Marion and George were married for 20 years. George has OCPD, Obsessive Compulsive Personality Disorder. George’s condition was a major cause in the marriage breakdown.
OCPD is a condition that manifests many rigid forms of thinking in the person affected. This rigidity and unwillingness to compromise was one of the major reasons Marion left George.
A person with OCPD can be a very diligent person with a successful career, have a quiet demeanor and generally be quite a pleasant person. That is, until you live with a person who has this condition that can diminish your quality of life. Obsessions can sap a partner of all the joy of living, especially as the person with OCPD has no idea their obsessions are the cause of the problem.
Imagine Constantly Living With These Rules
Marion moved on after her relationship with a person who has OCPD ended.
“George is a lovely man, he was when we met and he still is. However, having OCPD means George lives to very strict rules of cleanliness, work habits and believing he is right in whatever he does. He expects the same ideals from others, especially those he lives with,” Marion informed me during our last chat soon after the split. We have been friends for many years and I wasn’t surprised when she announced she had left George late in 2010.
“At first you think the tidiness, neat clothes and hard work ethnic are great traits in the man you want to marry, until you realise these are the only traits they possess. Fun and spontaneity are not words in an OCPDers vocabulary, their rigid thinking permeates their whole way of thinking. What your views are or how you think does not matter to them. If you say something is white, a person with OCPD will convince you it is black.
Marion explained to me many times how George would argue a point to such a degree that she would just agree in the end, she had to, just to keep her sanity.
“George has such a way of arguing that almost convinces others his view is the only view, which is a great trait to have I guess, if you want to be a good debater. An example of his extreme view was how he insisted on a clean, tidy house – ALL THE TIME. Once cleaned the house was to stay that way. If you moved something it had to be put back exactly where it was. Believe me, you didn’t want to be around if George noticed something wasn’t how he had left it. We, (the children and I) knew that if he cleaned something, especially his work areas, we didn’t touch anything. Imagine living with that kind of scrutiny all the time?”
Marion doesn’t miss any of the tension that came with living with George however she does miss his company at times. After 6 months of separation, although Marion’s life is calmer and easier emotionally, she misses him occasionally.
“20 years of being with someone it’s only natural that I miss him. Had George been open to seeking help for his OCPD the marriage may have survived, but why would he seek help when he didn’t believe he had a problem?”
OCPD sufferers don’t actually suffer, the people who are closest to them do. You have to be a very patient person to be able to live with constant rules and being told you could have done something a lot better … all the time. The emotional torture takes it toll eventually.
Perfection and aiming to be perfect are what people with OCPD constantly aim for, something most of us know is virtually impossible to achieve. This causes unhappiness and depression as OCPDers obsess over everyday things. Relationship problems occur when partners cannot understand the obsessive behaviour and difficulties in relating to their OCPDer partner. Feelings are not easily expressed by people with OCPD, something that is an important part of a relationship.
Marion’s life is very different now. Some may think she is lonelier without George but she was actually quite lonely in her marriage as conversation was limited because OCPDers prefer their own company much of the time and as another person’s point of view is not of interest, conversations tend to be one sided.
“There were many times I tried to explain to George how lonely I felt that he would not express his feelings, or even try to understand the way I felt. He seemed to have a confused look whenever I was upset as he tried to grapple with the fact that the way I was feeling had absolutely nothing to do with him. In other words, how I felt was my problem and my problem alone.”
Marion now lives in an apartment that is quite new and modern compared to the run-down house which constantly needed work in which she had lived with George and their 2 children. Marion does speak to George occasionally but keeps it to a minimum, trying to make him understand is futile. George wants her back because he doesn’t believe he did anything wrong. Marion has explained to him many times she is happy to be on her own, he should move on with his life as well.
Obsessive behaviours can damage relationships. Take the time to understand whether the behaviour of your partner is a mental problem and seek professional help in the first instance. Only a diagnosis from a respected mental health professional can determine whether treatment is required. Avoid situations of self-diagnosis or placing blame where it could make matters worse.
OCPDers are Individuals Too
Marion and George’s relationship is only one type of relationship that has broken down between an OCPDer and a ‘neurotypical’ person. Not all relationships involving OCPDers end as people who have OCPD all have their own individual traits. The condition is a complicated condition that is sometimes hard to diagnose.
In George’s case he was not diagnosed until his 40’s making it difficult to have him seek medical advice. Why would he, his life was organised and he had a successful career and a loving family, as far as he was concerned nothing was wrong. George was unaware his obsessive actions in any way impacted negatively on his marriage.
