How To Stop Overanalyzing Your Relationship – [12 Surprisingly Effective Strategies Revealed Inside]
Overanalyzing comes from anxiety.
In research terms, we call it Rumination, or dwelling on specific interactions and events that contain seeds of worry. Why is he acting this way? What does my bad feeling mean?
Evidence suggests two things about rumination.
1. Some overthinking helps us make sense of important relationship dynamics, especially when we’re trying to learn and grow.
2. Excessive rumination relates to more severe distress.
What I see in many people who overanalyze their relationship dance is an anxious attachment style.
That is, a woman’s way of coupling has a quality of desperation, negativity, and overwhelm to it. She obsesses over every expression or gesture in her partner. She finds all sorts of reasons it will never work out between them. She expects him to leave her.
This quality comes from long-ago trauma (think baby and toddler years) that disrupted her relationship with her parents. This is where we learn how to trust, love, and relax.
And every kind of family trauma (e.g., natural disasters, divorce, financial stress) interrupts a child’s attachment process, even if her parents are otherwise perfect.
What to do? If you always fret and overthink each step in the dating process, you might have an anxious attachment style. Trauma therapy addresses early attachment – so I encourage you to explore EMDR (eye-movement desensitization and reprocessing) Therapy and Trauma-Focused Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy.
For now, try this mindfulness exercise for calming and redirecting your thoughts.
1. In your journal, list all the fears you have about the relationship. Worst-case scenarios: about you, about your partner, about what might happen, about what he/she is thinking.
2. Draw an elaborate box around those thoughts. Decorate the box with Zen doodling.
3. On the next page, make a list of your blessings. Include joyful moments from this relationship. See if you can list 50 things or more.
4. Take several deep breaths. Then practice shifting your attention back and forth between the pages. Notice any change in your body when you move from list to list. Breathe.
Dr. Deborah Cox – www.deborahlcox.com
We overanalyze when we come from fear; fear of not being good enough, fear of not being what we perceive he is wanting in a woman, and fear of not trusting our self to know what to do to establish an authentic relationship.
The biggest problem when we overanalyze is that we are not acknowledging our desperation to be in a relationship. Why is just having a relationship with our self not enough?
The first step to cure this overanalyzing is ironically to analyze your own desires and own them.
Why do you choose to be in a relationship? Do you need to be rescued? Do you want someone else to take responsibility for you? Do you feel lonely? Do you feel good enough? Do you want him to invite you to feel better about yourself? Bottom line is: do you desire him or do you need him?
When we need someone, we are coming from an unhealthy place, and that relationship will not last nor be what you truly desire in the long run as we want that person to fix us, to somehow make us whole. When we desire male companionship, but don’t need him, then we are coming from a healthy place and are ready to be in an authentic relationship.
Over analyzing is a sign that tells us that we are in need and not in desire.
When you realize that you are a catch, and are comfortable being who you are, then and only then, will you not need to overanalyze. Instead you shall be comfortable going with the flow and allowing the relationship to develop naturally.
Sharón Lynn Wyeth, BS – www.knowthename.com
It might be more accurate to ask whether women think about all aspects of intimate relationships more than men do. Of course. But there are good reasons.
Women are the keepers of the past and future when it comes to love. They are weavers who wonder why something happened, what is happening now, and how both of those will affect future behavior. In committed relationships, men tend to live more in the moment and are not prone to excusing or defending that present behavior.
Once a rupture is over, women want to go back and talk about it. Men’s blood pressure usually goes up ten percent when asked to do that because they can’t really remember what actually happened and are at the mercy of a woman’s recollection (which usually will point out how bad they were).
The actual differences between men and women are much smaller than most of us think.
Though men do not automatically or encouragingly weave the past and future into the present in their intimate relationships, they do it automatically in areas of competition like sports, business, and battle.
In those arenas, knowledge of what happened in the last skirmish and how to change it in the next one is crucial to success. Sadly, men don’t usually take that same attitude into their love relationships and give that power away to their women.
That creates a common problem.
Most women unfortunately don’t understand the way to approach men when those women want to revisit a negative experience.
When, in their areas of chosen debate, men not only willingly go back into the past, they rarely hassle or blame each other when they do. They call it debriefing and its main goal is to learn what went wrong, rather than to punish or assign blame.
Women who know how to debrief, rather than to get their men to see what they did wrong, have a much easier time getting their men to trust going back to explore a prior conflict. (See my article on Debriefing on my Psychology Today Blog site.)
The most consistent problem that occurs when a woman thinks too much in here head about what is going on between her and her partner is that she does not include his input in her mental explorations and obsessions.
