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Relationship Obsessive Compulsive Disorder also known as ROCD is a relationship anxiety. Have you ever obsessed over your relationship to the point of chronic anxiety? Have you persevered to find how to stop ROCD? This blog may answer your ROCD questions.
Have you ever asked the questions:

  • What if it doesn’t work out?
  • What if I’m unhappy?
  • What if we fall out of love?
  • What if I don’t find him/her attractive anymore?
  • What if it fails?
  • What if they stop loving me?
  • What if they get bored of me?
  • I never miss my partner so I might not be in love with them?

These questions are questions that any partner may think of before getting married, or even at any stage of a relationship or while being married. Maybe you hear of a person separating or getting a divorce and you shudder with fear at the thoughts of…
“What if it happened to me!”.

That’s a common response for a person in a good relationship. But that thought will generally fade away and life carries on. However sometimes it can leave a lasting residue and establish a fear in you. A fear of your relationship failing, whether its because of you or your partner. You may not even be in a relationship yet. This fear and anxiety can start a person obsessing over their relationship. Obsessing and checking how things are, checking to make sure everything is ok and that their love is solid. This checking a relationship and ensuing anxiety is quantified as ROCD.

Now don’t get me wrong, people in relationships will occasionally make sure all is ok, but when it produces ongoing checking, constant anxiety, and it effects your quality of life, it can then be qualified as ROCD. Sometimes it can develop from something totally unrelated. For example one guy I know went through a really traumatic event when he lost his dad. He fell into depression and developed ROCD. Endless questioning and checking. This developed from his anxious depressed state that he was in and from that came his ROCD. He feared losing the other person whom he loved dearly, his wife.

Can you beat ROCD? Can you be totally rid of it? The answer is “Yes”!
You can overcome it, and “Yes” you can be rid of it.

Overcoming ROCD (Relationship Obsessive Compulsive Disorder)

Step 1: Keep things in perspective.
Some things are important and other things are not. For example looks aren’t that important. I’ve never heard of a couple break up purely because of looks. You’ll find there where other undercurrent issues at play. Learn not to put everything under a magnifying glass. Keep what’s important a priority and recognise any irrational thoughts.

Step 2: Live for the today.
Make your decisions based in the now, based on the facts. If we spent more time thinking about now rather than what happened yesterday or in our past, we’d be a lot happier. Don’t dwell on what you cannot change. Dwell on what you can do to make today great. Have FUN!!!

Step 3: Talk to somebody whom knows about OCD treatment.
If you still struggle why not have a chat to somebody whom specialises in this field. I find a problem shared is a problem halved. You’d be amazed just by talking what it can do.

Step 4: Don’t feel you have to prove things or that your partner has to prove their love to you.
Don’t secretly be testing their love for you or your love for them. The reason is as soon as you start these little tests you’ll find its impossible to actually test love. Love cannot be explained, love cannot be measured, love just is. Its like trying to quantify why you love your favourite chocolate bar, or why you love to laugh…you just do.

Step 5: Understand that love is not tangible.
You cannot hold love or be guaranteed of love. Nobody can promise you a bed of roses in any relationship. You may be married in the eyes of the state and church, but it doesn’t guarantee anything. That is why we take things a day at a time. Love is not tangible, it is an inner heart felt commitment. It needs to be protected, and not distracted from. Love is loyalty. If you are married, the endless testing can cause the grass on the other side to appear greener, but I guarantee you, you have what you need already.

Step 6: Don’t be lead by your feelings.
Some days you may not feel in a very loving romantic mood. Or perhaps you go through a difficult time, or like my friend earlier, maybe a death or trauma. Either way, feelings can be up and down. Love may produce feelings, but it is not a feeling. Never be lead by feelings, for your feelings are like the Irish weather…unpredictable and changeable. Instead be lead by your heart. Be lead by what you know is right, your gut.

7: Love is a choice
The most important step is Step 7. Love is not a feeling, an emotion, or something tangible. Love is however, is “A CHOICE”. You can choose to love somebody or not. So when you meet mrs right or mr right, you are presented with a choice before you walk down the aisle. “Do you choose to love them till death do you part?” “To have and to hold as the vows go?” As life throws challenges at you, as you get old and wrinkly, and as you find things you disagree on. You decide, you stick with it, and you trust they do the same. We marry our best friend and lets not forget that fact. When a couple choose to love each other for life its a great thing. When we fear of losing a relationship it only goes to prove that its very important to you. OCD will only target whats important to us.

