Obsessive thoughts about my boyfriend

By Daniel J. Tomasulo, PhD, TEP, MFA, MAPP

I am a 19 year old male and have been in a relationship for about 8 months and from the beginning he was asking me all the time questions about ex boyfriends, my sex life and so on. At first I thought it was normal, then he kept doing it and asking me to explain to him even more. He told me he has OCD and that he keeps picturing me with others from the past assuming they were better than him. Well, I love him and I try to show him this isn’t true but he’s obsessed. Lately, the last couple of months, while I didn’t think I’d have a problem with his ex girlfriends I keep using things he told me about them, stuff they did together and so on and I eliminate things (like If I go to a place they used to go I’ll imagine them together), getting upset. I never had a long-term relationship while he had 2,about 3 years each, and I keep thinking I’m not adequate. He, from the other hand, may not answer my calls because he woke up thinking about one of my small relationships. I don’t know what to do, it’s like his behavior influenced me and I do similar thoughts, without telling him much about it. I read that talking about an obsession an OCD patient has can help. Should I explain to him all the time that his thoughts are untrue? It makes me upset and when I do so; I start thinking the same things as well…

A: Thank you for asking about this difficult issue. Coping with someone who has OCD can be very challenging as you may feel the need to keep pace with his or her concerns. But there are a few other things I think are worth bringing to light.

Your lover may be experimenting with a gay relationship and may be bringing his obsessive concerns as an attempt to manage his anxiety and commitment. In other words, the obsessive concerns may be his way of distancing himself. Naturally this is just a guess, but the fact that you have had some difficulty with sustaining intimate relations suggests you may be drawn to someone who has a different, but similar issue with commitment.

See this as an opportunity for you to identify what you want from a relationship and what you need. I would focus on being clear about what is okay, and not okay. If persistent questioning about your past beyond the initial questions is burdensome I would state your feelings about the discomfort. Give your partner the opportunity to voice his concerns, but don’t feel like you have to explain yourself endlessly. You are not likely to be able to satisfy him with endless answers. I wouldn’t focus on trying to correct, explain, or convince him. Instead I would let him know how difficult it is for you to keep coping with his concerns, and that it hurts when he doesn’t return your calls.

This is an opportunity for you to set boundaries and become more proficient at expressing your needs. Since it is likely that both of you are experimenting with intimate relationships, being honest about your feelings is a good place to start.

Wishing you patience and peace,
Dr. Dan

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 1 Aug 2010

APA Reference
Tomasulo, D. (2010). Obsessive thoughts about my boyfriend. Psych Central. Retrieved on October 25, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2010/08/01/obsessive-thoughts-about-my-boyfriend/