What is Cheating OCD?
Cheating OCD is an Obsessive Compulsive Disorder theme where the sufferer experiences intrusive thoughts that they have cheated on a partner. It is a type of False Memory OCD, where the intrusive thoughts are misinterpreted as memories.
Cheating OCD often comes about after a night of drinking. The sufferer of this theme could start experiencing intrusive thoughts that they’ve cheated just hours after the event or days, weeks, months, years later. The length of time between the event occurring and the start of the intrusive thoughts is no indicator that the thoughts are true. Intrusive thoughts are always an OCD lie.
The problem begins with the first intrusive thought that cheating may have taken place and gets worse as the sufferer panics over the possibility and performs compulsions, trying desperately to figure out if the thought is true or not. This theme is compounded by the fact that the sufferer mistakenly believes the thoughts are memories and that they are remembering a cheating incident.
The ‘memory’ (intrusive thought) starts out vague. There is little detail to the thought, more a general sense that some sexual hanky panky took place. Because of that, the sufferer is driven to try and remember more. Doing so is a compulsion and only makes matters worse. The mind loves to fill in blanks and that will happen with this theme. Over time and after doing many compulsions, it is common for the sufferer to ‘remember’ more about the night/event in question, though honestly these additional thoughts/memories are fairly vague.
Further false detail added to the original intrusive thought is often accepted as ‘evidence’ by the sufferer that the original intrusive thought about cheating is real. Confiding in others leads the sufferer to the problem that other people don’t see evidence at all; they simply see disjointed thoughts that neither confirm nor deny the existence of cheating.
As with all forms of OCD, cheating OCD has its share of typical compulsions. These can include (but are not limited to):
- Ruminating. Going over the intrusive thoughts in the head, again and again, trying to make sense of them, analyzing them, trying to figure out if the thoughts are true or not.
- Repeated confessing to partner/friends/loved ones.
- Checking compulsions, such as repeatedly checking one’s cell phone to see if there are texts, emails or messages present that confirm that cheating did happen.
- Reassurance seeking from partner/friends/loved ones.
- Questioning others who were present at the event to see if they remember something happening.
- Returning to the scene of the event to talk to staff members of possibly to review video of the event to see if the cheating was recorded.
Treatment of Cheating OCD involves Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. It is treated the same as any other form of OCD.
The sufferer needs to come to an understanding that their so-called memories are, in fact, just another form of intrusive thought. The thoughts are intrusive, in that they pop up in the mind on their own accord and are unwanted. Doubt reigns supreme with this OCD theme, with the sufferer vacillating from being completely convinced they have cheated to feeling the thoughts are silly.
Regardless the amount of compulsions done, no real evidence of any wrongdoing is ever forthcoming. And no evidence of no wrongdoing being done is evidence enough for the sufferer to let the matter go. Doubt soon returns, intrusive thoughts soon return and the sufferer ends up back at square one again.
A lesser known variant of Cheating OCD sees the sufferer experiencing intrusive thoughts that their partner is the one who has done the cheating. The sufferer will go to great lengths to prove the cheating took place, including putting the partner on the spot with repetitive questions and investigating the event in question to determine guilt.