How To Stop Overthinking In A Relationship (According To 13 Experts)

HumanWindow Staff
By HumanWindow Staff
Updated on October 20, 2020
Expert Content

So, you’re looking to find out how to stop overthinking in a relationship.

We’re can all find ourselves overthinking and overanalyzing things from time to time.

But it’s generally agreed that nothing good ever really comes from constantly overthinking things in a relationship.

We asked a selected group of expert to deliver their best insights and advice on how to stop overthinking in a relationship.

Here’s what they said.

Overthinking In A Relationship Is A Coping Mechanism

Lucy Jones, Relationship Counsellor and Dating Site Community Manager

Overthinking is a natural symptom of stress and anxiety.

When we place a large amount of importance on something going well (for example, a relationship) however feel unconfident in our ability to realise that outcome, we tend to overthink.

It’s a coping mechanism, our mind feels like it has to overwork in order to try to get what we want.

Overthinking is also about control. If we’re anxious or unconfident in our ability to maintain a positive relationship, we may think controlling every aspect is the only way to realise a happy partnership.

Tiny negatives (such as waiting for a while to receive a text reply) become more evidence of our inability to maintain a successful relationship, the mind thinks it has to overwork trying to find a solution to this non-issue.

To limit overthinking, understand what is and isn’t in your control. There are many parts of a relationship we can’t have an effect on, however overthinkers tend to exaggerate what is and should be under their control.

This is particularly true when it comes to how their partner feels about them.

Many overthinkers constantly consider and question whether their partner still holds the same feelings for them. You might even find them saying ‘I love you’ more often, just so they can briefly get confirmation when their partner says it back.

Understand that how your partner feels about you is mostly not in your control. You can only be yourself, and whether your partner continues to desire you is down to them.

Don’t allow yourself to continually overthink how to manipulate this, as it’s something that only results in further stress and anxiety.

An important part of dealing with issues of overthinking is to reframe what is and isn’t important in a relationship.

This can be done by taking a step back and asking yourself questions when you find yourself overthinking about something.

An effective set of questions asks yourself to briefly look at the future. The next time you’re overthinking about something, ask yourself will this matter in one day from now, one month from now or one year from now?

Force yourself to think about this quickly, it’s not an opportunity to continue overthinking.

If after a few minutes you can’t figure out how it’ll matter, then feel confident in the fact that this isn’t something you need stress over.

Give yourself permission to “let this go” in the knowledge that your mental wellbeing is more important than the small consequences of this relationship bump.

How To Stop Thinking About The Past

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Accept What You Can’t Control And Focus On Yourself

Elizabeth Aram, Licensed Clinical Psychologist

A pattern of overthinking in relationships is typical of anxious attachment styles.

When care-giver responses are misattuned (i.e., overstimulating, overprotective, dismissing or inconsistent), children can develop patterns of anxiety and self-betrayal that look like denying their emotions, values and needs in effort to “control” or regulate others’ behavior.

How do you stop overthinking? In short, practice acceptance of what you can’t control and refocus attention towards yourself.

1) Connect to your feelings. Make space for negative emotions to by normalizing them as “human feelings” and practice noticing how they feel without judgment. Use grounding techniques and Mindfulness exercises to stay in the present moment and build acceptance of uncertainty.

2) Focus on what you can control. Make a list of your values, boundaries and preferred self-care activities. Validate your needs, review and practice regularly. Remember, you are responsible for yourself and others are responsible for themselves.

3) Tune into gratitude. Give your worried mind some respite by reflecting / journaling what you are grateful for.

Overthinking In A Relationship Is Usually Due To ‘Insecure Attachment’

Cheryl Muir, Relationship Expert

When I see a client overthinking in a relationship, it’s typically due to what’s known as ‘insecure attachment’.

In other words, we didn’t bond properly with our parents when we were small and vulnerable, so as an adult we struggle to form healthy bonds with our partner because connection feels unsafe to us. This is subconscious, of course.

Typically it shows us as a pattern of worrying about the status of a relationship, which sometimes causes panic and a fear of being abandoned. As a result, we try to think our way out of it.

The fastest way to break this cycle is to hire a relationship-specific coach or therapist to address what happened in childhood.

Once we heal this, we wipe the slate clean, and we’re able to build strong, healthy connections with romantic partners with ease.

Fear Of The Future

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If You’re Overthinking, It Means You’re Not Living In The Present

Kristin Thorisdottir, Psychologist and Coach

If you’re one of those people who overthinks in a relationship, it’s most likely you are overthinking in other areas of your life as well.

