How to Stop Overthinking in a Relationship
By The EditorsPublished on September 8, 2021
Over-analyzing and overthinking can cause stress and anxiety in a relationship.
If you seem preoccupied with things or are constantly worried about the state of your relationships with other people, this could indicate that something is up (and probably not good).
According to experts, there are ways to stop overthinking in a relationship. Here are their insights:
Anna Marchenko, LMHC, M.A., Ed.M.
Licensed Mental Health Counselor | Principal Therapist, Miami Hypnosis and Therapy
Reframe the thought process and identify the snowball effect before it becomes an avalanche
Overthinking is like watching your own thoughts snowball down a hill and become bigger and bigger. Healthy thought patterns would give you the tools to prevent the snowball effect, but in an anxious brain, the “brakes” can get a little faulty.
How the overthinking process manifests differently in everyone and manifests in various ways, such as:
- “analysis paralysis” (the inability to make a decision),
- “mind-reading” (assuming you know what another person is thinking about a situation),
- “catastrophic thinking” (visualizing the worst possible outcome), or laser-focusing on small details of an event or situation long after the event has happened.
Rumination and “dwelling” on something in any of the above overthinking scenarios can cause a lot of friction in relationships – whether it’s with your friends, your family, or your partner.
Related: How to Stop Overthinking Everything
When you can’t stop the cascade of “what-ifs” or you’re belaboring a point or an issue over and over, those closest around you may start to feel it, too.
Give it a name, give it a set time, and reframe it
One way to press pause on the snowball effect is to call it out. Name what’s going on: “I’m over-thinking.”
Once you’ve called it out, give it a specific amount of time. You can let the thought process continue for 1 minute, for example, and then move on after you have given it a name and given it time. Set a timer for it.
Then, try to refocus your energy on something actionable and real, something outside of your head, like the food in front of you, your partner’s voice, or the music around you if you’re out. Reframe the thought pattern to help pivot your attention to the present and to your surroundings.
Do something fun with your partner: exercise, hike or plan a trip
If you find yourself spiraling into analysis paralysis or ruminating too deeply into something your partner said, practice the above technique, and then consider changing your scenery. Go for a walk around the block with your partner and talk about your favorite recent books or movies.
Plan a hike or a weekend adventure; the planning part will put your brain to work in a proactive way that will serve both you and your partner well. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes in your planning or in the activities you choose.
When you own your decisions and let yourself recognize that “wrong decisions” are opportunities to learn or opportunities to try something new and unexpected, you’ll find the activities you do together and your time together will be more satisfying.
Give yourself a moment to recognize the overthinking patterns and what triggers them
Ultimately, it’s all about reframing the thought process and identifying the snowball effect before that snowball becomes an avalanche. Give yourself a moment to recognize the overthinking patterns and what triggers them. Write it down.
Discuss it with your partner so they can help you stop it in its tracks, too.
Find help with a local therapist who can help you explore your thought patterns and habits
Find help with a local therapist who can help you explore your thought patterns and habits, ideally with practices like cognitive behavioral therapy that are designed to give you actionable tools to help reframe negative thought patterns into positive ones.
Clinical Psychologist Specialty in Marital and Family Therapy | Author, “Riding the Edge: A Love Song to Deborah“
Asks the right questions that lead toward a clear path of action
Part 1: Overthinking
Let’s substitute the word overthinking with obsessing.
Think of the obsessing mind like an agitated rat in a cage going round and round without any destination. Or imagine a record with a scratch repeatedly stuck on the same verse, “Does he love me, does he not?” There are no insights, no movement toward action—merely questions without answers.
There is, however, one predictable outcome of overthinking/obsessing: Agitation.
The more your mind is fixed on thoughts that lead nowhere and on questions that mask your fear and anger, the more helpless and passive you will become.
Here are a few examples of questions without answers (overthinking/obsessing). Embedded within obsessive thinking are unidentified feelings of resentment, hurt, and loneliness.
- Why doesn’t she love me anymore?
- Why doesn’t he ever ask me how I am?
- Why does he want to spend more time with his friends than with me?
- Why isn’t she interested in sex anymore?
Note that the obsessing mind tends to ask why questions. Questions beginning with how or what tends to lead to solutions, especially if the question focuses on the questioner’s area of responsibility, such as “What can I do to show her I love her?”
To reiterate: if the result of these why questions lead only to despair, then it’s proof of overthinking.
Let’s contrast that with Part 2, Thinking. For our discussion, I’m defining thinking as problem-solving— asking the right questions that lead toward a clear path of action.
Part 2: Thinking (Problem Solving)
Imagine you’re lying on a lovely sandy beach thinking about your relationship with your beloved. (Of course, you’re well-protected with suntan lotion because you understand the price of ignoring logical consequences such as frying your skin.)
Your mind then travels to a recent squabble. You picture yourself being silently scared and confused as your partner challenges you to be more transparent. What she sees is a tense, angry look on your face. She reacts with anger at your seeming indifference and coldness.
Here on the beach, safe from confrontation and shame, your mind goes through a five-stage thought process you learned from a relationship podcast:
- Name it
You dig down deep, and you realize how scared you are of being vulnerable. The feeling of fear is tangible for you. So is your anger. You get how you escalate fear into anger. You can now put names to these feelings.