The traits of an OCPDer are wide and varied but there are a couple of constants - they are all rigid in their thinking and tend to have problems with their social skills.
An OCPD person will have some or all of the following traits and if they can be convinced, may want to seek medical advice. A good place to start would be to discuss any issues with a GP or qualified mental health specialist.
- Is obsessive about everyday things such as cleanliness
- May have a robotic toned voice
- Has trouble socialising and meeting new people
- Has trouble relaxing
- Rigid thinking all the time
- Does not like change
- Dislikes changing their routine in any way
- Argues a point and only stops when agreement is reached, whether they are right or wrong
- Likes hoarding all types of items, even if they have no value
- Obsesses about financial transactions and finances in general
- Tends to be frugal even if money is not an issue
- When interested in a subject tends to know everything about it and may bore others with extreme details and facts
- Is uncomfortable discussing how they feel and is generally non-emotional
- Is good at making lists but many items remain unfinished.
- Diligent at work especially where numbers are concerned.
- Irrational behaviours and anxiety
- May be suffering depression
- May have control issues, tend to be ‘bossy’
- Have trouble making decisions, especially quick ones.
- Refuse to delegate work, even if deadlines are looming.
- Tend to be difficult and demanding.
- Worry about small details.
- Excessively rigid about morals.
- When they lose an item they may spend hours looking for it even if it is of little value.
The above list illustrates just some of the issues encountered by people with OCPD. A diagnosis of OCPD would mean having 5 or more of the traits listed and the diagnosis must come from a qualified health professional, preferably in the mental health field.
We all obsess about certain things at certain times of our lives but this does not mean we have OCPD or even OCD. Only a qualified health professional’s diagnosis will determine whether a mental health issue is present.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.
© 2011 Maria Giunta
Maria Giunta (author) from Sydney, Australia on March 28, 2016:
Dear H, OCPD is a mental illness so going to see a medical expert like a general practitioner would be your start. A psychiatrist or psychologist will also help but the hardest part is getting the person to admit there is something wrong. I wish you luck in your search for answers regarding OCPD whether it be for you or a loved one.
H on March 27, 2016:
Who diagnoses a person with this?
Maria Giunta (author) from Sydney, Australia on March 19, 2014:
Mark Ethridge, thanks for your comment even though it is a plug for your book. Given there is not much information about OCPD and its toll on relationships I have approved your comment. I wish you luck with your sales and spreading the word about this little known mental condition.
Mack Ethridge on March 17, 2014:
Forgive me if I am posting this comment in the wrong place, as I am new to blogging and was not sure how or where to make a useful, helpful announcement to participants of this blog. Friends, my name is Mack Ethridge, and I, too, have to contend with OCPD behaviors of a family member who lives with me, now for several years. I know what it means to be on the end of such misery-inflicting behaviors! To cope, I extensively researched and wrote a book on OCPD entitled Escaping Another's OCPD Tyranny! -- The Ultimate Survival Guide for the OCPD Besieged. If you go to Amazon.com, type in the key word ocpd and enter, a page will arise showing my book in the first three listings of some 200 OCPD and OCPD related books. Then, click on the book cover image and after scrolling down, a detailed description of the book, my bio, and commendations arise. Sincerely hope and believe this book can be a tremendous blessing to many! It is respectful of all OCPD people, yet tells the truth as it is regarding how their behavior is so hurtful to others. May deliverance come to all parties involved is my prayer!
Maria Giunta (author) from Sydney, Australia on October 25, 2013:
Oh Scrubnbubbles I feel like giving you a big hug because you REALLY need one. No one can tell you what it is like living with someone who doesn't know how to give affection, yet to the outside world all seems fine. My friend Marion explained to me how hard it was to make anyone understand what she was going through. Please take care of yourself and I really appreciate you taking the time to read and comment.
Scrubnbubbles on October 24, 2013:
I was recently discharged from hospital after an operation. The nurse asked if there was anyone at home who was abusive, I took a deep breadth, not knowing how my OCD husband could handle the disruptions that come with recuperation. How does one explain that a seemingly attentive husband will be huffing and puffing and unable to manage me. He kept washing the sheets,loads of disinfectant, my daughter commented, that at least I wouldn't get an infection. I felt so
jealous of the loving couples around me. Not even being sick can one receive any affection there needs to be more help for the partners of OCD individuals...
