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London - Obsessing over the state of your relationship has finally been given a name
The so-called relationship obsessive-compulsive disorder not only makes you anxious, but could also be ruining your sex life, say scientists.
Constantly questioning whether your partner loves you, whether they are the right person for you, or if you even love them at all, are all telling symptoms of the condition.
Other common behaviours included constantly reassessing and doubting the relationship and thinking about and picking at their partner’s perceived physical flaws.
Compulsions can involve going to great lengths to check your partner is loyal, such as repeatedly calling them, looking at their e-mails or internet search histories or endlessly asking them whether they “really mean it” when they express their love
Those who suffer these symptoms were identified by researchers as having the disorder. Participants were also found to be less satisfied with their sex lives than those who did not question things irrationally.
This lower level of sexual satisfaction was explained by a decrease in relationship satisfaction – in other words, it seems the disorder’s symptoms reduce relationship happiness and this affects sex life, researchers say.
The findings, published online this month in the Journal of Sexual Medicine, could have implications for the treatment of some people with relationship and sexual problems.
“Relationship obsessive-compulsive disorder symptoms are often overlooked by family and couple therapists,” said researcher Guy Doron, of the School of Psychology at the Interdisciplinary Centre (IDC) Herzliya in Israel.
According to Doron, the findings mean people’s sexual problems might stem from having this disorder and not knowing it, reports LiveScience. “People with the disorder have unwanted thoughts even when there is no rational reason to question the relationship.”
Scientists say it is a form of obsessive compulsive disorder – a condition that can bring unwanted thoughts or worries and repetitive behaviours that are carried out to address those worries, to no avail.
With relationship obsessive-compulsive disorder, obsessions fit one of two categories: Questioning whether you love your partner, or questioning whether your partner loves you, says Steven Brodsky, a psychologist and clinical director who has treated people with the condition.
For example, one of Doron’s patients said although he loved the woman he was in a relationship with, he could not stop wondering whether he might be happier with women he saw on the street.
It’s normal to have some of these thoughts in relationships from time to time, Brodsky says, but a person is considered to have a disorder if the thoughts impair everyday life, such as the ability to do his or her job.
Brodsky also noted people with relationship obsessive-compulsive disorder have unwanted thoughts even when there is no rational reason to question the relationship – that is, when their partner really does love them. These symptoms can create problems in relationships.
The disorder can become a self-fulfilling prophecy if the symptoms push a partner away.
In the new study, 157 men and women in Israel filled out an online questionnaire. Couples had been together for about 15 years, on average.
Although the survey could not diagnose relationship obsessive-compulsive disorder, Doron estimated about 1 percent had the condition.
The more severe the symptoms, the more likely the participant was to be dissatisfied with their sex life. – Daily Mail