- Claim it
You understand that your partner didn’t make you scared and angry. These are your reactions, feelings, and emotions. You claim them as yours. As you progress through this second stage, you replace blaming with responsibility for your behavior. After all, they are your feelings.
- Tame it
On the beach, you picture how reactive you were. Your reflective self didn’t show up for that encounter. You understand that when you skip stages 1 and 2, you can quickly slide into defensiveness and blame. It’s not your better self.
- Frame it
Right now, your reflective self is in charge, and it’s probing deeper.
It wants to understand why you’re so scared to reveal yourself. Why this defensive reaction when your partner wants a deeper connection? To yourself, you can acknowledge your fear of rejection—your terror that if she knew your vulnerabilities, she wouldn’t want to be with you.
On the beach, you have an epiphany that you’re controlled by a self-fulfilling prophecy: When you feel rejected, you act in a rejecting way.
The result: you get what you fear most—rejection.
- Aim it
You decide to take a risk to be authentic. You share your fear of rejection with your partner and apologize for your defensive reaction. To your great surprise and relief, your partner responds with affection and understanding.
Because she knows you, she says, “Don’t worry, I love you even more knowing that even you can be fragile at times.”
These steps are how you go from overthinking to thinking. Healthy thinking leads to problem-solving. Overthinking leads to anxiety and passivity.
Janika Veasley, MFT, LMFT
Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist | Relationship Coach | Founder and CEO, Amavi Therapy Center
Relationships can be an amazing source of love and support. In fact, most people long for a relationship and someone they share a connection with. We all want to feel important and know that we matter, especially to someone we’re in a relationship with.
While this is a normal desire, when we question how much we matter to our partners or if they’re as invested in the relationship as we are, we begin to overthink and ruminate about the status and health of the relationship.
The overthinking we experience is all about fear and anxiety.
Ultimately we’re afraid that our relationship is not as secure as we believe, and we’re afraid of being let down and disappointed by our partners. This means we have concerns within the relationship and what it means for the future of the relationship. However, if we’re overthinking, we’re likely not communicating the way that we need to.
There are three steps to stopping the torture of overthinking:
Slow down and consider what’s really bothering you about the relationship
When we overthink, we are in a state of emotional flooding. When we’re feeling flooded, we are emotionally overwhelmed, and our thoughts begin to race. When this happens, we either shut down and don’t say anything, or we begin to complain.
Complaining to our partner does not calm our fears or make them understand our perspective any differently. When we begin to feel ourselves overthinking, we need to slow down first and consider what is really bothering us or stressing us out about the relationship.
Many times we jump into complaining or fixing without fully knowing what we are concerned and upset about.
Focus on communication
Once you delve into what you’re thinking and feeling, the goal is to communicate your concerns with your partner. This is the time to clearly, concisely, and honestly communicate what is in your heart—not the racing thoughts that make you feel like you’re spinning out of control.
To do this, gently start the conversation by stating how you feel without attacking or criticizing your partner.
Once you state your concern, then follow up with what you need. When we do this, we are telling our partners what we’re frustrated with and then presenting a solution. Be open to hearing your partner’s response and potential concerns, so it’s a fruitful conversation.
Trust the foundation and stability of the relationship
Lastly, trust yourself. Many times we overthink in relationships because we are afraid of losing what we have. Our goal is to guard it and protect it, but when we worry and overthink, we are essentially suffocating the relationship.
We are denying the relationship the room to grow and mature.
We have to trust the foundation and stability of the relationship we created by giving ourselves, our partner, and our relationships room to grow. When we trust in the foundation of the relationship, we allow space to learn and practice new skills together.
And ultimately, we have to trust that regardless of what happens within the relationship, that we are capable of handling it and making the best decision for ourselves.
Author | Psychotherapist
Overthinking in a relationship or in other situations is usually based on anxiety. Obviously, in problem-solving and decision-making, a certain amount of cogitating is required to generate positive outcomes and take care of oneself and others.
Overthinking, however, does not move us forward in relationships or support well-being. Paradoxically, it often deters us from both.
The best strategies for stopping overthinking include:
Overthinking is a habit developed in childhood because it was adaptive then, but it has become maladaptive now. Perhaps our childhood relationships were chaotic, or we were mistreated and survived emotionally by thinking long and hard about every move we made.
If we calculated every decision about how it would affect Mom or Dad, we probably survived better than if we’d simply reacted without imagining how every scenario might play out. This process was helpful to us back then, but now it just gets us bogged down in ruminating or anticipating the worst and keeps us paralyzed from acting.
Another reason we might overthink is if our parents were highly reactive and impulsive. We might have vowed never to be like them because of how damaging their lack of judgment was to them and us.
Instead, because they didn’t give things much thought, we might believe that giving things enormous thought is a better strategy. The truth is that we want a balance of thinking just enough.
Recognizing there’s no “right” way
In relationships, we usually overthink to ensure we’re doing the right thing and avoid getting hurt, as in shamed, rejected, or abandoned. But there is rarely a “right” thing to do in life because we don’t know the future.