I hope this helps you. But I must stress that if you are suffering from ROCD drop me an email and I’ll help you through it.
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By Mark Fennell


  • Hannah says:

    Hello there! I just wanted some advice on whether you think what I’m dealing with here is rocd or legit feelings. Here’s
    a quick back story:
    I was in a 3 year relationship which ended mutually around 7-8 months ago now. During that time I had all the usual relationship anxiety irrational thoughts that spiralled out of control. We then split up mutually for other reasonings. I have recently got into a new relationship which has honestly been so refreshing and amazing. However I noticed as my feelings have deepened, my anxiety has raised. It began with questioning my sexuality repeatedly all the ‘what if’ thoughts. That eventually subsided and now the rocd thoughts have taken over. I’m constantly questioning his behaviour and whether its ‘normal’ and if he seems slightly distant I panic and think that we aren’t right and it doesn’t feel right and constantly assess this. I’ll question how I feel for him, and maybe everything I felt was purely led by infatuation and now I don’t feel anything. Oh gosh I just really want to be with this lad and enjoy it! I want to be able to grow our relationship! Please help me 🙁

  • Hannah says:

    Hey there! I never actually read your email to my previous comment above!
    Since then I am still with the partner I was writing about however the thoughts have slightly changed, basically..
    What I didn’t tell you before (because at the time it wasn’t an anxious thought rummaging round my brain) was that after the previous 3 year relationship ended, I very quickly got into a relationship type thing for about 2/3 months. It was never official however he was very possessive of me. he never wanted to make it official however he didnt want me to be talking to anyone else. He controlled me and my thoughts, made me extremely uptight about everything. He would one minute be fine, the next be randomly blunt making me feel I had done something wrong. He made me feel so worthless, I felt I had to change my appearance to suit him and to almost look like his ex (someone he was very blatantly not over). I was clearly being used abused and played. He made me get attached but then abruptly abandoned me. I was very upset.. More because of the worthlessness I was left feeling.
    Fast forward a month I began a new course at college with new people. I was feeling refreshed, and slowly started to get happier about myself again! I didn’t want to have anything to do with boys, but then the inevitable happened. Me and this boy (my current boyfriend) sparked. We randomly started chatting, very naturally, and I soon realised we had a very great connection something I honestly hadn’t felt before. I took things fairly slow as I was scared naturally that the same thing that happened before would happen again.
    When I messaged you, it was about a month in, where I had continual sexual thoughts about being a lesbian. At the time they were consuming me, however I told my partner everything! And soon after those thoughts faded away and now I’m 100% clear on my sexuality being straight.
    However rocd being rocd didn’t like the fact I beat that thought, so it’s been throwing many other ones at me.
    The main one being thoughts about my ex (the horrible one). These thoughts are literally consuming my life just like the sexuality ones. I do not in any way miss him, never do I feel the urge to want to speak to him or anything like that! It began with thoughts about the name and that was it, but the more I’ve focused on it and googled about it etc etc, the worse the thoughts have gotten. To the point where I’m having intrusive memories (and honestly 80% of the ‘relationship’ was horrendous)!
    I’ve noticed that as I’ve gotten more stressed with the process of uni applications, the worse my anxiety has got.
    I have my clear moments- like last week me and my boyfriend spent a whole weekend together of pure bliss, laughter and anxious free feelings. I even said to him how I don’t feel remotely anxious and that all the loving feelings have flooded back and was having no thoughts about my ex!

    My boyfriend has made me realise what love actually feels like. The warmth and comfort it brings! But these thoughts are clouding that, and I just wanted your insight and help because I cannot take much more!


  • Hannah says:

    Ps, the reasoning for not reading your email wasn’t because I was being rude and ignoring it! I just couldn’t find it! Is there anyway you could respond on here incase I can’t find it again?

  • Victoria says:

    I think ROCD is what I have been experiencing for the past two years, but I am not sure. All I know is that it’s been horrible and all those questions at the beginning of this page are the ones swimming in my head. Constantly. It has gotten to the point where if things are bad between me and my partner I can’t eat or work or sleep for more than three hours (and that’s with a sleeping aid). Is there a way to turn this off?

    • Mark Fennell says:

      Hi, thanks for your message. The short answer is YES you can turn it off but only you can turn it off and you need to know how. Email me at mark@markfennell.ie and we can get this thing sorted out.

  • Maria says:

    Hi! I’m from Chile, South America, and i am suffering of rocd right now (before it was hocd). I am kind of desperate, although I have the most loving and understanding partner I’m afraid I might lose him. I’m afraid of so many things, almost everything, lately. How can I get past this?? Thank you

    • Mark Fennell says:

      Thank you for you message. To answer your question you can get past this and in fact you may learn from it to help you in future. The fear you are experiencing is anxiety and you may be in an anxious state. When we are in this way our senses and thinking is at a heightened state so we can overthink and make ourselves fearful. If you can tell me a little more via email at mark@markfennell.ie and I’ll see what we can do.

