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Partner’s OCD Spiraling Out of Control, or Could It Be Something Else?

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I’ve been with my boyfriend for 6 years, and he has always had weird “habits” that he explains as having OCD. I eventually got used to it but it is hard to live with. Having to wait for him to “correct a thought before stepping over a crack” or getting through a doorway, its embarassing for me. Lately though it seems worse and more complex. He rubs his head and plugs his ears while “correcting” and will shout out numbers or weird sounds, and if anyone interrupts him he lashes out. Also, Im not sure how else to describe it but a physical manifestation of his overwhelming thoughts and feelings during these fits where he will move and jerk his body in weird ways and roll his eyes in a crazy sort of way. Honestly lately its really scaring me and making me worry there is more going on. He refuses to go talk to a therapist because he claims he “knows what they will say, that OCD thoughts arent reality”. However also, when upset he goes from one problem to the next as if he wants to be upset. I would like an opinion on whether I should urge him to seek help, or if this is normal for an OCD person and if so, how to cope. (age 22, from US)

Partner’s OCD Spiraling Out of Control, or Could It Be Something Else?

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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

Partner’s OCD Spiraling Out of Control, or Could It Be Something Else?

Therapists live, online right now, from BetterHelp:

Holly Counts, Psy.D.

Dr. Holly Counts is a licensed Clinical Psychologist. She utilizes a mind, body and spirit approach to healing. Dr. Counts received her Bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Wright State University and her Masters and Doctoral degrees in Clinical Psychology from Nova Southeastern University. Dr. Counts has worked in a variety of settings and has specialized in trauma and abuse, relationship issues, health psychology, women’s issues, adolescence, GLBT, life transitions and grief counseling. She has specialty training in guided imagery, EMDR, EFT, hypnosis and using intuition to heal. Her current passion involves integrating holistic and alternative approaches to health and healing with psychology.

APA Reference
Counts, H. (2018). Partner’s OCD Spiraling Out of Control, or Could It Be Something Else?. Psych Central. Retrieved on November 26, 2020, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 8 May 2018 (Originally: 2 Oct 2015)
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 May 2018
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