Instead, there’s a “best” way to proceed based on the current information we have and our certainty about how our decision will affect the future.
- Should we say yes to a second date with Jeff?
- Should we marry Charlene?
- Did Juan’s flirting mean he doesn’t love us?
- What does it mean that Shanika often cancels plans with us?
Getting feedback from others
People go round and round in their heads thinking about what to do, and it never occurs to them to ask others for feedback. Maybe they’re afraid they’ll seem weak or silly asking for help or don’t trust other people.
If someone is thinking about getting a divorce, for example, the input of friends and family is usually very helpful. This is also true for minor interactions in a relationship. Getting an outside perspective is better than recirculating your own stale ideas in your head.
Putting a timeline on a decision
We often overthink in lieu of making a decision because we fear saying or doing the “wrong” thing. The longer and deeper we think, the more we can postpone the inevitable choice. Overthinking just gets us more mired and allows greater fear to develop about deciding what to do.
It’s useful to give ourselves a time period—a day or a week—to consider our options and not go beyond that point unless we have new information.
It’s important to recognize that overthinking is not healthy as a common problem-solving strategy and is often an indicator of underlying anxiety or depression. Talking with a therapist is useful in resolving relationship problems, either going alone or with someone.
Because therapists are unbiased (except where abuse or neglect is concerned) and have insight into mental health issues, they’re not only helpful in resolving thorny issues but in seeing underlying problems that cause overthinking and replacing them with better approaches.
Dr. Nereida Gonzalez-Berrios, MD
Certified Psychiatrist, TheMindFool
Accept the fact that you and your partner are two individuals that are unique in your own ways
When you meet someone special, you may feel overexcited and get mesmerized by that person’s charm. You may start to think about every small detail of the person’s life.
This seems to be alright up to a certain extent only. However, if you start overthinking about the same person, start finding out what’s happening in the other person’s life, trying to analyze whether both of you can make it up to a happy relationship or not, you may end up creating an imbalance in your personal life.
Overthinking may lead you to constantly ruminate about ‘what if’ situations. You will never be able to live in the moments of life. There will be no enjoyment in the relationship; rather, your primary motive will be just to evaluate the future of the relationship.
This may also lead to trust issues, jealousy, checking behaviors on the partner’s various whereabouts. You may also start thinking about some probable cheating that may be absolutely baseless.
The relationship may become clingy and lose the much-needed space that it deserves.
Overthinking may also lead you to find out unnecessary red flags in the relationship, most of which never actually exist. The problems about which you may ponder are your insecurities and vulnerabilities getting manifested in the thoughts.
Overthinking will never lead to a happy relationship. It happens because your thoughts are not based on evidence; it’s your brainchild that does not relate to any factual real-life confirmation. Thus, overthinking is a symptom of relationship insecurity, leading to an unexpected and untimely end of the bond forever.
Some ways to stop overthinking are:
- Communicate well with your partner and solve the issues, if any. It helps in better expressing yourself to your partner and know each other well. You just need to open up and see things clearly and simply as far as possible.
- Accept the fact that you and your partner are two individuals, so both of you are unique in your own ways. You will not be able to control everything they say or do. Just have patience and learn to let go of things that you do not like. If you know how to avoid things that hurt, you will have no room to think too much about the issue.
- Learn to see things as simple as possible. Never try to complicate things by trying to find out hidden meanings behind every word or action of your partner. This will help to remove jealousy and suspicion in the relationship.
- Overthinking comes if you sit idle and do not focus your mind on some productive tasks. Thus, try to do some creative work or pursue your lost hobby. If you remain engaged, you will not overthink.
- Try to remove your insecurities and deepest fears because, in most cases, it gets projected in the relationship and makes you ruminate a lot about it. You can remove your innate insecurities by rebuilding your broken self-esteem. You just need an extra dose of self-confidence to validate yourself as worthy. You will never require your partner to tell you that you’re good enough. Focus on your strengths and think of all the good qualities you have. If you do not need to prove yourself to your partner, you will be more confident about the future of your relationship. You and your partner will accept each other with all the flaws and imperfections.
- If you think that there are trust issues, you can talk to a confidant of yours to get a different perspective about the problem. It can be a close friend, or a colleague, or maybe your parent as well. If you are living alone with your thoughts, you may overthink, but if you share your problems with others, it will help you to see things from a different perspective. You will have more ideas to deal with the problem.
- Seek help from a certified therapist if overthinking is taking a toll on your mental health.
- You should avoid checking text messages and social media posts every now and then. Do not try to overanalyze the tone and content of the message and sit with it for hours.
- Practice mindfulness consciously by focusing your thoughts on the present moment. You can meditate or read an engrossing novel. Focus on things that matter. Try to keep yourself mentally busy all the time to avoid being overtaken by irrational thoughts.
Practicing Psychiatrist, Mango Clinic
“Overthinking is slow poisoning. It shatters you down before you even realize the loss.”
Most of us get paranoid about our relationships. We take our thought process to another level by letting all petty matters tap on our nerves. Are you someone or, do you know someone who overthinks in a relationship? Give it a read to help yourself.
