What I needed to hear about OCD impacting my relationship

I got to see my partner this weekend for the first time in a month. He works at a camp all summer, and this was my chance to visit. It will be another month before I see him again, so we had to make the most of our short time together. Unfortunately, as par for the course, OCD came along too.

OCD impacts me in small ways now, and if you aren’t especially close to me or spending a lot of intimate time with me where I really let my guard down, you may never even notice the signs of OCD. I’ve always been both good and automatic at hiding it. But with someone like my partner, I do let my guard down. Plus, he knows what to notice now, and he can sense even the smallest moments of being stuck in an obsession or doing a compulsion. He can see a subtle change in my facial expression or a slight pause.

For example, while together that weekend, there was the initially not wanting to get my face wet, when swimming together in the lake. There was the turning away from kisses and feeling shy that we were breaking some unspoken rule, even though all the campers were gone for the weekend. There was taking the time to double and triple check and count I have everything important back in my purse before we leave the hotel.

At one point, while we’re driving together in my car, conversation turned vulnerable. Both of us talked about innermost feelings and struggles, and things we only share with each other. I finally offered up, “I hope OCD doesn’t get in the way in our relationship,” knowing fully well that sometimes it does. I don’t know what I expected him to say. It’s not that I wanted him to lie and just say, “No, it doesn’t.” But I also don’t want to hear that my OCD impacts him negatively.

His response though, was everything I needed to hear. “I mean, sometimes it does,” he replied honestly, “but that’s okay,” he finished. He grasped my hand, while still driving along the dark roads. Our eyes stayed glued in front of us, looking for any sudden deer trying to cross the road, but I felt close. It was such a small statement, but it meant so much. It wasn’t fake ignorance, but instead it was honest acceptance.

OCD does get in the way of my relationship sometimes. It can make me seem distant, when I’m stuck in my head. It can make me take longer to do something or even avoid doing something all together out of anxiety. But it doesn’t mean I’m not worthy of love. And his response helped validate what I already knew.



  1. I found your article on The Mighty. This was helpful to hear. An ex partner told me towards the end of our relationship “your $&@ing OCD is not my $&@ing problem anymore!” So…that hurt.
    I too, have been good at hiding my high functioning contamination phobias (until the pandemic). It’s ultimately been a good thing to have to confront it and be honest about something I’ve struggled to manage for years. Finding renewed strength and more healing.
    Good to know there are partners out there capable of being supportive, tender and kind.

    Liked by 1 person

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