Anxiety and Over-Thinking My Relationships

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Reader’s Question

I’ve been in a relationship with a girl for about five months now, and it seems like every once in a while I get this extreme anxiety when I wonder certain things…

To give you some background, when we met I had just come out of a relationship with someone who, during the whole time, I suspected had feelings for my best friend. For me, our relationship was a constant chase, a constant struggle for me to impress her. And the time she spent with me also meant time she wouldn’t be spending with my friend. It was not healthy at all. Eventually, she ended up leaving me for him.

With this new girl, there isn’t that constant chase. Very early on, she made it obvious that she likes me a lot and wants something very long term. I get along excellently with her, we have plenty of things in common, share common values, and I know that it would be extremely hard finding someone so well matched to me.

There are times that I feel very strongly for her, but I wonder if I felt more strongly for the previous girl and what the reason for that could be (the constant chase, etc.). Then I wonder if all of my over-thinking and analyzing (I’m naturally like that) is to convince myself that I care more about this new girl than I do.

Is this normal? Or is the fact that I’m even worrying about this a sign that things aren’t as they appear?

Psychologist’s Reply

It sounds like you were very hurt by your first relationship and are afraid that you may be hurt again. You’ve been together five months now, and the honeymoon period could be nearing it’s end. Your girlfriend has serious intentions, and the thought of making some kind of commitment might be triggering your anxiety from your last separation. In fact, this five-month relationship may have postponed your feelings about that separation, which you have not yet processed.

This does not sound like a relationship question to me. Rather, this is a question about your internal thoughts and feelings. There are issues to deal with separately from each other: your past relationship, how you responded to the threat of losing her, then ultimately losing her, and then rebounding into this relationship. They are also issues for you to deal with alone, not with your current girlfriend. Your previous girlfriend is not the concern of your current girlfriend, although she certainly has an investment in your resolving your feelings for her. Before making comparisons, it may be easier for you to take things one at a time. Sort them out and look at them one by one.

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You seem to be good at observing yourself and your feelings, but not quite so accomplished at drawing conclusions from those observations. That is not meant as a criticism. Understanding oneself is difficult. It’s the challenge of a lifetime. It sometimes helps to have the perspective of an outsider. In your case, perhaps you would benefit from seeing a therapist individually. In the course of treatment, issues about your current relationship may come up. If they do, then you could consider inviting your girlfriend into a session to join you. Until then, put yourself first. The health of your relationship depends on your own health. Take care.

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