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12 Things To Remember Before You Date An Over-Thinker

12 Things To Remember Before You Date An Over-Thinker

My mind is constantly racing. Unfortunately, this leads me to constantly worry about what people think of me, what the spot on my left arm is, or what that person meant when he said “Nice shirt” earlier this afternoon. I should be absolutely ecstatic that I found a woman to marry who can deal with this garbage from me on a daily basis (and I am). I guess I just feel bad that I didn’t warn her from the get-go that, when dating an over-thinker:

1. You need to say what you mean

In today’s world, communication comes in many forms. A text message or email can come across in a much different manner than it was intended, through no fault of the sender. Even in person, saying “I’m fine” can send an over-thinker into overdrive, leading to an inner monologue consisting of questions like “Is she really fine? What can I do to help? Did I do something wrong?” when, in actuality, the person really is just fine. It’s always important for people in a relationship to have an open line of communication, but it’s even more imperative if one of the two is a chronic over-thinker.

2. You’ll end up making most of the decisions

My wife definitely gets annoyed with me because I put too much of a burden on her to make decisions. But I can’t help it. When she asks what I want for dinner, my first thought is “Whatever I say, she’ll agree with, even if she doesn’t want it.” In truth, I really don’t care what we eat, as long as she’s happy. Same with making plans on a Saturday. Because I over-think every situation, I’m incredibly indecisive. However, I’ll follow her wherever she wants to go. On some level, she’s accepted this, but I also can tell when she’s tired of being the one to make all the plans.

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3. You’ll make us paranoid if you try to surprise us

Don’t be a sneak and try to plan a surprise birthday party for us. Either one of two things is likely to occur: We’ll be driven absolutely insane by our own (unnecessary) paranoia, or we’ll end up figuring out (and thus ruining) the surprise. Of course you mean well, but just know that when you’re a half-hour late coming home and won’t tell us where you’ve been, we’re going to assume the worst (even if, like I said, it’s unnecessary to do so).

4. You’ll get random texts about random thoughts

I should probably be ashamed to admit this, but it took until about two months ago for me to realize the slogan “Trust Sleepy’s for the rest of your life” is a play on the word “rest.” I’d heard it a million times, but one day it just hit me. Of course, the first thing I did was text my wife to not only gloat about the world-changing epiphany I’d just had, but also to laugh at myself for being so random. Finding the sub-Reddit “Shower Thoughts” made me realize I’m not the only one whose mind is constantly bombarded with outside-the-box thoughts. My wife, on the other hand, probably isn’t so happy I made that discovery.

5. You can laugh at us, to a certain extent

My wife’s usual response to those random texts is: “Sounds like you have too much time on your hands.” I can definitely laugh that off, because I know she’s joking (and also because I know it’s kind of true). But when I’m having an absolutely atrocious day that ends with being ignored by a cashier at the supermarket and getting cut off by a guy blowing through a stop sign, I need some sympathy. Deep down, I know the world’s not against me, but in the moment, it certainly feels like it. Let me blow off steam and come back to Earth before you laugh at me!

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6. You’ll have to keep us off WebMD

I alluded to this in the intro. I’m no hypochondriac, but it’s specifically because I avoid looking up symptoms I’m currently having on the Internet. But I know last week when my arm was tingling for more than a couple hours, I started to worry. I mean, I could have just pinched a nerve or banged it wrong, but what’s this bug bite on my elbow? What if it’s blood poisoning? How am I going to pay for a hospital visit? (Yes, these are all thoughts that crossed my mind in some manner or another). I’m glad my wife was there to remind me I cut up jalapeño peppers earlier in the day, and it was most likely just a residual sting from the juice. Whew.

7. You’ll have to force us to let go of what’s bothering us

Revisiting that “the world’s against me” mentality that comes with being an over-thinker, you’ll need to remind us to let things go sometimes. I realize the person who cut me off didn’t mean to personally attack me, and the cashier who ignored me wasn’t specifically ignoring me, but at the time, it sure felt like it. My wife always brings me back to the reality that it was the other person who’s a bad driver, and the other person who’s a bad cashier. It’s certainly a good thing to have someone to allow us to see things objectively.

8. You’ll have to alleviate our irrational fears

Life is full of “what-ifs.” An over-thinker’s life is full of way too many “what-ifs.” “What if my degree is worthless? What if we can’t have kids? What if we can’t afford a house?” There are way too many problems in this world, and over-thinkers somehow worry about all of them. It’s good to have someone there to tell you that it’ll work out. It’s also good to have someone there to help you realize you’re thinking ten years into the future, when you haven’t even decided what you want for dinner that evening.

