Overthinking in a relationship is obsessive analyzing of your partner’s and/or your behavior, actions, and words.
You’re wholly immersed in reading into their actions and words that you can’t focus on anything else, and ultimately let it consume you.
Assigning meaning behind his behavior will cause you to overthink. The main causes are rooted in your past relationships that are yet to be addressed.
Untangling your thoughts together with your partner will help you put your mind to peace, although it might take time.
When you address overthinking in a relationship, with proper support, you will successfully overcome it.
1. Identify the cause behind your overthinking
The first firm step to stop overthinking in a relationship is to identify the cause of overthinking.
You have to reflect on your experiences to identify the root cause of your overthinking. That way you’ll have a solid place to start working on.
Once the root of the issue is identified, you’ll have an easier time understanding how to work around it. Take your time and reflect.
Some of the most common reasons behind overthinking include:
– Anxiety and depression.
When you aren’t in a good place mentally, such as experiencing anxiety and depression, it can be a root cause of your overthinking.
Overthinking often acts as a coping mechanism for a previous traumatic event (childhood or even adult trauma).
Anxiety is often manifested through a severe sense of fear and worry about life, relationships, and day-to-day situations.
Depression on the other hand can be manifested through various symptoms such as excessive pessimism, low levels of energy, negative thoughts, inability to feel joy or pleasure, etc.
Both of these disorders can be contributing – if not causing – factors to overthinking.
– Insecurity from past relationships.
Overthinking in a relationship can be a result of past unhealthy relationships.
For example, if your partner adopts a new behavior, you interpret it for the worse because you aren’t used to it.
– Trust issues.
Because in the past you might have lost your sense of security and your trust betrayed, you will start being skeptical of other people.
The skepticism will lead you to overthink your partner’s intentions and prevent you from creating a deeper connection with your SO.
Dr. Michelle Risser lists avoidance of intimacy, commitment, self-isolation, and picking fights as major signs of having trust issues.
Additionally, you can start practicing trust in your partner by giving them the benefit of the doubt on small things like
- Drinking with friends
- Not questioning the little bit of effort to look good that morning
- The change in a beverage preference
- Or the reason they picked going to the movies that night
This will help you with taking into control doubt and your thoughts when they are triggered by your partner’s behavior.
– You haven’t identified your needs yet.
Projecting your worries into the future raises your anxiety and creates more confusion about your needs.
When your needs are undefined and unidentified, you will start being picky and emotional about your partner’s behavior.
So now that you have a guide, sit down and write down what you think your needs are. You don’t have to do it in one sitting, take your time.
– Your impulses are a result of negative thoughts.
Negativity is at the root of overthinking in a relationship.
Always expecting and predicting the worst for the future creates a repetitive thought pattern.
You think of what-ifs, make up situations, and overanalyze your partner’s behavior to make sense of your predictions.
As a result, when you start to think negatively about a situation, you will start to feel anxious, restless, or even start feeling physical discomfort.
– Worrying about the future.
Worry influences your anxiety which keeps you on edge and stops you from enjoying the present.
You obsessively replay your partner’s actions or words in your head and consider every possible outcome, usually the negative.
You can see the effects of continuous worrying when you tell yourself “My partner will never love me” or “I should’ have shown more patience”.
– Fear of abandonment.
Childhood traumatic experiences of being separated or abandoned by loved ones (partner, family) cause feeling anxious when left alone.
Fear of abandonment is often a symptom of Separation Anxiety Disorder(SAD) which manifests through
- Reluctantly of being alone;
- Anticipation of being away from your partner;
- Compulsive worrying that you’ll lose your partner.
You start to anxiously think about separation whenever you need to leave the house or your partner is away from you.
2. Communicate openly with your partner
Overthinking can lead to unhealthy patterns in your relationship. It can become a cause of mistrust, resentment, and conflict if left unaddressed.
Reassurance and trust in your partner might help you control these intrusive thoughts.
Sharing your feelings with your partner can be a tremendously effective way of addressing your overthinking, but also to stop or prevent it.
Communicate your needs to your partner and let them do the same, and start negotiating a solution that will work for both of you.
As an overthinker, sharing your feelings, insecurities, emotions, and thoughts can be challenging because you might fear being judged.
Open communication is important as it can clear doubts and is likely to lessen the room for ambiguity.
– Accept that you are overthinking.
Let your partner know about what’s bothering you and don’t attempt to hide it because you fear being misunderstood.
You’ll be able to work on this issue if you make your partner aware of your thoughts. It’ll allow them to be more careful which can help in the prevention of intrusive thoughts.
Self-acceptance and acknowledgment can guide you to better show your partner your feelings and be okay with them.
– Use more “I” in your sentences to avoid accusatory tones.
Start slowly telling your partner how you feel while being attentive and considerate of their feelings as well. Here are a few simple examples:
I feel: Like you are not paying attention to me anymore
I want: to be closer to you
I need: you to make some alone time for only us two
Vulnerability is something hard for an overthinker to achieve, that is why you start by sharing small things about yourself.
3. Make a plan to tackle overthinking
After establishing a safe ground for healthy communication and understanding, it’s time to make a plan to tackle overthinking.
Overthinking in a relationship is hard to be addressed without having a concrete plan to follow.
Work with your partner to create a plan that will work for both parties.
There are things you can try to do on your brown which will lessen the burden of overthinking in hindering the progress of your relationship.
– Put a limit to your overthinking time.
Another strategy to control overthinking is giving yourself a limited time in which your thoughts can wander.
