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OCPD: How This Condition Affects Long Term Relationships

Maria is a marketing writer and published author. She writes about topics she is passionate about like mental health, travel and food.

Aspergers Syndrome, which is now known as High Functioning Autism is part of the Autism Spectrum of medical conditions and people with Aspergers (Aspies) can be more high functioning than those with classic Autism. Aspergers is a syndrome which affects the social aspect of human emotions, ie: people with Aspergers have trouble relating to their peer group, cannot always understand facial expressions and are not open to sarcastic or subtle nuances in peoples' speech.

OCPD or 'Obsessive-Compulsive Personality Disorder' has similar traits to Aspergers but there is little known about this condition, Aspergers Syndrome takes most of the 'limelight' when it comes to research and diagnosis.

Both Aspies and OCPDers can be obsessive about things such as cleanliness, rigidity with tidiness and are perfectionists in their daily lives. Most people with this syndrome are very intelligent and tend to do well academically. They may focus obsessively on one chosen subject or hobby. These can include things such as trains; public transport timetables, space or architecture, achieving perfect lines, just to name a few. They become so engrossed in their chosen subject they talk about it constantly and cannot understand why others find their subject boring.

In other words, the focus is on the subject so much that everyday things or people in their lives take second place. A person who loves an OCPDer can feel very alone in the relationship as they always come second. This is not to say that people with these conditions cannot form relationships, it is that they find it very difficult and maintaining that relationship is even more difficult. Here is my friend's story...

Marion and George - A Relationship with Quirks

Marion has known her partner George for 25 years, they are happily married with 3 children and outwardly most people would see their marriage as quite stable and 'normal'. They met in their early 20's whilst George was working as an Engineer and Marion for a law firm.

"We dated for 3 years before settling down and at the time our relationship seemed to follow the usual routine of going out, watching friends getting together then marrying, you know...the general stuff that happens in that time of your life"

Marion describes George as a quiet, gentle man who didn't have many friends, just a chosen few they would socialise with occasionally. He didn't particularly enjoy going out and preferred just staying home or going to the movies. She was OK with this because, having been quite the party girl in her teens, Marion was ready to settle down and spend time with a special someone.

On the occasions they did enjoy a dinner with friends George would start the night quite chatty and seem to be comfortable. However, the night would usually end with Marion trying to keep him from just staring into space or jabbing him to keep him awake. George tended to lose interest in whatever the conversation was after an hour or so and start to drift off. Did she think this was unusual? Not at the time, she thought he was just tired.

After they were married and in their own place there were little instances that made Marion think something wasn't quite right. George would vacuum the carpet in their little unit so perfectly that the weave had to all go the same way; if something needed fixing he would take it completely apart and put it back together days, or even months, later. He did this even if the item didn't need to be pulled apart in the first place. Most projects he started didn't get finished, and even now, the run down home they live in is still only half renovated.

Routine is so Important for a Person with OCPD or Aspergers Syndrome

His routine was rigid and he didn't like change, there were many times when George would just not talk for days, for no other reason than he just didn't feel like it. She also noticed his reactions to things that happened were a bit strange. For example, when it was announced to him that his mother was to have a major operation his reaction was minimal, yet, if he found a spot on the carpet or a dirty dish lying around he would complain to the point of being quite unreasonable. He had a tendency to make 'mountains out of molehills'.

Even now, if the children do not tidy their rooms or leave shoes lying around the house he screams at the top of his lungs until they listen to his demands and do their jobs to his satisfaction. Thankfully, these outbursts are not too common because Marion has taught the children to keep things quite tidy so as not to aggravate their father.

With both of them working full time at the start of the marriage, their weekends were a routine of housework, grocery shopping and afternoon sleeps for George. Then he would proceed to fall asleep in front of the TV at night as well. Marion found out later, after learning more about the condition, that always thinking about making things perfect made people such as George extremely tired.

For years Marion tried to accommodate George and his little idiosyncrasies but there came a time when she just couldn't take any more and had to find out why he acted the way he did. Organising an appointment with a relationship counselor she convinced him to come with her to discuss problems she was having with depression which was affecting her life. This led to visits to their local GP, a psychologist and a psychiatrist, who all diagnosed George to have OCPD - Obsessive Compulsive Personality Disorder.