Do not let anyone invade your personal space and it goes the same for you
Do not let anyone invade your personal space and, it goes the same for you. Every individual has the grace to build up their comfort bubble around themselves. Nothing like a relationship allows anyone to burst off that bubble.
When one respects the personal space of both partners, a relationship will be easier to carry on.
Limit digital interaction
Do you know that half of the conversations are misconceived through texts? Define boundaries for relationships so they may go lite on your mind.
Do prefer one-on-one talks and meetups; it will assure that they are ready to take out time to meet you. Waiting for the partner to reply is draining and depressing. Text them and move on.
Take pride to have the privilege of self-respect
Take pride to have the privilege of self-respect, and don’t let continuous thinking shred your confidence. The moment you think of yourself as equal to them, you won’t overthink matters that are not worth the energy and thought.
Pamper yourself and prioritize self-care
Be your boss and assess your activities. Check out the red flags of obsessed love or attachment to your partner. Get busy with things you love. Pamper yourself and prioritize self-care. Give thought to your career instead of pondering why your significant other said or did something that they barely remember now.
Allow the benefit of the doubt to your partner
Assumptions kill your intuition. Nourish your intuition carefully but, don’t assume things before getting sure about them. Get to know the depth of matters. Give yourself time. Allow the benefit of the doubt to your partner. It’s possible that what is pinching your mind must be a random act for them. Understand the power of narratives and perspective.
Relationships are made easily, but it takes a lot from two parties to maintain the charm.
Live in the moment. Past is the memory and, the future is imagination. All we have on hand is the current moment. Live it to the fullest, and do not overthink about anything.
Matchmaker & Relationship Expert, Select Date Society
You need to train your brain to stop over-analyzing
If you’re an over-thinker, you may be familiar with the term “analysis paralysis.” When you have analysis paralysis, it means that you are paralyzed and unable to move forward because you are over-analyzing the situation.
This is definitely not where you want to be in a romantic relationship.
Don’t replay conversations in your head
In order to stop over-thinking in a relationship, you need to train your brain to stop over-analyzing the relationship. Don’t re-read text messages or replay conversations in your head. Replaying what has happened in the past is not productive.
Practice staying in the present moment
On the contrary, thinking too much about the future can also be unhealthy.
When you overthink the future of your relationship, you will create unnecessary pressure on yourself and your partner. Over-thinking the future can also lead to feelings of uncertainty and anxiety. Instead, practice staying in the present moment.
When you are with your partner, focus on enjoying the time you spend together rather than thinking about what it means. Enjoy the present moment! Relationships change over time, so enjoy the stage of your relationship that you are currently in.
Understand your attachment style and the attachment style of your partner
If you really want to end your over-thinking habit once and for all, you need to understand where it’s coming from. This behavior typically stems from insecurity, general anxiety, or fears of abandonment. Working with a great therapist or coach can help you to get to the root cause of your behavior and make the necessary changes.
Understanding your attachment style and the attachment style of your partner is also a great self-awareness tool. I often recommend the audible book “Attached” by Amir Levine & Rachel S. F. Heller.
When you feel yourself over-analyzing—you need to change your focus immediately
I always tell my clients that when you are getting in your head, the best way to snap out of it is to focus your energy on something positive. When you feel yourself over-analyzing and feeling anxious, you need to change your focus immediately.
Go for a walk, meditate, call a friend (and talk about something other than dating), play some great music and dance in your living room, or any other creative outlet you have to shift your mental state.
Practice changing your focus as soon as you have feelings of insecurity come up. The more you are consciously aware of it, the better you will become at reframing your thinking!
Transitional Life Strategist
Overthinking our personal or professional relationships robs us of building trust in others, and it dilutes the energy between parties and partners in the moment. When you overthink, you create stress between yourself and other people, giving meaning to situations based on worrying about what you “think” may happen rather than what probably will occur.
Overthinking the ins and outs of a relationship comes from a scarcity mindset in which you imagine a worst-case scenario that may never occur.
Overthinking is based on a fear that a relationship will not work out or be successful. Often, people reflect on past failed liaisons and transfer concerns that since a past relationship ended badly, a current relationship may as well. This fear and over-analysis can blur and complicate a current relationship and perhaps even sabotage its success.
So, what can you do to stop overthinking if you are in relationship paralysis? Get out of your head and into your heart.
Test the validity of your fears
Test the validity of your fears by making a list of the worst thing that could happen. Then make a list of the best possible outcome.
This will support you in moving from overthinking to under-thinking about your connections. Find a space in the middle of your lists. This will support you in powering back on negative thoughts and powering up on possibility and abundance.
Plan and commit to experiences meant to be enjoyed together
When you are engaged and active with others, it makes it harder to dissect the details. Planning and committing to experiences meant to be enjoyed together creates memories and refocuses your ties through shared bonds and elevated energy.
Communicate with your partner
Shut down negative thoughts and noise by asking for what you want. The more clarity you communicate and seek in return, the less overthinking you will do.
Keep a running list of your relationship highlights. What makes you smile? What do you value most about this person?
Every morning, begin your day by expressing your gratitude for and to others. Thank those that matter to you for being in your life, and make sure to tell them why you appreciate them.