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9. You’ll have great conversations

Being an over-thinker isn’t just about worrying too much. Over-thinkers, by nature, always have something to talk about. During dead times in conversation, they’re always thinking of some other insightful (or at least totally random) factoid to discuss. Not only that, but we love to listen. Since we’re constantly over-thinking things, we’ll often want others opinions as well. The more we know about a person, the less we have to guess about them, and the less we over-think about their motives.

10. You’ll always experience new things

Being indecisive means we come up with too many good ideas, and have a hard time narrowing it down. This goes for movies to watch, books to read, places to visit, etc. Though our experiential backlog is most likely gigantic, we will most likely never run out of fun activities to do. Remember, though, it’ll be up to you to actually decide which activity we choose. If you leave it up to us, it’ll be dark before we make a decision.

11. You’ll become more open-minded

Over-thinkers tend to see things from a variety of perspectives. Because of this, we’re able to share differing viewpoints with others. We’re also open to other perspectives that may jibe with ours. We rarely judge others (because we’re too busy judging ourselves!), so you can be free to voice your opinion on any and all things. We won’t get offended by it; we’ll just use it as a talking point to base our conversation around.

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12. You’ll help us live in the moment

Nothing is better to an over-thinker than experiencing something so visceral that our mind actually stops racing, and we’re able to live for now. On my honeymoon last year, as we were walking along the beach, clouds started to roll in, and it started to drizzle. Within minutes it was downright pouring. It made no sense to run back to our hotel, since we’d be soaked regardless, so I pulled my wife close and made her stay right there on the beach, hugged up as closely as possible to each other. In that moment, nothing else existed but us. I’d known for some time that I would marry her, but in that moment, when the only thing on my mind was her, I knew I was right.

Featured photo credit: Flickr via farm8.staticflickr.com

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Matt Duczeminski

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Published on April 7, 2021

6 Signs Of A Controlling Person To Be Aware Of

6 Signs Of A Controlling Person To Be Aware Of

Some of the most manipulative people are so good at what they do that their words and actions can convince you into thinking they truly care about what’s best for you when in reality, it’s quite the opposite. The most common signs of a controlling person are rarely obvious to outside observers. And for someone enmeshed in a controlling relationship or friendship, it can be incredibly challenging to stay away from this toxic person, even if you’re aware of their emotionally abusive tendencies.

While it’s ultimately up to you to decide whether to preserve or leave a lopsided, unfulfilling relationship, it’s nevertheless critical to understand the following six signs of controlling people so you can better advocate for yourself and mitigate the influence of their manipulative tendencies in your own life.

1. They Push Their Own Personal Agenda

Do you know someone who always tries to micromanage the words, behaviors, and attitudes of people around them? Does this person act like they have the right to know anything they want about you, including your location, what you’re doing in a given moment, who you’re talking to online, or any other private information about you? And when planning events and special occasions, does this person dominate conversations, steer plans in their own preferred directions, disparage others’ suggestions, and refuse to collaborate with anyone who might disagree with them?

If you answered “yes” to some of the above questions, then those are clear signs of a controlling person whom you absolutely need to be cautious around. Controlling people are reluctant to even consider alternative ideas, let alone enthusiastically work with people who have differing views. They prefer to be the captain of every ship—regardless of how much or how little an issue personally impacts them—and they have an arsenal of manipulative tactics to deploy if someone stands in the way of them achieving their own personal agendas.

In long-term relationships with controlling people, you may feel constantly pressured to meet their demands, follow their schedule, and focus on whatever they feel is most important. It’s not an exaggeration to say that these people act like the universe revolves around them, which can be exhausting to deal with for their family members, friends, and colleagues.

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2. They Make Everything Transactional

Controlling people aren’t always self-centered, but they’re not too empathetic either. Empathy for them tends to appear in the form of strategic concessions they use as a means to get what they want. They typically view interpersonal relationships as transactional opportunities to extract more value from people surrounding them, which can have a draining effect on those they interact with.

For example, one sign of a controlling person may be their insistence on “keeping score.” This can involve doing nice things for you with the ulterior motive of demanding something from you at a later date in exchange for what you thought was just an act of kindness or a friendly support.

Perhaps they shower you in praise (also known as “love-bombing”) or gifts then blow up at you if you don’t intuitively know they’re expecting something back from you. None of us are mind-readers, but controlling people behave as though everyone else should think and act like they want others to and those who fall out of line are punished for failing to meet their impossible expectations.

A controlling person may also threaten to withhold support if you don’t adhere to their demands, but they do so in such subtle ways that the guilt they impose blinds you from the unreasonable nature of their behaviors.