Maria Giunta (author) from Sydney, Australia on May 01, 2013:
Thank you so much for sharing your story Anotherocpdgirl. I am not medically qualified to give you advice however what I can say is that no one likes change, we are all set in our ways in one way or another. We are all human and all have feelings, and we all make mistakes. Not one of us can be right ALL the time. I hope you do find someone medically qualified to ease your anxiety/OCPD and I wish you only the best in your relationship with your child and boyfriend.
Anotherocpdgirl on April 27, 2013:
I know this is a late post but i came across this because i recently found out by myself that I have OCPD. And I feel exactly, EXACTLY the way the OCPD girl explained in her comment. I'm still trying to wrap my head around it because it's really hard for me to admit my faults especially when I am used to being "right" for a long time...I just turned 21 I I am noticing a lot of anxiety in my life for many reasons a couple of them being that I had to change my whole plan for my life when I got pregnant unexpectedly and started living with my boyfriend. Our relationship is much like OCPDgirls first relationship and I feel like it's only making me more depressed... I am not sure what to do I feel like I should go to therapy but what exactly do they do to help me because I am sure it is going to be really hard to change the way I
Maria Giunta (author) from Sydney, Australia on April 18, 2012:
Thanks I appreciate your comment meloncaull. I see from your hubs you know a lot about mental illness. Welcome to hubpages, enjoy the ride.
meloncauli from UK on April 17, 2012:
Excellent hub. Must seek out more on OCPD. Thanks for sharing.
Maria Giunta (author) from Sydney, Australia on March 29, 2012:
This is fantastic, thank you for pointing out an OCPDers side of things. I can only write from my own experience with the people I know who have the condition, people who are very quiet and have trouble conversing and expressing their views.
As a communicator and writer I too have found it difficult to find information about OCPD.
Thank you for pointing out that OCPDers can have different traits, as human beings we all do. I do hope your comment and my articles continue to bring help to others.
OCPDgirl on March 27, 2012:
Just found your hub (I've never really looked around these pages before) and wow, thank you for taking the time to write so many things about OCPD, and for trying to educate people about it. I am a sufferer and I find myself getting so frustrated by the lack of understanding about it, often even by professionals, and the assumption that it is the same thing as OCD.
While overall your articles are some of the best I have come across on the specifics of it, one thing I would like to point out is that, while what you are saying is right, often sufferers aren't even aware, remember there are a LOT of us who are all too aware, and often that can make all the difference in relationships etc. We are aware that we hurt people, we do try to explain the way our mind works, we do have hurtful outbursts but WILL apologise and try to make amends afterwards - it's just sometimes in the moment there is too much in our heads to focus on 'being nice' all the time in that exact moment. But often we will try and preempt those moments, or at the very least sincerely apologise afterwards. In my case I know full well when I am hurting someone, I am not oblivious, but at that point there is just too much in my head to be able to even think of alternatives in that moment where I may snap at someone or whatever.
I saw a quote somewhere, I don't know where it was from, but it was "There's so much noise in her little head." This is honestly the best way I can think to describe what it's like living with OCPD. There is just SO MUCH NOISE and sometimes it becomes so overwhelming and impossible to deal with. If us OCPDers are difficult to deal with, it is honestly never a reflection on those we are dealing with (or in my case anyway it is not), it is simply a lack of energy left to interact "properly" with people, I am constantly so worn down from all the thoughts regarding routines, lists, getting things right, "keeping up" with the way everything should be kept up, that there is so little energy left to function "normally", even if it appears I have got little done. Which is the most frustrating part - the way my insides and my outsides don't match up.
There is this constant overwhelm, this 'noise' in my head, to the point where I often cannot funtcion at all and become too overwhelmed and almost terrified to leave my bed - the perfection is literally paralysing. I don't know what my exact point is here, I guess just that the way we are portrayed as interacting with others etc, cold and often heartless or cruel, is often just how it is viewed from the outside and it is only a reflection on how much is going on on the inside, rather than a direct appraisal of the other person's worth or ability. That phone call example you used in another article I found interesting, as to be honest I feel that as an OCPDer I more likely be on the OTHER end than you specified. Like, I need to know WHY people think what they do, I need them to examine it all, if they can just explain logically (why they were late for example) I completely understand and will empathise - it is when they don't bother, are happy to just "let things go" with appropriate discussion and coming to some sort of CONCLUSION that I get very, often illogically hurt. Yes, we do have all those traits that are mentioned, but a lot of these descriptions and diagnoses seem to forget that we are real people, that what we do is coming from a place of incredible anxiety and overwhelm etc, and often we DO KNOW WHAT WE ARE DOING, we HATE it, but we are unable to stop it as we honestly feel it is the "right" way. So yes we believe we are always right, but in the way that we deal with OURSELVES, not others. So while I put all this pressure on myself, I do not think others are incapable etc, but if they were to try and change the way I personally do things, my standards etc, I would be very resentful, even though I am aware that these standards are affecting both my own and often my partner's quality of life.