Gratitude forces us to focus on the positive realities of the nuances of our relationships which in turn decreases stress and negative thoughts and builds acceptance.
Success Mindset Coach | Life Coach, Own Confidently
Identify the root of the problem
Usually, when people overthink, it’s because of other underlying issues. It could be anxiety, depression, OCD, and more that’s causing it.
First off, it is critical to identify the root of the problem before it leads to stronger emotions like closing yourself off, unwanted stress, negative thoughts, and even paranoia.
Reflect and focus on how you’re feeling at the moment
Taking time every day to reflect on your thoughts, aspirations, and values in life can help you see more clearly. I always recommend journaling. Write it all down. Focus on how you’re feeling at the moment. Be aware of your breath, things that hurt you, your current thoughts, etc.
Some good coaching questions:
- How often do you make time for yourself?
- Are you giving more of yourself than you can take?
- Who is there for you?
Check your environment
Sometimes, the people, places, or things around us cause us to have anxiety or increased negative thoughts. Examining your environment can help you find those “triggers,” if there are any.
Some good coaching questions:
- Is something or someone making you feel like that?
- Who are you surrounding yourself with?
- Could something or someone be affecting you but maybe you aren’t noticing it?
We have over 50,000 thoughts a day. Mostly those which are negative.
Self-growth is a journey that takes time. We can create the life we want, but it starts with taking the first step and seeking help.
Head Matchmaker and CEO, Sameera Sullivan Matchmakers
Get to the root of it
Think about it this way – you’re likely not overthinking your relationship with other people, so why is it so dead-set focused on your partner?
There’s always an explanation for it, but are you willing to put in the work for retrospection to help both of you? In my experience, overthinking has typically been because of:
- Past traumas
- Rumors about the new person
- A need for validation
- Fear of the future
Talk to a counselor or even a trusted friend if you’re hesitant, and figure out what is actually causing your excessive worrying. Often, the source can be a red flag for both of you, so it’s better to address it from the get-go.
Take the “what if” scenarios for what they are – a fantasy
My clients frequently display anxiety over potential future scenarios based on some past events (and often, no link at all) and consistently forget to live in the moment.
It starts small and slowly eats you whole until you’re unable to distinguish fantasy from a likely reality. The negativity builds up and creates a toxic mess that puts a damper on the relationship.
Keep yourself grounded, and keep correcting yourself. Enjoy whatever phase you’re in at the time – whatever is bound to happen will happen.
Challenge your assumptions
Consider this question – will thinking about these rare situations prevent them? You’re not going to be able to enjoy the time right now, and eventually, the paranoia will lead you two to drift apart.
Reprogram your brain. Next time you jump to a conclusion, try to think of a logical explanation and repeat that to yourself till you believe it. 99% of the time, it’ll be a normal situation that you’ll be glad you didn’t sink into.
Counselling Psychologist | Psychotherapist, UrSafeSpace
Communicate and connect more with your partner
Being a relationship counselor, I have observed that one of the causes of breakups is overthinking. Overthinking is like a termite that slowly and gradually ruins a relationship.
One can stop overthinking in a relationship by using these helpful tips:
- Communicate and connect more with your partner– Try to stay connected with your partner via texts or short calls. And if, by chance, your partner does not reply, then there’s no need to overthink. Just move on in your day.
- Stop re-reading your partner’s texts – Sometimes, it’s necessary to go through previous texts of your partner, especially during an argument, but everyday texts don’t require a re-read. If a particular text is really bothering you then, you can directly call your partner to talk and try to figure out how they feel by overthinking.
- Stop overanalyzing your partner’s body language – In some cases, one might overanalyze their partner’s body language; this can be caused because of unclear or no communication between the two. So, instead, a person should go and break the communication gap between them.
- Aim for personal fulfillment – Don’t feel insecure or insecure about your relationship. Take out time to start feeling comfortable with yourself.
- Build your trust – Trust plays a very prominent role in a relationship. So if you don’t trust your partner, then don’t overthink it. Instead, share this thought between yourselves and start regaining trust.
- Try not to take things personally – If your partner is in a bad mood and said something to you that you felt harsh. Then, no need to take it personally or overthink because it’s not a reflection on you as a person. Also, it doesn’t mean that they don’t care about you.
- Try to stay busy and positive – As we know about this popular saying that ‘an empty mind is a devil’s workshop.’ So try to stay positive and productive at all times. In order to make things great for yourself and your beloved partner.
- Confront your negative thoughts with responses – When negative thoughts begin to spiral in your mind, then it’s time for you to confront it by either writing them down or talking to someone. After writing or speaking, you can analyze them and then react accordingly. Negative thoughts can completely destroy your relationship.
Registered Psychotherapist Specializing in Attachment and Adult Relationships
The best remedy is to share your thoughts with your partner
If you’re overthinking about the state of your relationship or questions are coming up about the state of your relationship, the best way to tackle these questions is to get direct answers from your partner.
People are sometimes afraid to share their thoughts with their partners because they’re afraid their partner won’t respond to them well or are afraid of confrontation or the partner’s reaction.