Some statements to be wary of include:

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  • “I did ___________ for you. What do you mean you can’t do ___________ for me?”
  • “Remember how I helped you with ___________? That took a lot of time and energy from me, but I guess you didn’t appreciate my help.”
  • “I always give you ___________. Don’t you care about my needs too?”
  • “You’re so selfish!” or “You don’t care about me at all!” (gaslighting if you respond with hesitation or politely decline their request for help for perfectly valid reasons, such as not having enough time or resources to assist them)

3. They Criticize Everything

One of the most common telltale signs of a controlling person is their capacity to criticize anything and everything, even small things that seemingly don’t matter. As with many toxic traits in relationships, these problems typically start out so small that you may not even notice. At first, you may even agree with their criticism or at least be able to understand their perspective when they bring up an issue.

However, the criticism tends to get more intense, more constant, and more perplexing for people who maintain relationships with controlling people. You’ll likely notice how they rarely seem to criticize something they do. It’s almost always other-oriented and these types of people are so manipulative that any rationale they offer can seem plausibly legitimate.

Some warning signs of a controlling person who’s overly critical to the point of abusiveness include:

  • Criticizing things about you that you have little to no control over (e.g., appearance, disability, family)
  • Criticizing your personal choices and interests, such as educational pursuits, career, clothing, favorite music, time spent on your hobbies, etc.
  • Punishing you for expressing vulnerability by invalidating thoughts and feelings you share with them
  • Attacking you whenever you express an opinion counter to theirs

4. They Balk When Someone Criticizes Them

We all know the adage, “what goes around, comes around.” But this statement doesn’t apply as much to toxic, controlling people. They’d much prefer to dish out criticism without ever having to take it in return.

For instance, if your friend constantly talks about your appearance with little regard for your emotions but flips out if you make just a single comment about their appearance, there’s a possibility that they could have some hidden controlling tendencies left unchecked. Remember, these people aren’t just controlling in their behaviors towards others. They’re also actively trying to stay in complete control over every aspect of their lives, which includes how others view them.

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This seemingly insatiable desire for control can prompt them to lash out against even the smallest bits of criticism, leaving people around them too weary or scared to speak up again in the future. While it’s possible they may suffer from something called rejection sensitivity dysphoria, this does not excuse them from the consequences of their words and actions. They should seek professional help to better manage their reactions to criticism.

5. They Socially Isolate You

Not all controlling people do this, but for manipulative narcissists, socially isolating victims is a go-to strategy for maintaining control because it’s effective at preventing people from truly understanding how toxic their partner, family member, or friend is treating them. Think of it this way—if you don’t talk to many other people in your life, there’s less of a risk that you’ll damage their reputation by revealing their abusive tendencies.

Socially isolating others also gives the person more control over you and your life as it becomes more difficult to break away from them if you don’t have other healthier channels of communication and interpersonal support to turn to.

This process doesn’t happen overnight, nor is it something you can readily recognize as abusive. At first, it may seem reasonable, such as asking you to stop engaging so often with family members with whom both of you disagree on major social or political issues. As the social isolation progresses, they may suggest cutting people out of your life—especially if they don’t like that person, regardless of how you personally feel—or even conjure up high-stakes problems like “it’s me or them” under the guise of saving you from people in your life whom they don’t like for whatever reason.

In a controlling person’s life narrative, they’re always the protagonist who’s incapable of any wrongdoing. The blame is always redirected at someone else, whether that’s you or other people in your life. The more they isolate you from other supportive people in your life, the more susceptible you’ll be to falsely believing that they’re right and you “don’t need” your other friends and family when you have someone as perfect as this person.

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6. They’re Emotionally Abusive

It’s hard enough to be in control of your own emotions but when someone else is constantly belittling you and your interests or leveraging guilt and shame to manipulate you into saying or doing what they want, this can make it even more challenging to stay in control of your own life and emotional well-being.

Emotional abuse is another sign of a controlling person that is often overlooked in relationships. After all, human personalities vary widely in terms of passivity, and it’s not uncommon for one person in a relationship to be significantly more passive than the other. This becomes an issue when the controlling partner or friend exudes signs of emotional abuse, which can start subtly and become much more pronounced over time.

Concerning signs of emotionally abusive language or behavior to watch out for include:

  • Dismissing your needs and/or belittling your interests in counterproductive ways
  • Privately or publicly shaming or humiliating you
  • Making you feel as though you can never live up to their expectations or do anything right (according to their own vague, subjective standards)
  • Gaslighting you into thinking they said or did something that never actually happened (making you question your own reality)

Final Thoughts

It’s sometimes hard to see the negative things about someone with whom we have a relationship. We may sometimes unconsciously overlook the signs of a controlling person, especially if that person is someone we have known for a long time or are close to us. However, cutting them off your life is the best thing you can do for yourself. Just watch out for these six signs of a controlling person and take immediate action when you spot them.

More Tips on How To Deal With a Controlling Person

Featured photo credit: Külli Kittus via unsplash.com

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