What is relationship OCD? 4 ways to build trust when dating

November 14, 2016

Have you ever felt like this? You just started dating this wonderful new person. They check all the boxes and you've just come from a long line of crappy, failed relationships. You want this to work out so badly that it starts to drive you crazy.

When they don't text you back right away, you take that as a lack of interest and start to feel paranoid and alone. You text them again wanting to know what's going on, but at the same time worry that you're coming off as pushy and obsessive. Eventually, you start to question whether this person can be trusted. You picture them with other people. You assume they're lying to you.

There's a whole conversation going on in your head, all because this person didn’t text you back right away. When they do text back you feel relief, but at the back of your mind every other negative thought stays. You take the lack of communication to mean the end of the relationship.

In reality the person was out for lunch with their mom, their phone was dead or they were at work. But instead of considering these possibilities, you worked yourself into a world of drama before actually talking to them, and you sabotaged the relationship before it really got started.

This is what I call “relationship OCD.” It’s a result of the insecurities that come from a new relationship. When people don’t feel secure in their relationship, they overthink things and overestimate the importance of trivial events or details. This in turn makes the relationship less secure and trusting, and the problem gets worse.

Here are four ways to build trust in a relationship and avoid the problems associated with “relationship OCD.”

1. Be Honest and Tactful

This is true for any relationship. Be honest about who you are, and what you are feeling. Lying to cover up bad feelings will only make you feel worse, and you’ll end up worrying that they’re lying to you, too.

2. Ask Questions and Listen

It feels amazing when someone takes the time to get to know you, so extend this courtesy to your new partner. If they’re a good match, they’ll do the exact same for you. By showing that you’re interested in them and care about what they have to say, you’ll help build trust and closeness.

3. Stay Calm and Have an Open Mind

Try to put judgments aside, even when your partner confides something that upsets you. If you fly off the handle every time they tell you they’ve done something wrong, they’ll stop telling you—and that’s the beginning of the end. Don’t excuse or dismiss bad behavior, but stay calm and listen to the whole story. Then you can work together to figure out a solution.

4. Acknowledge When You're Wrong

My favorite technique is often the hardest to do in practice. Admitting that you’re wrong is the quickest way to deflate any argument or miscommunication. But it takes practice to set aside your ego or stubbornness or whatever is holding you back, and just admit that you messed up. This will not only help fix the problem but it will show your new partner that you’re mature enough to admit when you’re wrong.

The above tips can be applied to every type of relationship and can help combat relationship OCD. Remember to be patient with your new partner—trust isn’t something that shows up on day one. It’s a slow process but worth the wait and the extra effort to make it happen.

Disclaimer: Relationship OCD is not the same as Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. OCD is something different and to be taken seriously. For the purposes of this blog post, we’re simply referring to the act of obsessing about and over-analyzing events that have less actual importance than you give to them.