Women overthinking

How To Stop Overthinking In A Relationship [2021]

If you would like more peace of mind in your relationships and reduce feelings of anxiety, insecurity, or jealousy, then this article is exactly what you are looking for. You may be asking yourself, “How to stop overthinking in a relationship?”

Well, let’s get right into the 10 strategies that will help you with how to stop overthinking in a relationship!

Table of Contents:

  • Strategy 1: Gain awareness
  • Strategy 2: Develop Trust
  • Strategy 3: Share With Your Partner
  • Strategy 4: Be Clear With Yourself About What It Is You Really Need in a Relationship
  • Strategy 5: Make Positivity A Habit
  • Strategy 6: Be Present
  • Strategy 7: Fill Your Time
  • Strategy 8: Start Journaling
  • Strategy 9: Find Outside Support
  • Strategy 10: Get Counseling

Strategy 1: Gain Awareness Into Why You Overthink 

The first step to stop overthinking in your relationship is to begin discovering why you feel the urge to overthink in the first place. One of the unique qualities of humans is that we have the ability to think about and observe our own thoughts and feelings

how to stop overthinking in a relationship

Each time you find yourself starting to overthink, ask yourself some of the following questions:

  • What emotions am I feeling right now?
  • How do these feelings feel in my body (tight stomach, rapid breathing, etc)
  • What thoughts or worries are leading me to feel this way right now?

Step one is to discover the root fears and thoughts that trigger your habit of overthinking. Below are three main reasons why you may overthink.

Overthinking Is How You Learned To Cope

When we feel anxious, our body naturally implements coping mechanisms to alleviate the perceived danger. In the case of relationships, being highly invested in a specific outcome for a relationship but feeling uncertain of a successful outcome, can produce overwhelming feelings. You may be using overthinking as a way to gain control and alleviate the anxiety that this uncertain situation brings. 

Ask yourself the questions below to help you identify what fears overthinking is currently helping you cope with.

  • What outcomes are you afraid will happen? 
  • What outcomes are you trying to achieve?
  • How does overthinking help you to cope? 

To learn better strategies for coping with stress and anxiety, check out our blog Anxiety in Teens: How to Identify Anxiety and Beat it FAST [2021]

How to stop overthinking in a relationship

Overthinking Is Rooted In Control

Some ways of thinking and behaving can make life easier and some can make life more difficult. One thought pattern that can create turmoil in your life is the belief that you have the ability to control certain events external to yourself.

You would probably agree that it’s silly to believe you can control the weather. But many people who overthink believe they can control what their partner chooses to do (and the outcomes of the relationship) by hyper-analyzing specific parts of the relationship. 

Believing we can control events that are not truly under our control is a recipe for anxiety. We want to get an overall understanding of how to stop overthinking in a relationship. To stop overthinking in relationships, it’s important to identify and accept the things that are and are not in your locus (or area) of control. 

For Example: Suppose your partner isn’t very good about answering their phone or responding to text in a timely manner. When they don’t reply after a few hours, it begins to make you worry that they are abandoning you, or that they don’t care anymore. 

In situations like these, it may be helpful to get out a piece of paper and write out what you can and cannot control. 

Writing in journal

You CAN’T make your partner respond more quickly. You also CAN’T make them remember to charge their phone in the evenings so it’s not dead when you call them. 

But you CAN take ownership of your feelings and implement new tools to help you cope more effectively when you are feeling anxious. And you CAN share your feelings with your partner and request that they respond more quickly in the future. 

Overthinking Is Rooted In Insecurity 

Overthinking in a relationship often has its roots in your past. There was most likely someone you deeply cared about but the relationship didn’t work out the way you hoped. 

You may not have known why the relationship failed and you may have felt abandoned. You may have experienced a profound amount of grief, loneliness, or pain surrounding the loss of this person. 

