It’s two in the morning and I still have homework to finish, but I continue to scroll through my phone reading a user written story on the app Wattpad, skipping until I found a part that highlights a relationship between characters. I immediately started to analyze the relationship, imagining how I would react if it was me (hint: I didn’t react well). Hours of my life are now being spent analyzing relationships and trying to find the “perfect” relationship for me. My Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) took the fear that I will never be in a healthy relationship and started controlling my life. Unknown to me until a few days ago, I’ve been performing this compulsion for years, while it has been building up and getting worse.
I’ve had a hard time trusting people for as long as I can remember, due to people breaking my trust as a kid and my OCD where I struggle to let control over to other people for fear of what they will do. In middle school, once I started having issues with touch, it occurred to me that my likelihood of having a relationship was rather low. The fear that I would never be able to find a relationship slowly grew. To combat the fear I didn’t even realize I had, I started to picture myself in relationships I read in books and saw in movies, trying to see if there was any way a relationship like that would work for me. Pretty much every night as I was laying in bed trying to fall asleep I’d imagine myself in a different type of relationship and play it out, with it consistently ending in a disaster.
In high school, my OCD with school and germs grew (taking away both the time to potentially date and the ability to do most couple things like holding hands). I also saw how unpredictable people can be, making the idea of trusting someone in a relationship and losing some of the control even more terrifying. I was scared of trusting someone, and then becoming too dependent on them, only for them to break things off and leave. With more people being in relationships, the fact that I am currently not able to be in a relationship became more apparent.
To make matters worse, the necessary exposures that I would need to do in order to make a relationship actually work is something I don’t think I could put someone else through. I know I would tell them to not take it personally and that it’s my OCD, but freaking out after hugging them or giving them some control is kind of hard not to take personally. I would feel horrible putting someone through that. The only relationship I can see working without doing any exposures involves no physical contact, split finances, and adopting children. Honestly even a relationship like that would be impressive for me because I’d be giving up a lot of control.
Even if sometime in the future I am in a relationship, I’d have no idea if it is the right one for me. I’d constantly fear that the other person wasn’t happy, that they were getting tired of putting up with my OCD. I can manage to keep my OCD under control out in public, but for those who I live with I can become a huge burden that I don’t want to place on anyone.
With all of these factors my fear of relationships grew, and I started to imagine myself in relationships more and more often as the compulsion. Pretty soon I was running out of ideas for different relationships and because of my OCD with books I was kind of stuck. So, I downloaded the app Wattpad with user written stories, that are generally pretty short and to the point.
I was rather proud of myself, thinking that I was challenging my OCD with books, completely unaware of the relationship analysis compulsions. I would go through the stories, skim over the parts without a relationship, so I didn’t actually know what was really going on in the story. By doing that it no longer became a story in my mind and I wasn’t even challenging my OCD with books, I was just looking up different relationships. Slowly the relationship analysis started to creeping into my weekends, where I’d spend the weekends looking up relationships to analyze as I was trying to fall asleep.
With Valentine’s Day so close, my OCD with relationships skyrocketed. The past week became an all time high, where I analyzed relationships most of Monday evening, at least half of Tuesday (since school was canceled), and two hours Wednesday evening before I finally realized that it was a compulsion. My sleep went downhill, since I still have the OCD with school and spend a lot of time on homework. I reached my all time low on sleep by going under two hours (I was laying in bed for two hours but it took me a long time to actually fall asleep).
Once I realized what was going on I became extremely frustrated with myself. I thought I was challenging my OCD with books when I was actually encouraging a compulsion, and I was upset that my OCD was able to trick me. It made me feel like my efforts toward getting better are useless, that my OCD would just find a way to turn them into a compulsion without my knowledge.
I deleted the Wattpad account, so I no longer spend the time on the app finding new relationships, but I still struggle with spending time analyzing all of the different relationships I’ve already read/seen. I can’t seem to think about anything else that isn’t about a different compulsion of mine (like thinking over my homework over and over again to make sure I didn’t forget anything). I’m currently at a loss as to how to combat this because it is all internal and I don’t always realize that I’m doing it until a good chunk of time has passed.
Despite my current predicament, I will not give up and let my OCD win. I will find a way to challenge my thoughts about relationships, even if it becomes a compulsions for something else. My OCD will always find ways to swipe my feet out from under me, but I will get up every time, and continue on with life.