard.

But I’ve grown so used to it that it only makes me numb. I’ve grown used to hiding my swollen eyes with makeup. To crying in the bathroom at work and blaming allergies. To locking my bedroom door when family visits. To overcompensating with sarcasm around my friends. To lashing out at my boyfriend for no reason but the fact that I know I don’t deserve him, so why is he even bothering to stay with me?

More than anything, I wish I could talk to my friends through this. But my mind tells me that’s wrong. That’s emotional infidelity, nurturing intimate connections with people who aren’t my boyfriend. Craving someone outside of my relationship. And the more my mind says no, the more I want to do it – because it feels “forbidden.” And the more I want to do it, the more guilty I feel for being actively “excited” to do it. For not wanting to turn to my boyfriend, the one guy who I should seek safety from, but can’t because how the fuck do I explain this to him? How can he help me when all I can actually feel around him is shame and, well, nothing else?

It consumes me. All of it. The doubts. The terror. The false emotions. The inappropriate thoughts. Lately, my happiness is fleeting. And even those small bursts of joy are only euphoric sighs of relief, and they’re typically ruined within a minute by another episode.

No, I’m not okay. I know I will be. But right now, I’m really not.

It’s hard for me to accept this. The fact that I can’t always be optimistic or inspiring, even though I know the strength is in me somewhere, under the weight of this turmoil. I have to find it in myself instead of searching for it in someone else. I need to make myself better. And I will. But it will take time.

They tell me to write pretty. To offer hope. That it’s my job. But I can’t always end on a positive note. Life doesn’t work that way, and I’d be lying to my readers, to my loved ones, if I brushed this off as a “phase” or a “rut.” If I told them that choosing positivity is a simple fix. That self-love is easy to practice. That happiness really is a choice.

It’s much deeper than that – a hole I dug myself over the span of months, years even. Climbing out requires strength and motivation that I just don’t have right now. I can stand on the shoulders of someone else, yes; but ultimately, I have to be the one to look up and move in that direction. I have to be the one to separate the dirt from the soil, so I can learn to grow.

6 thoughts on “My OCD and Me: Why Being in a Relationship is Torturous

  1. Samantha,
    My heart breaks for you. I am sure you are still in therapy, maybe a change of medication can help. One thing I do know is you have a special boyfriend who must love you a lot. I will pray for you.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Sammi – you continue to put yourself out there. There’s a lot of pain in what you write and their is also a lot of hope. Always remember that you hugely magnify just about all your feelings. Your solid friends are just that – solid. They love and believe in you. They accept you just the way your are. The same goes for your boyfriend. He’s incredible. He is your biggest supporter. But you will get there. You are a survivor. You continue to peel away and get to the core of who you are, There’s a reason you have many loyal friends and a boy friend who is also your best friend. Accept the fact that you are a very good person and continue to get stronger with every word you write…

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Sammi, i thought, i felt your pain when i reading your article from other side of the world. So i felt pushed to write some unworthily thoughts and advises for you. Firstly i would like to state that, i said “normal”, “its normal” every time when you are remarking the attention to your thoughts on each sentences above. Yes, people might have deep emotional or spiritual disroders on that life, especially when they are youth, and as everyone know that is because they are human.
    I can easily say;
    Everyone has monsters inside of them and most of us fighting with it,
    Everyone has intended to left their boy/girl friend, even family, may be for one second, maybe for hole life, but everyone did,
    Everyone seek for solution,”SOMEONE” or something that can change the condition.
    We can extent that examples but dont forget those make us human.
    I think you are highly overlooding your self by telling “this is not normal” and you feel your self guilty or by magnfiying your thoughts, emotions. Please dont.
    On the other hand i thought you are fighting with your emotions and thoughts even via crying and that is “normal” too.Your brain trying to protect you by crying.Just i am trying to say please try to do not diagnose your each move, thought or emotions. Please dont pay attention what makes you confortable.Most off all, you know yourself better than everyone.If you recognise yourself, at that time you will easly find your answers.
    I belive you we will feel better when years passed and you will feel more cool more relaxed on that time.

    Small advise, if you have opportunity, travel the world, see the people spread out on earth, seek the life and complete your novel. I beilve you will be succesfull writer. By the way dont forget to advise people buisness tips on web site 😉


  4. Sammi,

    You may find SLAA meetings helpful. Some symptoms of “love addiction” are pushing away those who love you and seeking love and acceptance from outsiders or unavailable people. My wife now believes that she is a love addict. It took a lot of time and pain (for both of us) for her to come to that conclusion. It’s good that you’re so aware and open about these matters at a relatively young age (i.e. before marriage and becoming a parent). You have the right attitude. I wish you and your boyfriend the best as you battle this condition.



    1. Hi PM,

      While I appreciate this comment, I know that what I have is Relationship-OCD, which is a very common form of OCD that isn’t often discussed or well-known. Our feelings are fears that seem real, so reading this comment actually causes anxiety because that is what we FEAR, and that’s what the OCD wants.

      I’m glad that you said this because it shows how easy it is for others, including therapists and patients, to assume it’s something different and to treat it the wrong way. Also, there’s comorbidity to consider.

      I write to inform others how complex OCD can be, and its many themes. While it might be related to what you’re referring to, it is its own issue that requires CBT like typical OCD. Now that I’m doing much better in this aspect of my disorder, I understand it 1000x better.

      I wish you and your wife the very best!


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