  • Andrew says:

    Hi Mark,

    I have been in a relationship for about seven months now and my significant other and I are currently engaged. Three weeks ago I was the pinnacle of happiness, never doubted for a second that I loved her and never had a thought of breaking things off. Then about a week ago I had the passing thought of “what if this isn’t the right thing to do?” And it spiraled from there. We are getting married in October and the feelings come in waves. Sometimes I feel all the emotions and know that she is the one and then days like today I wake up and it’s like I feel nothing. My therapist and family have all encouraged me not to break things off, but this feels so real. Please help. Is this ROCD? Also to give you some background, this has happened with a previous relationship I was in for three years and then that ended because I did not know the difference and I have been diagnosed with ocd and am taking Paxil.

  • Melissa says:

    Hi Mark,

    I have been with my boyfriend for more than 3 years now. And I would like to tell you my story and please let me know if this is ROCD or just genuine feelings. Since 28th December, we had an argument ( a silly argument) but I felt like breaking up with him because of it, but we fixed it on that day, however since then I started getting depressed and anxious. I have a history of depression and GAD (I was taking Cipralex for those 3 years but weaned off them last summer so I wasn’t on medications in December when the argument happened) So I fell into another depression and started taking Cipralex again but since then, I can’t stop having anxious thoughts about him and I can’t shake them off. I really want to love him because he is everything I want in life but I can’t seem to get out of this hole. This anxiety is taking over me.. and I think the cipralex is not working anymore.

    Thoughts go like this: I do not love him anymore, or I do things and gestures to feel some loving emotions but when I don’t I feel worse. Or I analyse in my head all the things we are doing together and see if that is the correct way of a good relationship. I wasn’t like this before January and I just want our relationship to how it used to be. I feel like retching with anxiety 🙁 I am sorry for a long post… but I really need help…


    • Mark Fennell says:

      Hi, so it appears you really love him but your anxiety isn’t allowing you to be certain. Thats what anxiety does, it causes doubting even when you are sure. But rally how can we analyize love when its a heart issue. Love is not just a thought its more than that. i know its hard but the key is to accept uncertainty and live in the moment. Dont fear being anxious and it actually goes away over time. Taking the stand like “I love my boyfriend even if I doubt it for I know that anxiety”. If you didn’t love him you wouldnt fear not loving him. Hope this helps.

  • Charlotte says:

    Hi, I have been suffering with this particular type of ocd for almost a year now. I’ve been with my boyfriend for a year and a half, however things only seem to be getting worse. I’ve been on two different types of medication(Zoloft and Prozac) but neither worked. I really have hit rock bottom, all my compulsive behaviours that used to work and help me achieve certainty for a period of time no longer work. So I’m worried that this means my thoughts are true, I don’t even like being close to him physically it makes me freak out but I just want to be able to hug and kiss him without pushing him away. Everything he does annoys me and I have such a temper with him because I’m frustrated with still having these thoughts. Another thing my obsessions have switched to is borderline personality disorder. I was reading the symptoms of this disorder, and one was ‘attaches onto a damaging relationship’ and ever since then I have been obsessing about having it even though I dont, I have convinced myself that I have it and that it means I cannot be with my boyfriend. I really have hit rock bottom I think the only option is to end the relationship. Any thoughts?

    • Mark Fennell says:

      Hi, thanks for your comment. Anxiety attacks the things we really do care about, like relationships, personality, etc and it appears this is true for you. Its hard to be close to anybody when our anxiety is high especially our partner. Regading obsessions, our brain sometimes will get bored with obsessions and we actually end out examining “why” am i not compulsed to do that certain checking thing? So pop down your questions and drop me an email at mark@markfennell.ie put down in simple one liners what are your main challenges

  • Kelli says:

    I have been with my boyfriend for a little over six months…I knew from the beginning that he has OCD..when I meet him he has a lot on his plate…going through a divorce, having a two month old wife his ex wife and also having strong guilt of leaving his previous girlfriend of thirteen years along with their daughter. His marriage was quick and ended even quicker. We have been very open from the beginning of our relationship and both knew where and what we wanted in life. Everything was amazing! His past haunts him to the point where he can not sleep, ever! This has lead to a couple fall ours between us. A little less then two months in I stepped back and gave him space. I wanted him to be able to figure out his true emotions towards his ex wife and their newborn baby girl. He had a few counseling sessions about this and meet with his ex to talk about things. Not even a couple weeks later we were back together and stronger then ever. Our emotions got deep and we talked about the future alot( which this is something I don’t normally do this early on) but we just felt that finally we meet someone who we can truly understand and love.
    He had his doubts here and there, mostly about making me happy and worried he would hurt me the way he did with his past two relationships. After a long talk and reassurance from us both we were fine again.
    Recently we had an argument about someone from his past, well I brought it up after seeing this person. I had know idea this bothered him so badly because he showed no signs of still being angry after it was all done and over with? But that day has thrown us into the worst place we have ever been? We spent all the next day just laying in bed, recovering from are horrible night of distance and just loving on each other. Then the very next day he has completly shut down? I realized why he feel the was he did and apologized for my immature mistake. But this event seemed to trigger something? Then I realized it wasn’t about our silly fight about this person from his past, it was deeper? I have told him I wanted to be there for him, I wanted to understand his struggles and help cope with them? I even offered to go to counseling ith him, which he said he would enjoy? But I’m just looking for a little advice because it’s new to me? And I just want him to be able to enjoy life again, and feel the love I have to give to him.

    • Mark Fennell says:

      Thanks for your comments. Well there seems to be a little guilt on his behalf and this is why he felt there was unfinished business with his ex and when he met it closed the chapter so thats all good. OCD is an anxiety issue and can be fixed. I would have a heart to heart and ask “is there a problem?” and “what troubles you?” and then work toward fixing it. The key here is to except whatever are his issues without judging or arguing. Its a time for you to listen and slow to speak. The reason I say this is sometimes simply talking about everything regardless of how irrational it may be can actually help lots. Start there and let me know how it goes. I’ll help as best i can. 😉

  • Lee says:

    I could really use some help,
    I’ve been with my boyfriend for 6 and a half months now. A little over a week ago someone had made a comment to me that “I am only in this relationship as a rebound because he’s the first person you got affection from since your break up, you’re only trying to fit in with his family so you don’t have to be alone.” In six months, I had never ever felt this way. He is the light in my life, the fresh start I needed. He treats me like a princess and like I am the only girl on the world. He’s truly everything I have ever wanted in life! We try new things almost every week, which before I would never do with my ex. The problem is, since that comment has been made, I cannot stop thinking about that person being right. That I really am in this for the wrong reason, that I don’t love him, that it’s not going to last. I never thought this before and it’s really scaring me! I have anxiety issues but nothing like this has ever happened to me. It’s getting to the point where I am believing myself that my thoughts are true but.. He’s my light, my love.. I don’t want to lose him.. But I need these thoughts to go away.. Please help me..

  • Trav says:

    Hi mark

    I have rocd very bad atm help please

    I have had rocd about 15months ago and go over it, as I re bed it was bad, but I have it again now and it’s worse then ever….I have been with my partner for 5 yrs and love her dearly,,,, but my mind keeps telling me I don’t love her and we should break up, it goes around around around in my mind 24/7 and is bring me down, I wonder all the time wether it’s true and if I should break up??,,, but it hurts so much I don’t want to, now it seems to have got worse when I’m around her very short with her and feel distant with her,, I some times push through it to give her a cuddle and a kiss but soon as I do my mind says didn’t feel the love you mustn’t lover her, and I find my self trying to find signs that I love her,,,,, please help me is this rocd or is it true, thanks

    • Mark Fennell says:

      Absolutely ROCD in my opinion. Go with your gut,your heart. For all the rest are just thoughts of your imagination fuelled by your fear of losing her. Sounds to me like you really love this girl 😉

      • Trav says:

        Thanks very much, this is such a hard thing to deal with, just don’t no what to do, makes you feel so confused and numb, also it’s very hard to get the right help for this, is there specialist for rocd?

        • Mark Fennell says:

          Hi, but believe when I say you can get over this and you’ll be stronger for it. I would be very experienced in ROCD but understand it’s an anxiety issue and the same treatment is what is done for OCD. The numb feeling is a way of your body coping with high levels of anxiety and unrest but this will pass when you learn how to control OCD. The root of all OCD is being afraid of being afraid. We overanalyse things as our mind says “I don’t want uncertainty as this causes me to fear and be anxious so I’ll keep checking to avoid these feelings” but then we shock ourselves by this questioning and conclude that if there is any plausible truth then maybe I have need for concern. This is wrong way of thinking.

