I’m writing this because I can no longer deal with my partner’s cyber health concerns. I was completely unaware of it until we lived together, and he kept it hidden for a long time until it came out in its entirety just before I left home.
At first I thought he was having an online affair with someone because he spends so much time on the internet that he took his laptop into the bathroom and spent hours there. I woke up at night to find him working on his laptop in the dark. When he said he couldn’t afford to go out to (affordable) dinners anymore, I began to suspect there was more to this than I thought.
We had a big showdown, but it turned out that he had online doctor appointments (in many countries) almost every week and had a number of surveys about his health issues. He goes to send online packs to check all sorts of things, but I find him in a terrible state, full of paranoia almost 24/7. Although he feels very justified during COVID-19, and his obsession with cleanliness and infectious diseases seemed to align with his approach to life in the world. , now that life has returned to normal, he has not been able to adjust accordingly.
No matter how much I reassure him, he doesn’t seem to calm down and this is having a terrible effect on every part of our lives, including our sex lives. On the romantic side, we bonded over being gay and coming from a small town, and while at first we felt like we totally understood each other, now we’re just spending half an hour of fun and together. Even sharing intimacy is very difficult. Everything seems to be triggering him and I’m starting to get impatient and running out of strength but I don’t want to leave him in such a mess.
Both of you are suffering and need some intervention to prevent things from getting any worse. The Internet can really affect someone’s obsessive-compulsive tendencies, and this can quickly create a situation of extreme paranoia that can lead to crisis. Your partner needs urgent help but, judging by your letter, seems to be going from GP to GP with a variety of symptoms that don’t involve online behavior.
For your partner, going online may initially be a comfort to discuss your issues and be taken seriously. However, the internet always offers a vast range of advice, which further strengthened his health anxiety and may now become a large part of his life. The fact that he continues to hide his actions indicates that he is aware of some difficulty, and that you may be able to use this to assist him in getting the right help. I can’t. A general practitioner who is aware of the situation is very important. So you might agree to have your partner choose just one GP that he would like to work with and accompany him for a consultation so as not to downplay his condition. If this is successful, the general practitioner will develop treatment options such as medication, psychological support, and referral to a psychiatrist that specializes in OCD.
It is highly unlikely that you and your partner can handle this condition on your own, so if your partner refuses to take any of the above actions, you may need to call in reinforcements. Is his family supportive? You can also call on close lifelong friends and relatives to strengthen your circle of influence and support. In fact, there may already be a history of knowledge of his condition, and perhaps some past interventions may have worked and could be used again.
Managing this situation without professional and community support will not work. As such, they need to seek help, and this can lead to more compulsive behavior in the short term. Because you need to constantly reassure your partner of your love and care, you should set aside the idea of a possible breakup, at least until you have a support system in place. You know he suffers from this condition, and if it is properly managed, he has a chance to break free from the paranoia and internet obsession that is keeping him away from you.
As part of his treatment, we may limit or discontinue his use of the Internet for a period of time, which may require that you also limit or reduce your use of online platforms until the situation becomes more stable. . This requires that you keep your own anger and frustration at bay and be generous and kind (an essential requirement in any relationship).
As you try to use less of your laptop or cell phone and realize how obsessed you are with these devices, you may find that you are more compassionate towards your partner.
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