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Someonethere45 02-26-2007 05:15 PM

Obsessions and relationships
I do not know if I display tendencies of OCD or not; what I do know is that I have a major issue that I would like to discuss here. Does anyone have major issues with relationships, thanks to extremes of obsessing over them, whether they have worked out or not? I have discussed this on other boards, but in trying to figure out how to improve in this regard, perhaps someone here can help. Basically, I have an unpleasant history with relationships and in dealing with the opposite sex. I have only been dating for the last 2 years and have only been in one intensive relationship, even though I am in my mid-20s. One of my key problems, I think, is that I used to be quite overweight, unattractive, regularly depressed and with very little self-confidence. I battled through all of that, and for the past few years have been much better in this regard, am in good health and physical condition, and am often complemented on my looks. I am close to finishing my second degree and have a career ahead that I have always dreamed of. However, I have a very hard time maintaining anything other than a platonic relationship with a woman, largely thanks to confidence issues, but also in large part because of anxiety and obsession. Forgive me for the lenght of this post, but I hope someone can take the time to read/help me out, thanks!

Most people, when they have a bad experience with dating/relationships, particularly when it was something as short-lived as one coffee or movie date, would just shrug it off and save their energy for someone more serious and respectable. Not me, however. In the last year and a half, I count about 14-15 women with whom I had a brief experience, such as chatting up in class for a few weeks, meeting for a coffee, inviting out for drinks etc, that I felt had the potential to turn into something great (or, barring that, a few even that I met while travelling, that wanted to just mess around, but I was too naive/self-conscious to do anything about it).

The worst of it was almost 2 years ago, when I had my first serious crush, and much to my surprise, a wonderful girl went crazy for me, to a degree I had never expected. I was so new at the 'game' then that I frequently balked when doing anything physical, I was too afraid to even kiss her. She ended it soon after, and I have beat myself up for it ever since. Not long after that, I met a girl visiting from Europe at work, showed her around the city and all, drove her to the place she was staying then at the end of the night, she actually asked me in, like an idiot I said no. I kept having similar experiences ever since: the worst was when I met a girl off a dating site for coffee, and we had an absolutely amazing time, she had so many qualities that I had always valued and it seemed we both got along great; although we agreed on a second date, she totally gave me the cold shoulder. A similar experience occurred in a class, when I had been flirting with a great girl but somehow, it went sour as well. When I travelled in the summer, I met one girl at a dance bar who wanted to get close/dance 'dirty', and so forth. I wanted to greatly, but I totally balked at that, too.

I thought my bad luck had ended back in the fall, when I met someone who I got along amazingly with; it was a little too amazing too fast though, and ended up being an abusive situation (in that she manipulated and tried to control me), and it was very tough to get out of, that took counselling and a few months of depression. So, after that debacle, I started to date someone new soon after, but it too only lasted a short while.

My main question is, though, that I have a tendency to completely dwell and obsess about all of these situations. I have never been able to get rid of the memories with my first girlfriend, no matter how I try; I still on occasion have dreams about her. Those other examples, I obsess and dwell on them too. For example, with the coffee girl, over a year has passed since I went out with her and was mistreated and ignored by her, yet I still cant stop dwelling on how "I ruined it", that its my fault it happened and that I will never meet anyone like her again. However, for some reason, the one that really scared me, I never think about, at all.

Needless to say, this is not the ideal way to relate to the opposite sex and attempt to forge new and strong relationships. I write here because with some of these girls, I think about how I 'messed up' at least once a week, sometimes more. Sometimes it is just a brief thought in the back of my mind, on others (particularly when I talk about it with friends), I discuss and dwell on it actively, blaming myself completely for everything, and then using that as a base to dwell upon why I am so miserable and unsuccessful in meeting anyone else. I dont actually do anything to try and contact them again, I just brood on it incessantly myself. It could be as mundane as getting bored writing notes for a paper, then I start to dwell back on 'how' I 'messed up'. Or I talk to someone new, it dosent work out, then I instantly relate this new incident to all of the ones before, and how its thanks to my inequities that this new girl wont talk to me, disregarding the actual situation itself. It tends to come and go depending on the day/mood.

I have friends who were in 4-year relationships that ended, and they are happy with others and never seem to dwell so much on the past. Yet I make my life miserable through a never-ending stream of thoughts on things that really, should not occupy so much of my attention. Although I am certainly unhappy that I was unable to spend any quality time and develop something further with most of these girls, I dont think I should be worrying about it years later. I know its irrational but I feed off of it and allow it to interfere with any future attempts at relationships. It's gotten to the point where my expectations have gotten so high and odd that I avoid forming relationships with anyone because I fear it will end up like all the others did and just make me more miserable. Thanks for listening and any advice...

seriousperson 02-26-2007 09:34 PM

Re: Obsessions and relationships
When I was in my 20's I too obsessed over failed relationships. Finally, in my late 40's, I went to a therapist who said, "So, what seems to be troubling you?" or something like that, and I replied, "It really doesn't matter what it is [it was my boss], because if it wasn't that, it would be something else."
That was a breakthrough for me.

