If you have OCD or are the family member, friend or partner of someone with OCD, you probably know that that the symptoms and disability associated with OCD can place a great deal of strain on both personal and professional relationships.
One thing that many people with OCD are frustrated by is difficulties in establishing and maintaining romantic relationships. Many people with OCD are single and those who are in a relationship or are married often report a significant amount of relationship stress. Unfortunately, symptoms and stigma can often get in the way of making a romantic connection.
Although it is not often talked about, a major barrier for many people with OCD engaging in a romantic relationship is problems related to sexual functioning. For many people, one of the key ingredients required for a healthy romantic relationship is an active sex life. Although sexual problems are relatively common, research suggests that people with OCD report higher than average levels of problems with sexual functioning. Sometimes symptoms such as obsessions can relate directly to matters of sexuality or sexual practices. Also, some medications meant to help OCD can affect sex drive.
Personal relationships aside, for many people with OCD, seeking out, obtaining and maintaining gainful employment is a significant challenge. While symptoms of OCD themselves can get in the way of completing the required duties of a particular job, there is also the significant challenge of stigma, prejudice and discrimination that is associated with OCD and other forms of mental illness. All of these can conspire to make it difficult to forge strong professional relationships.
Given these challenges, family members often want to help. However, as the family member of someone with OCD, it can be difficult to know what is the right thing to do, what to say or how to cope -- especially when symptoms are severe or complex or accompanied by other illnesses such as depression and other anxiety disorders.
Likewise, although any intimate relationship has its ups and downs, dating someone with OCD can present some additional challenges. Above all, it is important to remember that an illness is what a person has, not who they are.