OCD and OCPD in Relationships

In our 1st post in this series, we listed the Personality Disorders that can make it impossible to achieve stable mental health in relationships. 2nd post was about Antisocial Personality Disorder (ASPD) whereas last week, we dissected the complexities of Narcissistic personality disorder (NPD).

Spending too much time with people who are suffering from a Personality Disorder can trigger mental illness. Even in people who have been mentally stable all their lives. Personality disorders are mental health conditions that affect how we think, perceive the world, feel about other people or how we relate to others. This week, we dive into OCD and OCPD, their differences and similarities. Plus, how they manifest and affect relationships.


OCD and OCPD are so similar, you will think they are the same. Like Ketepa tea and Kericho Gold. Same same but different. If you don’t see the packet, and just drink the tea, you may not be able to tell which is which. Howeer, if you are used to Ketepa, you will think this chai is not the same s my chai. But why?

Well, OCD vs OCPD may feel like that. Only, if OCD is Ketepa, OCPD Kerich Gold.

There are some core differences between them:

Symptoms and Characteristics


OCD is defined by the presence obsessions or compulsions. Obsessive behaviors and compulsive behaviors can occur together or separately. In any case, the individual affected is unable to function properly and the quality of life is affected negatively.


Obsessions are defined by specific clinical characteristics:

  • Irrational thoughts that cause extreme distress. Some thoughts can be so vivid they seem real.
    • You accept these thoughts as your own although you are unable to control them.
    • These thoughts are so distressing, they make you act in compulsive ways as you try to dispel them.

Compulsions are neither routines nor addictions. Compulsive behavior can look like obsessive behavior. It is characterized by abnormal behaviors such as:

  • Irrational, ritualistic behaviors you repeat over and over again. These can be as simple as hand-washing or as complex as walking round the same block, by the same route, at the same time every day.
    • Engaging in repetitive behaviors such as washing hands repeatedly till they bleed for fear that if you don’t, you will catch a bacteria that will kill your entire family.
    • Hoarding things such as hoarding food for fear that a famine will come and you will go hungry. A friend and I were laughing about this the other day.
    • Performing ritualistic behaviors such as lighting a candle at 7 every evening. Maybe to dispel the anxiety and fear that someone will die if you don’t.
    • You recognize that your repetitive behaviors are irrational, but you’re unable to stop yourself.


OCPD is characterized by an excessive need for perfection. A relentless need to control not only your environment, but the nature of interpersonal relationships.

  • A preoccupation with details, rules, lists, and order to the extent that you may miss the major objective of an activity.
  • An excessive devotion to work at the expense of family or friends.
  • A rigidity and inflexibility with regards to morals, ethics, values, and/or the adherence to rules.
  • Hoarding – the inability to get rid of items that no longer have value.
  • The inability to be generous to others, even loved ones.

Example True Story

This week, we have no example. During the weekend, a friend and I were laughing about our tendencies to hoard food and money. We both have an interesting relationship with money. Hiding money. Saving it. Saying we are broke when we are not. Refusing to go out and ‘waste’ money on alcohol when our friends want to get out and paint the city red.

We know it is weird but we still do it. Is that OCD?

The fear for us is that a day will come when money will be finished. We will loose our jobs and be money-less. The bank will go bankrupt and our money will disappear.

Yes, crazy stuff.

Funny enough, both my friend and I also hoard food. Not like old rotting food. No, we are better than that. We just buy more food than we need and freeze it. Or we buy canned food for rainy (food-less) days. Are we afraid food will end or are we afraid that we will not be able to afford food when the bank runs bankrupt and we loose our jobs?

We don’t know.

What we know for sure is that we grew up with parents who lacked respect for money and therefore misused it. ‘Hakuna pesa ya unga’ was a constant in childhood. There is no money for floor. We never slept hungry, (or did we and we supressed it?) but some days, we helped our parents ‘worry’ about food and money.

So, we still worry.

According to studies, most people living with OCPD do not seek treatment. They think, ironically, that they are totally capable of handling that shit on their own. Those living with OCD will often seek help because they are aware that their thoughts and actions are not logical or rational.

Either, I have never met someone who lives with OCD or OCPD symptoms; or, I never recognized the behavioral patterns as OCD or OCPD. As I do every week, I asked on social media for input regarding OCD and OCPD. No one reached out. Whichever the case, we have no personal story this week.

Do you know someone who has been diagnosed with OCD or OCPD? Or displays the behavioral patterns characteristic for OCD or OCPD? Please email us on info@growthcatalysts.org and we will contact you for a story-telling date.

How OCD and OCPD Damages Relationships

Relationships are difficult and challenging even for those who do not have personality disorders.

It is difficult for a OCD or OCPD personality to maintain stable relationships because:

  • perfection is hard to achieve. OCD and OCPD individuals may manage to achieve some level of perfection on their own. However, to find a partner that believes and lives in this perfection is nearly impossible.
  • when perfection isn’t achieved, the individual with the personality disorder will become critical and anxious. Stressful for all involved. This can also create resentments.
  • the need for control can make it impossible to maintain a healthy relationship. Nobody thrives in a controlling relationship.
  • individuals with OCD or OCPD can experience anxiety attacks. Especially when in the company of someone they attracted to. That may lead to communication hitches and misunderstandings. All relationships thrive on good communication.
  • for those with obsessions related to hygiene or contamination, engaging in sexual relations can be like climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro. For a guy/girl who doesn’t climb any hills or mountains.
  • other OCD and OCPD personalities become over-stimulated when people get into their personal space. For these, even the thought of cuddling is a no no. This affects intimacy on all levels.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s