Love Hormone Oxytocin May Increase Life Satisfaction, Empathy

A recent study links neurochemical oxytocin with empathy and life satisfaction in older people. INA FASSBENDER/AFP via Getty Images

A new study published in the journal Frontier in Behavioral Neuroscience shows that older individuals tend to release more oxytocin in response to social situations that arouse empathy. A larger oxytocin response was also associated with greater levels of helping behaviors and increased satisfaction with life.

These findings may explain why older individuals donate more to charity and perform more social work.“People who released the most oxytocin in the experiment were not only more generous to charity but also performed many other helping behaviors. This is the first time a distinct change in oxytocin has been related to past prosocial behaviors,” said Dr. Paul Zak, the study author and a professor at Claremont Graduate University.

Oxytocin and social behaviors

Oxytocin is a hormone responsible for uterus contractions during childbirth, lactation, and reproductive behaviors. Oxytocin also modulates the transmission of signals between brain cells and is involved in modulating social behaviors. Experiments in humans suggest that brain oxytocin reduces anxiety and promotes trust, cooperation, empathy, generosityTrusted Source, and social bonding.

Studies have shown that older individuals tend to donate more money to charity and are more likely to engage in volunteer work than younger people. A potential explanation for this increase in prosocial behaviors could be greater empathy in response to social situations in older people than in younger people.

Given the association between oxytocin and empathy, the study’s authors wanted to understand whether oxytocin mediated increased prosocial behaviors in old age.

Oxytocin and age

The present study’s authors recruited 103 individuals between 18 and 99 years old. Researchers divided the participants into three groups: young (18 to 35 years), middle-aged (36 to 65 years ), or older (over 65 years) adults.

They asked the participants to watch a short emotional video of a father narrating his feelings about coping with the imminent demise of his two-year-old son with terminal brain cancer.

The researchers collected blood samples from the participants before and after watching the video to measure oxytocin levels. Previous studies have shown that changes in blood and brain oxytocin levels tend to be correlated, allowing the researchers to estimate changes in brain oxytocin levels using blood samples.

The researchers found that older individuals showed a larger increase in oxytocin levels after viewing the video than younger individuals.

Oxytocin and kindness

After viewing the video, the participants were given a monetary reward for participating in an unrelated study and the option to donate part of the reward to a medical charity.The researchers found that individuals with a larger increase in blood oxytocin levels were likely to donate a greater fraction of the reward money.

Furthermore, older individuals donated a larger fraction of the reward money to the charity. Surveys conducted during the study revealed that older individuals also spent greater time volunteering and donated more to charity in the previous year.

Notably, a small increase in oxytocin levels in older individuals was associated with a similar donation amount as younger individuals with a larger oxytocin response.

The study also found that aging resulted in a more profound increase in donations to charity in older individuals with a smaller oxytocin response than a larger one. The findings suggest that aging and oxytocin response levels together influence the amounts donated to charity.

Satisfaction with life and religiosity  

Consistent with other studies, the researchers found that older individuals were more likely to participate in religious activities and had a greater sense of satisfaction with life. Studies have shown that older, more religious adults engage more in charity and volunteer work and express greater life satisfaction.

The researchers found that a larger oxytocin response to the video stimulus was associated with a greater sense of satisfaction with life, participation in religious activities, and increased levels of empathy and gratitude.

Study limitations

The authors cautioned that the study only correlates oxytocin release and prosocial behaviors and other traits. The findings are especially relevant since there is a bidirectional relationship between oxytocin release and prosocial behaviors, with engagement in prosocial behaviors associated with a subsequent increase in oxytocin levels.

The authors also noted that the study involved a small number of participants residing in California. Hence, more research involving a larger number of participants representing the broader demographic needs to be conducted.

Intranasal oxytocin

Other studies also suggest that using intranasal sprays to deliver oxytocin can improve mood and cognitive function, especially in older men. Although there is an interest in the therapeutic use of intranasal oxytocin, the effects of oxytocin vary by context and among individuals.

Dr. Natalie Ebner, a neuroscientist at the University of Florida, noted in a lecture, “There is a lot of evidence that oxytocin doesn’t always work the same way. It depends a little bit on what kind of situation you are in, if it’s a positive social situation it does one thing, if it’s a hostile situation suddenly it increases aggressivity. So there are a lot of interesting manipulations we can do by looking closer at contextual factors and we’re starting to see a lot is that not everyone responds in the same way.”

Source: ‘Love hormone’ oxytocin may increase life satisfaction, empathy

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The Rise Of Niche And Vertical Social Networks

According to eMarketer, Facebook lost over 2 million users under the age of 25 in 2018, which set a trend for the entire year of 2019. However, it’s not only Facebook that is losing members but also other social network technology enterprises such as Twitter and LinkedIn.

The problem is not in anything that Mark Zuckerberg did lately. In fact, the reason why general social networks such as Facebook are becoming less interesting is the growing interest in vertical networks.

