The effects of obsessive-compulsive disorder on romantic relationships
Abbey, Richard D.
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Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) can be a disabling mental condition. Although research has suggested that OCD can affect occupational, social, and interpersonal functioning, few research studies have examined the effects of OCD on romantic relationships. While research has shown that individuals with OCD report lower levels of relationship satisfaction, no research to date has been able to establish a relationship between OCD symptom severity and relationship satisfaction. The aim of the current study was to examine romantic relationship functioning in individuals with OCD. Participants with OCD were recmited from a national conference (N= 64) and completed measures of OCD symptoms, depressive symptoms, relationship satisfaction, intimacy, relationship worry, and self-disclosure. Results suggested that symptoms of OCD can be detrimental to romantic relationship functioning. Correlations revealed that the severity of obsessions was negatively associated with intimacy, relationship satisfaction, and self-disclosure. Partial correlations revealed that the early age of OCD onset was negatively associated with relationship fimctioning when controlling for the severity of obsessions, sex, and depressive symptoms. Results from logistic regression showed that the early age of OCD onset also was a significant predictor of marital status such that individuals who were diagnosed v^th OCD at an earlier age were less likely to be married. An ANCOVA revealed that participants who worry about telling their romantic partner about their obsessions and compulsions disclosed significantly less intimate and personal details about themselves when controlling for depressive symptoms. Results from stmctural equation modeling revealed that the severity of compulsions significantly predicted higher levels of relationship satisfaction. Moreover, intimacy was a significant moderator in the relationship between the severity of obsessions and relationship satisfaction such that intimacy buffered the negative effects of obsessions on relationship satisfaction. Results also indicated that participants who have contamination fears also worry about becoming contaminated through sexual activity with their romantic partner. However, the hypothesis that depressive symptoms moderate the relationship between OCD symptom severity and relationship satisfaction was not supported. The hypothesis that depressive symptoms moderate the relationship between relationship worry and relationship satisfaction also was not supported. The clinical implications and future directions for research are discussed.