Boyfriend’s OCD Hurts Relationship

By Dr. Marie Hartwell-Walker

Hi, thanks for reading!
i’ve been dating my boyfriend for over a year now and we’re having some major problems regarding his anxiety/ocd (we’re in a long distance relationship, which makes everything worse).

He has been unsuccessful at finding a job since he recently graduated and there are many other things causing him anxiety. For example, my past causes him a great deal of anxiety, especially the fact that I made out with a couple of people he knew before we started dating.

At first, he would open up and we’d try to deal with his anxiety together. However, as time goes on, it gets worse and he gets frustrated i cannot help him. It has come to the point where he does not even want to talk to me about his anxiety because he knows i have nothing useful to say, nothing that will help him get past it. I have been reading everything online about anxiety, general anxiety disorder, ocd, forums, etc. to better understand what he feels and to be supportive. But it isnt working out. I have suggested therapy but it was shut down immediately and said he will never consider that.

He says he feels lonely, that i am not supportive and that maybe i’m not the right person for him. i want to be able to help him overcome this anxiety/ocd, please help! Is there anything I can do to be supportive and provide guidance?

A: You are doing far too much of the heavy lifting. You can’t solve your boyfriend’s anxiety problems. It’s unfair of him to expect you to. In a way, he is asking you to be an amateur therapist because he isn’t willing to see a professional one.

Please stop trying so hard to do the impossible. You’ve done what you can to understand and to be supportive. No one else will be the “right” person for him if he has the idea that the right relationship will make the anxiety go away. No relationship will solve the problem. Only he can.

It is up to him. Cognitive-behavioral therapy is the treatment of choice for anxiety and OCD. In addition, there are medications that can help calm down the obsessive thinking. If he would engage in therapy for three to six months, and I mean really work at it, he likely would get considerable relief.

Please resign from your job as researcher and fixer. Instead, tell your boyfriend that you love him so much you don’t want him to have a rank beginner for a therapist. Instead, you are willing to be there for him as he finds a real therapist and begins the work to take charge of himself and his feelings.

I wish you well.
Dr. Marie

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 31 Oct 2013

APA Reference
Hartwell-Walker, D. (2013). Boyfriend’s OCD Hurts Relationship. Psych Central. Retrieved on September 16, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2013/10/31/boyfriends-ocd-hurts-relationship/