What Are Vertical Social Networks

A vertical social network is a specifically targeted social network that connects people with very specific interests, hobbies, and passions. In other words, it is a network that caters to a certain category of users who are interested in sharing content and connecting with others over their shared interests.

Users on general social media platforms can easily get lost among all the irrelevant content. However, if they joined a platform that is specifically focused on their main interest, they would find way more value and satisfaction in its purpose. With that said, vertical social networks provide many advantages over broader platforms.

For instance, people can receive specific and targeted content on a daily basis and, even more importantly, connect with people who share the same interests. This relevant connection makes it easier to bond with others and form new friendships, relationships, or even business partnerships.

By joining vertical social networks, users get to be surrounded by like-minded individuals, which is especially important for entrepreneurs, students, athletes, and others who are trying to achieve their full potential at all times.

The rapid advancement in cloud computing made cloud technologies cheaper and more accessible. This enabled the growth of new and unheard of vertical networks, which quickly grabbed the attention of their targeted audiences. These specific vertical networks provide plenty of networking opportunities for people with almost any type of interest out there.

For instance, you will find a variety of vertical social networks catering to different individuals, including Behance, StackOverflow, Goodwall and ResearchGate. Behance is an advanced vertical network for creative individuals. It allows artists and designers to showcase their work and discover new art every day. On 2012, Adobe acquired Behance for $150 million.

On the developers side, StackOverflow, a platform that provides questions and answers related to code development and the surrounding challenges. The platform allows developers to learn and share valuable content, as well as base their career on strong foundations. Developers can also gain reputation points while answering specific questions of other developers and this enhances their technical resumes for their career process.

Another vertical social network platform, Goodwall provides a positive and supportive community for over 1 million students and young professionals to connect and discover opportunities from $1m+ in scholarships to 5m+ jobs and internships.  Members support each other to achieve their goals. They share ideas and tips, ask and answer questions, gain recognition and inspiration, and connect on shared interests from social impact to entrepreneurship.

With members across 150+ countries, Goodwall is a good choice for professional social networks out there for Gen Z and millennials. On the researchers side, ResearchGate is the platform for scientists and researchers to share research articles, ask and answer questions, and find collaborators. ResearchGate was founded in 2008 by a group of scientists, and has quickly grown to become the biggest networking site for its kind, with over 70 million unique monthly visitors worldwide.

Overall, vertical social networks offer plenty of creative, professional, and personal opportunities for individuals who want to learn, share, or get to know people and content in certain fields. With this trend being on the rise, we can expect vertical networks to grow even further. Especially advancements in cloud technologies enables companies to rise easily in terms of scalability of the platforms, and this lowers the threshold for this kind of companies in many aspects.

Ilker Koksal is a technology entrepreneur, having listed at Forbes 30Under30, Enterprise Technology category. He has founded two startups;

Source: The Rise Of Niche And Vertical Social Networks

.

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Study Shows ‘Man-Children’ Are Destroying Women’s Sex Drives

Photo: Francesco Carta fotografo...Getty Images

On the day 29-year-old Londoner Lianne moved in with her now-ex boyfriend, six years ago, she remembers crying. (Her name has been changed for privacy, like many others in this piece.) Not, as you might expect, because of excitement or joy. But rather, because it immediately became apparent that she was “going to end up taking on all of [their] life admin”, from that moment on.

Over the year they lived together, this fear became reality. “It hit me he was a man-child when he didn’t know how to use the washing machine or make the bed,” Lianne recalls. And, although he made minor efforts to “improve” at chores, he just “didn’t seem capable of doing so”. He broke her favourite knife, flooded the kitchen, nearly set the flat on fire “multiple times”, and would go missing on three-day benders.

“He seemed to feel bad, but justified his ignorance by saying his parents never expected him to do any chores at home,” she says. “Bear in mind, he’d moved out of his parents’ house seven years earlier.”This behaviour, and the ensuing plethora of excuses, will likely be familiar to many people who’ve lived with cisgender heterosexual men. Though not exclusively – but more on that later.

Dubbed ‘man-children’, these men can be characterised by a number of child-like traits, including ‘not noticing’ the dishes need washing or bins need emptying and weaponising their own incompetence when they eventually do it; being ungrateful for the emotional and physical care provided by their partner, and general helplessness when it comes to taking care of themselves – and, sometimes, their own kids.

Now, this phenomenon has officially been confirmed by science. A recent study, published in the Archives of Sexual Behaviour journal, found that not only do man-children exist, but they’re actually killing women’s libidos with their ineptitude. Researchers from universities in Canada and Australia set out to explore if this kind of relationship unfairness could explain why many women, partnered with men, report a low sex drive.

