Every relationship presents multiple challenges and rewards. However, a relationship with an individual with OCD can have added obstacles. Dr. Jon Grant, a professor at the University of Chicago’s Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Neuroscience, says that he talks to his patients about their dating lives all the time.He says that most people associate OCD with a quirky affinity for keeping things extremely clean or organized.
The National Institutes of Health describes OCD as a chronic disorder marked by uncontrollable behaviors, and recurring thoughts that a person feels compelled to repeat.
As much as it may seem hard, it’s still possible to have a healthy relationship with a patient of OCD. Here are some tips for dating someone with OCD;
Work at Building Trust
Many patients living with OCD may have a hard time sharing their compulsions, especially if they are romantically involved with a person. They tend to hide their symptoms for fear of rejection and embarrassment. If you are willing to make the relationship work, make your partner know that OCD is something you are prepared to learn and understand.
If they happen to share about their obsessions and compulsions, ensure that you make them know you realize how hard it was for them to express themselves. Acceptance and a little empathy can go a long way in building trust and intimacy.
Being in an intimate relationship with an individual suffering from any chronic disease, including OCD, calls for you to speed up your knowledge when it comes to symptoms and treatment of the illness.
Many compulsions and disorders that come with OCD can seem scary, illogical or strange. One patient says that if he produced a movie of what he has been through, it could be the best selling comedy. However, to him, his life has been spent fighting the unending war in the OCD battlefield.
It is, therefore, vital for you to learn about compulsions to be able to recognize when your partner is struggling and help them calm down. This significantly reduces stress levels in your relationship. Also, understand that a big percent of OCD patients suffer from depression and anxiety disorders that can worsen the situation.
Respect Your Partner’s Privacy
While your partner may be open with you about their condition, they may not be comfortable with other individuals knowing about it. Never assume that she/he has shared what they are feeling with their friends, relatives, and workmates.
An innocent comment from your partner’s family could end up being very hurtful or embarrassing. It could also lead to other unintended consequences and loss of trust in your relationship.
Consider Getting Involved in Treatment
Partners can be very helpful in pointing out the severity and true nature of OCD as well as in reinforcing different psychological treatment and medical regimens.
Should you consider being medical partners, there are several opportunities to see that you stay on top of medication regimens and get help with exposure exercises. Becoming medical partners can help build a powerful bond in the relationship.
Being in a relationship with an individual with a chronic disease means that although symptoms may be effectively managed, it can never be cured. It is, therefore, critical that you discuss the issue with your partner if you are feeling overwhelmed. This is especially necessary if you suspect that your partner’s obsession may have something to do with you or matters of sexual intimacy.
A little communication can prevent misunderstandings that may result in a break-up. If you find it hard to talk to your partner, share with a trusted friend for a different point of view.
Take it Slow
Patients of OCD suffer from obsessive thoughts about violence, sex and people close to them. This can complicate sexual intimacy between you two. You, therefore, need to be patient and let the relationship take its course. Sometimes, your partner may need time before they become intimate with you. Also, OCD can cause problems with sexual arousal resulting in low sexual drive.
The condition is always accompanied by high levels of disgust and fear when thinking about sexual activities. Level of disgust may be severe if your partner suffers from obsessions related to contamination, for instance, about germs contained in bodily secretions or sexual violence like rape.
However, these symptoms of sexual dysfunction can be managed in a person with OCD. The treatment involves psychotherapeutic and pharmaceutical options best explained by your partner’s doctor.
Join a Support Group
As much as you love your companion, sometimes living with an individual suffering from OCD can be very overwhelming. Although counseling and medication do a big part in managing the symptoms, sometimes dealing with your partner can be stressful. Consider joining a support group of people dating OCD patients. It gives you a place to vent and learn new coping techniques.
Get Used to Your Partner’s Routine
You will realize that your partner has a routine that they follow on your first visit to their place. Although you may have your routine, they always win because they find comfort in doing things in order. Trying to change their way of doing things will only stress them and cause them pain.
Your partner will also nag you severally because they are used to having things done a certain way. Sometimes they are conscious about it, and it’s annoying, but they can’t help it.
One OCD patient says it blows her mind when she sees someone who has not washed their whole apartment or folded their clothes. She also doesn’t understand why anyone would show up in a movie theatre hoping their best movie will be aired, without checking the schedule first. It is, therefore, important to let them do their routines and their activities without any interference.
The bottom line is all relationships (not only the one with a partner suffering from OCD), requires balancing needs of both partners to make the relationship work. A relationship with a patient of OCD can flourish like any other relationship.
All you need is to work on understanding and learning more about OCD and be patient with your partner. Not all days will be a roller-coaster. Besides, it is a sacrifice worth making for the person you love. Keep in mind that she/he is not OCD, they just have it, meaning their amazing personality and the beauty in them is still in there even in tough times.