For example, I actively sought out a diagnosis of this. While I couldn't imagine living any way other than what I did, I knew that being so overwhelmed, so run down, so on the verge of tears when the tiniest thing would go out of order or interfere with my plans wasn't RIGHT, the fact that others seemed to live so much more easily and freely than me shocked me, and I needed to understand it. After reading through article after article about mental health issues and nothing feeling right, I literally cried and broke down when I read about OCPD - it described basically my entire personality to a T and it was so validating to have my struggle listed as symptoms. Then after that I had a pretty big breakdown for a few months as I realised my personality was nothing but a list of symptoms of a disorder. I felt like NOTHING. Like there was nothing of me that was my own, and this was the one time in my life I have ever or will ever seriously contemplate suicide. I had been doing a lot of personal development work with myself for awhile before this, and even though I was hyper-aware of my flaws, I felt that I was finally kind of starting to be happy, to like the person I was, but this all just sent it tumbling down - all this "personality" I was finally ok with wasn't me at all, it was just a disorder. The only reason I am still alive today is that my perfectionism meant that I wouldn't attempt anything other than a 'perfect' suicide, and I could not obtain all the things I needed to follow through. This made me feel like even more of failure - no personality, basically an asshole with no redeeming features, will never find anyone who wants to stay with me because ALL OCPD marriages, relationships etc break up, blah blah, and yet I was even a failure at dying.
Eventually I kind of snapped out of it and realised, no, there is MORE to me than this. There really is. Around that time I met my now-fiance, and you know what? He saw ME. He barely even noticed the disordered stuff, he saw me as intelligent, creative, able to think in a different way than everyone else, he loved my energy and the way I think. I tried telling him, warning him what it would be like. But I loved everything about him and him me. And I realised that my previous relationship, sure, I was hard to deal with at times, but the man I was with simply didn't treat me well at all. He had his own faults for miles, and absolutely no tolerance for mine. I had since blamed that on the OCPD, but I realise now that being aware of it is such a big step, and there really truly were things far more wrong in that relationship than just this. Being with my fiancé has been a dream, he tells me every day how thankful he is to be with me, that we 'get' each other so well, and vice versa. We are not "emotionless" as is often stated, we find living so hard because of our rigidity and standards, and sometimes that reflects on how we interact with others, but we are REAL people and it took me awhile to realise that - I care, I love, I think of little ways all the time to show him how much I love him, he has told me has never ever felt more loved, listened to, understood, cared for or thought of than he has with me. And I realise that THAT is my personality, that is me, and the OCPD is a disorder that makes that more work than normal.
...this has to be the longest comment in the history of the world, and I am sure I've completely deviated from various points I was making in an emotional rant, haha. But it seems like a lot of people read your articles and I would really like to shed some light on our "humanity" if you will. I think the biggest difference is whether or not we realise something is wrong, and admit it and try and deal with it. For me, I simply had to, because living was becoming impossible and it shouldn't be so hard.
I would just like to clarify that I think your articles are wonderful things, and do educate so much, so please don't take this as a personal attack. It just makes me so sad to see us so oft. portrayed as nothing but cruel, emotionless robots to those we love.
Maria Giunta (author) from Sydney, Australia on August 25, 2011:
And I'm afraid he will NEVER get it, sorry to say Chris. As I said before, if your love is strong enough you will survive and the relationship will survive as well (of sorts). You will be the one making the compromises and putting in most of the effort. Having said that, it depends on the severity of the OCPD, whether Keith is passive or aggressive and how often his anxieties affect you that will determine the outcome.
A relationship with an OCPDer is not an easy one and again I wish you all the best. I am happy to hear you find solace in my articles, I appreciate your positive feedback. It's nice to know I am raising awareness of the condition and helping as well. Take care Chris.