Indeed, they found when women perform more household labour than their partner, they tend to see them like a dependent child. This, unsurprisingly, reduces their sexual desire for that person. Ongoing inequalities in domestic labour have even been cited as why more women file for divorce than men. (Recent statistics show women carry out 60 percent more unpaid work than men.)

According to the authors, until their research, this heteronormative dynamic had never been studied in relation to women’s sexual satisfaction or desire in relationships before. Emily Harris, one of the co-authors, says this is because “there’s a few unspoken assumptions” about women’s sexual desire. “One of these, is that low [sexual] desire is caused by individual factors, like hormones and stress, or general relationship factors, like conflict and dissatisfaction,” she tells VICE. “What these assumptions miss, is the broader context of gender inequity.”

Sari van Anders, another co-author, adds that many people find comfort in these assumptions. “It can feel more manageable to change your hormones, or try stress reduction techniques, than tackle structural inequalities,” she says. The correlation between man-babies and low libido hasn’t been overlooked by the women who’ve dated – or lived with – these men, though.

“Our sex drive completely died after six months of living together,” reveals Lianne. “I couldn’t take him seriously anymore and resented my role in our relationship. I felt like his mum.” Although she’s in a much happier, balanced relationship now, Lianne says her man-child experience has influenced her view on having actual children. “I can’t imagine spending two-plus decades picking up after someone who doesn’t appreciate my labour,” she says.

Emme Witt, a 48-year-old writer from Los Angeles, knows what it’s like to simultaneously care for children and a man-child. In fact, her ex-husband’s childish ways – specifically, his lack of support around the house – only started bothering her when they had kids of their own. “Suddenly I realised that not only was I in charge of the housework, but also all the child-rearing,” she says. “I had to discipline our kids on my own – my ex would even steal away to the bedroom when they were acting out. It was exhausting.”……Continue reading

Source: Study Shows ‘Man-Children’ Are Destroying Women’s Sex Drives

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Why Indecision Makes You Smarter

Indecision can seem like a wholly undesirable trait. But research shows it might actually lead to smarter judgements. In the TV series The Good Place, the character Chidi Anagonye is defined by his inability to make even the simplest of decisions – from choosing what to eat, to proclaiming love for his soulmate. The very idea of making a choice often results in a serious stomach-ache. He is stuck in continued ‘analysis paralysis’.

We meet Chidi in the afterlife, and learn that his indecisiveness was the cause of his death. While standing in the street, endlessly equivocating on which bar to visit with his best friend, an air-conditioning unit from the apartment above falls on his head, killing him instantly.

“You know the sound that a fork makes in the garbage disposal? That’s the sound my brain makes all the time,” he says in one episode. And besides making himself unhappy, Chidi’s lack of confidence in his own judgements drives the people around him crazy.

If that sounds like an exaggerated version of you, then you are not alone: indecisiveness is a common trait. While some people come to very quick judgements, others struggle to weigh up the options – and may even try to avoid making a choice at all.

As Chidi shows, indecisiveness can be linked to problems like anxiety, yet recent research suggests that it can also have an upside – it protects us from common cognitive errors like confirmation bias, so that when the person does finally come to a judgement, it is generally wiser than those who jumped to a conclusion too quickly. The trick is to learn when to wait, and when to break through the inertia while it’s holding you back.

The enemy of good

Psychologists have various tools to measure indecisiveness. One of the most common questionnaires – the Frost Indecisiveness Scale – asks participants to rate a series of statements on a scale of 1 (strongly disagree) to 5 (strongly agree). They include:

  • I try to put off making decisions
  • I have a hard time planning my free time
  • I often worry about making the wrong choice
  • It seems that deciding on the most trivial thing takes me a long time

Using this scale, psychologists have shown that indecisiveness is often a product of perfectionism. Perfectionists are scared of the shame or regret that may come with making the wrong choice – and so they put off making decisions until they feel certain they are doing the right thing. (And in some cases, of course, they simply never reach that level of confidence.)

The frustration this brings can be a barrier to happiness; in general, the higher someone scores on the scale above, the lower they will score on measures of life satisfaction, according to a study by Eric Rassin, a professor of psychology at Erasmus University, in the Netherlands. They are less likely to endorse statements such as “the conditions of my life are excellent”, for example, or “if I could live my life over, I would change almost nothing”.

Jumping to conclusions 

From these results, indecisiveness would seem like a wholly undesirable trait. Recent research, however, suggests that the struggle to come to a quick conclusion – as uncomfortable as it may be – can also have an upside, since it protects people from some important cognitive biases. 

Evidence for these benefits comes from a recent paper by Jana-Maria Hohnsbehn, a doctoral researcher, and Iris Schneider, a professor of social psychology, at the TU Dresden (Technische Universität Dresden).

