“Are you coming on holiday then?”, asked my girlfriend.
I’d spent weeks thinking about it, making zero progress, trapped in a vicious vortex of indecision.
I’d considered every possibility of what to do that summer but just wasn’t sure I could justify the expenditure or time off work.
I seemed incapable of pulling the choice trigger. And analyzing my options didn’t help.
If anything, it just created more doubt, to the point that I was terrified I’d make the wrong decision, as if such a thing existed.
Naturally, my girlfriend was annoyed, (as any fully functional human would be), by my inability to make a simple choice.
You see, one of the worst aspects of dating an overthinker is that a partner can’t make plans.
Invariably, if they wait for an overthinker to finally decide, they’ll be waiting forever!
Do you have a partner who can’t help but worry about everything?
If so, then you know just how challenging they can be to date and how much conflict the condition can create.
In this blog post, we will discuss how to handle it and maintain a healthy relationship – plus I’ll let you know whether I actually went on holiday, you lucky little sausage.
Note: if you want to read the best books on overthinking, click here.
Signs you’re dating an overthinker
Likely you already know if you’re in this position as you’ll probably be pulling your hair out in frustration.
The biggest signs of the condition tend to be rumination on past events or excessive worry about the future.
Here are some common issues faced by an overthinker:
- They have a hard time making decisions because they overanalyze everything.
- They’re always doubting themselves and their abilities.
- They tend to worry about what could go wrong instead of focusing on the positive.
- They ruminate on past mistakes and dwell on negative experiences.
- They put a lot of pressure on themselves to be perfect.
How does overthinking affect relationships?
An overthinker will tend to worry about everything in their relationship, from whether they’re good enough for their partner to whether their partner is cheating on them.
This can lead to a lot of conflicts, arguments, and significant stress for both partners.
But it’s not just the big issues that cause problems…
Indeed, often it’s the cumulative effect of the small daily decisions that take their toll.
An overthinker will ponder every small choice and option, and seek validation from their partner before taking action.
I honestly have the potential to mentally poke and prod pretty much every aspect of my life.
Minor things such as what to do on their day off, what was said at a party, or which hoover to buy can cause huge psychological roadblocks for the professional overthinker.
Trust me – I’ve been there, sliding down the research rabbit hole, convinced that if I just gather more information then my future worries will be easier to manage.
As the individual in the couple who has to manage this analysis paralysis, it can become extremely tiring.
So let’s look at some pros and cons if you’re considering your situation.
The benefits and drawbacks of this type of relationship
It’s not all doom and gloom. Dating an overthinker can be challenging, but it also has its perks.
Here are some pros and cons to consider:
- Overthinkers are usually intelligent and can hold deep conversations.
- They’re detail-oriented and always prepared.
- They tend to be great problem-solvers.
- Overthinkers can be indecisive and overanalyze everything.
- They’re often pessimistic and worry a lot.
- Their perfectionism can be frustrating.
If you have a good balance of personality types as a couple, it can work well.
For example, my girlfriend is quite an intuitive person, able to use her gut feeling to effectively make decisions.
Combine this with a more analytical personality, and you may find that you’re able to meet somewhere in the middle.
How to deal with this type of relationship
If you’re dating an overthinker, remember that their worrying isn’t personal – it’s just the way they are.
So, here’s some advice for dealing with the situation:
What this person needs in a relationship
An overthinker needs a patient and understanding partner who can offer support and reassurance when they’re feeling anxious.
They also need someone who’s willing to listen to their worries and help them find solutions.
Avoid getting into arguments about their fears, as this will only make things worse.
Instead, try to gently encourage them to see the positive side of things.
All of this is easier said than done I know!
As an overthinker, I have both admiration and compassion for affected partners. They deserve a medal.
What do you tell someone who is overthinking? (and what not to say!)
If you’re trying to support someone trapped in their own head, there are a few things you should (and shouldn’t) say:
- “It sounds like you’re really giving this a lot of thought.”
- “I’m here for you if you need to talk about your worries.”
- “Can I help you brainstorm some solutions?”
- “I’m sure you’ll figure it out – you’re really smart!”
- “You’re overthinking this.”
- “Stop worrying, everything will be fine.”
- “Why can’t you just relax?”
- “Stop making such a big deal out of it.”
Saying the wrong thing can make your partner feel dismissed or invalidated, so make sure you monitor their response and recycle effective strategies for future use.
If your partner suffers from this affliction, there are a few practical interventions that might help:
- Encourage them to take breaks from decision-making and give themselves time to relax.
- Help them brainstorm solutions instead of dwelling on problems.
- Remind them of past successes and that they’re capable of handling whatever comes their way.
- Suggest that they journal or talk to a therapist about their worries.
Prioritizing your own health as the partner
Dating an overthinker can be hard for a partner, but it shouldn’t put you off if you truly have feelings for the other person.
It’s a psychological phenomenon that can be managed with the right support.
However, it’s vital that you consider your own mental health too.
Emotionally, it may become draining and you’ll need psychological stamina to help your partner navigate their recursive thoughts.
If in doubt, consider professional couples therapy to address the situation.
So I finally did go on holibops, and low and behold, had a splendid time.
This incident was just one in a long line of many that taught me about the wasted energy of overthinking.
Despite our best intentions to nail the perfect decision and mitigate against mistakes, there are no wrong outcomes.
We can’t change the past and often don’t have much control over the future, so simply pick the best option on the available evidence; ideally, one that leads to personal growth.
Then get busy living life.