Psych Central

OCD makes him controlling

By Dr. Marie Hartwell-Walker

Hi. I’m 19 and my girlfriend and I have been dating for over 2 years now. Let me say that we do love each other very much. I met her when I had no friends and was mildly depressed. She was moderatly depressed when I met her. We have gone through a ton together and its made us very very close. I am no longer depressed and she is only a tiny bit depressed still. My problem is that I am very controlling of her but only about guys. I do not control her at all in any other way, but when it comes to guys I barely let her talk to them or anything of that nature. I have OCD and I had it very badly when I was younger but I got rid of it with the help of my mom who also has it. It recently came back again but I got through it with my gf’s help.

I don’t know why I’m so controlling over her but I think its OCD related because when she is with other guys without me being there, I have a panic attack much like my OCD and also because I have no idea what-so-ever about why I care if she talks to other guys. She cheated on me on one occasion but that was about 7 months ago and I think I’m over it. I was controlling before she cheated though. She loves me a lot and she always beats herself up for cheating on me and I know she would never ever do anything like that again. So I really don’t know why I’m so jealous all the time.

It makes no sense to me or her and I hate controlling her because it makes her sad. I always place rules on her that we both know are extremely unfair and I know that even if she didn’t have the rules she would follow what I wanted her to voluntarily because she likes to make me happy. I feel terrible because I’m so controlling and I place all these rules on her but without the rules I go insane and become miserable obsessing over what she could be saying to guys. Please help. It is really straining our relationship. What steps can I take to get rid of the rules and not be worrying all the time. She trusts me a ton and I know she deserves my trust also.

A: Your letter shows that you are a caring, sensitive guy. You are very right to be concerned about your need to control your girlfriend. Right now, it sounds like she is able to be understanding. But this is the kind of thing that gets old after awhile and you could end up creating the very situation you fear.

No one knows why people with OCD land on certain things to be obsessed about. Everyone is different. In your case, you’ve been able to get past it in every way except thoughts about losing the person you love most. This does make a kind of sense.

You’ve done a remarkable job learning to manage your OCD with both your mom’s and your girlfriend’s help. For this last piece, it might be time to call in a professional. I’ve had some luck helping people with a problem like yours by teaching them self-hypnosis so they can calm themselves and remind themselves they have nothing to fear. Other people have done well with what are called “thought stopping” techniques.

I suggest you look for a cognitive-behavioral therapist who can teach you ways to handle yourself when the obsessive thoughts overwhelm your good sense. Although working on this may be challenging, you have done incredibly well on your own thus far. I therefore have confidence that with some coaching you can do this last and very important piece of personal work, especially since you have the love and support of your girlfriend.

I wish you well.
Dr. Marie

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 29 Dec 2008

APA Reference
Hartwell-Walker, D. (2008). OCD makes him controlling. Psych Central. Retrieved on April 16, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2008/12/29/ocd-makes-him-controlling/

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