Overthinking is a very common problem. The main reason individuals overthink is low self-compassion, meaning that you are too judgemental of yourself and your actions. Anxiety and depression are also big reasons for overthinking.

Whatever the reason is, if you tend to overthink, it means that you are too much in your head and too little in your own life.

When we overthink, we tend to lose contact with ourselves. Overthinking can further drain us of energy.

The most powerful way to manage to overthinking is with writing or Mindfulness.

Let’s start with the writing part. If you can write your thoughts and feelings down on a piece of paper, you manage to distance yourself from your overthinking. Often we see things more apparent on a piece of paper instead of up in our head.

Plus, when we start writing things down, our self-compassion grows. Our inner critic becomes less judgemental through writing.

By implementing Mindfulness into your life, you will become better at tackling overthinking. Focus on your breathing. If you feel overwhelmed by your thoughts, try shifting your focus to your breathing.

If your mind is racing, and you are having a hard time quieting your thoughts, try saying to yourself, “now I am here.”

When you focus on breathing, here and now, your mind cannot be focusing on all questions like “what if he/she does…”.

Most stressful and anxious thoughts have to do with the past or the future – and if you are present in your relationship, you cannot be in the past or the future.

Thinking Thoughts

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Write In A ‘Worry Journal’ And Accept Uncertainty

Tom Barron, Psychologist at Pocketcoach

It is very common for people to overthink in relationships, as putting your trust in another human being produces the kind of vulnerability that many find frightening and difficult to deal with.

Despite this, we consistently seek out intimate relationships, as we are social animals and are evolutionarily wired to reproduce.

With that in mind, here are some of my tips on managing and dealing with overthinking in relationships.

1) Effective communication. Communication is at the heart of every relationship, from organizing the weekly shop to your sexual preferences. Understanding how you communicate, as well as your partner, helps you to express any negative thoughts in a constructive way.

2) Write a ‘worry journal’. This is one of my favourites because it is so easy to do. I used to use them when I had problems sleeping too. If you have any worried thoughts about your relationship, then it can be helpful to write these down. By writing them down, and giving yourself some time to reflect on these thoughts, you bring some objectivity to the equation. This objectivity helps you to see what is really going on and decide on the right course of action.

3) Focus on the present. Living in the moment has become a commonly-used phrase but that is because there is truth in its impact. Being able to focus on your own situation, either when you are with or without your partner, enables you to disengage from any negative thoughts.

4) Maintain a healthy social network of your own. Often, overthinking can occur when you have a lot of spare time on your hands. If you are busy yourself, seeing friends, playing sports or music, then you are much less likely to overthink.

5) Accept uncertainty. Quite simply, most of our life is uncertain. We look to categorise things because it makes us feel more certain and therefore less anxious. When it comes to people, friends and loved ones, it isn’t always so easy to categorise and so it can be useful to accept what you don’t know or can’t change.

Journaling vs Keeping A Diary

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Find Out What Triggers Your Overthinking

Anna Morgenstern, Dating coach and Matchmaker

Everyone can have a tendency to overthink in a relationship, especially as we have more experiences under our belt.

It’s easy to project your own insecurities onto a new relationship. There are a few things you can do to help stop the overthinking cycle.

It can be as easy as having too much time on your hands. Add a healthy new hobby to your life such as meditation, yoga, hiking, volunteering, anything that keeps you busy and adds a level of gratitude and happiness into your life.

Also, know your triggers. What usually sparks your habit of overthinking? Is it alcohol? If you don’t hear from them for a few hours? They haven’t made future plans with you?

Ask what it is that starts the cycle and find solutions to shut those triggers down.

You should feel comfortable to talk to your partner and let them know if their actions are sparking you to feel insecure.

Why is this action making you feel insecure? You might have some traumas from your past that are triggering you.

In a healthy relationship, you should feel secure, even if it’s been a few hours without hearing back from them.

Your fear of losing them is probably coming from something in your past. It might be a good idea so start talking to a therapist to understand why these feelings are coming up.

Stop Thinking About Something

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Replace Worrying With Positive Self Talk

Amber Artis, CEO and Certified Matchmaker at Select Date Society

Overthinking or overanalyzing a can bring a relationship to a screeching halt before it ever gets off the ground!

If you are someone who tends to overthink things, you are probably aware of it and that’s a good thing. Self awareness is the first step to stop overthinking in a relationship. You need to be able to recognize the behavior in order to change it.

When it comes to overthinking in a relationship, most people can translate the word ‘overthinking’ to ‘worrying’.

You’re analyzing all the things that could go wrong… “What if my family doesn’t like her? What if her family doesn’t like me? What if she’s allergic to my dog? What if I fall in love and the feeling isn’t reciprocated?”

