Why do I constantly doubt my relationship?Dec 30, 2022
Doubt in relationships is quite normal, but when you struggle with anxiety or OCD, these normal, fleeting thoughts can turn into obsessions, or constant overthinking, and even lead someone to end an otherwise good relationship.
The Anxious Brain
When a person is prone to anxiety, the brain goes into overdrive to protect you. Most times, it's the amygdala that is responsible and it's constantly scanning for danger, trying to warn you so you can stay safe. In the area of relationships, it scans your partner for flaws, scans the relationships for imperfections, and can even shut down your feelings of attraction to the other person.
This is a good thing if you are walking in the woods where bears, poisonous snakes, or large wild cats exist. When you're exploring relationships, not so much. Could you end up getting hurt? Yes, that is a part of being in any relationship...good or bad, but your brain is often highly overestimating the situation and overreacting to the "potential" and otherwise minute dangers.
Let's use incompatibilities as an example. You may notice that your partner isn't much of a morning person, but you really like to be productive with your day, wake up and get going. Most people would notice this, and continue on without giving it much attention. They would move o in the relationship and let it go because overall, it's a good relationship in many other ways. You, on the other hand may find yourself giving this realization, which is just a thought, A LOT of attention - questioning it, talking to your partner, friends, and family about it to see if they think it' a problem, or even ruminating (thinking) about it for hours, days, weeks, or more!
Relationship Anxiety vs. Relationship OCD
Someone with anxiety in relationships will feel anxious at times, maybe even avoid uncomfortable situations, or need a more than normal amount of reassurance. They're usually able to work through things on their own, although these coping mechanisms (avoidance, reassurance seeking, pushing the feelings away) don't help in the long-run.
OCD is an anxiety disorder that can develop for someone with or without prior anxiety (although most have had chronic anxiety in the past). OCD, otherwise known as Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, is much more debilitating and can show up in any area of life - relationships, health, religion, career, sexual orientation, or ANY topic imaginable.
We all worry from time to time, but someone with OCD will get a thought, often called an "intrusive thought" because it feels intrusive (or unwanted) that they have a hard time not giving attention to. Some common examples of intrusive thoughts for someone with relationship OCD (ROCD) are "why don't I have feelings for my partner," "what if my partner doesn't love me enough," "is this the right relationship for me," "what if we aren't compatible enough?" There are millions of other possible intrusive thoughts, and they are all actually quite normal.
The "Doubting Disease"
OCD is nicknamed "the doubting disease" because when someone with OCD has a doubtful thought, they get "stuck" in it and the attention given to the thoughts leads to more intrusive (or doubtful) thoughts. This is because the "fear center" of your brain (the amygdala) is sending you a thought, and when you engage by giving it meaning, analyzing it, or "doing something about it," you're essentially telling your brain that this thought is important to you.
OCD wants 2 things - certainty and perfection. When we engage with trying to give our brains one of these two things, or both, the dance starts. The problem - neither certainty nor perfection are possible, but the amygdala doesn't know this. So, you and the amygdala start the OCD cycle and it goes on and on and on.
Full Recovery Is Possible!
While much of the literature out there shows that the success rate for OCD recovery with ERP is 65-80%, I have seen (and experienced) something much, much different. When working with OCD clients (ROCD and all other subsets), ERP works every...single...time - when it's done properly and consistently. In my own recovery journey, ERP works every single time, and it's what keeps me in the recovery stage. I'm getting married in a month, and I'm not nervous at all! I'm living proof.
Through my own recovery journey I've unlocked when and why ERP doesn't work, and they are very tangible and changeable reasons. Whether you're struggling with relationship anxiety, or relationship OCD, ERP is your path to recovery, peace and happiness!
You can live a very happy life, and learn not to let fear, doubt, discomfort or avoidance ruin your it. Visit www.MyOCDCoach.com to learn more about my recovery options (all financial levels).
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