Putting together puzzle pieces by herself, she runs the risk of missing critical data and misinterpreting other information. Men hate interrogations, (which consist of more than three questions in a row J) but they are more likely to welcome wondering statements like, “I don’t ever want to interpret what you did incorrectly and I created five hypotheses without bothering to ask for your input. Could you tell me if any of them is close?”
That means there is room for them to agree or give a more accurate answer.
Secondly, if a woman is coming from a place of insecurity and her need to know what her partner is thinking in order to feel less anxious, that will be most often experienced by men as an indirect control move.
Most men either meet that with superficial statements of reassurance that may be simply to get them out of an uncomfortable situation, or perceive her request as a statement of their inadequacy.
Couples with great communication match words with actions and don’t leave each other wondering and worrying.
If a woman continues to fret and worry, she should address the fact that she needs more access to his feelings about the relationship to help her decide if the deal is still good for her.
Dr. Randi Gunther - www.randigunther.com
Women are notorious for overanalyzing and it can definitely get them into trouble.
Men tend to be more straight forward in their communication. If they say they can’t meet up tonight, it probably means they cannot meet up that night. Women look for explanations and interpretation to match what they want to hear or what they hope to hear.
Women may think a man means he can’t hang out tonight because he doesn’t like her, or has another date, or doesn’t like to hang out two nights in a row, or whatever other hundreds of things that can pop into her head.
When thoughts become intrusive, it is important to put together a set of tools in order to stop them.
1. Distract yourself
a. If you begin to go into a thought spiral, do something else to distract yourself. Read your favorite book. Call a friend. Go to a yoga class. One effective tool for stopping thoughts is to do something to distract yourself from the thoughts.
2. Write your thoughts out in a journal
a. Sometimes it is important to write things out and get them off your chest. Use your journal as a platform to do that. Write down your thoughts and leave them in your journal.
Write out as much information as you need to get out. Explore all of your thoughts here, close your journal and leave the thoughts to the pages.
3. Use a rubber band as a reminder to stop
a. One tool you can use is to put thoughts to a stop is a rubber band. It’s based on behavioral therapy techniques. Every time you find yourself ruminating about something, snap the rubber band against your wrist. You will find that those thoughts quickly associate with the unpleasant feeling of the rubber band and they will reduce.
4. Ask for more clarification
a. If you really need more information from the guy, ask him. Let him know you want to understand what is going on. Sometimes having more information can put you are ease and bring in a greater peace of mind.
5. Change unhealthy thoughts to healthy ones
a. With the help of a therapist, use to learn Cognitive Behavioral Therapy techniques to help reduce unhealthy thoughts. A therapist will teach you how to change your thoughts through the identification of certain thinking patterns. Using CBT is an effective tool in thought change.
Amanda Patterson, LMHC – www.amandapattersonlmhc.com
Over-analyzing your relationship is unnecessary and sometimes destructive.
There is no need to analyze anything, actually. If you feel happy, relaxed and enjoy the guy’s company, everything will flow and go well. If it doesn’t, he wasn’t for you anyway. If you learn to love more and worry less, your love life will flow more easily.
So, here’s the bad news! If you only focus on what the guy has written or said to you, pulling it apart word by word and searching out possible hidden meanings, you are wasting your life and you will make yourself miserable. Thinking about things over and over won’t actually change anything and, in fact may make you feel more anxious and out of control.
Ask yourself, why you are over analyzing?
You probably really want the relationship to go well, but this is not the way to achieve your goal. Worse still, you may slip into obsessional thinking and behaviour which is not attractive.
Although it’s normal, especially when you first meet someone to think about them a lot, if you start reading too much into every little detail or try to understand every nuance, you will get stressed. You will begin to drive yourself crazy if you examine “What does he mean by this and he seemed a bit distant on his last phone call.”
Also be aware of how you use social media and don’t jump to conclusions at every Facebook or Twitter comment he makes. Yes, it’s good to have a couple of close friends to talk things over with and that can be exciting and validating.
At the same time, try to resist telling all and sundry about him and asking their opinion. They may not say things you are hoping to hear! Instead, develop more trust in yourself and him.
If you think about him all the time, you will start to lose touch with yourself and he becomes the center of your life, rather than you.
Stop second guessing, take one day at a time and learn to relax and chill. Put your focus back on yourself and your life, work, friends etc and don’t make him the only emphasis in your life. Develop balance and stop sabotaging yourself by spending so much time thinking!
Sherry Marshall, BSc, MAA – www.sydneyprocesscounselling.com.au
I think the key thing to remember is that no amount of behavior analysis will afford you control over the success of the relationship.
One of the big dangers in overanalyzing a partner’s behavior is that we begin to create stories about their feelings and intentions, and begin to react to these stories in our heads rather than to reality.