The easiest strategy to change this pattern is to replace worrying with positive self talk. I love the quote, “stop being afraid of what could go wrong and focus on what could go right”.

Start overthinking in a positive light! What kind of vacations will we take together? What should we do for our next date? What would be a fun birthday gift to get her? You get the idea!

However, be cautious that even positive overthinking is still overthinking. Have a plan in place to distract yourself when you find you just can’t stop thinking about the relationship.

Read a good book or turn on a podcast. Replace your thoughts with something else you’re interested in.

If you find that you are struggling with getting out of your head, don’t be afraid to ask for help! Enlisting the services of a great coach, mentor, or therapist can also be a great strategy.

How To Stop Thinking About Something

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Note Your Thoughts And Feelings And Acknowledge Them

Annie Hsueh, Licensed Clinical Psychologist

If you’re reading this article, you are likely looking for ways to stop overthinking, so it might be counterintuitive for me to tell you to stop telling yourself that you need to stop “overthinking.”

Why is that, you ask? Anytime we tell ourselves to stop thinking of something, we are automatically thinking of that very thing.

For example, if you practice with yourself now: Don’t think of the white bear. Don’t think of the white bear. Don’t think of the white bear. Did an image of a white bear just come to your mind?

Therefore, rather than thinking you need to “stop” overthinking, note your thoughts and feelings and acknowledge them! Then, find themes in the thoughts you are having.

Does it help you understand central concerns you have regarding your relationship? Are there needs you have that aren’t being met? From there, think about how you want to seek support or comfort.

Perhaps you are thinking about specific concerns in your relationship that can be addressed directly with your partner, perhaps you need time to talk to friends to help you process, or perhaps you need time to self-reflect and do some journaling. Maybe you need to gently remind yourself to focus on the present moment by practicing mindfulness. Maybe it’s a combination of these strategies?

If you’re finding it hard to implement these strategies on your own, or if these strategies aren’t fully resolving your issues, I highly recommend seeking psychotherapy so that a professional can help assess your concerns and guide you towards meeting your goals.

Overthinking Is A Thief

Randi Levin, Transitional Life Strategist

Overthinking is a thief. It robs people of enjoying their commitments to others because fear refocuses energy and time on what could happen, rather than what actually is happening.

The result is that one or both parties live in the future, anticipating events that may not ever take place.

People overthink in relationships because they are too close to the situation themselves and too emotionally invested in them.

Past relationship failures, or inconsistent communication often herald fears in regard to compatibility or long-haul viability and instead of creating a closer bond, overthinking tends to destroy and break down relationships.

Relationships thrive on consistency and communication. If you feel like you are trapped in your head, discuss this with someone you trust, or with your partner directly.

Sometimes, just saying what you are thinking out loud and listening objectively to your thoughts can support you in poking holes in their viability and recalibrating the situation.

Think of the bigger picture. Are the thoughts you’re dwelling on situational or chronic in nature? In other words, if you think of the relationship as a whole, are the things you are overthinking about all that important to the overall dynamic? Do they re-occur?

Get in the habit of saying the word “bigger” to yourself if you go into thought overdrive. Access the broader relationship and then re-access the thought. Does it stay or does it go?

Every relationship has agreement and disagreement points, and highs and lows. Overthinking taxes and stresses the relationship itself, since living the relationship is eclipsed by what ‘could be’ or what ‘may be’ in the future or what ‘was’ in the past.

Challenge yourself to see your relationship in the 24 hours you are in. If you let go of your heavier thoughts about what did or did not happen or what can or cannot occur, you can focus on what actually is.

Plan activities and conversations that celebrate and highlight what actually is occurring right now.

How To Journal

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Overthinking Is Usually Caused By Insecurity

Rori Sassoon, Professional Matchmaker and Co-founder of Platinum Poire

People tend to overthink in relationships due to fear of rejection, so they begin overthinking what the other person is going to do, say, or feel about them. It’s unsettling and unnerving.

You begin looking at every action under a microscope, and not only is it time-consuming and exhausting, but it could do actual damage to the relationship if you let those thoughts take over, so it’s important keep things in perspective.

When you’re getting into a relationship, you really need to do the work on yourself, and try to figure out why there was an expiration date on your last relationship. Try to pinpoint the issue. Were you too arrogant, or needy, or clingy?

Whatever the issue might be, if you know it was a problem in your last relationship, take the time to work through it, so that it doesn’t pop up this time around. Overthinking happens when you have insecurities – so make yourself confident by banishing any old bad habits.

Talking out your feelings with someone you feel comfortable or close with, whether it’s a friend, family member, or therapist, can go a long way.

