A few years ago, at my request, a psychiatrist prescribed some medication which I didn’t like. It had too many side effects. He said that my OCD is pretty mild and that I should “take more risks in life.”
Some guys have been interested in me but I subconsciously push them away so they won’t find out my secret. It’s depressing. How am I ever going to get married? I want to overcome this without medication. Should I be honest and tell a potential partner? I’m worried they’ll think I’m weird. I’m worried they’ll tell other people.
My parents love me for who I am so maybe someone else will? — Looking for Love with OCD
Instead of focusing on what and how to tell a potential boyfriend about your OCD, your focus would be better targeted at managing your condition in a way that makes your life more pleasant and higher-functioning. Sure, there’s an argument to be made for finding someone who loves you for exactly who and how you are, but your OCD is something you have, not something you are, and I believe there are ways it can be managed so that its traits are less severe and don’t interfere with your day-to-day life as much. A positive result of managing your OCD and hopefully reducing your symptoms could be a boost in your confidence and an easier time relating to and socializing with others (including potential love interests).
I don’t know much about OCD, but a cursory search on Google tells me that in addition to exercise and limiting stress, cognitive therapy is one of the best treatments for people with OCD. If you’re not already getting it, I would highly recommend finding a therapist to treat you (one who specializes in OCD, preferably). I would also suggest group therapy — another top treatment — which would bring the added benefit of talking with others who have OCD and finding out how they navigate dating and relationships and friendships and the ways they share their diagnosis with people in their lives.
The truth is, there may be people who think you’re “weird.” They’re not the people for you and you can weed them right out of your life (or, at least, out of your social circle). But there are also going to be people who will not be fazed by your behavior, as surprising or different as it may seem to them at first (particularly if they’ve never been close before to someone with OCD). Absolutely, you can find love and be loved. There’s no doubt about that. But in order to find a healthy, happy relationship, you will have to let your guard down, let someone in, and risk getting rejected and hurt. You may have a condition that’s atypical, but fear of getting hurt and rejected is as common as the sun rising in the east. We all have stuff about us we’re afraid will turn others off. And sometimes we’re right. But sometimes, people not only like us in spite of what’s unique about us, they’re drawn to us, in part, because of what makes us different.
Like all of us, you’re going to have to allow yourself to be vulnerable, and to let someone see all the parts of you — including the OCD, but also just more typical things — that you may not love the most about yourself or that you think make you “weird.” Weird can be really good. “Weird” can be the thing that may disarm others and help them feel less insecure about the things they’re worried won’t be accepted or appreciated by other people. “Weird” can be a calling card that attracts the right person and discourages the wrong ones. But you have to feel confident in yourself and what you have to offer. Therapy can help you get there. Talking with others in a similar boat can help you get there. Managing your OCD as best you can can help you get there. And so will remembering that OCD may be something you have, but it doesn’t have you.
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If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, you can send me your letters at firstname.lastname@example.org.