How to Stop Overthinking in a Relationship, According to a Psychologist
No matter how long you’ve been dating someone, it can be too easy to overthink everything they say and do. Are they still interested in me? Are they mad at me? It’s like that TikTok where someone said their partner tied their shoes angrily that morning. All the worrying is exhausting and unhelpful but almost equally hard to stop.
If you struggle with overthinking in relationships, we’ve got you covered with insight and tips from a psychologist.
Why we overthink
Understanding the reasoning behind our overthinking can help us be more self-compassionate. According to Dr. Venetia Leonidaki, a Doctify-peer reviewed consultant psychologist and the founder of Spiral Psychology, it all comes down to fear.
“As we highly invest in romantic relationships, any threat to our sense of security in the relationship can evoke high levels of anxiety,” she said. And remember, “security” doesn’t only mean our physical safety — it’s about our emotional comfort, too.
Leonidaki explained overthinking comes in to quell that anxiety. “When we overanalyze a situation, we mistakenly feel more in control and more likely to get to the bottom of things,” she said. “Overthinking is more likely to happen if we have an insecure attachment to our partner or if we are prone to worry about things.”
How to avoid overthinking
If you have an anxious, insecure attachment style (*raises hand*), you may feel a bit… screwed. While stopping yourself from overthinking might be hard, you’re not totally stuck.
“Being in a relationship that makes us feel secure is likely to prevent overthinking,” Leonidaki said. “A secure attachment means that we feel emotionally safe in the relationship and trust that our partner is there for us. Fostering open and honest communication with our partner is also key.”
If you’re dating someone and haven’t done this already, it may be a good idea to reflect on the relationship y’all share. Does your partner make you feel special, loved, and important? Do you feel safe? Are you able to work out problems in an effective, healthy way? Those pieces can be game-changers.
Leonidaki also suggested therapy, which can be beneficial since our attachment styles stem from childhood. “Our past experiences and how we have processed them also contribute to whether we can enjoy a secure attachment,” she pointed out. “If we have not recovered from past betrayals or abandonments, we will find it harder to develop trust in a new relationship. In turn, this makes us more susceptible to overthinking.”
So, you’ve already started to overthink…
Sometimes, we’re going to slip up and overthink, no matter how hard we try to let those thoughts go — and that’s OK! It happens to the best of us. But when that happens, how do you cope?
Leonidaki recommended grounding yourself back to reality. You can get a trusted friend’s perspective, ask your partner for reassurance, take a mindful walk or exercise another way, and discuss your feelings with your therapist as a way to ground yourself.
As the saying goes, recovery isn’t linear. So in the down periods, remember an “up” is coming soon.