          • Trav says:

            Thanks you seem to be the best I have I have spoken too,, all the doctors around here look at me weird and don’t really understand me, wish I could have meetings with you twice a week really could over come this scary problem,
            It all feels so real I have to really try hard to pull out of it and stop my self from thinking, it is doing a lot of damage as I’m slipping the depression road over this, thanks

  • Olivia says:

    Hi Mark,

    I went through something that I perceived as very traumatic and it really took a toll on myself and my relationship. I have had a history of OCD in my childhood and now it is picking on my relationship. I have been with my boyfriend for 3+ years and never had one irrational doubt (I have had the normal doubts that any healthy relationship has) in the 2.5 years before the traumatic incident. I could really use your insight and advice, if you could email me, I would deeply appreciate it. I know you must be busy with others but if it crosses your mind, please reach out: oliviakolis@hotmail.com

  • Stella says:

    Hi Mark!I ‘ve been with my boyfriend for over7years and the last4 years we live together.for the first 3 years I felt very in love with him but some day out of the sudden I ve started wandering whether he’s the right for me,if I loved him enough to decide to marry him.I ve started checking his looks,if I liked his kisses,his I felt when he hugged me…The worst part though started when I felt attracted to a colleague of mine,whom I know over 12 years,and despite sometimes that we made out in the past,never felt that I wanted to be with him.NOw,I ve been wandering if I want him instead of my bf,I constantly trying to check that out making comparisons etc.I feel extremely guilty, I m sure that I ‘ll hurt my bf and that’s something I can’t stand.I m seeing a therapist who diagnosed rocd but I m having doubts about that.I think that I don’t my bf and I m too coward to admit it.I would appreciate your opinion!!

    • Mark Fennell says:

      Hi Stella, OCD used to be called the doubting disease, although it’s not a disease it certainly is true when it comes to obsessing. OCD is an obsessive and doubting constant way of thinking until the habit is broken. So if your therapist said its rocd you can trust his judgement. What I’ve found is a relationship goes through stages of love, from the initial physical attraction to deep rooted love that comes over time. When live gets deeper is sometimes when I’ve seen rocd surface. It’s like something tells us “ok this is serious we must be sure we are doing the right thing”. Somebody prone to OCD can start the obsessing and examining everything about their partner when really, if you did not love them you would end it, because that’s how it is(unless you are married of course) Ive have never seen a relationship break up permanently over rocd. Hope this helps

  • Helena says:

    Hi Mark I find your blogs all very helpful, especially the HOCD one as this is what I believe I am suffering from, as I have things like if I do this does it mean I’m gay, worry about checking out girls/ my past- did I have crushes on girls etc and have this constant anxiety regarding sexuality, even tho have been in relationships with guys, and am pretty sure I’m straight, or that’s what I thought before but I feel like HOCD has somehow turned me gay. Also Didn’t know ROCD was a thing, but definitely I get this as a result of HOCD like do I like kissing guys, sex with guys, and then this leads on to what if I want to kiss a girl and more, and its a source of great anxiety. Am I able to email you for some advice with regards to overcoming this? Thank you

    • Mark Fennell says:

      thanks for your message. When we ask ourselves questions like “what if…” or statements like “you are ….for this reason” these are anxious thoughts testing,querying,doubting what is and trying to see how you react to the thoughts. It’s your mind trying to be sure of something (in your case sexuality) because of how important it is to you. It’s simply a reaction to a fear. A fear of making being something you don’t want to be, it’s like a perfectionist thing with constant checking. Anxiety finds it hard to handle this but really it’s easy if you learn to go with your gut. The real you knows that you are straight and these thoughts are just OCD connected. In time you’ll learn to recognise the truth from the noise. Hope this helps.

      • Helena says:

        thanks for your reply. i think yes youre very right of course, and they are OCD connected thoughts especially as i have suffered from anxiety/panic disorder for the last few years and despite this being better, i have been left with overthinking problems etc which i might have to find an ocd specialist to help me with. i have high periods where i check so much but at the moment its low, however now i have been in a relationship with a guy for a month and already i am starting to worry about whether i’m not attracted anymore, what will happen when i go off to university, what if i am gay because i am getting these feelings etc. how do i sort of start moving off this since this started happening in my last failed relationship? i dont know what to do to stop myself feeling like i have cold feet even though i cant have… everything’s muddled!

  • Anna says:

    Dear Mark,
    My 18 month relationship with my boyfriend ended a month ago. We met when we were both happily single and became happily a couple very quickly. He is quite a bit older which was never an issue and we spoke openly about it. I often wondered and asked why he was single for so long and he simply said ‘He hadn’t found someone to commit to’. He told me he loved me early on which he had never said to another partner, he also would tell me he had never felt this way before about someone. We are so compatible in so many ways and honestly truly enjoy each others company no end!