Rather than using the Frost Indecisiveness Scale, Hohnsbehn and Schneider focused on a measure of “trait ambivalence”, which looks more specifically at the thoughts and feelings underlying someone’s judgement and decision-making (or lack thereof). For example, people are asked to rate statements such as:

  • My thoughts are often contradictory
  • I often feel torn between two sides of an issue
  • Sometimes when I think about a topic, it almost feels like I am physically switching from side to side

“If these statements resonate with us, then we are probably high in trait ambivalence,” says Hohnsbehn.

As you might expect, those high in trait ambivalence take a longer time to make decisions. But Hohnsbehn and Schneider found that they are also less prone to bias when coming to their judgements.

For example, in one experiment, she asked her participants to read a series of scenarios, such as:

You meet a person, and you would like to find out whether he/she is an introvert or extrovert. You guess that the person is an extrovert. Which of the following two questions would you ask?

  • Do you like spending time at home alone?
  • Do you like going to parties?

Many people pick the second question, but this is a sign of confirmation bias – you are only looking for the information that agrees with your assumption, rather than looking for evidence that you may be wrong. Hohnsbehn and her colleagues found that people with high trait ambivalence were less likely to do this. Instead, they chose to interrogate their assumption, in order to make sure they had the information they needed to come to a correct answer.

For another experiment, the participants read about an employee, Mr Müller, who was seeking to get his contract renewed. After making a preliminary decision about whether to allow Mr Müller to continue in the role, the participants were given some additional statements, which were ostensibly from industry experts about Mr Müller. Some of these statements agreed with the participants’ initial decisions, while others disagreed.

The participants’ task was to rate the credibility and importance of each one. Hohnsbehn and Schneider found that the people scoring high on ambivalence tended to be more open-minded to the statements that disagreed with their initial point of view, and rated them more highly for their credibility and importance – whereas those who showed little trait ambivalence were more likely to discount them.

These findings are important, since confirmation bias is one of our most common cognitive errors, preventing us from analysing evidence rationally in everything from our personal relationships to our political views. Trait ambivalence helps protect us from this kind of oversimplistic thinking – and may also help us with other forms, too.

Studies by Schneider, for instance, suggest that people with high trait ambivalence are also less prone to “correspondence bias”, which is a tendency to ignore the context of someone’s behaviour and to instead attribute any failures and successes directly to the person themselves. To give a straightforward example: if someone slips over, correspondence bias might lead us to conclude that they are inherently clumsy (an internal factor), rather than recognising the slipperiness of the floor (an external factor).

Correspondence bias might also lead us to assume that someone struggling in their education simply lacks intelligence, rather than considering the strains of their financial difficulties or their responsibilities within the family. People with high trait ambivalence are more likely to recognise those other factors than people who form quick and confident judgements.

Action over inaction 

Hohnsbehn’s research should be good news if you’ve ever felt impatient with your inability to come to a quick decision. “The general experience of being ambivalent needs to be embraced,” she suggests. “It can give us necessary pause, signalling to us that things are complex and that we need more time to engage in more careful thought about our decision.”

It is only when this becomes excessive that we face problems. “As with most things, there is a balance that needs to be struck,” adds Hohnsbehn. That might explain why indecisive people often score lower on those measures of life satisfaction – their ambivalence, when facing important choices, has become overwhelming.

One simple step might be to set a time limit for your final decision so that you do not spend too much time ruminating on the different options without actually gaining any new insights. Depending on the type of problem you are facing, Hohnsbehn suggests you might even consider turning it into a series of tasks – such as devoting two hours to the search for new information, for example, before spending a certain amount of time deliberating.

If you still feel paralysed, you might find inspiration in a study by Steven Levitt, an economist at the University of Chicago, which examined people’s overall happiness after making important life changes.

Levitt, who is a co-author of the book Freakonomics, set up a website where people described various dilemmas they were facing in their lives – from getting a tattoo to moving house, returning to education or quitting their jobs. The participants were then asked to flip a coin, the outcome of which would tell them whether or not to make the change. 

Following up with the participants over the following months, Levitt found many people had taken the plunge; if the coin toss had told them to take action, they were more likely to make the life change. And they reported being significantly happier than those who had simply carried on as before (regardless of whether the coin had told them to or not), without quitting, moving or getting that tattoo.

We can guess that, before the study, most of these participants had already been thinking carefully about the situation at hand, but their worries about making the wrong choice had prevented them from taking the plunge. The coin had simply acted as a small nudge to finally overcome their ambivalence.

The moral of the study, then, is not that we should make all decisions on the whim of a tossed coin. It is that breaking through your hesitancy and doubt will leave you happier than you might imagine. “A good rule of thumb in decision making is, whenever you cannot decide what you should do, choose the action that represents a change, rather than continuing the status quo,” concluded Levitt.

Like Chidi in The Good Place, we can weigh up all the pros and cons of every situation – and that ambivalence will help us to make wiser choices. Once that ambivalent thinking has served its purpose, however, you must learn to cast it aside – safe in the knowledge that any decision is often better than making no choice at all.