Overthinking in a relationship often comes from attachment anxiety and insecurity, when we feel unsure of where we stand in a relationship. That’s when we tend to ruminate and overthink things in a relationship.
At the end of the day, if you don’t feel emotionally safe with your partner, it’s inevitable that you will be dealing with a lot of overthinking because you don’t feel safe enough to share your thoughts with your partner.
Share your thoughts with close friends or family members to help you sort out your thoughts
Another way to address overthinking is to share your thoughts with close friends or family members and have them as a sounding board where they can help you sort out your thoughts and feelings before communicating them to your partner.
Seek therapy to alleviate some of the overthinking
Seeking therapy as side support also helps to alleviate some of the overthinking and helps you have more clarity around where your thoughts are coming from and how to address them.
Executive Coach and Couples Coach
Replace the ruminating thoughts with thoughts based upon facts and evidence
Overthinking is fueled by rumination, which is a repetitive cycle of obsessive ideas and thoughts. When you ruminate about your relationship, it builds uncertainty. It does not result in a productive outcome.
Rumination creates an experience similar to getting an annoying song stuck in your head that keeps replaying over and over. You feel frustrated, annoyed, and tired because the thoughts don’t stop, and it doesn’t lead to any resolution. These thoughts, and the resulting negative emotions, undermine your relationship.
So how do you stop ruminating to stop overthinking?
An effective strategy is to replace the ruminating thoughts with thoughts based upon facts and evidence. For example, if you keep overthinking whether your partner cares about you in the same way you care for them, give your brain the evidence.
- How does your partner show they care?
- What things do they do which demonstrate their feelings?
Instead of allowing your thoughts to keep spinning, you stop the rumination by identifying the facts to answer the question.
Once you gain control over the overthinking, it allows space for you to consider where the dysfunctional thoughts came from.
- Are they leftover baggage from past relationships?
- Are they related to another area of your life in which you have some uncertainty, and the uncertainty has generalized to your relationship?
Once you can identify where the rumination and overthinking originated, it gives you additional power to control the thought pattern when or if it happens again.
Dating Expert, Datingscout
Trust your intuition and carefully take action
Find the reasons why you’re overthinking a relationship. Determine if it’s caused by your own insecurities or if it’s because your partner did something that made you think twice, and now you’re overthinking.
Listen to your gut – what is it saying?
If you truly believe that it’s not you and it’s your partner, it will be better to talk to them about what you’re feeling. You must stand firm on your ground, though, and make them understand why you’re feeling this way – do not blame it all on them.
Be careful not to gaslight your partner or become aware if you are being gaslighted. Sit it out and respectfully hear each other.
Put the time to focus on the positive
Instead of having anxious thoughts about the future, reinterpreting the signals repeatedly, or being frustrated about something they did, put the time to focus on the positive no matter how hard it could be for an over-thinker like you.
Be more proactive. If you are confused about anything, ask.
It’s a part of getting to know each other stage. Having doubts on the onset of the relationship is normal, but never let it be the driving force of the relationship, or you are heading to a toxic start.
Be confident in yourself and trust your partner
Sometimes, overthinking stems from the anxiety that “you aren’t enough.”
Trust your partner; they too are exploring this stage as much as you do. You have already reached this far, and you have seen each other’s vulnerabilities. It’s all a matter of accepting that no relationship is perfect, but a great relationship is built by two people who choose to keep it despite these hiccups.
Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, Birmingham Maple Clinic
The only way to be here and now is to be present
“Happiness equals reality minus expectations.”
The more expectations you have, the more you diverge from reality, the more negative you will feel. I tell my clients that using the word ‘should’—in thought or verbally is a sign you’re racking on expectations.
Another helpful quote is “Don’t ‘should‘ on yourself,” and likewise, don’t ‘should‘ on your partner or anyone else.
Another helpful activity to reduce overthinking is the grounding exercise. This mindfulness meditation activity helps people be more present in the moment or here and now.
To accomplish this task, people shift from whatever undesirable thought is distracting them and instead ask themselves:
- “What are 5 things I see, 4 things I hear, 3 things I touch, 2 things I smell, and 1 thing I taste?”
You can do any of the senses in any order, but some are easier than others. If this is too complicated, you can replace it with an abbreviated version such as “Can I find 5 blue things in this room?” These simple mental exercises get us out of emotionally overthinking and into a more rational, cognitive frame of mind.
A helpful reminder when you are overthinking with either guilt or regret of the past or anxiety of the future is that depression comes from an obsession with the past, while anxiety comes from an obsession with the future.
The only way to be here and now is to be present.
Jennifer L. Bennett
Don’t overanalyze their body language
You might keep looking for signs of trouble in your partner’s body language. Unclear communication is a big reason for overanalyzing situations.
Related: The 12 Best Books on Body Language
Challenge your assumptions
When you are anxious and overthinking, you’re not in the moment. This does not allow you to enjoy time with your partner. If you are not present, how can you truly grow your relationship?
Focus on personal fulfillment
Your partner can undoubtedly make you feel insecure or unsure about your relationship. However, if everything is easy and well, and you still feel uneasy, consider investing that overthinking into yourself.
