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Partner with OCD - makes me feel very guilty


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Hi all,

I hope you're all doing well. I have a query, sorry in advance for the long-winded message.

Has anyone else struggled with their family member/partner/friend making you feel really guilty when you don't go along with reassurance-seeking or OCD-related behaviours?

For example, my partner & I are currently living together for a few months while my housemates are away. We've been speaking about what'll happen when they get back (& my partner inevitably has to move out). He's asked if he can stay for a while after they arrive back as he finds his house very stressful & there are a few things happening the week of his probable return which would make his OCD flare. 

I absolutely don't feel comfortable with him crossing over with my housemates return - we've changed a lot in how we live since he's moved in: changing in the doorway & immediately showering once we get in, having 'clean' vs 'dirty' areas of the house etc. (side note: I realise this is unhelpful & we're taking slow steps to rectify my involvement in these). I feel incredibly stressed about navigating my housemates & the OCD when they return, as obviously these mechanisms will no longer be implemented & I don't know how it can possibly be harmonious for anyone involved. 

He has taken this very badly - accusing me of not caring, saying how this obviously shows how we will not be able to live together when we eventually find our own place, saying how this is just him 'communicating how he is feeling'.

I feel awful. I don't know how to navigate this at all, and this isn't a new thing either. I know it's entirely unfair of him to make me feel this way but I'm also aware from past episodes like this that this is coming from an OCD perspective, where he's panicking & trying to do whatever possible to feel secure in the weeks to come. I don't know how to communicate that this isn't healthy or fair. I've tried to discuss some of the points with him from the OCD-UK 'helping a family member' webinar by Lauren Callaghan last year, but he is very reluctant to engage.

Thank you to anyone in advance - I'd honestly just appreciate any insight into navigating OCD & relationships as a family member at this point. 

xxx

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Hi Meggie, welcome to the forum. :)

9 hours ago, Meggie said:

He's asked if he can stay for a while after they arrive back as he finds his house very stressful & there are a few things happening the week of his probable return which would make his OCD flare. 

The simple answer to this is that he's very welcome to stay, but once your housemates return you won't be aiding his compulsions any more by changing in the doorway and showering immediately on return to the house. Explain that you'll be going back to normal living when others join you in the house and that if he thinks he can cope with the change you'd love him to stay!

9 hours ago, Meggie said:

He has taken this very badly - accusing me of not caring, saying how this obviously shows how we will not be able to live together when we eventually find our own place, saying how this is just him 'communicating how he is feeling'.

Sadly, he's right, but not for the reason he thinks.

You won't be able to live together as long as he continues to rely on compulsions and as long as he expects you to go along with them. That's no life for you. When he's overcome his OCD to the point he can cope with you living normally in your own home (regardless of whether he still applies his OCD rules to himself or not) then you can think about living together more permanently.

What he's asking you to do at present is unsustainable. It will fall apart sooner or later. If he doesn't accept change eventually the outside world will force change upon him. That's about to happen when your housemates return. His choice is to change (give up the OCD demands) or move out so he can continue to live acording to his OCD rules - in his own place, alone, where nobody else is involved in his compulsions.

It's never an easy choice to make. Whatever he decides will be a reflection of where he's at with his OCD more than a reflection on your relationship.

Try to see this situation as ultimately a positive. Treat it as an opportunity to stand up to the OCD by providing a deadline beyond which you can 'legitimately' refuse to collude with his compulsive rituals. If he tries to argue that you should continue with things as they are regardless of others joining you in the house you can just say it's impossible on a practical basis and doesn't mean you don't love him etc.

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