This not only can make us decide the relationship is dying before it’s really begun, but it also leads to extremely off-putting behavior on our part – clinginess, jealousy, hypersensitivity, insecurity, fight-picking, etc.
Overanalyzing is also a major romance killer.
It completely inhibits your ability to connect with your partner in the present because you are constantly stressing about the past and the future.
On top of all these things, overanalyzing is also just plain exhausting. It takes so much mental energy that could be better spend on bonding with your partner in meaningful ways, or even enriching the other parts of your life outside of your relationship.
How to stop this compulsive analysis?
When you feel tempted to ruminate over the minutiae of his behavior, try reorienting yourself to the present by jumping into an enjoyable activity that brings you right back into the moment.
Take on a volunteer project, read something thought provoking, go for a run, do some yoga. Anything to help you get out of the depths of your head and regain some perspective.
Another very common way we women get sucked into overanalyzing is by rehashing things ad nauseam with our female friends, who, with only the best of intentions, often keep us stuck in these cycles of rumination by trying to be supportive by engaging in them with us (that is, if they haven’t already maxed out on it and are about to start screening your calls because they can’t handle one more second of hearing your latest theories on his childhood).
This one can be really hard to fight, since it feels so natural to chat with our girlfriends about anything and everything, but you will notice that it actually saves so much energy if you choose to focus on other topics rather than talking your relationship into the ground once again. It may even save your friendship!
Finally, what I tend to always come back to with my clients when they are needlessly stressing out, is to rediscover what it is that brings you joy in your life.
Cultivate your own interests, hobbies, and social life so that your entire emotional state doesn’t hinge on whether your boyfriend is in a grouchy mood, or forgot to say “I love you” before hanging up the phone.
Reclaim ownership of your emotional health and happiness. Chances are, this will immensely improve your relationship as well.
Hadley Hill, MA, LPC – www.hadleyhilltherapy.com
Over-analyzing and anxiety go hand in hand.
We tend to over-analyze when we are anxious about an outcome. There is a fine line between paying attention and over-analyzing. When you pay attention, you are less likely to overlook important information. In relationships you need information to be able to know if the relationship is meeting your needs and expectations.
If you aren’t paying attention, you could be missing relevant clues. Noticing if your partner is attentive, caring, giving, available and respectful is important. Those and other traits give you an idea of your partner’s character and compatibility with your values and life-style.
Over-analyzing is a function of your anxiety and the mistaken notion that with enough scrutiny you will have a better chance of anticipating problems or managing existing problems.
Neither is true. If you have concerns about your relationship you need to talk to your partner about them. Relationship problems are the responsibility of both partners. Each partner is responsible for the self-management it takes to successfully navigate a relationship.
Anxiety can provide a clue that something is amiss for you in the relationship.
While it’s important to pay attention to your perceptions, endlessly revisiting them doesn’t lead to solutions. The more you analyze, the more anxiety you create. Chronic high anxiety can lead to cognitive distortions, impulsive behaviors and even physical illness.
No amount of reading emails, texts, etc. will give you the information you need to evaluate the relationship. If you don’t voice your concerns you are operating in a vacuum. It can be scary to talk because you may not hear what you want to hear.
Over-analyzing may delay a difficult conversation, but it won’t solve anything. If you want to grow the relationship you need to voice your concerns. If he can’t listen and participate, he may not be the right guy for you.
Sally Leboy, MS, MFT – www.sallyleboymft.com
Do you feel like everything he says, everything he texts, everything he does has some inner meaning that needs to be broken down, analyzed, discussed and reviewed in order to make sense of it?
You are not alone. Many women feel there are subliminal meanings in their partner’s behavior that needs further discussion, so that they feel good about the relationship and how it’s developing.
First of all, the more you try to figure out what he thinks and feels, the more anxious it makes YOU feel.
Does he like you, want to be with you, feel close to you? Deciphering what each word means and why it takes him so long to respond are pointless and wasteful of your time.
All those concerns put pressure on you, bring your anxiety up and focuses your attention on him too much. Would that not push him away, making him feel more responsible for making you happy?
Who is suffering here? Who becomes the prisoner in the relationship, sabotaging and destroying any chance of happiness? Of course, you are!
Here are some tips to help you shift your focus and connect with him in a healthier way:
1. Remember to take care of yourself first.
Stop wondering what he is thinking and focus on what you are thinking and feeling. How are you enjoying the relationship? Is this guy really worth all your effort? Does he treat you like you want to be treated?
2. Boost your self-esteem by loving yourself first.
Feel good about yourself, by improving your skills, knowledge base, interests. When you are comfortable with yourself, the right man will come into your life, because you like yourself and are satisfied with who you are.