Chris on August 22, 2011:
@MPG- thanks for the comment. I have visited this page often because it gives me solace. I'm at a point where I'm weighing the costs and benefits- as you mentioned. I have many people I could engage, date but I fell in love with this person for many reasons- I cannot simply extract myself. However, I've become part of his condition and that is making me feel uncomfortable. When I first came upon OCPD, I thought it was just a fad-like condition that people made up to make excuses for simply dating an abusive person. But the posts and the articles have taught me that this is real- Keith aligns to this to a tee- and it makes me sad because he simply does not get it.
Maria Giunta (author) from Sydney, Australia on August 17, 2011:
A partner of someone with OCPD has to live without a lot of life's little luxuries when it comes to emotions and emotional support. If you can live with that then a relationship will last, however, it can be very draining. My best wishes to you Chris and thanks for your comment.
Chris on August 15, 2011:
This is my boyfriend to a tee. It's the best description I've read to date. It's very tough. We've been dating a year but the sheer rigidity is killing me.
Maria Giunta (author) from Sydney, Australia on May 28, 2011:
Very good comment Steph and thanks. "OCD" can be a very serious mental illness (depending on severity) and you are right, some people joke about having OCD just because they like things clean. It's definitely a lot more than that.
And, OCPD, on the other hand is different again. OCPD is more like Asperger's Syndrome, which is on the Autism spectrum.
Stephanie Marshall from Bend, Oregon on May 27, 2011:
Very informative hub, and so well written and described. I think that its sad that people with mental conditions are often not understood or misdiagnosed. Also, I am a bit disturbed about how easy it is for "well" people to throw about terms like "OCD" when describing their desire for cleanliness. Not quite the same thing. Excellent hub rated up!
Maria Giunta (author) from Sydney, Australia on March 19, 2011:
This information, I hope, will be helpful to anyone dealing with OCPD, or the similar condition, Aspergers Syndrome. Thanks for passing by htodd.
htodd from United States on March 19, 2011:
very nice information,Thanks
Maria Giunta (author) from Sydney, Australia on March 06, 2011:
Hi akirchner and thanks for commenting. You know we all have some obsessive traits, we as writers are obsessed with writing and rewriting aren't we? Only a proper medical diagnosis will confirm OCPD, having one or two of the traits listed in this hub doesn't mean you have the condition. Besides, everyone with the condition has different traits so the way the condition affects their relationships will be very different.
Also, many people with OCPD are passive and don't always push their views and ways onto others, it is when their anxieties are at their worst that they become impossible to live with. Take care my friend.
Maria Giunta (author) from Sydney, Australia on March 06, 2011:
Oh poor dear George, he is challenged when it comes to everyday chores! Marion hasn't revealed too much about how he is doing, its all still too raw, although, apparently the kids are helping him out.
It is strange with OCPD that one who is so obsessive about cleanliness can neglect everyday stuff like washing dishes but it goes back to wanting to deal with every last detail of every project that puts them behind with the mundane stuff.
George will find his way one way or another and Marion is doing ok, she hasn't regretted her decision. Thanks JAB.
Audrey Kirchner from Washington on March 04, 2011:
MPG - I have a very dear friend who has this and as much as I try to minimize it and tell him it's 'not so bad' I guess it is that bad! He tends to drive his entire family batty.
I always think I must have a 'touch' of it because I can become fixated on things that need to be done. However, I like to think my version is one that is 'tolerable' since I don't take it out on everyone around me. I completely understand that other folks don't have to be as 'driven' to excel as I am nor do they have to march to my tunes. And if I get the occasional tap on the shoulder and someone says 'hey - quit worrying about this stuff' I can go 'oh yeah - thanks for reminding me' and walk away!
Great points though and I'd be interested to know too how Marion is doing without his 'work party'!!
JAB on March 03, 2011:
Good to hear Marion is doing well on her own and not regretting her decision to leave George. Be interested to hear how George is getting along without Marion to do all the mundane household chores that kept the house running.
Maria Giunta (author) from Sydney, Australia on March 03, 2011:
Hello Christopher nice to hear from you. I didn't watch Monk but do know of the show and what I do know he had OCD not OCPD, although I may be wrong.
OCD is a condition that is known to the people who suffer from it, they know they have the obsessions but it is difficult for them to change. This condition is manageable and at times curable.
OCPD is a condition which is not known to the sufferer, they have no idea they have a problem. OCPD is different to OCD.
Christopher Price from Vermont, USA on March 03, 2011:
I loved watching the TV show "Monk", but it would be hell living with someone like that.