They can help you put a clear perspective on things, and figure out if your feelings are valid or if you are truly overthinking it. When feelings are involved, our judgement can often get cloudy, so having a third party that is unbiased is helpful.

Another tip is to talk it out. It’s OK to be vulnerable. Communicate how you’re feeling to your significant other. As long as you don’t go overboard, and you are calm and collected, then your partner will likely offer support to put your negative thoughts at bay, and make you feel secure. Every good relationship has a sense of security.

You always need to ask yourself – is it my own fear of rejection that is making me overthink and feel this way? Or is it the character of the person I am dating that is making me feel this way?

If it’s the second one, then you’ll need to see if it’s really a relationship worth pursuing. It’s a potential red flag if the other person has a personality that makes you second guess your every action.

Whatever You Put Out, Comes Back

Audrey Hope, Certified Addiction and Trauma Therapist and Relationship Expert

To have a great relationship, we must get out of our minds.

This means that we must let go, surrender, trust and let the heart have center-stage.

People in all aspects of their lives suffer from thinking too much. This is like spending time in the wrong house, the wrong room and the wrong location.

Love is about the heart and a match that comes through the law of attraction. Whatever you put out, comes back. And so relationships are a mirror to reflect back exactly what we need to heal.

We are always who we need to be with to grow and learn our lessons. To overthink a relationship is to waste time worrying.

Here are some of my tips on how to stop overthinking in love.

• Commit to having a great life and great love and then surrender and let go. Let the universe be your matchmaker.

• Stay in the high energy field of hope and love and know the truth that this frequency and law of attraction will find its match.

• Focus on your life purpose and what brings you joy and take your attention off of relationships and your need for another to fill your life. Live free in your own happiness and let go of worrying about who sits beside you.

• Be happy and live. Be in the present moment and be grateful. If the relationship is not working out, move on.

• Know what you want. Make your list and become your own list.

Meditating woman

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Base Your Thoughts And Feelings On Evidence

Kathy Nickerson, Licensed Clinical Psychologist and Relationship Expert

Typically, overthinking is associated with anxiety or worry.

People who are anxious about their relationship, because it is new, or something’s gone sideways, or they think this might be the one, are prone to spending a lot of time obsessing about the direction of the relationship.

It’s normal and healthy to be thinking about your relationship, but it’s important to be mindful of how much time you’re spending thinking about it.

If it’s all you think about, that’s not ideal. And if you’re spending the bulk of your time thinking about what could happen, or what something might have meant, or what you should have done, then it’s time to make some changes.

Firstly, base your thoughts and feelings on evidence, not hunches or fears. Don’t get yourself tied in a knot because you read a post on a sub-forum that guys don’t really like girls who do XYZ. Look for evidence from your unique situation – what did he/she actually say? What evidence is there that your thought is true? What evidence is there that it’s not true? Always follow the evidence.

Secondly, have confidence in yourself. Believe that you are a great catch and that if your person is really the right one for you, she will agree and there’s nothing special you need to do. When in doubt, be your best self and trust that others will recognize that.

It is important not to chase people; the right people will show up and stay in your life.

Thirdly, if you really suspect that you’ve screwed up somehow, apologize. A sincere apology that conveys empathy and promises change will go a long way.

It’s impossible to be perfect in a relationship. Much better to assume we all make mistakes and just apologize when you think you’re in the wrong.

Meditation and mindfulness

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Be Patient With Yourself

Joel Thielke, Certified Hypnotherapist and Life Coach

It’s normal to overthink from time to time, we all do it. But if you’re constantly over-analyzing your relationship, it’s going to take its toll on you and your partner.

Luckily there are a few great ways to stop what I call ‘The Spin’.

One tip I always tell people is to slow down. Savor the relationship. Be present with your partner. If your brain starts to take off on that spin, take a deep breath, connect to yourself, and then connect to your partner if he or she is around. But staying grounded and connected to yourself and your breathing is key.

Be patient with yourself. If you’ve been overthinking a relationship for a while, it might take some time to break the habit. If you feel the need to spin, it’s OK to allow yourself a set amount of time to do it.

Set a timer for 10 minutes and give yourself space, and when the time is up, remind yourself that you’re setting healthy boundaries and that you can have time to spin tomorrow. You’ll find yourself needing that block of time less and less.

You can have emotions without ‘being’ them. A lot of times we overthink because we get caught up in strong emotions.

When that happens, try to look at the logical side of the situation. So instead of thinking “my partner never spends time with me any more”, think about what’s actually occupying their time.

Are they working on a project for work or school? Has their boss been keeping them late? Chances are, there’s a logical explanation that will diffuse your worrying.

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