3. Stop turning situations into what they aren’t, creating scenarios without having all the facts, and making yourself crazy over small technicalities.
Instead, get ready to move on and let go because if things are not working out, why stay in the relationship?
4. Step away from things.
Spend time with friends, family and pursue other outside interests. The more you distract yourself with interesting things, the less time you will have to rattle your brain with insignificant, meaningless trivia.
5. Be aware of where your thoughts are going–so you can stop them.
It hurts you more than it hurts him, since he’s not a part of your vivid imagination and analysis. Stop your thoughts before they get too ahead of you.
Amy Sherman, M.A., LMHC – www.yourbabyboomersnetwork.com
Do not get ahead of yourself. When we are attached to outcomes, we tend to do things in a way that forces that outcome.
Being yourself and authentic is always the best approach. Overanalyzing and reading into every text, call and email places a great deal of emphasis on how someone else views us. It is also about knowing whether or not that person likes us and whether or not we are important to that person. Love and acceptance cannot be forced.
Stay in the moment and stay grounded in your power. Putting too much emphasis on what he is doing is giving him way too power much over you.
A healthier perspective is to believe that everything is okay in the relationship until someone says otherwise.
Ask yourself: What purpose does is serve to read into every text or email? Will it change how he feels or views me? Will it change the outcome of the relationship to overanalyze?
Take what is said at face value until you know or learn something otherwise. Take a moment to breathe and ground yourself. Be present in your body and know that the best outcome will come when you are relaxed, grounded and standing in your power.
It takes practice to slow your mind down and to stop ruminating about the what if´s.
Ruminating and hyper-focusing is wasting precious energy that you can use to live and enjoy your day. Be mindful of being attached to the outcome and what behavior you are engaging in to achieve that outcome. Do something with that nervous energy. Go for a walk or go to a movie.
Find alternative ways to focus your attention.
Do not allow yourself to succumb to overanalyzing and let it control your life and happiness.
Be the best version of yourself that you can be and trust that you are perfect just the way you are. Trust that that he will see who you really are and love you as you are.
Ileana Hinojosa, MLA, LMFT – www.themindfullife.net
Women often struggle with letting go. Letting go requires us to accept the moment. Acceptance is about living in the present.
When women become fixated and stuck on analyzing the behavior and words of their partner, they are not living in the here and now moment.
When we become stagnant, life passes us by. We miss out on many moments when we become rooted in trying to investigate the past.
Let it go. Move with the current of life.
What does that practically mean? It means, take notice of your partner’s behavior, gesture, mood, and language and then let it go. Remain in the moment and work towards not personalizing it.
We can become so easily triggered. Our feelings can become hurt. Feel it and then allow the next moment to take you out of your pain.
As a professional who works with women, it can become frustrating for me to see females diving right into the vortex of their partner’s world.
Often times women lose sight of their needs, desires, goals as they become fixated on trying to decode their partner’s.
The goal is let go of trying to play the investigator role. Refocus your time and energy. Focus on playing the investigator role in your own life.
What makes you come alive? What interests you? What are you curious about? What brings you joy?
The most important relationship you could ever have is the one you have with yourself.
Men are attracted like magnets to women who deeply know themselves, are confident, and do not need anyone or anything externally to make them happy.
Let it go. Engage in the present moment. Love yourself. Stop worrying.
Brooke Campbell, M.A., RDT-BCT, LCAT – www.creativekinections.com
An inconvenient reality is that the mind tends to perceive facts in a way that is highly influenced by emotions.
What we “think” is true is very often actually what we “feel” is true. The mind takes feelings and constructs reality around those feelings instead of the other way around. As much as we would love to believe that we are logic-driven, most of us are more affected by feelings than we would like to admit.
If you find yourself “over-analyzing”, this is probably because you are having a hard time separating out your feelings from your thoughts.
The analysis process is really your logic scrambling to keep up with your feelings, and this can be relieved if you work on embracing the idea that you can’t really separate the two out.
Tell yourself “this is what I FEEL is true right now” instead of convincing yourself that your feelings are fact-based. Most often they are not, but our feelings can take over control of our behaviors when feelings masquerade as fact. Once you can acknowledge the pull your feelings have over your analysis, you can empower yourself to use rationality instead of reactivity.
Remember, it’s ok to seek support for your feelings just for their own sake.
Say to your partner, “I feel like we are drifting apart, I need comfort, I need reassurance” instead of approaching him with a litany of “facts” that he must respond to. He will likely be more receptive to caring for your emotional needs if you state them as such.
Brett McDonald, M.S., LMHC – www.thedragonflyretreat.com