This condition makes the person affected react in a perfectionist manner, ie: everything for them must be perfect before they can finish a task, their surroundings have to be tidy and orderly to the point of obsession, such as, pencils lined up neatly in a tray. If their surroundings are not to their satisfaction the reactions can be anything from mild anxiety to a full breakdown. Marion learned from one of the specialists they went to see that if George's surroundings were neat and tidy then he didn't spend time worrying about that and could concentrate on the task at hand.

When he thinks about buying something he will research the item until he is satisfied it will do the job he wants it to do. What the item is does not matter, but the larger the item to be purchased, the more time he spends researching on the internet and phoning various 'experts' on the item.

"If I'm in a hurry to have something I just go out and buy it myself," says Marion, "otherwise I can wait months, or even years to have what I need."

Secluded beach. Crowds make people with OCPD and Aspergers nervous. They prefer holidays in secluded areas with few people.

Secluded beach. Crowds make people with OCPD and Aspergers nervous. They prefer holidays in secluded areas with few people.

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Cognitive Therapy can help to ease anxiety associated with OCPD and Aspergers Syndrome

George did some cognitive therapy for a couple of weeks after seeing the specialists, one of whom prescribed antidepressants for him. This was just to stablise the mood swings and help him to think more clearly. Unfortunately this condition makes the person think there is nothing wrong with them so the therapy didn't last long. The antidepressants had some effect and seemed to help him to understand Marion a little better.

Before Marion learned of George's condition she was puzzled by some of his actions.

"I remember when I was pregnant the first time, I was quite bored and suggested we go out for a Sunday drive. We both went to get dressed and George was ready before me. When I eventually came out into the lounge, there he was sitting on the carpet cleaning one of the light fittings that had been taken down months before. He was dressed ready to go out but because I had taken longer than him he had decided to keep himself busy.

We didn't end up going anywhere as the whole light fitting was taken apart and then I had to help him put it together again (if I didn't help it would have stayed there for months). Needless to say I was not pleased but saying anything at the time would have caused a huge argument."

Another time Marion wanted to buy new curtains for the unit as they had lived with the old ones for many years and the sun had faded them. George agreed but insisted on being shown the fabric before she ordered anything. Fifteen different fabrics later Marion gave up and lived with the old curtains for another 6 years until they moved out.

Holidays are not easy for George either as he finds it hard to relax and hates to be out of routine. Marion tends to organise all the family holidays and, once she has all the details, has to discuss these with George and make sure he is comfortable with the venue, where they are staying and that they don't stay for too long. This can take time as there are always revisions to the venue, the time, etc. However, it seems that beach or skiing holidays seem to be OK, especially if they go to the same place each time.

For the most part Marion has had to accept the relationship is what it is, romance and spontaneity will never be part of who George is and as knowledge of the condition has helped her to understand him better, their marriage is generally happy and healthy.

By the time George was diagnosed he was in his forties and already set in his ways. Cognitive therapy would have helped had he kept it up but the results may only have been minimal. A diagnosis of OCPD or Aspergers Syndrome is best when a person is young, preferably before puberty. If you suspect someone close to you has this type of condition then contact your GP in the first instance who, if there is a problem, will assist you with therapy and if necessary, medication.

Living with OCPD and Aspergers is harder on the sufferer as they tackle their perfectionism and obsessive behaviour but it can also be a struggle for the people who are close to them. Living with constant negativitiy can be emotionally draining on the sufferer and their partner. Understanding the condition helps immensely in forming loving relationships.

For further information contact your local Autism Foundation or mental health specialist.

Resource that may help with personality disorders

  • Welcome to Autism Spectrum Australia (Aspect)
    Autism Spectrum Australia (Aspect) is the leading provider of autism-specific services in Australia, building partnerships with people with Autism Spectrum Disorders, their families and the community to provide information, services, learning and res

This content is for informational purposes only and does not substitute for formal and individualized diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed medical professional. Do not stop or alter your current course of treatment. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.

© 2010 Maria Giunta


Maria Giunta (author) from Sydney, Australia on August 19, 2013:

Hi Deanna, early treatment for Aspies is so important and it helps others to understand the needs of the person with Aspergers too. I'm so glad to hear treatment is working for your son. Thanks for commenting.

