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Constant Guilt and OCD



New member
Jan 7, 2015

I’m having issues with OCD combined with guilt, specifically in relation to my girlfriend.

I’ve been with my girlfriend for about 5 years now, and everything is fine – we live together, we’re very happy together, I don’t wanna be with anyone else, we’re very much in love. We hardly ever argue, she’s very laid back, it’s great.

However - I can’t stop obsessing over incidents from the past.

In the first couple of years when we were dating, I was still going out and getting drunk a lot, which led to doing stupid things which I really regret now. There were a couple of occasions where I’d kissed other girls while I was out in town and very drunk. There were also a few occasions where I sent some flirty text messages to girls when I was really drunk too. There was a brief occasion that I fancied a girl at work too, and even though I didn’t actually do anything, I feel really guilty about even having those thoughts.

I didn’t make a serial habit of doing these things, it was probably seven or eight different occasions/incidents over the first couple of years. I was still in my 20’s, still getting drunk every week, and still unsure whether my relationship with my partner was actually going to turn into something really serious and long term. However, those are not excuses at all, and I feel like I took her completely for granted. Only now that I realise how amazing and wonderful she is, it makes me feel even worse for the stuff I did in the past.

I told her about each one of these incidents because I felt guilty and I felt it was unfair to lie to her. She was obviously upset about these incidents, but overall she’s a very laid back and forgiving person, and like I said we’re very happy together now. She doesn’t really care about that stuff, from what I can tell – she’s put it behind her. However, I CAN’T stop seeking reassurance from her that we’re ok and everything is fine. I feel like I keep needing to bring up these past incidents to make SURE she knows about them, and make sure she knows every detail, so that I’m 100% positive that she knows all the facts.

I feel like if I forget to tell her a specific detail - or a negative thought - that I’m lying to her, or withholding the truth from her, and I feel like a bad person. I feel like somehow she’ll find something out about me, and break up with me or something like that. So I have to tell her every single detail of every incident that’s happened. I feel compelled to tell her every single negative thought in my head – like if I’ve found a girl attractive at work, I need to seek reassurance that it’s ok to find someone attractive, it’s natural – as long as you don’t act on these thoughts, it’s fine – everyone finds different people attractive, it’s not a big deal…etc.

And up until now she’s been very cool about all of this – she would usually just laugh it off, and say everything is fine, I’m worrying about nothing, it’s all in the past, there’s no need to feel guilty…etc

But my obsession seems to have reached its peak now, and I’m bothering her about it on a DAILY basis now, and it’s driving her completely mental. Not so much the actual subject of what I raise with her, but the fact I’m doing it every day and I can’t stop. She doesn’t wanna hear it. She’s put it behind her, but I keep bringing it up over and over and over again. She doesn’t wanna keep being reminded of the bad stuff I’ve done, it’s not nice at all. But I can’t seem to comprehend that, it isn’t a factor in my head – I just overlook it, because I feel like I NEED to get these thoughts out of my head, and run it past her, or share what I’m thinking with her, to maybe feel absolved of any guilt? I don’t know why. But I usually feel better once it’s out of my head and I’ve raised it again with her. It’s like if I’ve told her everything, then I can’t get into trouble for something I may or may not have done. If I’m completely honest about everything, then she won’t find out some deep and dark secret about me and leave me.

I’ll wake up in the morning, and remember something from years ago – for example a time I kissed a girl while I was drunk in town. And even though my partner knows about it, I’ll start thinking ‘but maybe she’s forgotten, or maybe she doesn’t know ALL of the facts’, and therefore I need to go over the incident again with her, in more detail, just so she’s aware of all the facts and can base her judgment on me after that. It never ends. Like maybe when I told her about the incident I accidentally omitted a detail and it’s an essential detail, which could change everything. Obviously it’s very unlikely that this detail makes any difference to anything, but I’ll still feel compelled to tell her – which is horrible for her, she doesn’t wanna hear that stuff. It’s like I can’t keep any thoughts private, I need to tell her everything or I’ll feel guilty.

My paranoia/OCD/guilt usually plays up the most when I’m tired, or when we’re supposed to be having fun, i.e. going on holiday, Christmas time…etc. It’s like if things are going well, or I’m supposed to be happy, my brain will ACTIVELY try to find something negative to consume me, and usually it’s something from the past I feel guilty about.