By David Robson

David Robson is a science writer and author of The Expectation Effect: How Your Mindset Can Transform Your Life, published by Canongate (UK) and Henry Holt (USA) in early 2022. He is @d_a_robson on Twitter.

Source: Why indecision makes you smarter – BBC Worklife

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Related contents:

American Psychiatric Association. (2013). DSM 5 diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders. In DSM 5 Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders.

Appel, H., Englich, B., & Burghardt, J. (2021). “I Know What I Like”–Indecisiveness Is Unrelated to Behavioral Indicators of Evaluation Difficulties. Frontiers in psychology, 4042.

irn, R. M., Roeber, B. J., & Pollak, S. D. (2017). Early childhood stress exposure, reward pathways, and adult decision making. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 114(51), 13549-13554.

Cavedini, P., Gorini, A., & Bellodi, L. (2006). Understanding obsessive–compulsive disorder: focus on decision making. Neuropsychology review, 16(1), 3-15.

Ferrari, J. R., & Olivette, M. J. (1993). Perceptions of parental control and the development of indecision among late adolescent females. Adolescence, 28(112), 963-970.

Hartley, C. A., & Phelps, E. A. (2012). Anxiety and decision-making. Biological psychiatry, 72(2), 113–118.Kaur, R., & Singh, S. (2019).

A Study Of Relationship Between Career Decision Making And Parenting Style Among Adolescents. Editorial Board, 8(12), 61.Lauderdale, S. A., Martin, K. J., & Moore, J. (2019).

Aversive indecisiveness predicts risks for and symptoms of anxiety and depression over avoidant indecisiveness. Journal of Rational-Emotive & Cognitive-Behavior Therapy, 37(1), 62-83.Leykin, Y., Roberts, C. S., & DeRubeis, R. J. (2011).

Decision-making and depressive symptomatology. Cognitive therapy and research, 35(4), 333-341.Murphy FC, Rubinsztein JS, Michael A, Rogers RD, Robbins TW, Paykel ES, et al. (2001).

Decision-making cognition in mania and depression. Psychological Medicine. 31:679–693.Nielen, M. M. A., Veltman, D. J., De Jong, R., Mulder, G., & Den Boer, J. A. (2002).

Decision making performance in obsessive compulsive disorder. Journal of Affective Disorders, 69(1-3), 257-260.Pushkarskaya, H., Tolin, D., Ruderman, L., Kirshenbaum, A., Kelly, J. M., Pittenger, C., & Levy, I. (2015).

Decision-making under uncertainty in obsessive–compulsive disorder. Journal of psychiatric research, 69, 166-173.Yates, J. F., Ji, L. J., Oka, T., Lee, J. W., Shinotsuka, H., & Sieck, W. R. (2010).

Indecisiveness and culture: Incidence, values, and thoroughness. Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology, 41(3), 428-444.

Overthinking: Definition, Causes, & How to Stop

Self-Doubt: Definition, Causes, & How to Overcome It

Acceptance: Definition, Theory, & Tips

Negativity: Definition, Bias, & Tips to Stop It

19 Ways To Be Your Authentic Self

Mindlessness: Definition, Theory & Examples

​Ambivalence: Definition, Examples, & Tips​​

How to Make Better Decisions: 14 Smart Tactics for Curbing Your Biases, Managing Your Emotions, And Making Fearless Decisions in Every Area of Your Life!

Overcoming Anticipatory Anxiety: A CBT Guide for Moving past Chronic Indecisiveness, Avoidance, and Catastrophic Thinking

​Overcoming Indecisiveness: The Eight Stages of Effective Descision-Making

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How To Stop Overthinking Your Relationship

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Have you ever had thoughts like these in your relationship?When your partner comes home late, you think, They’re neglecting me. Work is more important than I am. If your partner doesn’t initiate lovemaking, you think, We’re on our way to a sexless marriage. I knew this would happen.

If your partner is distracted at the dinner table, you think, They’re bored. They have nothing to say to me. I can’t believe it’s come to this. If they forget to ask a follow-up question after a doctor’s visit, you think, They’re selfish and insensitive. I’m alone in this relationship.

Thoughts like these can arise when you feel threatened in your relationship, and then similar thoughts may follow. Reflexive, negative thoughts fueled by anxiety multiply. They may even become thought-pinwheels, spinning into what psychologists call rumination. Your ruminative thoughts distort your perceptions of your mate. Over time, as the distortions build into stories about the other person, you stop opening up, relating directly, and sharing yourself. You lose touch with the adventure of love.

In my therapy practice, I’ve seen overthinking erode love between people whenever it operates unseen and unchallenged. My vantage point isn’t solely professional either. As a former chronic ruminator, I’ve suffered the destructive effects of overthinking firsthand, including a painful divorce in my late 20s.Now, over two decades later, I know differently. Happy love stories are created, not stumbled upon.

