I am a huge overthinker.
Like most qualities, this negative trait is actually linked to some good qualities too.
I am detail orientated, I’m thoughtful, I’m analytical and I’m super organized. But the downside is that overthinking easily leads to hypervigilance and anxiety if we’re not careful.
As every fellow overthinker will tell you, our minds can create problems that don’t even exist.
If you can relate, you may well identify with some of these things that overthinkers worry about in relationships (but really shouldn’t)…
1) Thinking that argument you had means you’re going to split up
I hate conflict.
It makes me feel super uncomfortable to have cross words or feel like someone is thinking badly of me.
But one thing I learned the hard way is that not only are fallouts unavoidable, it’s more of a bad sign if you’re not having them.
Yep, that’s right. If you never argue with your partner it suggests some underlying problems.
This was pointed out to me by a therapist many years ago.
She explained the fact that my boyfriend at the time and I always “got along” meant we were most likely sitting on a lot of unexpressed feelings.
And she was right.
In trying to avoid arguing we also inadvertently avoided expressing our true needs and wants to each other.
Here’s the thing: A certain amount of arguing in a relationship is perfectly healthy.
You can still love someone and disagree. You can care deeply and still have days when you get on each other’s nerves.
Sometimes a fight is just a fight. You don’t need to blow it out of proportion. Which as we’ll see next, isn’t always easy for an overthinker.
2) Wondering “But what if…*insert worst can scenario*”
Remember the Scout’s motto?
Always be prepared.
Overthinkers take this very seriously. The trouble is that overthinkers tend to be “vigilant” for things they really don’t need to be concerned with.
They can dream up some fairly elaborate worst-case scenarios. Regardless of how unlikely they are, they make them real in their minds.
What if he stops loving me?
What if she cheats?
What if we grow apart?
Whilst we’re busy contemplating doomsday, we’re neglecting the present. And let’s not forget, it’s the present that will go on to dictate the future.
Rather than imagining the worst-case scenarios, we should focus on creating the real scenarios that we want right now.
3) Looking for things that aren’t there
She didn’t put a smiley face at the end of her last text. She ALWAYS puts a smiley face at the end of her texts.
OMG, what does it mean?!
Probably absolutely nothing.
But that doesn’t mean as an overthinker you won’t spend the next few hours fretting and trying to crack the code.
But there is no code, you are reading into things too much. It’s a common habit of an overthinker.
The trouble is that when we go looking for problems that aren’t even there, we can inadvertently create them in the process.
If he was friendly to the waitress, it doesn’t mean he is attracted to her. But keep accusing him of having wandering eyes, and you may end up driving a wedge between you.
4) Receiving any negative feedback whatsoever
Because of that tendency to catastrophize, overthinkers can take everything to heart.
I saw a funny meme the other day that really resonated:
“Oh sorry when I said “I’m open to feedback” I meant you could give me a compliment”.
Maybe you find it really difficult to receive any sort of feedback. Because in your head you hear whatever they are saying as ten times worse than how they meant it.
Even an off-hand remark or an ill-thought-out joke can send you into a spiral of self-questioning.
‘How come you didn’t unload the dishwasher?’ means just that.
It doesn’t mean you’re a bad selfish partner who thinks of no one but themselves. It’s not a character assassination, it’s a fairly minor commentary on a household chore.
If we want to create healthy relationships that grow, we need to be open to hearing feedback.
That may mean looking at your self-esteem so that any tiny critique from your other half doesn’t hit you like a tonne of bricks.
5) That your partner’s moodiness or bad day is down to you
It must be something you did right?
Us overthinkers aren’t being purposefully self-absorbed. But we need to remind ourselves that the whole world doesn’t revolve around us.
And I mean that in a good way.
You don’t have to take responsibility for someone else. If they snap at you or seem in an off mood — don’t take it personally.
Their bad day isn’t because of you. And they’re entitled to have one.
It helps me to remember the words of Don Miguel Ruiz in his New York Times bestselling book, The Four Agreements: A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom:
“Don’t take anything personally because by taking things personally you set yourself up to suffer for nothing. Humans are addicted to suffering at different levels and to different degrees, and we support each other in maintaining these addictions.”
6) That past mistakes will repeat themselves
Whether they are your past mistakes or your partners — they do not have to follow you.
Dwelling on the past can be something that trips overthinkers up.
They remember that cheating ex and worry the same thing will happen again. They think about how heartbroken a former love once left them.
They freak themselves out by recalling errors and slip-ups that have gone before.
But they fail to remind themselves that part of life is living and learning. Trial and error is how we create future success.
The lessons we go through are what help us blossom into better versions of ourselves.
The truth is that history is not destined to repeat itself. Not when we break old habits and make constructive changes.
7) That your partner will leave you
Overthinkers may spend a lot of time concerning themselves with how their partner feels about them.
It’s totally understandable. Losing the person we love is probably the worst-case scenario that many of us can imagine.
I’m not going to tell you it won’t happen. Nobody can make reassurances, no matter how well meant.
But the bottom line is fixating on things outside of your control is always pointless.
Instead, it makes way more sense to turn that attention back to yourself.
What I mean is this:
If you’re scared your partner won’t want you anymore, aim to build your self-worth sky-high so that you radiate confidence.
Overthinkers can go down the rabbit hole and start to worry about things they have zero control over. Which only serves to make them feel even more out of control.
The one thing in life you do have control over is yourself. Take advantage of that and build yourself up in all the ways possible.
The more we rely on ourselves, the less we look to others with desperation. That actually strengthens our connections.
Do it primarily for yourself so that you feel good. But the reality is that when you do, it also turns you into a more attractive partner as well.
Final thoughts: Rather than overthink, be honest
We can all be prone to overthinking in our romances — often simply because we care.
But rather than create false narratives, aim to squash them before they get out of hand.
Putting a stop to spiraling overthinking by distracting yourself can help. But so too can opening up and sharing your feelings honestly in a relationship.
It takes vulnerability, but it can bring you closer.
When we shine a light on those monsters under the bed we can see that they were only ever shadows and nothing to be scared of.