It even extends to photographs of me and my partner – she wanted to have a photo of us up in the house, but because it was from a few years ago, and I can’t remember the exact timeline of everything, I associate that photo with guilt – even though I’m sure we were perfectly happy together when the photo was taken, there may or may not have been an incident around that time where I got drunk and did something stupid. So I’m tarring my complete past with the brush of guilt as well, it’s exhausting.

That’s also another thing I’m constantly trying to do – sort out the timeline in my head. Like I’m trying to line up all of these incidents by date, and then I can organise them in my head. For some reason I’m constantly thinking about a ‘timeline’. Like a certain point where I can be guilt free from – so if I can remember the date of the last stupid thing I’ve done, I can be guilt free from this date onwards. So the time after my last guilty incident, up until the present day, hasn’t been blemished or contaminated. I’ll remember an incident, and try to figure out if it was BEFORE or AFTER another incident, and try to line it all up. I don’t know why I do this. Maybe it’s to make myself feel better? So if the incident happened a long time ago, I’ll let myself off a little – but if I figure out it was more recent than I first thought, I’ll be consumed with guilt and hate myself – I’ll wonder why a relatively recent version of myself was able to do such stupid stuff and risk sabotaging my relationship with my partner.

I know for a FACT I wouldn’t do any of this stuff again. I’ve grown up a lot since we first started going out, and I hardly ever go out drinking or anything like that. I’m 100% committed, and I wonder why I wasn’t this committed a few years back. I wonder why I couldn’t see how good I had it with my partner, and how amazing she is. I feel really guilty about this too – the fact it took me so long to realise how amazing she was, and to properly commit to our relationship. She’s a few years older than me, so maybe that’s why she didn’t go through this stage of uncertainty and I did. I feel bad that she seemed to know we had a good thing from the start, but it took me ages to realise it.

Like I said previously, I love my girlfriend with all of my heart, and I don’t wanna be with anyone else. I just want to relax and enjoy my life with her, because I’m very lucky to have her. We have a lovely house, and we both have jobs, and we really haven’t got any issues to worry about. Except this nagging feeling of guilt that seems to be with me most days and won’t leave me alone.

I also suffer from depression, and I’ve tried anti-depressants, but I HATE the way they make me feel – I’d rather not take any medication at all. I hardly drink at all anymore because of how rubbish it makes me feel.
I’ve tried a couple of LIFT Psychology courses – one in depression, the other in anxiety – but neither really dealt with my particular issue.

This can’t go on – I’m gonna push my girlfriend away if I keep it up.
This guilt isn’t exclusively attached to my current girlfriend either – I feel guilty about lots of things from my past. How I’ve treated other girlfriends, mistakes I’ve made, how I’ve treated people…etc. I constantly associate the past - no matter how long ago - with negative thoughts and shame.

What can I do?
Has anyone else experienced anything like this?
Do you think seeing a therapist would help?
I’d really rather not take any meds.
Has anyone got any tips or advice?

Anything would be appreciated.
Sorry to whinge and whine, I understand that many people have ‘actual’ problems, a lot worse than me - I just don’t know what to do anymore.

Sorry for writing so much.
Thanks in advance.
Purple Chaos

Purple Chaos

Well-known member
Oct 23, 2014
Hi Guybrush and welcome to the forum.

Sorry to hear of your worries and the impact it's now having on your relationship. I think it would be worth trying a counsellor or therapist. It could help with your obsessional thinking and perhaps, having that alloted time to talk about it, would alleviate some of the need to go through it over and over with your girlfriend.

I wondered too, as you talk about a timeline that you keep trying to work out, if actually creating a time-line on your computer (assuming you have one or something similar) might help? I'm thinking along the lines of creating a document that you can save and add to, as you remember things, that your girlfriend can access if she feels the need to. You could make the past an unspoken subject and do it all via your computer.

I hope that makes sense? Every time you feel the need to discuss or disclose something you can go to your PC and type it all out. You would know then that you wouldn't need to tell your girlfriend as, if she wanted to know, she could look at your time-line.

It might sound like a silly idea but, at the moment, it's the best I can manage :)
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