You know the feeling. You send that text and your love interest takes forever getting back to you. What happen to them? What could they be doing? Usually, you first find little conclusions to jump to. Perhaps they got caught up at work. Maybe they had a drink with a friend, or left their phone on silent and just got busy. Then you jump to larger conclusions like maybe they got in a car accident, maybe they’re with their ex making out in the back seat of the car, or maybe they got called away by the president to infiltrate a terrorist network. Well, perhaps not the last one. But if left to its own devices, the human mind can come up with some creative things that are usually, not true. We are our own worst torturers. But it doesn’t affect just you.
Overthinking can doom an entire relationship. It can make you clingy, or overbearing which might drive your baby away. If you have been in a relationship long-term, it might make you suspicious of your partner. You say think they are cheating, and instead of bringing you closer together—which would prevent them from cheating or some other transgression, your being on guard makes them defensive and this drives the two of you apart.
In most realms in life analysis is good. You take things apart, study all the facts, and then you have a good picture, and a likely place to move forward. But relationships are based on our emotional status, which is not well understood by the analytical part of the brain. So over-analysis can make you cast doubts on yourself, your partner, or even how you really feel. In fact, studies have shown that most people make poor relationship decisions based on over-analysis. Those who were confident in their feelings were more likely to make decisions leading to a positive outcome. Think about when you have admired something. Perhaps it is your favorite band or color. It can be easy to say what our preference is. But when we try to delve deeper, or if challenged by some jerk for our particular preference, lots of times we are at a loss for words. The same is true with emotional preferences. A lot of our choices emanate from the subconscious, including our choice for a mate, according to Gwendolyn Seidman, Ph.D. She is an associate professor of psychology and the chair of the psychology department at Albright College. How could rational explanations be conjured up when feelings of love originate in the subconscious?
So now that we know the problem, how can you slow down an overactive logic center, and get more in touch with your emotional side? How can you cut our over-analysis when it comes to love? The first step might be learning mindfulness. Learn to enjoy the present moment that you are in, or be fully present in the task you are performing. If you are worrying about everything, there is no room to enjoy your life and actually experience it. When find yourself taking part in obsessive behavior like thinking over and over again what a cryptic text might mean, give up. Realize that all truths are revealed with time. Take a break and go do an activity to blow off steam, something that you enjoy. Some people like shooting hoops, while others go roller blading. There are those that chitchat with a friend over coffee, while others kill as many zombies as they can in the latest arcade horror game.
Sometimes we underestimate our ability to mitigate situations. A good thing to do is to think back to previous situations that you handled well. Get a sense of pride from this, and use it to puts your mind to rest. These people also put an overemphasis on the future. But the future does not happen in a bubble. It is a chain of events that brings us to it. It is how you act now that will determine how your future and the future of this relationship will be. So only by living in the present moment can we safeguard the future. Lastly, if you need some help, give yourself a little mantra. Make up your own, something that means something special only to you. It will strengthen your heart, clear your head, and help you get back to the ever-present now.
For more on beating negative thinking read The 10 Best-Ever Anxiety Management Techniques: Understanding How Your Brain Makes You Anxious and What You Can Do to Change It by Margaret Wehrenberg.