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OCD and Dating

by nenetus
by nenetus

With Valentine’s Day approaching, it seems like a good time to bring up the topic of OCD and dating. I’ve previously written about the heartache relationship OCD (R-OCD) can cause, and it’s certainly not hard to see how having obsessive-compulsive disorder can affect all aspects of dating. Indeed, the presence of any illness can easily complicate relationships.

Of course, each relationship comes with its unique issues, so there is no “one size fits all” playbook to handle the presence of OCD. There are, however, questions I feel should always be considered:

When (not if) should you tell your sweetheart about your obsessive-compulsive disorder?

Although those with OCD are very good at hiding their symptoms, I think beginning a relationship based on dishonesty is never a good idea. Your partner will realize something is up, and by this point, you will likely have already told a good number of lies to cover up your OCD. In my opinion, as soon as you realize your relationship is likely more than a one or two date thing, it’s time to discuss your OCD.

What exactly should you say?

That’s a tough question, and of course each person will need to say something personal. I think it’s important to stress that OCD is not who you are, but something that you deal with. I also believe you should stress that you are working hard on fighting your obsessive-compulsive disorder, adding that with a lot of hard work and proper treatment, it can become an insignificant part of your life. Of course, you can only say this if it’s true. If you are not actively fighting your OCD, I think you need to be honest about that as well.

Should I share details about my OCD?

Again, the answer here will vary. Those who are already feeling very close to their new partner might want to share more than those whose relationship is not quite there yet. I do think concrete examples can be helpful in understanding OCD. For example, you might say something such as, “Remember I really didn’t want to go to that restaurant you suggested? I know it might have seemed as if I was being selfish, but the truth is my OCD made me believe that restaurant was contaminated and I didn’t want to put either of us at risk. I know it makes no sense, and I am working on fighting my OCD, but at that moment, I wasn’t able to move forward.”

And perhaps one of the scariest questions:

How will my significant other react?

Excellent question, and a big one for those with OCD who struggle with accepting uncertainty. The answer, of course, is you won’t know until you tell her or him. Reactions might range from the other person walking away to total acceptance and understanding. However, for most people, my guess is the reaction will be somewhere in between. Hopefully your sweetheart will want to learn more about OCD and how best to support you.

Which brings us to another important reason for being honest with your partner. Unless educated, he or she will likely accommodate your OCD, and as we know, this is counterproductive to beating the disorder. He or she needs to learn how to support you properly. Fighting obsessive-compulsive disorder is truly a team effort.

In my opinion, if a relationship is meant to be, it will withstand whatever trials and tribulations come its way. We all have our issues, but when you find the right person, you can deal with them better together than you can alone.

OCD and Dating

Janet Singer

I am a mom whose son was completely debilitated by severe OCD in 2008. Thankfully he made a remarkable recovery and is now living life to the fullest. I've since become an advocate for OCD awareness with the goal of spreading the word that OCD, no matter how severe, is treatable. I am the author of Overcoming OCD: A Journey to Recovery (Rowman & Littlefield, January 2015) and have my own blog about OCD at There truly is hope for all those who suffer from this insidious disorder!

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APA Reference
Singer, J. (2017). OCD and Dating. Psych Central. Retrieved on July 4, 2020, from


Last updated: 11 Jan 2017
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