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Am I Supposed to Like Kissing?

My experience dating with Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) could be classified by some people as a train wreck. Between school compulsions taking up my time, I also have relationship-oriented fears that add a whole new level of complications to dating. It has most definitely made for some interesting (and funny) experiences.

During high school, I had some “relationships”, but due to the severity of my OCD I wasn’t doing much except school and had a hard time touching other people, and didn’t really do anything that people who are dating would do. It pretty much stopped at just spending time with someone outside of school. I wasn’t able to have an actual relationship at the time, but my high school experience kind of showed me that I might want to be in a relationship in the future.

After getting treatment the first time and after the pandemic started, I had an excessive amount of time. At some point, the idea came up (I don’t remember where it came from) of getting dating apps to challenge my dating fears. The first fear I had was the fear of being seen on the app by others on there because my OCD considers dating to be bad, so if I was on there I’d be a bad person. It was mostly manageable unless I saw someone I knew on the app, in which case my anxiety would spike and I’d resist the urge to delete the app.

Many conversations on the app later and the unthinkable happened: I had a date. I was terrified, but ended up going and having a good time. Afterward, I went home and panicked about being a terrible person for hours. Eventually, I calmed down and considered it a win even though there wasn’t a second date.

Sometime later I had another date with someone, and I was extremely anxious for only an hour afterward. This person was sort of fascinated by my OCD and how my life was different and was okay with taking things at my pace as I worked to overcome my OCD. Let’s call this person J. Over the course of the week or two we dated, we spent a lot of time together. The first step was working on physical touch. Something as simple as holding hands or sitting next to someone on the couch scared me. I could handle it, but I was extremely tense and didn’t really move.

The end came with a certain incident involving a grad party. J wanted me to go to one of his friend’s grad parties, and I agreed after my mom was able to talk me into it. I didn’t feel comfortable with it, but I was willing to challenge it. The party went okay (I was extremely awkward and way out of my element), and some of the people were going to someone’s house to hang out. I went along, and was in for quite the surprise.

I’m not sure who (if anyone) was 21, but there was beer, which definitely scared me. However, since I didn’t drive myself there and didn’t want to be rude by asking to leave, I was stuck. On top of that, the roommate (not present) smoked weed and the entire house smelled like it (I had to be informed what the smell was). I was petrified. Weed has always been something I’m afraid of, and have no desire to ever be around. I was so scared I could barely move, and I avoided touching anything in the house. Eventually, I was coaxed into sitting on the very edge of the couch, after being assured that the weed-smoking roommate never sat in that spot. I sat stiff as a board, hoping that J would pick up on my panic and would initiate leaving so I could get out of there, since my OCD was telling me I couldn’t voice the fact that the last place I wanted to be was in that house.

Eventually we left, and I went home and spilled my guts to my mom, kind of upset that she talked me into going (I would’ve called her to come and get me, but my petrified state kind of kept me from moving while I was at the weed house). I cut things off with J the next day, my OCD now deeming J and all of his friends as contaminated beyond redemption.

I went back to the dating app, met some people and talked to them. There were some who I met talked to virtually and never met, my OCD finding some reason that they were bad and I had to cut things off. The most ridiculous one was with this person who I will call F. F is a super nice person, and things were going well, until a video chat happened. On the chat he mentioned potentially transferring to the college I’m at, which completely freaked me out. I still hadn’t gotten past my OCD’s barrier of fear that I have to work through with each new prospective boyfriend. I panic about F being too willing to sacrifice what he wants for me, and I end up cutting it off (not saying the actual reason why). When I brought it up to my family I mentioned that I cut it off because F really loved shoes and had a bunch of expensive tennis shoes that he didn’t really wear, and I was convinced that he wasn’t good with money (I didn’t mention this to F either). Both reasons are OCD-related, but now in my family there is a running joke about asking guys how many shoes they have.

I ended up meeting another person on the dating app (let’s call them C). On the first date we walked around a pond, and I was able to hold hands with C and not be stiff as a board (an improvement from when I was with J). C was also very understanding of my OCD and that some things would take me longer to be able to do. This relationship was a lot longer (two months I think), and I was able to work on my fear of being touched and found out that I like cuddling (well I’ve always liked cuddling with animals).

Eventually, the idea of kissing came up. I’m afraid of mouth germs, and kissing seems to my OCD like a prime way to contract a mouth disease. Eventually I was willing to try kissing, but only with freshly brushed teeth. The kiss happened and I didn’t feel any urge to sanitize my mouth. I really didn’t feel anything at all from it, and considered my lack of emotional response a pleasant surprise. Kissing progressed into making out, which didn’t go so well for me. I hated it, it made me want to puke. There wasn’t any fear about mouth germs, I just really didn’t like it. I chose not to say anything because I didn’t want C to take it personally, and so I just forced myself through it and figured that eventually it wouldn’t make me feel sick. C ended up breaking up with me when my OCD spiked after going back to school and having to quarantine, but my dislike of making out never left.

Not liking it made me really confused because I didn’t know why. Upon reflection, I’ve determined some possibilities. I could not like it because I’m asexual, it could be something OCD related, it could be a side effect of a medication I’m on, or C could just not be the right person. What stresses me out is not knowing which of the reasons it is. My OCD was thrilled that I didn’t like it (because kissing is bad in its mind) and I’m afraid of the panic I’d feel if I started to like it in the future. I find myself trying to figure out how to solve why I don’t like it, my OCD not liking the uncertainty of the situation.

While my dating experience has definitely been unique, I’ve made a lot of progress. I’m now able to talk about it, even though my OCD tries to get me to hide the fact that I’ve dated (I wouldn’t even mention anything to my friends unless they happened to ask about it). Before I got treatment, I’d just accepted the fact that I’d probably never date and would be alone forever becoming a crazy cat lady. While I might still have a lot of cats, I now have the ability to date if I so choose.

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