One of the things I've read about OCD is that it's not the content of the thoughts that matters, it's the importance we place on the thoughts.

So, if possible, you would say to yourself something like, "Hmmm...there's a thought about the coffee girl," and then just let the thought run its course without worrying about the fact that you're thinking it (again!).

Hope that helps.

Post-It 02-27-2007 12:53 PM

Re: Obsessions and relationships
Hi there. In many ways I can relate to your post. Since my teenage years, I regularly obsessed about guys, relationships, and dating. It really was abnormal how much I obsessed about the particular guy I was interested in. When my first serious boyfriend broke up with me, I spent a year obsessing about why we broke up.

What I can tell you is that [I]for me[/I], these things were predecessors to developing OCD. I had obsessive behaviors/tendencies without having full-blown OCD. Later on, I developed OCD but there are many factors that played into it.

I have a few questions that might help determine if this is OCD or not.

- Do you have anxiety or fear associated with the thoughts the majority of the time?

- Are you unable to come to a resolution or "answer" regarding your feelings about these relationships?

- Do these thoughts/obsessions take up the majority of your time and distract you from daily activities?

- Do you feel like you live in a world of perpetual doubt in regards to these relationships?

allhonest 02-27-2007 02:46 PM

Re: Obsessions and relationships
I can relate to this. Even though I have met a lot of girls and even had a 5 year relationship, I can ruminate intensely for years about a short "fling".

For example the girl I saw for one month, described in some of my other posts. I have been ruminating about this incident for 2,5 years. I have the telling/asking compulsion but are in a much better situation now to cope with it because I know now that they are just compulsions to handle false, intrusive thoughts and corresponding false and intense feelings of anxiety, guilt and shame.

I guess what you are describing are really issues about "character assassination", a major part of a form of OCD called "Responsibility OC".

I highly encourage you to read these articles from Dr. Stephen Phillipson, Ph. D. I couldn't stop reading these articles once I started. They are extremely well formulated and descriptive of the OCD process.

Phillipson seems to be well known in connection with CBT (Cognitive Behavior therapy) for OCD. Traditional CBT or psychoanalysis can have opposite, negative effects for OCD. Using cognitive logic to battle OCD rationality seems to be counterproductive according to Phillipson:

Good luck man.

in_dublin 02-28-2007 08:09 AM

Re: Obsessions and relationships

Interesting post. You remind me of me not so long ago. Happily I found the woman of my dreams, but unfortunately I now obsess about ending the relationship (see other posts about his topic on this site).

I've just been recently diagnosed as OCD (pure O) and have started seeing an CBT therapist. It seems to me that all my obsessions have a root somewhere in low self-esteem. It starts with "I'm not good enough for anybody". Now that I've actually found somebody, it's "If she loves me there must be something wrong with her".

It's a Groucho Marx scenario: I wouldn't join a club that would have me as a member.

Well, that's my theory anyway. I have no idea if you have OCD. But you sound a lot like me and I went on to develop it (or probably always had it). Why not go and see a CBT therapist and get a definitie answer?

PS: DR Phillipsons articles are well worth a look.

Someonethere45 02-28-2007 06:00 PM

Re: Obsessions and relationships
Hi all, thanks very much for the comments. Post-it, in regards to your questions, I can mostly answer yes, to a certain degree. Although most of my thoughts surrounding these are negative and doubtful. When I think about them they do take up alot of time, but it is not so bad that I am unable to function in day-day life or get anything done... if that were true I would not have gotten as far as I have in Uni or done so well with it. There are certain times though, when they do 'take over' for a while, such as when I bring up the matter with someone, or talk/flirt with other women. It gets especially bad when I get shut down by someone, then I link it back to all the other incidents and blame myself. As an example, the other day, I changed my online dating profile picture, in the middle of an email exchange with someone - they didnt write for a few days, and I assumed that they stopped because I had changed the picture. But they have written back. So... I think in most of the instances described above, when the woman ended the contact, I blamed myself, whether or not it was my fault.

I think it may have a root in low self-esteem. For the longest time, I had that and was very unhappy and unhealthy. Now that I am physically healthy and can attract more women, perhaps I dont believe, expect for it to end, who knows? I also wonder, if this may have anything to do with the controlling girl from the fall. Although I have put her out of my thoughts very well, the time I was with her I was very miserable. It took some 2 weeks of repetetive phone calls, harrasing emails, text messages and threats to get her to leave me alone. I was so on edge that I would get anxious when I heard the phone or people sent me a text. And she was very controlling and abusive also, so now its as though I fear meeting/going on dates with new women, because of an irrational fear of either rejection, being abused, or both... its strange because I really want to be in a caring relationship, but at the same time, fear losing my indepedence and it ending again and then starting back to the same dismal point. So, I hope if I do meet someone that I get along really well with, I can maintain the relationship somewhat normally and not let my anxieties end it.

But, I will definetely check those articles out. Thanks alot, everyone!

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