Not only have I lived the changes that come with undoing rumination in the relationship my husband and I have developed over the last 17 years, but I’ve also helped hundreds of couples foster deeper intimacy and safer, more fulfilling connections by doing this work. My new book Stop Overthinking Your Relationship shares these strategies to help couples nurture love, trust, and satisfaction.

Five kinds of relationship rumination

In romantic relationships, overthinking gradually—day after day, month after month—can turn into a bad cognitive habit. It shortens our bandwidth for awareness, empathy, curiosity, and whatever is happening in our own hearts.

Like a snowball rolling downhill and gathering momentum, ruminative thoughts turn in a seemingly endless loop around the same painful themes. I’ve identified five distinct rumination cycles based on my work with clients:

Blame. This is my fault. I’m such an idiot. How could I let this happen? It’s unacceptable, intolerable, horrible, awful. My partner is selfish. They’re wrong. They should pay for this. They should apologize. Don’t they realize how much pain they’re causing me?

The blame cycle revolves around painful past events. You’re sure you’ve been unfairly treated, taken advantage of, and misunderstood. You had good intentions, and your partner misinterpreted what you said or did. You planned a special trip, and your partner ruined it with their irritability. You recall the past selectively. Events confirming your own (or your partner’s) flaws are magnified.

Control. I know best. I’m rational. I’m in touch with my emotions. My views should hold sway. I’m more genuine. I’m kinder, wiser, healthier, superior, younger, older. Because I’m the extravert, I’m more suited to organize our social life. I’m the one who keeps us healthy, safe, and happy. I’m the one who knows how to handle this.

Control thoughts orbit a desired future outcome and the best way to achieve it. Your partner must sit down at the table immediately. They must talk to someone—a therapist, parent, boss, or realtor—ASAP. It’s time for an emergency meeting with your attorney because you know what the next step is. You’re curious about consensual nonmonogamy, and so they should be, too. It’s time to go to Hawaii. You’re done with long-distance relationships.

Tension, mistrust, and inflexibility accompany the control cycle. Thoughts have a moralistic edge. You believe in externally defined truths—and you’re the one who knows what they are. Your partner should and must fulfill your vision of the relationship. Possibilities and options are black-and-white. There’s good or bad, right or wrong, healthy or unhealthy.

Doubt. Can I be sure of my own perceptions? Maybe I’m imagining things. Did what I think took place really happen? Why is every other couple doing better than we are? Why did I choose my partner? Is there someone smarter, kinder, more attractive, or richer out there for me? Why did my partner choose me? Am I a fraud? Can I trust my own choices? My intuition has misled me in the past. What if I keep making poor choices?

In this cycle, there’s never enough certainty. There are never absolute guarantees. No evidence is ever ironclad enough to support your choices, decisions, or actions. Good times seem insubstantial and fleeting. Searching for evidence only reinforces doubts. Painful insecurity and self-judgment are the hallmarks of chronic doubt cycles. The more you overthink, the less you trust your own recollections and intuition.

Worry. What will happen if he gets hurt on the job? What if we divorce and I don’t see our children as much as I do now? What if they stop loving me? She might cancel our next date if she finds out I’m a type-1 diabetic. One of us might catch COVID and give it to my father. This could be the last time we’re happy together as a couple.

In this cycle, worst-case scenarios rule. Fear keeps this cycle going. You convince yourself you’ll be safe as long as you prepare for the worst. Your mind does this by thinking of everything that could go wrong.

Self-pity. Self-pity cycles are focused on oneself as a victim. Why me? There’s nothing I can do. Life is unfair. I don’t deserve this. How come bad things always happen to me? I’ve tried everything. My situation is hopeless. We don’t stand a chance as a couple. Nothing makes a difference. The universe is against me. There’s no solution. Nothing will ever change.

Often, the unacknowledged expectation is that by embracing the role of a victim, you’ll inspire your partner to rescue you. But when you make your partner responsible for your well-being or behave as though you’re completely helpless when you’re not, they end up feeling controlled.

All of us are capable of spinning all the rumination cycles, and it’s not unusual to spin a hybrid of two or even three of them at once. But most of us have a dominant cycle: the one we spin most often. We may spin it so much that it colors our identity and personality. You probably have a secondary cycle, too, that you spin when your dominant cycle fails to bring resolution, relief, or closure.

How to break the rumination cycle

While your thoughts may feel like truth, your rumination sometimes operates as a defense: a coping strategy used to distract you from your own vulnerability.

Let’s say your girlfriend hasn’t responded to a text you sent her six hours ago. You’re upset, and you think, What’s she doing? Has she forgotten about me? Is she ghosting me on purpose? I thought she enjoyed our weekend as much as I did. Is she already tired of me? As you talk to a friend, you focus on all the ways she has disappointed you.

But what if underneath the rumination, something else is going on: You miss her? Your overthinking about your girlfriend is a protection against heartache and longing, uncomfortable emotions you’d prefer not to feel.

