Stay Friends with My Friend With OCD?

By Kristina Randle, Ph.D., LCSW

Q. I recently visited with a friend that I have not seen in two years. We were out grabbing coffee and I noticed some strange behavior. He nervously kept fixing his eyebrows 5 times on each side. After he did that he moved both of our coffee mugs so that both handles were facing the same way and when I went to touch them he scowled at me. He explained to me symptoms that consisted of not feeling right or feeling anxious if these certain things were not completed.

This sent out a red flag to me that he probably had OCD. I nicely tried to explain that his behavior was very similiar to that of OCD and he completely shot it down. He is in heavy denial and believes that these things are “normal.” The rituals he was performing were very distracting and made it very awkward for me. I don’t know what to do about the situation. I want to be his friend but I don’t know how to go about things knowing his condition. Any advice? Thank you.

A. If his behavior bothers you so much that you cannot stand to be in his presence then all you can do is to stop associating yourself with him. But if you realize that he may have a condition that is currently beyond his control at this point in time then maybe you can still spend time with him.

You have already tried to talk to him and this first attempt was unsuccessful. Maybe you can approach him in other, subtle ways. Maybe you can try talking about a friend of yours (you can make this up) that had OCD and was really helped by therapy or medication. You may want to try giving him reading material on the subject or suggesting an OCD website. It is very possible, however, that none of these tactics will work. It may be that he is simply not ready to confront his OCD issues and if this is the case, there is little you can do to change this situation.

Whether or not you continue to spend time with him all depends on how comfortable you feel in his presence while he is acting out his rituals. This is a decision only you can make. Thanks for writing.

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 16 Mar 2008

APA Reference
Randle, K. (2008). Stay Friends with My Friend With OCD?. Psych Central. Retrieved on October 31, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2008/03/16/stay-friends-with-my-friend-with-ocd/