Overthinking may occur when people feel insecure, battle low self-esteem and experience difficulty letting go of negative interactions. In this article, we discuss how to address overthinking, stop focusing on these negative thoughts and start focusing on factors that shape a successful romantic relationship. In other words, let’s explore how to stop overthinking in a relationship.
What is overthinking or overanalyzing in a relationship?
Overthinking may include perseverating on what could be going wrong in the relationship or with the individual to justify emotional discomfort. This may present as worried thoughts about the future fueled by fear and doubt. Overanalyzing may look like searching for hidden meaning, personalizing a behavior, and developing false narratives. These thinking methods often result in low energy, poor self-esteem, and a lack of security in the relationship.
5 tips to stop overthinking in a relationship
To stop overthinking relationships, you must begin with self-awareness and identify the emotion driving the thoughts. Then, you may be able to narrow the down factors you can control from those you cannot and redirect your energy from past concerns and future worries to present action.
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Consider getting relationship advice by talking to friends, family members, or a relationship expert. A licensed clinical therapist can help to combat anxiety and identify if there may be issues to resolve in the relationship. Relationship experts recommend a few things to stop overthinking in a relationship.
1. Shift from Thoughts to Feelings
We tend to get caught up in our own thoughts when we are not as comfortable exploring and sitting with our own emotions. However, our emotions hold information that can better define what we need from ourselves or our partners. Journal or discuss your feelings with a trusted other to better identify how your thought process may be trying to justify your emotions.
For example, I may be worrying about all the reasons my partner doesn’t truly love me. If I take a deep breath and a step back, I may realize this fear is coming from a concern that I could end up trapped in an unhappy relationship. Now I can focus on actions in my own life that cultivate the happiness I’m seeking rather than on feeling anxious or frozen by thoughts that can contribute to increased distance and continued unhappiness.
2. Focus on the Present Moment, Accept What You Cannot Control
By investing energy into helpful choices in the present moment, you can take power away from unhelpful thoughts. Consider using your spare time to invest in relationships with others or into your hobbies to keep your mind focused on building happiness and stop obsessing over reasons why you may feel unfulfilled. These choices can serve to distract you from unhelpful thoughts and promote self-efficacy.
Remember that you cannot gain control over your partner’s responses, but you can engage with them in a way that can lead to greater satisfaction. If worrying is causing you to pull away, it may be best to do the opposite action and lean towards it. This can involve risk but will give you back the power to grow into the partner you want to be rather than allowing the fear to control you and how you show up in the relationship.
3. Share Your Concerns With The Other Person
Talk to a reliable friend and explore whether you are overthinking or your concerns are legitimate. You can also seek support from a relationship coach or a licensed couples therapist to explore the origin of these insecurities and build your best self while exploring new perspectives to combat unhelpful thoughts and end self-sabotage.
Finally, talk to your partner about these concerns to identify potential compromises or solutions that can support you in combating these thoughts. Being honest about your worries can increase your ability to work as a team and allow you to heal from old negative experiences. Allying with your partner against these worries can promote intimacy and provide you with the security you’ve been searching for.
4. Trust Yourself and Your Partner
Trust is the cornerstone of all successful intimate relationships. Lack of trust can often lead to overthinking as you constantly question your partner’s actions or intentions. Building trust and reassuring each other of your commitment to the relationship is essential.
Remember, building trust in a healthy relationship requires consistency, honesty, and integrity. If there are trust issues in your current relationship, consider seeking professional help to address and overcome them.
5. Seek Professional Help When Needed
If your overthinking is causing significant distress and is challenging to manage, don’t hesitate to seek professional help. Therapists and counselors are trained to help individuals develop effective coping strategies and provide tools to manage overthinking. They can offer an outside perspective and help identify patterns or issues you may be overlooking.
Remember, seeking help is not a sign of weakness. It can be a powerful step toward personal growth, improved mental health, and stronger romantic relationships. If working with a professional helps you stop overthinking, you won’t regret your decision to ask for help.
5 common signs of overthinking
What does overthinking look like? As you invest your energy into these constantly worried and scary thoughts, you may become self-critical, misinterpret intentions, and build a negative perspective of the relationship.
1. The Self-Critic
Perhaps your struggle to trust that your partner’s actions are genuine or feel that you’re “walking on eggshells” trying to avoid conflicts for fear that it may end the relationship. Some folks may label themselves “needy” and withhold bids for connection or reassurance for fear of what their partner may think of them, especially if they or others have previously dismissed their feelings and needs.
2. The Mind Reader
People who start overthinking may search for hidden meanings or assume negative intentions. Sometimes these assumptions can reflect how people previously treated us and serve to protect us from being taken advantage of again.
Unfortunately, new positive interactions can be easily forgotten or dismissed if you continue to keep an eye on the past. Increasing trust in yourself and building resiliency can support you in letting go of this guard to better focus on new opportunities.
3. The Negative Filter
These perspectives can develop due to personal insecurities, distrust of your partner, and difficulty accepting adverse events. This is where you may start to feel that you and your partner are adversaries rather than teammates, or perhaps you no longer feel hopeful about the relationship’s future. This filter can also lead to difficulty addressing issues head-on, so you may want to change yourself or your partner to mask the underlying insecurities or issues causing anxious thoughts.
4. The Worry Wart
One of the most common signs of overthinking is unhelpful thinking patterns, such as an incessant stream of worrying or anxious thoughts. Overthinkers often obsess over past events, conversations, interactions, or events, dissecting them for hours or even days to decipher their meaning. Similarly, they may feel anxious about the future, plan and specify every possible outcome and potential problem, and visualize worst-case scenarios and “What ifs.”
5. The Indecisive One
Overthinkers usually struggle to make decisions, even regarding simple choices. This is because they’re often paralyzed by the fear of making the wrong choice, leading to indecisiveness. They ponder all the potential consequences, frequently leading to decision-making paralysis, as they attempt to forecast every possible outcome.
What makes people overthink things?
Insecurities in the relationship can fuel overthinking due to perceived differences in communication, affection, and commitment or personal insecurities due to low self-esteem or discomfort with security, vulnerability, or closeness to others. These difficulties don’t happen overnight. They usually originate from past attachment injuries caused by early caregivers, friends, a past relationship, or other people, which can make connection feel unsafe or unfamiliar.
Consider how memories of negative or traumatic experiences can activate your nervous system and fight or flight response despite being in a partnership with a new person. This fight-or-flight state can flood our thoughts with doubt, fear, and panic, which can paint us or our partner in a negative light. By recognizing that this is a physiological response, it may be easier to catch it next time it happens and seek relaxation through deep breathing, exercise, or physical touch to help you stop the thoughts and identify what you may need from yourself or your partner in this new relationship.
Overthinking gets in the way of healthy relationships
Overthinking and overanalyzing can lead to an unhealthy relationship dynamic if you dedicate more time to second-guessing and deconstructing the entire relationship or your partner rather than cultivating and engaging in effective communication to strengthen the relationship. When you allow doubt and fear to drive the relationship, you may find it hard to discuss concerns or even make space for positive actions that can provide the reassurance you seek.
Thus, overthinking can lead to self-sabotage by driving a wedge and creating barriers to engaging in productive behaviors that increase connection and intimacy, especially when these patterns of thinking can lead to unconsciously summoning problems where there are none. This cycle can perpetuate as you continue to avoid engaging in positive things that further increase disconnection and insecurity because of the doubts.