Overthinking your relationship is a dirty, dirty habit—but it’s one many of us are guilty of. (Let she who hasn’t overthought her relationship cast the first stone.) Why did my partner do that? What does what they said *really* mean?
The issue: Overthinking in a relationship can actually jeopardize that relationship. The other issue: Even if you know overthinking is bad, it can be seriously hard to stop.
Naturally, we turned to the experts to get the low-down on what we can do to slow our roll, overthinking-wise. And they had plenty of advice to send our way. Here, 13 steps you can take to stop overthinking your relationship—or at least, to curb some of the overthinking-in-a-relationship habits you’re so prone to engage in.
“Sometimes people don’t communicate properly and don’t always say things that they mean,” celebrity relationship expert and TV personality Vikki Ziegler explains.
“Just because your partner doesn’t say I love you several times a day or is not comfortable with PDA, it doesn’t mean you don’t have an amazing relationship,” Ziegler says. “Stop obsessing over certain words or lack thereof, and if you feel a certain way, ask your partner—don’t obsess over it.”
You could be overthinking the relationship when you should be worrying about how you feel about the relationship/your partner. “Ask yourself how you feel about yourself within the context of the relationship,” Jess O’Reilly, PhD, licensed sex and relationships expert, explains. “This can provide a better gauge of where you are than attempting to analyze everything you’ve said, done and experienced as a couple.”
Sometimes, your closest friends do offer the best advice. So what advice would you give them?
“If you find you’re overthinking interactions, arguments or situations in your relationship, consider the advice you’d give your best friend if they were in the same scenario,” O’Reilly says. “Would you tell them to speak up? Would you tell them to stop overthinking? If so, it’s likely you could benefit from following that same advice.”
Maybe you’re bored and need something fulfilling to consume you. “Get interested in yourself and make yourself more interesting,” Rori Sassoon, relationship expert and Platinum Poire CEO, explains. “Finding a hobby, passion or something that excites you may put the focus where it belongs—on you.”
You’ll become so busy you won’t have time to spend your time overthinking a relationship.
Often, overthinking everything about the relationship and your partner is a sign you don’t know what you really want and aren’t getting what you need.
“Once you have clarity around what it is that you need, then you can pinpoint if something is missing in your relationship,” Laurel House, dating and relationship coach and host of the Man Whisperer podcast, explains. “With the specific knowledge of what is missing, you can talk with your partner so that they also have clarity around what it is that you need.”
In other words, stop focusing on what’s wrong and instead redirect your mind to what you want. “This way, you are focusing on the solution and the ideal outcome and how you can achieve it as opposed to the problem,” House says.
You shouldn’t have to read between the lines to understand your partner’s needs and intentions, so don’t ask them to do the same. “You’ll find that the more you model direct communication, the more they’ll reciprocate similarly,” O’Reilly says. “You can then listen to what they have to say and trust them instead of analyzing and looking for hidden meaning.”
If your mind starts drifting toward what’s worrying you about the relationship, turn the wheel and think about your friends or your dog, text your best friend… just stop yourself from thinking about the relationship.
“Don’t go thinking of the future or the past. If it’s meant to be with your partner, it will be,” Sassoon says. “Stay present with them and be aware of how they make you feel.”
While it’s nice to have friends who are on your side, it’s not helpful when all they’re doing is fueling the fire.
“Pity-partying isn’t helpful and in fact can be hurtful. Your friends might have the best intentions, but they might not know how to help you,” House says. “They likely won’t bring up your faults and ways that you may be aggravating the problem because they don’t want to hurt your feelings or maybe because they are so narrowly focused that they can’t see the bigger reality of the situation.”
Sometimes, getting professional advice and having someone to talk to without judgment can be the best solution to overthinking a relationship. “Most likely, a therapist will diffuse the situation and make you realize you are just overthinking,” Lindsey Metselaar, a relationship expert and host of the We Met At Acme podcast, says.
Get some fresh air, with or without your significant other. “Your mind will clear, and you’ll be able to focus on living in the moment. If you travel without your partner, you will miss them and think of the good times and not overthink,” Metselaar says.
Be grateful for the good things your partner does for you and try not to focus on the small things he or she doesn’t do. “Practicing this will keep you in a state of happiness and prevent you from overanalyzing and overthinking the entire relationship,” Ziegler says.
You may feel like you’re thinking about the relationship all the time, but this will give you a good perspective on how much overthinking you’re actually doing and why.
“In additional to helping quantify, [it will help you] identify specific thought patterns, triggers, underlying emotions,” Rachel Perlstein, cofounder of A Good First Date, says. “Once you have more understanding, you can take action to address the underlying thoughts, feeling/needs.”
Originally posted on SheKnows.