Obsessions are recurrent and persistent thoughts, urges, or images that are experienced as intrusive and unwanted, whereas compulsions are repetitive behaviors or mental acts that an individual feels driven to perform in response to an obsession or according to rules that must be applied rigidly.
Maybe you have a lover who is not able to give you all the attention you deserve or maybe no matter how far they go, it just doesn’t feel enough. Watch out for your insecurities. At times like these you may become your worst enemy. Your lover can become your obsession and your healthy love story can slowly change into a stressful job. Due to this, your lover may feel distant from you and you may be developing compulsions. This is fairly common if you already have a predisposition to an obsessive compulsive disorder.
Obsessive-Compulsive and related disorders include obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), body dysmorphic disorder, hoarding disorder, trichotillomania (hair pulling disorder), excoriation (skin-picking) disorder, substance/medication-induced obsessive-compulsive and related disorder, obsessive-compulsive and related disorder due to another medical condition, and other specified obsessive compulsive and related disorder and unspecified obsessive-compulsive and related disorder (e.g., body-focused repetitive behavior disorder, obsessional jealousy) (DSM V, 2013)
Your obsessions and compulsions can manifest in many different ways. This is largely dependent on the individual with the disorder. Some common features include cleaning, a knack for symmetry, repeating, ordering, counting compulsions, forbidden or taboo thoughts, attempts to repress them, etc. Keep in mind that Obsessive-Compulsive and related disorders can manifest as an ANXIETY DISORDER.
A larger number of females tend to develop OCD in their adulthood whereas a larger number of males develop OCD in their childhood. Read the story below to get an insight into an obsessive compulsive love story.
Zabi and Xing have been high school sweethearts. They both came from middle class families. While Zabi’s parents were always working, Xing’s parents were working from home and had sufficient amount of time to play with Xing. Neither of them had any history of mental health issues except Xing’s grandma who was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. When Xing moved to college, Zabi became overly insecure about their relationship. She would constantly call Xing at odd times because she feared she was losing him even though they went to the same university. Xing was unable to maintain friends because of the amount of attention Zabi required.
When Zabi came for therapy she was nervous, pulled her hair at times, complained about having locks in her body and constantly said she wanted to peel her skin out. Something was distressing her immensely which manifested through her relationship with Xing. She would obsess over Xing as though there was nothing else going on in her life. She cut contact from the outside world and would spend hours thinking about Xing. She said she was a “hopeless romantic”. Naturally, the course of therapy progressed towards instilling hope for herself outside of her relationship. A major issue that was making things difficult for her was Xing’s jokes to lighten the situation. When she would ask him if he loves her or misses her, he would say “no” which would almost always trigger her even when she knew he was joking.
When Zabi brought Xing in for couples therapy, Xing mentioned how giving her all that attention left no time for himself. He was slowly feeling as though he was only giving love and not receiving any since Zabi was directing her feelings inward. “It’s all about her”, he said. When Zabi heard this, she became even more nervous.
At such a time, in therapy, there are a few different cues a therapist might suggest. Here are a couple of them which might benefit anybody experiencing obsessive compulsive love.
- Remember those days when the relationship was healthy and talk about them.
- What made feelings of love emerge from both sides?
- What are some of the red flags to avoid even as jokes?
- Can you locate a turning point in the relationship?
- What was your parents relationship like?
Zabi agreed to try and get out of her fears and Xing agreed to be more sensitive towards her feelings.
You, like them, might also benefit from a few techniques to strengthen your relationship in the future
- Practice self-love and meditate together.
- Set boundaries for yourself and your relationship but not for your love.
- Locate the patterns when your love acts as a tool for control.
- Discuss your insecurities with your partner in front of your therapist.
- Give each other space.
Remember that your love story is unique and can present challenges unique to you. Maybe Xing and Zabi’s story helped you know that you are not alone. The feelings they felt manifest in all age groups. Communication is key and self-discovery is the door.