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4 Things to Remember if You Overthink in Relationships

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Dating can be hard when you’re an overthinker. When you live with different anxiety disorders, trauma, and/or health conditions, it’s very easy to overthink yourself into a small (or very large) tizzy. 

When you’re dating, you’re putting yourself out there for the world to see. Sure it may just be small plates and a drink, but beyond that it’s so much more. They’re looking at you (like really really looking at you), listening to every word you say, all in the hopes of maybe finding their ideal match. That means you’re under a magnifying glass unlike any other. Knowing this, it’s easy to see why some people have anxiety attacks before, during, and/or after dates, and why some people avoid it over all.

If you’re going on a first date, remember that you’re the prize.

Overthinking also isn’t just for the people trying to find the big L-O-V-E. People in committed relationships can experience it too, especially if you’ve lived through some form of trauma or abuse. It’s easy to jump from “Oh, they didn’t text me back. My ex didn’t text me back whenever they were mad at me. They withheld affection every time I upset them. What if that’s what they’re doing? Oh no, I’m being played. I should confront them about this now, or maybe even break up with them…”

See what I’m saying? 

Anxiety and overthinking can be very hard on the people in a relationship individually and collectively. If you struggle with overthinking in these scenarios, here are some things to keep in mind in hopes that they’ll help you though those times where your brain won’t stop bullying you:

1. Stay in your present relationship to the best of your ability, versus reliving your past ones.

I know firsthand how crappy exes can be, especially when there’s trauma, abuse, lying, manipulation, etc., involved. That being said, that was my past relationship, and it’s not now. I’ve learned that it’s important to distinguish that difference in the moment and I do so by using the following two affirmations.

  • I wasn’t safe before, but I am safe now.
  • <Past partner> is the person who hurt me, not <current partner>.

These two affirmations remind me that I am living in a new situation that is not my old one, and that I am no longer in that place. Focusing on the current partner at hand and giving them that fair chance is important.

2. Ask yourself if your new partner(s) display any past behavior to genuinely confirm what your anxiety is telling you?

Let’s say you have an ex who withheld communication and affection when they became upset. Present day, you have a partner who is having a bad day and isn’t being very communicative because of that. The lack of communication can be a massive trigger, and sure that’s valid, but diving deeper beyond that, does this new partner have a history of doing this against you? If not, leaning into the faith and trust as much as possible (and I know it’s hard) can sometimes help. Let this new person (or people) chart their own path forward with you based on their own merit and behavior. And yes, sometimes there are red flags that we need to pay attention to, but there’s a difference between a narcissistic red flag and someone maybe having an off day.

3. Remind yourself that no matter what happens, you’re going to be OK.

Sometimes when you have a fear of abandonment (like moi) your anxiety can stem from a place other than past relationship trauma. That overthinking can cause you to freak out because “What if they leave?” or “What if they did this thing because they don’t think it’s going to last?” which isn’t exactly the healthiest.

This exercise is one I created and truthfully, I do not think it’s for everyone, but it did help me.

Write out all the “what ifs” that scare you. I know, that seems counterintuitive, but trust me (or don’t. You have to do what you feel is best).

Write out your “what if,” then leave an ellipse and finish it with “I’ll still be OK.”

For example:

“What if they leave…I’ll still be OK.”

I had to do this a couple weeks in a row once, and when that person did leave I didn’t feel as broken and shattered as I would have before.

4. If you’re going on a first date, remember that you’re the prize.

It’s easy to fall into the trap of low-self esteem and confidence. With that comes the thoughts and fears related to perceived judgment from others where you could be projecting how you feel about yourself onto them. 

You are not a consolation prize or a participation trophy. You are the number one grand winner prize. This date is for you to feel them out, as much as it’s the other way around. You have power in this scenario. Own it.

If you struggle with overthinking in dating, you’re not alone. Remember that your partner should allow you to feel as if you can communicate through your trauma and issues with them. Feeling like you’re in a team when you’re in a relationship is one of the biggest green flags, and that’s what will help. Also, don’t be afraid to consult a professional to help you talk through your overthinking tendencies. 

Love is amazing, and I’m so excited for the day you can experience it as healthily as possible.

Getty image by MesquitaFMS

Originally published: May 12, 2022
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