So you can tell yourself “I’ve got 20 minutes to think about this and then I’m done”
– Distract yourself from negative thoughts.
When intrusive thoughts enter your mind, try to distract yourself by doing something that isn’t related to those thoughts.
Start an activity that requires you to be fully focused and hands-on with or without your partner (e.g. solving a puzzle, starting a creative project, etc.)
– Work on self-care.
In the section on self-care, consider adding more specific suggestions for activities that can help the reader relax and de-stress.
Overthinking can drain you emotionally and mentally, thus, it is important to pinpoint the time when you need to give yourself a break.
When you start feeling tired and strained, find a way to relax or to do something that brings you joy and excitement and keeps you occupied.
You can go for a massage, exercise, walk outside, have a bath with candles lit, paint, etc.
– Go couple counseling.
Seeing professional help from a licensed therapist can help you identify the source of your insecurities and doubts, and address, prevent, and overcome them.
Coupe counseling will help you consider new perspectives that you and your partner can use when you’re anxiously overthinking your relationship.
It can help you in your thought process, and way of communicating and strengthen your connection as a couple overall.
4. Practice mindfulness
Overanalyzing and overthinking are closely related as both of them are focused on obsessively repeating the same thought pattern.
Trying to be present and mindful instead of analyzing the past or trying to worry about the future can help you reduce overthinking.
– Meditating alone or with your partner.
Doing something with your partner that relaxes you and taking a break from the hustle and bustle of life will help you calm down.
Meditating not only will help you control overthinking but also harmonize the body, mind, and soul and create a stronger connection with your partner.
You can meditate in a quiet room, outside in nature, or in any place you feel safe and comfortable in.
– Taking mini breaks.
When you feel the overflow of thoughts, take a break. Observe yourself, and put a stop to it by doing something else.
You can go for a walk, read a book, listen to music, watch a documentary, or plan a schedule for self-care activities.
– Writing in a journal.
Writing down your thoughts in a journal even if you might not go back and read them will help you create constructive thoughts.
You can jot down whatever you are feeling and the reasons behind those feelings. Think of the paper as someone you’re venting to.
After you’re done, you’ll have a different perspective since your thoughts are, in some way, materialized and easier to reflect upon.
– Practicing yoga or breathing exercises.
Yoga exercises are widely practiced and known for the benefits it has not only to your physical health but your mental and emotional health as well.
Yoga and/or breathing exercises are a way to practice mindfulness and allow yourself to be in the moment and prevent thoughts about the past or the future.
5. Plan for moments of overthinking
Sometimes even the strategies you might have learned and used don’t work in uncertain situations.
So it is important to have a backup plan for the first backup plan. This time you should focus more on the thoughts themselves.
– Focus on problem-solving.
As overthinking raises many unsolvable problems in your mind which lead to even more problems, focus on a solution at a time.
Instead of worrying about the problem, take charge and immediately address it when it enters your mind.
Furthermore, it is important that in a relationship, you work on solving these problems together with your partner.
– Try fact-checking your thoughts.
When you find yourself overthinking, try to reframe your thoughts and focus on the facts.
Ask yourself if your thoughts are supported by evidence, and challenge yourself to consider positive “what-if” scenarios.
When you find yourself overthinking, challenge those thoughts in the terms of possibility, reality, and the effects they might have.
In addition, consider if those thoughts are supported by evidence and think about the positive if-s those thoughts might have.
– Identify your thinking patterns and try alternating them.
Once you observe yourself entering the pattern of your overthinking, try to replace your negative thoughts with positive ones.
Make an attempt to disagree with yourself in those moments.
If you find yourself thinking “I know my partner doesn’t care,” try reframing it as “My partner cares for me every day,” and think of the nice things your partner does for you daily.
– Seek additional support: talk about it to someone you trust.
Sometimes, venting and being vulnerable with your partner, friend or family can help you realize what the actual solution to the problem is.
A third perspective can help you clear up your doubts and comprehend the level of rationality of your thoughts and worries.
On the other hand, if you feel like you need a mediator who can offer help to pinpoint your problems and simplify them, you can seek professional help.
When is the right time to seek additional support?
When you feel like you can’t control your thoughts and worry anymore, you find it hard to focus, and have started feeling the physical side effects, seeking professional help can be life-changing and very recommended.
A therapist will help you create a better framing of your perspective, locate your triggers, and help you understand yourself emotionally.
Ultimately, leading you toward a healthy and effective solution.
Psychotherapist Jenny Maenpaa has shared three techniques she uses to stop overthinking every day:
- Positive reframing. Pushing yourself to think more positively when you catch yourself drowning in negative thoughts;
- Writing down your thoughts and keeping yourself distracted;
- Practicing ‘specific gratitude’.
In other words, acknowledging and considering new perspectives will help with overthinking. Furthermore, being thankful for little things helps too.
A therapist will be able to understand the core of your issue(s) and give you personalized advice in overcoming or preventing them effectively.
If you feel you can’t manage your thoughts and the situation you’re in, then reach the hand of a therapist and take the first step to your healing journey.
Although difficult, you can overcome overthinking!
All in all, it is important to acknowledge overthinking and take the necessary steps to prevent it from hindering your relationship.
It all starts with recognizing the cause like past traumatic relationships, depression, and anxiety to be able to take the next step.
Communicate openly with your partner, practice mindfulness and self-care, make a plan that works for you and your partner, and plan ahead for your moments of overthinking.
It can seem difficult and challenging, but it is something you can overcome with a little help from your positive thoughts, partner, and friends or family!