Even if these symptoms are “normal” for Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) it doesn’t mean that the individual shouldn’t seek help. As clinicians, one of the criteria we use to diagnose any disorder is to evaluate whether or not the issues are affecting the person’s ability to function. From what you are describing here, your boyfriend’s symptoms not only affect him, but you as well.
I’m saddened to hear that some people have so little faith in the mental health system that they won’t even give it a try. OCD can be very severe and very debilitating, but there are many successful treatments available, including therapy and medication. I’m also concerned that there could be another issue such as Tourette’s Disorder, in which case he may also need to consult with a neurologist.
In summary, yes, I do hope that you will urge him to seek professional help. Because you have been dating since you were teenagers, it may also be appropriate to speak to his parents regarding your concerns. He does not have to live this way.
All the best,
Dr. Holly Counts