Hard, But Worth It: What It's Like Dating Someone With OCD

by Gigi Engle

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is a mental illness that affects approximately 3.3 million Americans.

That's a lot of people. It comes from a group of “illogical” fears and, as a result, certain obsessive behaviors manifest.

I’ve always been OCD. It’s just a part of my life I have to deal with. I have certain characteristics that make my disorder pretty obvious to those around me, as well as a host of others I mask for my own self-preservation.

Having relationships while simultaneously dealing with OCD can be a challenge. I’ve had to learn to try and mold to my surroundings as much as I can to fit another person into my world.

It’s exceptionally difficult to try and break patterns I’ve grown so accustomed to and, honestly, have come to rely on heavily.

But this isn’t only difficult for me -- and I have had to come to terms with that. It’s also very demanding of the people I date.

I can't always explain why I do the things I do and that can make communication hard. My SO isn't inside my head. He can't fully comprehend the way I'm feeling, and so, a lot of my behaviors are alien to him.

My boyfriend has to cope with my disorder as much as I do because he loves me and is in a committed relationship with me. Wanting to date me means also taking on my OCD.

These are some serious struggles you'll face when dating someone with OCD.

Your partner's endless lists make you feel inefficient.

So, you low-key constantly feel like your life is in shambles. My boyfriend doesn’t have the kind of comprehensive “to-do” lists I subscribe to on a daily basis to get me from point A to point B in one fluid motion.

It’s how I keep order. I can understand how this makes him feel like everything he’s doing is inadequate, like I have it all figured out.

Really, this is just my method and everyone should find a method that suits him or her -- it just so happens that mine is very, very organized.

Your partner comes to your apartment and cleans everything.

When you date someone who needs things to be a certain way, it can get complicated.

It drives my SO crazy the way I come over and compulsively clean. He’s a guy in his late twenties, living alone -- needless to say his place is a f*cking disaster.

It gives me anxiety when I come over and yesterday’s bacon grease is caked onto his counter, the dishes in his sink are stacked in rickety piles and his floor has somehow become a makeshift closet for his endless supply of button-ups.

When I come in the door, I find myself pulling out the Clorox wipes and cleaning before I do anything else.

I know it can make you uncomfortable to have your world tidied up for you, but mess makes your girlfriend or boyfriend uncomfortable too. It’s nothing against you. Just be grateful you don’t need a maid.

You cannot break your partner's routine.

Dating someone with OCD means being highly aware of his or her routine. You might have your own, but it will become very clear upon your first sleepover that your partner's routine will reign supreme.

If you want to have a successful relationship with a person who deals with this disorder, don’t get in the way or try to change his or her methods.

The methods will end up winning out because we find comfort in the orderliness of things. If our methods are thrown off or disregarded, we'll lose it.

You can’t call your partner out on the weird sh*t he or she does.

You have to embrace it, accept it and even learn to find it endearing.

I can’t step on cracks on the sidewalk. I also can only step on sections of sidewalk an even number of time per given square.

This makes me feel like I have some small modicum of control over my world and that makes me feel better. It might sound crazy, but it’s my reality and it’s not going to change.

Guys I date don’t usually notice I do this, but if they do, they need to accept it and not be dicks about it. People with OCD already are self-conscious of their “ticks” to some degree. We don’t need to be called out on them. Just deal.

Your partner tends to nag and nitpick everything you do.

You’ll have to deal with our nagging because we’re just used to having things done in a certain way. I can feel myself doing it, and I know it’s annoying, but I just can’t help myself.

It blows my mind that a person wouldn’t want a clean apartment or all of his or her clothes folded.

I don’t understand how you could just show up to the movies and hope for your film to be showing without checking on times first.

Your partner is always cleaner than you are.

You will feel like a slob. Your girlfriend or boyfriend will have cleaner nails, cleaner clothes and a cleaner apartment.

He or she will also be very organized in general. It can be difficult dealing with someone so clean and so orderly.

I understand when my SO looks at me like I’m completely insane for needing everything to be so clean. The fact is... I’m always going to be cleaner than he is. No matter how much bleach and disinfectant he invests in. Sorry.

Your partner has better clothes than you do.

One of my obsessive-compulsive behaviors is a need to buy clothes for every single season. I have so many clothes. They are very organized and everything has its place -- for anyone else, this might be an overflowing disaster of chaos. Not for me.

As a result, I have lots of different outfits. My boyfriend has about five shirts and three pairs of pants. I don’t judge, but I notice... and he notices me noticing.

Mostly because when he asks me what he should wear I give him an exact outfit because I know how he wears all eight of his clothing items.

Your partner needs to get absolutely everything finished before relaxing -- even for five minutes.

Don’t expect to have your girlfriend or boyfriend to throw down the list and say “F*ck it. I’ll do it later. Let’s cuddle.” No, this will never happen.

Before any form of (forced) relaxation can occur, everything on your partner's list must be completed to his or her satisfaction. If you’d like to make that list of things happen quickly: be quiet and wait patiently.

You start to rely on your partner for everything.

When you’re dating someone who is obsessive compulsive, you’ll start to realize he or she will plan everything for you, leaving you to just relax and let you know what it is you’re doing tonight.

This goes for basically everything: making Friday night dates, planning vacations, picking the movie.

The problem is once your partner has scheduled your night or your trip, plans cannot be changed. Everything has already been figured out, timed it to the second.

If you try to change the plans, there is the possibility of a meltdown. It’s not worth it. Trust me.

Your partner kind of thinks you’re the one with the issues.

I know I have a problem with OCD, but I find I don’t feel like anything I do is out of ordinary, and it’s other people who seem to have something “wrong” with them.

Why can’t everyone just want to live in an orderly, clean world? Why is spontaneity so important when you can guarantee having a great time wherever you go because you planned it? Now, I know this is flawed, but it’s just the way I feel.

Your partner makes you hyper-aware of everything you do.

When you’re around someone who has every move is calculated, when you spend time with a person who takes so much pride in planning and execution, everything you do, every mistake you make, becomes painfully obvious.

When you see someone cleaning all the time, it’s easy to think, “Why am I sitting here when I could be cleaning?” or “What am I doing with my time, she always seems so busy?”

You will need patience.

So much patience.