    We moved in together after 9 months, something I now know he wasn’t ready for, I was, he wasn’t. He tried to say he wasn’t sure but wen’t along with it anyway. He’s always been an anxious person about life in general. He would get anxious over work, if he’ll be late, if he’s doing a good job etc. He is a musician and gets performance anxiety too. He also has mild OCD. It was suggested before by professionals that he try CBT or an anxiety tablet, neither of which were followed up on. Throughout the relationship we laughed, loved and made amazing memories. I never for one moment doubted he was the one. He is extremely caring and supportive and I never saw this end coming. Up until February everything was normal. We were closing the deal on OUR house – He’s still going ahead with it. He said ‘he wasn’t feeling the same’ in March and I tried to assure him we were very busy but summer was coming and things would calm down. Anytime I tried to talk about us he would clog up and not talk. We started TM together which I felt was helping him. I assured him of the ups and downs in love and it was natural not to feel head over heels all the time. He assured me he cared and would love to have a future with me if he could but he wasn’t feeling ‘it’. His dermatitis flared up, tummy was in bits and I knew things were getting worse. He was also starting to withdraw. YET when relaxed was so loving and normal. Telling me he loved me, talking about the new house right up to the day we broke up. We were even planning a holiday that morning.

    He ended it because he doesn’t want to hurt me and simply ‘doesn’t feel the same’. He’s been acting just like we were still a couple except without intimacy since we split. I’ve been trying no contact and giving him space but we are in the same circles (work and personally) so it it’s been difficult. Also neither of us want to avoid the other – when we see each other its totally normal.

    He wants to be alone, he doesn’t see a relationship with anyone in the future for now yet he would love us to still be friends. He said ‘it was worth hanging in for, if it was going to be anyone I would have wanted it to be you – maybe I’m not supposed to get married or have kids’. He admitted he forgets things he had said about the future and us. He doesn’t know why but he knows right now he’s better alone. I don’t disagree because he’s health has improved significantly. I just wish I could convince him that ROCD is what he has and if we tried talking to someone things would resolve. I suggested CBT as a couple before but he is convinced there is no issue except he is better alone. He said that I had him convinced before that something was wrong with him but after the spit he feels he made the right decision and he’s ok.

    I know it wouldn’t be easy and we would have to go back to the beginning but I have this horrible feeling I have lost ‘the one’. If I push too much he’ll pull away. He’s not close to ANYONE. I was the only one he let in. He hides the anxiety very well by living alone so no one else is around to help him see it.

    • Mark Fennell says:

      Hi, anxiety is a reaction to fear. The best way to help somebody with anxiety issues is to be a support, never pressure them and tell that whatever happens that you’ll be ok even if they freak out every now and then. It sounds like he could do with a good therapist that specialises in cbt and exposure techniques. It’s difficult for me to help without chating to him but if he wants to email me in confidence I can see what I can do.

      • Anna says:

        Thank you Mark.
        Unfortunately he seems to have his mind made up and the break up is for the best in his mind and the feelings are just not there. I’m currently giving him lots of space and no contact hoping he will realise what we had and possibly seek help.
        Thank you for your reply. If anything changes I’d love to get him to take you up on that offer.


  • Chloe says:

    I would really appreciate some help Mark as you seem pretty good with words and explaining things in a logical way! I’ll try and keep this as short and sweet for everybodys sake.
    I’ve just turned 21, met my boyfriend abroad who I am incredibly happy with! We’re currently in a long distance relationship (him Essex, me Edinburgh) but manage to see each other every 2-4 weeks, and speak every day on the phone. Never really had a full blown argument (bicker yes as everyone does) but not had any reason to properly argue until now…
    I didn’t know I suffered with OCD until this latest theme hit me and literally took over my life for a good 3 months, still fighting it now but doing a lot better than I was at the start. I first suffered from this when I was around 14/15. Obviously not knowing what anxiety or OCD was at that age I just thought thats how I knew a relationship was over. Again at 18 I was in what you could call an actual relationship, and this happened again, a bit older I was able to describe these symptoms a bit better like there was an internal conflict almost. That ended for reasons completely unrelated to OCD. However now I have been to my GP who has confirmed I show signs of OCD behaviours in constantly checking and making sure things are just right, which also comes along with the horrendous intrusive thoughts. (Also unrelated to this, skin picking, rituals before bed, worrying about having extreme illness’)

    Now I’ve had the majority of the stages as you’ve listed above. The crippling anxiety which seems to go on for weeks, all the thoughts such as ‘what if’; I don’t love him, I’m just convincing myself I love him, this is all a waste of time if we don’t work out… And the constant feeling checking ‘does this feel right, does that feel right, imagine this scenario does it make you feel nervous/anxious/happy/scared/upset/numb…

    What I’m looking for now is a bit of clarification because I’ve had some intrusive thoughts recently which are half like a back door spike (being anxious about not being anxious, RIDICULOUS I KNOW) and half just plain uncomfortable and upsetting.