You can become overwhelmed at the thought of the relationship unexpectedly ending in a similar way to your past experience. This leads to an attempt to reduce the likelihood of this happening by overanalyzing. 

However, when you try to control every element of an interaction, it can often make your partner feel smothered and claustrophobic. This can actually end up pushing them away, bringing about the very situation you had hoped to avoid. 

Relationship problems

Strategy 2: Develop Trust

Trust is a fundamental aspect of any relationship. The problem is that many people who overthink relationships ultimately do so because they lack trust in their partner

If your partner has a history of cheating, lying, or being manipulative, then you may have legitimate reasons to overthink what is said. If this is the case, your overthinking will stop when your partner stops the untrustworthy behaviors or you decide it’s best to end the relationship. 

Assuming your partner is trustworthy, it is a good practice to ask them what they meant and then take them at their word. If your partner is straightforward with you, then work on believing what they say. 

Take some time to think about their character. Are they really the type of person who would do XY or Z? For most overthinkers, the answer is “No, my partner hasn’t done that before and I don’t really think they would do it in the future.” 

Many times overthinkers can have difficulty trusting because they infer their past onto the future. However, just because something painful happened yesterday has no bearing on whether or not it will happen tomorrow.

Better days ahead

If your partner has shown themself to be worthy of your trust, practice giving it to them. When you can rely on your partner’s words and character, you won’t feel the same need to overthink things as much.  

Strategy 3: Share With Your Partner

Many times overthinking in a relationship is partly due to a lack of communication. You have to wonder what they are thinking or planning because you haven’t spoken with them about it. Does your partner even know that you are feeling insecure? Take some time to share your thoughts and feelings with your partner. Ask them what they meant when they said XYZ or did 123. Most of the time this can answer your question of how to stop overthinking in a relationship.

Strategy 4: Be clear with yourself about what it is you really need in a relationship

Overthinking in a relationship is often due to a poor understanding of your own needs. 

When you begin to overthink something that is happening in your relationship, ask yourself, “what need do I currently have that is going unmet?” 

This can help you communicate with your partner. Instead of bringing up all the problems with your partner (which is a fantastic recipe for an argument) you can explain to your partner what your specific needs are. You can ask if they are willing to fill this need for you. 

Couple talking with therapist

Here is a great outline to use when voicing your needs. 

WHEN: When your voice is raised

I FEEL: I feel put down and diminished

I WANT: and it would mean a lot to me if you would work on voicing your concerns more calmly or being more mindful of not raising your voice. 

When you use the When, I Feel, I Want method of sharing your needs, it identifies behavior YOU DON’T LIKE, but it doesn’t condemn or blame your partner. This helps to keep them from getting defensive in the conversation. 

Remember, in a healthy relationship, asking to get your needs met has nothing to do with proving who is right or wrong. It just means you’re sharing with your partner the things that are hurtful to you and the things that you would find deeply meaningful. Make discussing needs a staple in your relationship communication. 

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Strategy 5: Make Positivity A Habit

Sometimes we overthink because we are overly attuned to the possibility of negative outcomes. Focusing on the positive doesn’t mean pretending something is good when it isn’t. Keeping your mind off the question of how to stop overthinking in a relationship and replacing it with positivity will improve your overall mood.

Positive thought

Focusing on and thinking about positive things means identifying parts of the relationship that really are positive. Many times, things are a lot better than we realize because we are catastrophizing. 

Catastrophizing is an irrational thought pattern where someone habitually assumes the worst possible outcome will take place in any given situation and/ or takes one small thing their partner does and make it into a RELATIONSHIP ENDING crisis in your mind. 

Take some time to be aware of your thoughts. Each time you have one anxious thought, add to it one positive thought. 

To learn more about irrational thought patterns, check out this article → HERE

Strategy 6: Be Present

Anxious thoughts and feelings are often rooted in fears of what will happen in the future. Emotions like sadness, guilt, shame, and condemnation are frequently rooted in the past. Everything you can directly control exists in the present moment. 