To counter rumination, what you need to do—what we all need to do—is to pivot from thinking about moments that unsettle you to being with them.

This isn’t something most of us have been explicitly taught how to do. When an event takes you off guard and you feel something emotionally or physically unnerving, do you consciously spend time being with your inner experience? If your answer is no, then you’re a normal 21st-century human. Most people’s first instinct is to try to get rid of unsettling experiences.

Being with yourself and your partner is a radical act. The following four steps can help guide you along the way.

1. See thoughts to become aware of rumination.

  • Pause. Stop what you’re doing for one minute.
  • Direct your attention inward or relax into a full-bodied experience of awareness. Notice whatever mental or cognitive activity is taking place within you in the here and now.
  • Inquire. Ask, “Is what’s happening in my mind a thought (or a series of thoughts)?”
  • Tune in. Is the answer to this question “yes,” “maybe,” or “no”? (If it’s “no,” you’re probably focused, in the flow of the task, or at peace. If it’s “maybe,” go through these steps again until you receive a clear answer.)

If your partner cancels dinner and your mind spins with thoughts like, They’re trying to hurt me intentionally. I can’t trust them. Why would they do this to me? I’ll show them by going out alone tonight, seeing these thoughts as thoughts interrupts the momentum of your blame cycle. You don’t automatically believe your thoughts are accurate representations of reality simply because you’re upset.

2. Label the mental habit or pattern. Once you see that you’re having a thought, label it by noting several aspects:

  • The thought itself. If you realize you were anxiously envisioning yourself and your girlfriend bored and miserable 20 years from now in the same small apartment you live in now, the following words might capture these thoughts: My girlfriend won’t ever travel with me and explore new places. Life is passing us by. We’ll end up old and unsatisfied.
  • Is it a fact or pseudofact—an opinion, judgment, assumption, or expectation you mistake as truth? Much of our rumination includes pseudeofacts that aren’t necessarily true.
  • The rumination cycle that your thought reflects—is it blame, worry, doubt, control, self-pity, or some combination?
  • The trigger. A trigger can be an action your partner takes—or doesn’t take. Consider the long pause—an eternity!—when you say “I love you” and wait for them to say something. Or maybe you notice your partner wincing when you ask how you look in your bagel-print Hawaiian shirt. Or you smell alcohol on their breath when they kiss you goodnight and a few weeks ago they swore off drinking.

3. Open to what’s going on in the moment. Acting as a defense, rumination can block us off from our own sensations, emotions, and impulses. In order to open yourself up to what’s going on within you in the here and now, ask yourself these questions and notice what arises:

  • “What sensations am I aware of in my body right now?” Then, stay tuned in to your body. Be patient and curious.
  • “What’s here emotionally right now?” Tune in to any emotional undercurrents within you.
  • “Can I notice my experience of this impulse in my body and choose to be with it rather than act on it? What’s this impulse telling me?” Tune in to impulses within you patiently and with curiosity, letting go of any outcome you’re hoping for or dreading.

Mindfulness practices can help as you try to orient yourself to the present.

4. Welcome vulnerability and the unknown. The final step is to welcome what’s arising. One way is by asking a question: “What’s under this?” This question communicates: I can take in what I’ve pushed out of my own awareness. I’m ready to recognize and accept what’s here.

It’s OK not to understand the way your body responds as you listen and wait. Maybe you’ll notice wisps of emotion. Or you might sense a surge of energy. There may be a twinge of discomfort or a rise in physical tension. Whatever it is, be with it while remaining grounded in your body, open, and tuned in. Sometimes, sustained, focused attention alone can amplify what your body is communicating and bring clarity.

You’ll always get an answer in some form. The absence of a response is also an answer. The answer you get doesn’t have to make rational sense. The answer may come over the course of a minute, a day, or a week. It may come piecemeal, in seemingly random insights.

Whatever arises, welcome it. Ultimately, this process allows us to increase our tolerance of uncomfortable emotions, sensations, and impulses and remain present to our own vulnerability rather than spinning imagined scenarios in our mind that distance us from what’s happening in our bodies and lives in the here and now.

The better you know yourself and what’s going on for you beyond your overthinking, the better equipped you are to express your feelings and needs more authentically and directly, hear your partner’s responses and feedback, and set limits based on self-awareness rather than anxiety. Cultivating vulnerability and authenticity helps partners foster connection.

Breaking the cycle of anxious rumination doesn’t happen by accident. It’s not magic. It happens one thought, trigger, and day at a time, one choice at a time. You and your partner are built to grow together, welcoming yourselves and each other more fully as you are right now. You don’t have to overthink it.

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Source: How to Stop Overthinking Your Relationship

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Opening up: a guide to creating and sustaining open relationships. Cleis Press. pp. 13–. ISBN 978-1-57344-295-4. Retrieved 20 November 2011.Gaal, Anna Gyulai (21 February 2019). “The many shades of open love”. EXBERLINER.com. Retrieved 4 July 2019.Bergstrand, Curtis; Blevins Williams, Jennifer (10 October 2000).