    I’ll list them to make it easier:

    You’re only with him because you can’t stand the thought of upsetting him and you’re a coward.
    You’re only with him because you like his family.
    You’re only with him because you like being in Essex (again ridiculous)
    You really want to be single (although I have no real urge to be)
    You are better off alone
    You’ll be more independent by yourself
    What if you’re marriage ends when and if you get married!
    What if one day you come to the realisation you hate him.
    You’ll be much happier alone.

    I’m wondering if you or anyone has suffered from any of the above or similar as I just find them much more difficult to dismiss than the usual ‘You might not love him’ thoughts…

    Bit more background also suffer from the ‘feeling guilty about cheating although not really cheating… Speaking to a work colleague on a night out? GUILT. Dancing and a man showing me attention and me even saying I have a boyfriend? GUILT MUST CONFESS TO BOYFRIEND.

    Any feedback would be great, sorry for babbling on and thanks again 🙂

    • Mark Fennell says:

      Hi Chloe, thanks for your message. When we ask ourselves questions like “what if…” or statements like “you are ….for this reason” these are anxious thoughts testing,querying,doubting what is and trying to see how you react to the thoughts. It’s your mind trying to be sure of something (in your case love) because of how important it is to you. It’s simply a reaction to a fear. A fear of making a mistake, it’s like a perfectionist thing. But nobody or nothing is perfect or guaranteed and somebody with anxiety finds it hard to handle this but really it’s easy if you learn to go with your gut. The real you knows that your love is true and these thoughts are just OCD connected. In time you’ll learn to recognise the truth from the noise. Hope this helps.

      • Chloe says:

        Thanks a lot for your reply Mark I really appreciate it! I understand what you say about perfectionism as I’m always scared I’ll ruin a relationship by cheating which would be much worse than if my spouse cheated on me as I have this image of like a tarnished track record and it makes me really uncomfortable and like the relationship isn’t right and there’s a black mark against my name if something were to happen (sorry that’s my paranoia about cheating and ruining everything although I never have). What you said about the gut feeling I sometimes find hard to follow because when I get these intrusive thoughts and scenarios in my head e.g. Me breaking up with my boyfriend it gives me an uncomfortable feeling in my gut like it’s hit some kind of mental/emotional nerve… I’m still fairly new to understanding this but would you say that’s something that goes hand in hand with anxiety one of the feelings like almost a feeling of dread and the inevitable happening in the pit of your stomach? Sorry for all the questioning I’m just having a bit of a hard day 🙁 thanks again

  • Jared says:

    Thank you so much for this excellent article.

    I suffer from pure O and it has taken on the form of ROCD as of late and it’s rather annoying. At times I suffer from the common “Do I love her enough”, “Am I attracted enough to her” (which is annoying because she is beautiful), and so on. I’ve realized that when I try to mentally review the relationship or picture her in my mind, to generate ‘feelings’, that this is a compulsion so I try not to. It’s really annoying at times though because I know I love her so much and I get so hyper focused on my feelings that I tend to feel numb at times.

    Any advice? Any thoughts or comments are appreciated. Thanks!

    • Mark Fennell says:

      Typical ROCD but basically doubting fuelled by anxiety which is a result of a fear. That simple. You fear not loving her so you question and obsess over it which leads to more stress. Drop me an email i you need more help and let me know more details.

  • Dana says:

    I am 33 and have been married for almost 7 years, been together almost 10 years in total. Just about two years into the relationship, we bought our first apartment, and within a few days after moving in, I literally woke up and felt really strange. I had extreme anxiety, no appetite, crying, pacing, wanted to just sleep all day but couldn’t, didn’t work for 2 weeks, felt weird, off, not right with anything, people, life etc. but the main thing I couldn’t stop and feared was not feeling anything for my boyfriend. I kept thinking that I don’t love him, felt scared around him, etc. this lasted for Bout two weeks. I started on Effexor through a phyciatrist and said I have anxiety. Well since then, I have had good months of not thinking any of that, living life, happy, then I’ll wake up one day again months later and the exact thing happens again. Exact same thoughts, feelings, no appetite, miss work etc. this has been going on for like 6 years and yes with The same partner when this started who is now my husband. We have travelled, sold and bought a house, I went through schooling, etc…. But this always comes back!
    I have home to emergency a few times as well because the anxiety was so unbearable I didn’t know what to do with myself, but they just sent me home with more meds… I also stayed in a home for 2 weeks to readjust my meds.
    So basically, I have anxiety, major depression, and one phyciatrist said obsessive thoughts.
    Last October 2014 I was hit again with this, and it has not stopped since then. Still to this day, I am questioning if I’m happy or of i love him, can’t picture the future , irritated by everyone around me and don’t feel myself but the anxiety has calmed down. Since October I have tapered off of Effexor which I was on for pretty much 6 years, started lexapro which didn’t work then back on to Effexor and added Wellbutrin.

