If you’re someone who tends to overthink things, you’re not alone. Many of us – therapists and psychologists included – tend to obsess about things that could otherwise be fairly simple. If you find yourself unsure about whether you like the new person you’re dating enough to continue on, we can infer a few things.
Obsessive or neurotic personality style
To get a clear picture of what “neurotic” means, I encourage you to watch the old Woody Allen film ‘Annie Hall’. Woody does “neurotic” better than anyone else, and you can see how his character can turn the simplest thing into something messy and complicated. Outlandish film characters aside, you know plenty of neurotic people in your own social or work life. They are indecisive; they make decisions and then constantly doubt them; and they tend to depend on other people more than most. Does this describe you?
Some people who overthink and question whether they like someone enough actually have a brain that works in an obsessive way. These individuals tend to be anxious and don’t easily feel any real peace of mind. If this is a problem you have, seek out a therapist or talk to a medical doctor about whether a medication could help to reduce this obsessive trait. The goal, after all, is to live your life – not just to think about your life!
Fear of intimacy or getting hurt again
Yes, everyone’s had their feelings hurt, but some men and women have had their heart summarily broken by someone important in their past. As a child, you may have had a parent who didn’t pay enough attention to you or who was critical of you, and this type of experience inevitably screws up your romantic relationships later. Perhaps you fell deeply in love with someone, only to see that relationship and love disappear into thin air.
When you’ve had your heart seriously broken, emotional intimacy can be uncomfortable. Many times, not being sure whether you like someone enough indicates a fear of intimacy. Deep down, you truly do like the new person you’re dating, but your unconscious fears are tricking your mind into believing that you aren’t sure as a means of protecting yourself from future hurts.
Waiting on the fantasy
Hey, I love a good fantasy as much as the next person. I love going to the movies for that very reason, because we need a place in our harried and challenging lives where things work out neatly. When it comes to relationships, however, there is nothing neat, simple or organized about them. In terms of finding the right person, you need to forget the fantasy – or all the traits you envisioned your future husband or wife having – and focus on how you feel with that person in real time. When you meet the kind of person who would make a good lifelong partner, you will sit across from that person during the first dinner and talk easily and naturally as if you’d known each other for years.
If you aren’t sure whether you like the person you’re dating enough to keep going, remind yourself that the decision should be made by how you feel with that person – not by what you think about that person. If you feel good with him or her and things tend to be copacetic and smooth, odds are that you’re overthinking things.
Tendency toward self-punishment
If you can’t decide if you like someone enough, you must also consider whether you are punishing yourself by not letting yourself relax and feel good about your new relationship. Do you tend to be critical of yourself? If this is the reason that best fits you, would you consider giving yourself a chance to be happy in a relationship?
The bottom line: Whenever you start overthinking things in the relationship department, it’s time to take a break from your love dramas and distract yourself with something that sucks up some of that mental energy. Yoga, hitting the gym, or cleaning out your closet can be great ways to refocus your mental energy. Plus, once you’ve had a slight mental escape, you will likely return to the problem with much keener clarity.
Dr. Seth is a licensed clinical psychologist, author, Psychology Today blogger, and TV guest expert. He practices in Los Angeles and treats a wide range of issues and disorders and specializes in relationships, parenting, and addiction. He has had extensive training in conducting couples therapy and is the author of Dr. Seth’s Love Prescription: Overcome Relationship Repetition Syndrome and Find the Love You Deserve.