Deanna Balestra from St. Louis, MO on August 18, 2013:

My son has Aspergers and we see many OCD traits in him as well. So far my son's school and his therapist combined have done him a world of good.

Maria Giunta (author) from Sydney, Australia on March 15, 2012:

Hi krsharp05, I hear stories like this all the time. I also see it in my friend's children who are aspies. They are wonderful people once they are understood and parents should not hide their condition, it can be an asset once everyone knows as you have explained in your story.

Kristi Sharp from Born in Missouri. Raised in Minnesota. on March 15, 2012:

I coached a gymnast who is an Aspie for two years. Unfortunately it wasn't until the end of the first year that her parents let us know that she has Aspergers. She is an amazing gymnast but she doesn't tolerate certain gross motor functions in relation to heights. Additionally, just as you explained, she always interprets in the literal sense so until we found out she is an Aspie, we assumed she was being sassy when she questioned our coaching or how we were explaining things. All along she just wanted clarity. Her success as a gymnast seemed to explode after we learned that she is an Aspie and were educated about how we could understand and work with her on a level that would best suit her needs.

Maria Giunta (author) from Sydney, Australia on June 04, 2011:

Aspies, the same as everyone else have different personalities, some are aggressive, some aren't. Sounds like your son and husband are the non-aggressive kind. Thanks for your comment and I fully understand them driving you nuts occasionally, that's just part of being a family.

RosieG from Nerang Gold Coast Qld on June 04, 2011:

my husband and son are both aspies, it drives me nuts sometimes but my husband is a good man and my son just lovely. the psychologist we went to when he was 16 said he was the first aspey child he had met without anger.

I think he is going to do fine. Thank you for your honesty.

Maria Giunta (author) from Sydney, Australia on April 09, 2011:

Hi Nate and thanks for a very good comment. I agree with you, most aspies are generally happy with who they are (read Luke's story to see that) and have no want to be "cured", it's just not necessary.

Having a medical name to a condition does not necessarily mean it can be cured, what it does is help others understand the person with the condition.

I write these hubs to increase awareness of Autism, Aspergers and OCPD in general and to assist Neurotypicals in understanding the differences in personality traits so as to reduce the prejudices.

Our differences is what can make the world a wonderful place but understanding these differences is the important part.

NateSean from Salem, MA on April 09, 2011:

I'm opposed to referring to Aspergers as a "medical" condition, as it implies something that can be "cured".

This may sound like a personal problem, but I've never considered Aspergers to be anything wrong with me. And most "aspies" as you put it, would agree that they are happy with their personalities and that the only thing to cure is the prejuidices of so called Neurotypicals. (IE, half of the people who run Autism Speaks)

Maria Giunta (author) from Sydney, Australia on July 20, 2010:

Glad you could use the information, CM.

carolina muscle from Charlotte, North Carolina on July 19, 2010:

A very interesting and informative hub! Thanks!!

Maria Giunta (author) from Sydney, Australia on June 14, 2010:

OCPD is a hereditary trait. We think George's father had it as well (undiagnosed of course).

George's OCPD wasn't diagnosed until he was in his forties so it is hard for him to accept the diagnosis but Marion's understanding of it certainly helps their relationship. Thanks for commenting Baileybear.

Baileybear on June 14, 2010:

George sounds a lot like my father - he is perfectionist, obsessive-compulsive etc. I think I got my AS traits mostly of him

Maria Giunta (author) from Sydney, Australia on April 28, 2010:

The Aspergers condition does have some good points - being able to focus, cleanliness, order - unfortunately they can be extreme. Thanks for commenting Bendo.

Ben Guinter from Colorado Springs, Colorado on April 28, 2010:

That's very interesting, it's good to know about behaviors when dealing with things like Aspergers... I didn't know of the specifics until now.

It really helped that you included the story so that people can really see what to expect.

Maria Giunta (author) from Sydney, Australia on March 04, 2010:

Thanks obsexed, Marion has her moments of despair but mostly her marriage is happy.

Katie Butler from Sensual, USA on February 21, 2010:

Living with someone with Asperger's can be hard, especially before you understand the syndrome. I had never heard of it until my son was diagnosed. Thanks for sharing this information.

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