Ask for advice less often
If you let others dictate your relationship, you will have too many opinions, making it easy to overthink.
Co-founder & CEO, So Syncd
Focus on yourself and your own personal fulfillment
The best way to stop overthinking in a relationship is to focus on yourself and your own personal fulfillment. If you create a life that you love, you will naturally stop overthinking. This doesn’t happen overnight, but the sooner you start doing this, the better.
You could try a new hobby, learn a language, set a fitness goal, or spend time with your friends.
If you enjoy your life on a day-to-day basis, it has multiple benefits and stops you from overthinking in all areas, from your relationship to your job. For starters, you won’t overthink because you will feel a greater sense of fulfillment and feel more secure in yourself.
Overthinking stems from insecurity. Plus, because of your newfound confidence, your partner will find you even more attractive. What’s sexier than someone who radiates positivity and joy?
Focusing on your own fulfillment can do wonders for a relationship.
It gives you a sense of independence which is important for setting boundaries in relationships. Of course, it’s also essential to be considerate about your partner’s happiness, but living a life that you love will mean that you have more headspace for empathy and kindness towards others as well as yourself. It’s ultimately a win-win.
Relationship Consultant and Breakup Specialist, Ex Boyfriend Recovery
Stop looking into things
You have a conversation with your partner, and you start to analyze what was said, how they said it, their body language, etc. You are looking too much into things and begin to convince yourself there are issues that are not even there.
Challenge your assumptions
Take a step back, ask yourself if what you are thinking is realistic, if there’s a reason for the emotional reactions you are having to the situation, or if it’s insecurities coming out and causing you to overthink.
Stop asking outsiders
No one else knows your relationship dynamics other than you and your partner.
Speak to them about your worries but do not involve friends and loved ones who will only get one side of the story and most likely not make you feel any better.
Don’t take things personally
Your partner appears to be in a bad mood, accept that they are in their mood and allow them to feel the way they do.
Acknowledge that it is not your doing and give them space. Don’t take it to heart that they are feeling off and distant on a short-term basis. Their mood will improve, and all will be well again.
Focus on the positives
Always have a list of positives ready for when you feel yourself spiraling into an overthinking mindset where you upset yourself. Having this list is going to remind you that things are good and strong and that you are just worrying for nothing.
Dheeraj Pinjani, MBA
Co-Founder, Get Divorce Papers
A good workout can relax your body, ease your stress, and clear your mind
There is a great saying that, “An empty mind is the devil’s workshop.” This essentially means that if you do not have something worthwhile or constructive to think about, your mind begins to dwell or look for quick satisfaction.
It has been found that during times of stress, it is the easiest time to fall back into or pick up bad habits/addictions. Now is the time to stop overthinking everything going on and get involved in some sort of physical activity.
Contrary to popular belief, the benefits of exercise go far beyond weight loss and muscle gain.
Sports or working out can keep your body fit and your mind healthy. A good workout can relax your body, ease your stress, and clear your mind. Exercise will improve your quality of sleep and reduce feelings of anxiety and depression.
In fact, studies have shown that exercise can treat mild depression as effectively as antidepressant medication. Here are some easy ways to stop overthinking and get active.
Make a plan
With anything you do, being prepared is the best way to start. Find a time that works best for you, whether it is a quick run to start your day or an exercise video to end it. Not enough time is one of the biggest reasons people say they cannot work out, so it is important that you schedule time into your day.
We waste so much time on our phones or watching TV. If you just take a few minutes away from timewasters, you will see how easy and satisfying it is to fit in a workout.
Make it a habit
It is said that if you commit to something for 21-90 days, it will become a habit. So start small and commit to some form of exercise for 21 days.
While it may be daunting at first, you will be running on autopilot in no time. You will crave exercise and feel sluggish if you don’t do it. You will begin to feel like your day is incomplete without your daily workout.
It is important to commit and not take days off during the beginning, or it will take longer for exercise to become a habit.
While losing weight and gaining muscle is an excellent benefit of exercise, not seeing the immediate results you want can be discouraging. Set easy and obtainable goals that will boost your confidence when you reach those milestones.
Remember, not everyone’s body is the same. What works for someone else may not be what works best for you. Track your own progress. From lifting heavier weights to running your mile faster, improvement is a great motivation to keep going.
Working out with a friend or group will help keep you accountable. You can push each other to get up and go work out. You can also push each other to work harder during your workouts. Finding a fitness class you like is a great way to be accountable. There is a set time for the class that you can schedule into your everyday life.
You can also join a team sport. Sports are a great way to be accountable as the team relies on each of its players to compete. The competitive nature of sports is a great way to boost adrenaline and reduce stress.
Do what you like
Exercise does not have to be a chore. There are plenty of ways to exercise so find what you like to do. If you are part of a gym, you can try different classes to see which one you like or do a few to keep it interesting.
Maybe you enjoy riding your bike. If you work close to home, you can substitute taking your bike to work instead of your car a couple of days a week. Maybe you are not into intense workouts; try something more relaxing like yoga.
Exercise is not a one size fits all solution, so find what works best for you. The more you enjoy something, the more likely you are to do it.
