An intimate relationship between two people always presents its own set of challenges and rewards. Butif a partner has obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), the relationship calls for an extra level of patience and understanding. If you are dating someone with OCD or as obsessive compulsive disorder is known, here are a few tips to help you along.
Find out more about it
The first step is to find out all you can about OCD. Gathering information about the condition will help you on several counts – you will be reasonably sure that your date suffers from OCD instead of believing him/her to be a merely fussy person and if you still wish to continue the relationship, you can find out ways of coping with a partner who has OCD. Simply put, OCD is a mental illness characterized by severe anxiety. This almost debilitating kind of anxiety occurs as the result of obsessive thoughts and is accompanied by extensive rituals in an attempt to reduce the anxiety caused by obsessions. Some of the most common symptoms of OCD are repeated hand-washing borne out of an obsessive fear of contamination, compulsive hoarding of non-valuable items to the extent that it disrupts daily social life, repeatedly checking if doors, windows are locked and so on. On the surface, such obsessions and compulsions can seem weird, illogical or even scary. Understanding what the symptoms of OCD are and where they come from can go a long way in helping you to understand them and to bring down the overall stress level in your relationship. At the same time, it is important to realize that many people with OCD experience other forms of anxiety disorders or depression that can complicate the symptoms he or she experiences. If you are serious about your partner, you will also need to be aware of his/her course of treatment and medications so that you know what to do during an emergency.
Takes steps to build trust
Now that you have found out about OCD, you can decide whether you want to keep dating your partner. If so, the most important thing you have to do is to build a bridge of trust and communication between you two. Let your partner know that you are open to discussing his/her condition but do not force him/her to talk about it. Often people with OCD keep their condition hidden for fear of embarrassment and rejection. And if at all your partner chooses to open up, make sure you acknowledge how hard it must have been to tell you about them. A little empathy and acceptance can go a long way toward building trust and intimacy, which are essential if you are to have a relationship that is likely to be filled with challenges.
Your partner may have opened about his/her condition to you but don’t assume that their family, friends and co-workers know about it as well. It is necessary to give your partner privacy and refrain from commenting about his/her OCD when you are amongst other people. A seemingly harmless comment to a friend or family member of your partner could end up being very hurtful or embarrassing and even go so far as to undermine trust in your own relationship.
Take it slow
People suffering from Obsessive Compulsive Disorders sometimes suffer from obsessive thoughts about sex, violence and people close to them. All this can complicate any chances of physical intimacy between you both. You will thus have to be patient and allow the relationship to follow its own course. At best your partner may require some time to be physically intimate with you; however OCD can cause problems with sexual arousal and cause someone to have a low sex drive. The condition is often accompanied with a fear of having sex or high levels of disgust when thinking about sexual activities. Feelings of disgust may be particularly severe if your partner experiences obsessions related to contamination for example about germs contained within bodily secretions, sexual violence for instance rape, molestation or religion like committing a sin due to prohibited sexual behavior. However it is possible to manage such symptoms of sexual dysfunction in a person with OCD; the treatment usually involves a variety of pharmaceutical and psychotherapeutic options which are best explained and advised by your partner’s doctor.
If you are serious about a relationship with your partner, then the sooner you get involved with his/her treatment the better. The better you understands your partner’s symptoms, the more you will be able to will trust one another. Not being aware of the challenges you are facing could lead to misunderstandings so that you may feel like "he/she doesn't find me attractive anymore". And these negative thoughts can get in the way of building intimacy and trust - the basis of any healthy sexual relationship. Even if you are not physically intimate right now, being involved in your partner’s treatment can help you pinpoint the true nature and severity of your partner’s symptoms as well as help him/her to stick to different medical and psychological treatment regiments. Indeed becoming partners in treatment can not only help your beloved to manage the symptoms better but eventually enable you both to build a stronger bond.
Join a support group
Sometimes coping with a partner suffering from OCD can become all too overwhelming for you. Medications and counseling sessions can help manage the symptoms of OCD but still leave you feeling lonely and misunderstood. At such times being part of a support group is very helpful. Community support groups for OCD can be excellent sources of social support and provide an opportunity to hear how others are dealing with feelings of isolation or embarrassment caused by the disorder.
Be honest about your needs
Finally you need to realize that a relationship with a partner who suffers from a mental condition will require large reserves of patience and acceptance on your partner. Coping with an OCD-afflicted partner is not everyone’s cup of tea. If you have concerns or are feeling too stressed by your partner’s symptoms, discuss this with your partner openly and honestly. If you fear hurting your partner, find a trusted friend or a counselor with whom you can discuss your concerns. After all, every relationship – not just one with someone with OCD – is about balancing your personal needs with the needs of the relationship.