That means you also have the ability to act in ways that reduce anxious thoughts in the present moment. You are powerless to control any possible outcomes at other points in time which exacerbate anxious feelings. 

This isn’t just about distracting yourself from thinking about these things, but to help yourself learn that there are more important things than what may or may not happen in the future. 

Here are a few things you can do to develop the habit of presentness: 

  1. Learn to identify what anxiousness feels like and use that as a cue to begin being present. 
Breathe For How To Stop Overthinking In A Relationship
  1. Get in touch with your body. What does it feel like when you are anxious and what does your body feel like when you are present? (What does your head feel like (fuzzy, clear, racing, etc.)? How does your stomach feel (nauseous, tense, etc.)? What do your legs feel like (jittery, still, etc.)?
  2. Tune in to what is happening around you. 
  3. Begin taking note of what thoughts are in your mind. What are your thoughts focused on? Which do you want to keep and which do you want to let go of?

You can also check out our Free guided mindfulness exercises → HERE

Strategy 7: Fill Your Time

It’s much more difficult to sit around anxiously analyzing who said what and what it means if you don’t have the time to sit around. Try to fill your time with a productive activity that isn’t centered around the relationship you are overthinking. 

Take some time to start a project, look for new hobbies, go hiking. Even better, find a group of friends to get together with that enjoy some of the things you like to do. 

Creating your own daily routines and rituals (that you find calming and that you have control over) can also ground you throughout the day by giving you a sense of normality regardless of what else may happen.

Person that is calm

Strategy 8: Start Journaling 

It can be difficult to begin identifying your fears, insecurities, and needs to control certain aspects of your relationships. Oftentimes people think they understand their own thoughts and feelings completely.  Usually, the opposite is true. Your brain is like a bowl of spaghetti noodles when thinking about how to stop overthinking in a relationship. You might feel as though you know what’s in there, but really all the noodles are tangled up, messy, and unclear. 

Journaling works a lot like therapy. It forces you to pull each noodle (thought) out one at a time and write it down. Once you have each noodle clearly identified and written down right in front of you, you will find more clarity on the problems you are facing.

When you begin writing in a journal, be on the lookout for some of the following points:

  • What triggers your feelings of ___?
  • What are the original causes of these feelings and the impulse to overthink?
  • Are you engaging in any unhelpful thinking patterns?
  • What solutions can you implement to begin counteracting these impulses?

Strategy 9: Find Outside Support

One of the most effective ways to stop overthinking is to feel that people understand your point of view, your worries, and your fears. This is especially true with people who are outside the relationship you are overthinking in. 

Phone a friend

When you share your thoughts and feelings with someone outside of your relationship it can help you get a view of the issue from an outside perspective which often helps you to break free of your existing psychological cycles

It can be healing to learn that others have experienced the same things as you and have found solutions from overthinking their relationships in their own lives. Sharing with others removes the sense of isolation that often accompanies issues like anxiety and overthinking. This makes you feel like you are not the only one dealing with how to stop overthinking in a relationship.

Naming the problem and sharing it out loud with other people can help cut the issue down to size. 

Strategy 10: See a Therapist

People don’t just need therapists for severe problems. Many people like to share their thoughts with a listening ear and discover new tools and strategies to help them thrive in their lives and relationships. 

Talking with therapist

Additionally, if you have tried to implement these or other suggestions and you don’t feel like you have the ability to get a handle on your habit of overthinking, there may be something else going on. 

For example, if you had a parental figure that inconsistently provided love and emotional support in your childhood, you may have developed an anxious attachment style. Those with anxious attachment styles often fear abandonment in those around them, even if it’s irrational. This (and other causes) can lead to overthinking in a relationship. If this is the case, it’s probably a great idea to talk to a therapist. 

For more information on anxious attachment styles check out this quick video → HERE

That brings us to the end of How To Stop Overthinking A Relationship.

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