If you are new to working out, there are a few tips to remember:
Hydrating is essential while working out. Not drinking enough fluids can cause you to cramp up and not feel well overall. Water or Gatorade with has electrolytes will help maintain optimal performance throughout your workout.
Also, staying hydrated after your workout will help you recover and be ready for your next workout.
When you are ready to exercise, it is important to warm up. This will help prevent injuries and get the most out of your workout. Stretching and warming up will also reduce feeling sore after your workout and can help improve your flexibility.
If you are going to go for a run, start with a stretch and a quick walk before you begin running. If you are lifting weights, work your way up to the heavier weights to warm your muscles up.
Know your limits, and do not push yourself too hard. Working out faster or harder does not equal a better workout. Take your time and take breaks when needed. Pushing too hard is the fastest way to injure yourself.
Just as it is important to warm up, cooling down is also important. Cooling down slows your heart rate and breathing back to normal levels. It also helps to reduce soreness after a workout. The purpose of the cool-down period is to return your body to its normal state.
There are a lot of ways to occupy your mind and help you stop overthinking any relationship stresses, but exercise is a great distraction. It is healthy for both your mind and body. It is a healthy habit that you can develop to help engage you and get away from your everyday stress.
Content Specialist, Downtown Somatic Therapy
Relationships can be exciting, particularly when they are new. You might have lots of exciting feelings as well as lots of worries about the status of this new relationship. It can be easy to overthink every step of this new relationship, just like it can be easy to overthink things when you are in an established relationship.
Humans are naturally inclined to look for problems. It is hardwired into our DNA and is connected to our need to look for issues that might threaten our safety and survival. While we might think that these kinds of instincts and hardwiring do not affect our perception of the events in our lives, these internal reactions and feelings can be somewhat outside our control.
If you are struggling with overthinking and think it affects your relationship, read on for some help with this common problem.
Enjoy the current moment
It can be easy to start worrying about the next steps of your relationship, particularly if you are very interested in the person or if you have been dating a while and think that it might be time for the next steps. However, this is not really a realistic method of assessing the course of a relationship.
While you might have certain needs that are not being met and need to discuss them with your partner, you should try not to obsess about timelines that you want the relationship to follow.
You will find that there is no roadmap for what is “normal” in any relationship, and being flustered over worries that yours is not on track will just make you anxious.
Be honest about your feelings
Sometimes the best way to handle feelings of insecurity or doubts is to simply talk about them. Unless you are within the first few dates of a new relationship, you should be able to express worries or concerns to the person so that they can be addressed. Being able to bring an internal stressor out into the open can help banish it for good.
The other benefit of being honest about your feelings in a relationship is that your partner can reply to you and share their own emotions or concerns. You might find that you are feeling the same things and be able to dismiss these worries together!
Being open with the other person is a big factor in healthy relationships, and there is no better time than the present to start being open with the person you are dating.
Take a step back and look at your relationship with an objective eye
If you find that your feelings are spiraling and you’re making lots of assumptions, it can be helpful to take a step back and look at your relationship with an objective eye.
Sometimes our feelings and worries make us see things that are not there to see. You might be worried about something that has not taken place, and when you take a step back, you should be able to see that this is the case.
Looking at the facts related to your relationship is always much more helpful than assessing your fears and worries like they are actually facts. Being able to take a step away from your relationship to take a look at it with fresh eyes can really help you verify the facts of your relationship with a clear head.
Focus on your own fulfillment
It can be easy to expect your partner to make you happy and fulfill all your dreams and goals for the perfect relationship. This is not really practical in many ways, however, and you might find that even a great relationship can be ruined by your own expectations for personal fulfillment within the relationship.
At the end of the day, you have to be happy for yourself too, and you cannot look to your relationship to make you happy on a daily basis.
If you find that you are turning to your relationship for all of your needs for personal fulfillment, this might end up causing you anxiety. You should not neglect your needs for personal happiness related to hobbies, time spent doing activities alone, and taking the time to be sure that you are comfortable with yourself.
You cannot forget to take care of yourself just because you are focused on your relationship.
Be careful about asking for advice
While it can be tempting to vent your worries and concerns to friends and family, sometimes their involvement in your relationship is not helpful at all.
Other people can see your relationship through a lens that is not accurate, and their advice might only increase your feelings of worry and concern. It can be helpful in limited situations to seek outside advice related to your relationship, but at the end of the day, you know best what is going on in this part of your life.
Sometimes, outside influences can place worries in your mind that are unnecessary. They can also add to your overall concerns about the relationship rather than helping to decrease them. Having other people involved in your relationship can also lead to hard feelings and drama that could have been avoided by talking to your partner directly about your feelings.
Always remember that you should not get angry at yourself for overthinking your relationship. This is part of human nature. Use these tips to manage your expectations and worries related to your relationship and take time to meditate or objectively assess your relationship as needed. https://fac9ad5070911e770a7c9fbd6146ff4f.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-38/html/container.html
Managing your emotions and your worries related to any relationship can be tough at first, but as you get better at assessing the situation with these tools in mind, you will find that you feel less worried and less anxious.
Relationships take work, both internally and externally, but they are well worth this effort.