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Relationship OCD

Relationship Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (ROCD) is a subtype of obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) characterized by persistent, intrusive doubts and fears related to romantic relationships.

What is Relationship OCD?

Relationship Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (ROCD) is a subtype of obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) characterized by persistent, intrusive doubts and fears related to romantic relationships. Individuals with ROCD experience obsessive thoughts about the legitimacy of their feelings for their partner or the partner’s feelings for them. These doubts often lead to compulsive behaviors or mental rituals, such as seeking reassurance, comparing their relationship to others, or analyzing their emotions constantly.

ROCD can manifest in various ways, such as questioning the authenticity of love, fear of commitment, concerns about partner compatibility, or excessive preoccupation with perceived flaws in the relationship. This constant questioning and seeking reassurance can strain the relationship and significantly impact the individual’s emotional well-being.

The origins of ROCD are complex and may involve a combination of genetic, neurobiological, and environmental factors. Past relationship experiences, attachment styles, and societal influences can contribute to the development and maintenance of ROCD symptoms.

Treatment for Relationship OCD

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) combined with Exposure and Response Prevention (ERP) is a highly effective approach for treating Relationship OCD (ROCD), helping individuals navigate the distressing and intrusive thoughts and doubts that interfere with their relationships. At Light On Anxiety, our specialized therapists offer compassionate and evidence-based care tailored to the unique needs of individuals struggling with ROCD.

  • In CBT sessions, clients learn to identify and challenge maladaptive thought patterns and beliefs related to their relationships, develop coping strategies to manage anxiety and distress,.
  • ERP involves exposing oneself to feared relationship-related thoughts or situations while refraining from engaging in compulsive behaviors or seeking reassurance.

By learning to tolerate uncertainty and resist the urge to compulsively seek reassurance or avoid relationship triggers, individuals can reduce their symptoms of ROCD and experience greater satisfaction and fulfillment in their relationships. Through personalized therapy sessions and supportive guidance, we empower clients to overcome ROCD and cultivate healthier and more fulfilling relationships.


Medication may be considered in the treatment of Relationship OCD, particularly for individuals experiencing moderate to severe symptoms or those who do not fully respond to therapy alone. At Light On Anxiety, our team of psychiatric providers collaborates closely with clients to assess their unique needs and develop personalized medication regimens.

Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) and serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs) are commonly prescribed to target symptoms of anxiety and depression associated with ROCD. 

Our approach to medication management prioritizes safety, efficacy, and collaboration with clients to ensure they receive the most appropriate treatment for their symptoms while minimizing potential side effects.

Integrating CBT + Medication

At Light On Anxiety, we offer integrated treatment plans that address both the psychological and physiological aspects of the disorder. Our therapists and psychiatric providers work closely together with clients to tailor treatment plans to their individual needs and preferences.

  • CBT and ERP help individuals develop coping skills, challenge negative thoughts, and confront their fears.
  • Medication management targets symptoms of anxiety and depression, providing additional support and relief.

Through this combined approach, we empower clients to overcome ROCD, improve their relationship satisfaction, and cultivate healthier patterns of thinking and behavior in their relationships.

Your Unique Path to Freedom From Relationship Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (ROCD) 

Our goal is to create a treatment plan that aligns with your needs and preferences, recognizing that each individual’s journey is unique.

What are the symptoms of Relationship OCD?

Relationship Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (ROCD) is characterized by persistent, intrusive doubts and fears related to romantic relationships. Common symptoms include:

Individuals experience persistent doubts about their romantic feelings or the authenticity of their partner’s feelings.
A pervasive fear of commitment or concerns about being in the “wrong” relationship, leading to hesitations about moving forward.
Excessive comparison of one’s relationship to others, constantly seeking reassurance about the validity of their feelings.
Intrusive thoughts about potential flaws or shortcomings in the relationship, even if there is no objective basis for these concerns.
Compulsive analysis of emotions and behaviors, seeking certainty about the relationship’s legitimacy.
A strong need for reassurance from others, including friends or family, to alleviate doubts about the relationship.
Anxiety-related physical symptoms, such as restlessness, tension, or sleep disturbances, triggered by relationship-related concerns.
Engaging in rituals or behaviors to ease anxiety, such as repeatedly checking feelings, scrutinizing social media, or seeking constant validation.

Significant distress and impairment in daily functioning due to the preoccupation with relationship doubts.

FAQs about Relationship OCD

The trajectory of Relationship OCD varies for each individual. Some may experience a reduction in symptoms with age or through effective treatment, while others may continue to grapple with ROCD throughout their lives. Early intervention and seeking professional help are crucial factors that contribute to better outcomes in addressing ROCD.

Several factors can exacerbate Relationship OCD intensify obsessive doubts and fears about the relationship. Lack of effective coping strategies may contribute to heightened anxiety, making ROCD symptoms worse. Social isolation or a lack of understanding from a partner or support network can exacerbate feelings of uncertainty. Finally, avoidance of situations that trigger anxiety rather than confronting them through therapy can perpetuate and worsen ROCD over time.

While there is no specific test for Relationship OCD, mental health professionals often use diagnostic interviews, questionnaires, and assessments to evaluate symptoms and determine the presence of obsessive-compulsive tendencies within romantic relationships.

Yes, Relationship Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (ROCD) is a real and recognized subtype of obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD).

More About Treatment for Anxiety

What is CBT & ERP for OCD?

Light On Anxiety CEO Dr Debra Kissen describes how CBT & ERP helps clients move past OCD and other anxiety disorders.

Learn more about how we can create a custom individual treatment plan to fit your goals.

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