    Any advice, similar stories, or anything would be greatly appreciated.

    Thank you.

  • Natalie says:

    Hello Mark,

    I’m 25 and believe I have been suffering from ROCD for 4 years now. It first occurred when I was in a relationship with a great guy. After about 6 months of dating I just woke up one morning and didn’t feel ‘in love’ any more. I did all of the “what if…” that all of the other comments are mentioning. Eventually it got to the point where I couldn’t sleep, eat, work, or do anything, and I ended up breaking up with him to try to get a break from all of these thoughts. A year later I met another amazing man. He is fantastic and I feel extremely in love with him. We’ve been together for one month short of a year. About a month ago, the anxiety started creeping in, and I am trying very hard to keep it at bay. I want to stop it dead in it’s tracks before it gets out of control again like it did previously. But it’s hard because the more I tell myself to ignore it, the more i obsess over it, and the more I obsess over it and get mentally exhausted, the more I am annoyed at my boyfriend since he is who I associate these thoughts with. Haha it’s a vicious cycle, one that I want to get out of ASAP.

    I really want to learn some good methods for I didn’t the last time this happened. I just ran away from the problem by ditching the guy. I went to a therapist at my university but as helpful as they were trying to be they didn’t seem to understand ROCD very well and said I am an anxious person who has GAD but I don’t think they are 100% correct because this anxiety only really focuses on relationships. Any tips?

    – Frustrated N

    • Mark Fennell says:

      Hi, This has all the markings of rocd but see it as temporary. When we try to analyse love it is pretty impossible so all the “what ifs” tend to be a waste of time. Answer love by simply asking yourself “do I love him” a simple yes or no question without going into thoughts, instead your gut your heart.
      These fears can be present in slit of people in love but the difference for you is you have gotten caught on the concept of love and relationship.
      The key to being free is by not being afraid of your thoughts. Easier said than done but definitely possible. The truth in life is we cannot always have guarantees. We must live in the moment and not try tell the future. The key is to not let fear win and currently it appears it is. Let the thoughts just be, allow them to float by but see them as invisible nothingness for that is what they are. Live by fact not fiction and get busy enjoying life.
      Hope this helps,

      Many thanks,

  • Cucsmuc says:

    I suffered from this condition in all my relationships, recently I separated from my wife and we’re getting a divorce. Everything was okay until we got married after that hell broke lose in my head, I fought with it for 4 months but couldn’t do it anymore, I lost all will for anything.
    Even though I knew I love her, even though she’s a beautiful human being I had many different intrusive thoughts. Once I noticed her hair being a bit messy and I started obsessing about it, thinking I’m not into her anymore because I noticed such thing, and that I must be thinking she’s ugly. Worst for me is that I would get angry because of those thoughts, at her, or annoyed. Anxieties were severe, insomnia, derealization, panic attacks. I had all sorts of intrusive thoughts, some of them really absurd. I felt tremendous shame and guilt. Anyone living with this is living in hell. I hope people that are still with their loved ones manage to win. I lost

    • Mark Fennell says:

      So sorry to hear this but you can recover from this and I would still be hopeful for your marriage with the right help. I offer Skype sessions if you are interested and if your ocd and if your OCD is the root of your break up I would hold off on divorce and get help. You can get over this.

  • Evelyne says:


    I am involved in sort of a relationship with a guy with ROCD. He also has quite some other OCD characteristics.The guy is 37 years old and has never been in a relationship in which he was “sure” that it was the girl he wanted to be with and he broke things off every time (5 relationships).

    He says that now is different with me, yet he doesn’t want a real committed relationship for something external in my life, for which I don’t have control and which I feel is not a legitimate reason not to have the relationship. He says apart from that I’m “perfect”.

    He constantly pushes and pulls. I feel that sometimes he is smitted with me and then the next day he can look at me and I feel and see the repulsion on his face where all his love for me evaporates.

    He is not the type of guy that has many women to chose from, yet I have quite some admirers. Nobody understands his behavior as everyone is telling me that I am much “higher” than he is (and quite frankly, it is the blunt truth). Yet, I see something in him that nobody else seems to see.

    Soit, I am ready to blow everything off and move on with my life without him.

    My question is really, should I say goodbye to him or is there a good chance that he could eventually be in a normal relationship where he doesn’t have these waves of repulsion and doubt towards me? If the chance exist how should I behave without losing myself?

    If he can’t be smitted with me as I am with him, then that means the end for me.