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Bybit     https://www.bybit.com/en-US/invite?ref=ALEXP
CanvaKitz    https://jvz4.com/c/202927/379051/
ChatterPal    https://jvz8.com/c/202927/324615
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Content Gorilla   https://jvz2.com/c/202927/330783
Content Tool Kit   https://jvz3.com/c/202927/329145/
CourseAlly eLearning   https://jvz4.com/c/202927/384759/
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Credit Repair   https://jvz8.com/c/202927/377815/
Cryptokit    https://jvz8.com/c/202927/383809/
CryptoRocket    https://jvz6.com/c/202927/378113/
CryptoUnderworld     https://jvz8.com/c/202927/374345/
Dealcheck     https://dealcheck.io?fp_ref=armin16
DesignaSuite      https://jvz2.com/c/202927/297271
DesignBeast    https://jvz6.com/c/202927/371547
DevelopSelfEmpowerment     https://jvz6.com/c/202927/383094/
DFYContentClub     https://jvz6.com/c/202927/381337/
DFYSuite   https://jvz3.com/c/202927/381194/
Diabetes Guide    https://jvz2.com/c/202927/358870/
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Dropshiply   https://jvz3.com/c/202927/383483/
DUX Forex Signals   https://jvz3.com/c/202927/128215/
EBook Agency    https://jvz2.com/c/202927/384573/
Ejaculation Total   https://jvz2.com/c/202927/75989/
Email Monetizer    https://jvz2.com/c/202927/386337/
EngagerMate  https://jvz8.com/c/202927/328172
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Extreme Adz   https://jvz8.com/c/202927/379244/
Extreme Coupon  https://jvz1.com/c/202927/216101/
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Facebook Cash Machine   https://jvz4.com/c/202927/382333/
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Fanpage  https://jvz4.com/c/202927/144349
Fitness Nutrition   https://jvz4.com/c/202927/353334/
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Forex Atlatian   https://jvz8.com/c/202927/25069/
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Graphic Alta  https://jvz2.com/c/202927/324492/
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High Converting Emails  https://jvz3.com/c/202927/386305/
HostLegends    https://jvz4.com/c/202927/384774/
Hostley Domain Creator   https://jvz1.com/c/202927/379223/
Human Synthesys Studio  https://jvz8.com/c/202927/367353/
ImageX   https://jvz6.com/c/202927/363237/
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Insta Keyword    https://jvz6.com/c/202927/351606/
Instant Website   https://jvz2.com/c/202927/377557
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Linkomatic  https://jvz2.com/c/202927/380937/
LiteTrading   https://www.litefinance.com/?uid=929237543
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Photokit  https://jvz4.com/c/202927/373207/
PicsAds   https://jvz2.com/c/202927/385468/
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Stackable Picture   https://jvz1.com/c/202927/385046/
Steven Alvey’s   https://jvz2.com/c/202927/351754
Stoodaio   https://jvz1.com/c/202927/372094
Storymate    https://jvz3.com/c/202927/320972
StreamPilot   https://jvz2.com/c/202927/385431/
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Sunday Freebie  https://jvz1.com/c/202927/267113/
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Tonai Voice Content   https://jvz8.com/c/202927/383119/
Toon Video Maker    https://jvz2.com/c/202927/357201
TrafficForU   https://jvz3.com/c/202927/381950/
Trendio  https://jvz3.com/c/202927/381003/
TubePal   https://jvz6.com/c/202927/379863/
Tubeserp   https://jvz3.com/c/202927/370472
TubeTargeter  https://jvz6.com/c/202927/377211
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Ultrafunnels A.I   https://jvz2.com/c/202927/381129/
VIADZ Ad Template  https://jvz4.com/c/202927/379307/
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Viddeyo    https://jvz6.com/c/202927/382326/
Videevolve   https://jvz4.com/c/202927/381011/
Video Campaignor      https://jvz4.com/c/202927/387058/
Video Games   https://jvz3.com/c/202927/184902/
VideoEnginePro     https://jvz2.com/c/202927/372916
VideoGameSuite    https://jvz3.com/c/202927/366537/
VideoRobot Enterprise   https://jvz8.com/c/202927/291061
VidKreate   https://jvz6.com/c/202927/386029/
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VidRaffle   https://jvz2.com/c/202927/386840/
VidSnatcher    https://jvz3.com/c/202927/342585
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Viral Quotes      https://jvz2.com/c/202927/386984/
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VR Studio  https://jvz8.com/c/202927/388296/
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Webprimo   https://jvz1.com/c/202927/379455/
WordPress Mastery   https://jvz1.com/c/202927/386249/
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WP GDPR    https://jvz8.com/c/202927/299907
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