Thinking Too Much About Someone


It isn’t what you think.

I use to think the fact some of my love interests would take up so much of my mental space meant they were worth keeping around. That the fact I couldn’t stop thinking about them meant they were someone special. There was so much fault in this mentality it kept them firmly on a pedestal and me, hopelessly clinging on.

No one should take up that much of your mental space

If so, it is likely a symptom of a larger problem

You see, all too often when we can’t seem to budge someone off our minds it’s generally due to the fact we have found ourselves in a so-called attraction of deprivation.

*Attractions of deprivation is a term coined by Ken Page to describe the attractions we have with individuals who give us something but not quite enough to warrant security.

It can be easy to mistake our rumination and obsessive thinking as a marker of romantic significance when instead, this is likely the characteristic of an addictive and unhealthy attraction. It’s imperative we are able to distinguish our genuine connections from those formed out of insecurity and doubt. With that being said, lets have a closer look at how these attractions show up in the mind and why it necessarily doesn’t mean love.

The Runaway Mind

Attractions of deprivation are inherently addictive. Of course, all love can be addictive but these attractions play on our brains in a particular way that drives behaviours like overthinking and worrying. Psychologists use the term “intermittent reward systems” to describe this particular sort of phenomenon and it mirrors the addictions found in gambling.

In these dynamics, the fact that our love interest is only available some of the time, but not all of the time leaves our brains muffled and confused as to when we are going to experience their affection again. In more scientific terms, our brains don’t know when we are going to experience a dopamine hit. This is similar to gambling, as the gambler becomes engrossed in the game because he doesn’t know when the reward will come.

To add to this, the area that governs this behaviour -the reward pathway in the brain I.e, the limbic system- also works on the basis of immediate mood repair. This simply means when we are feeling sad, anxious, or negatively charged, this area will go into overdrive to search for things we can be doing to make ourselves feel better.

Back to our unavailable love interest, the fact they are being unavailable -not returning messages, reaching out, showing initiative in seeing us, or giving us mixed signals- leaves us feeling all of the above. If we place romantic love on a pedestal we may question our worth, feel sad, anxious, even depressed when they aren’t giving us attention. You may wonder why we don’t just drop these people and move on but as our brain recognises how good we feel when they do give us attention, our brains see them as the fix to our problems despite the fact they are also the causing them. It becomes a trap. One in which they are simultaneously making us feel bad whilst also being the key to our happiness and the validation of our worth.

It’s a nasty place to be and one not unlike the gambler’s toxic relationship to his game of choice. Uncertainty is a powerful motivator in the human mind. The human mind wants certainty and it wants a reward. It would be great if our brains recognized uncertainty from another as a general lack of interest but the mixed signals they give off subconsciously tell us there’s a possibility of a reward there and so a real-life game of win-or-lose forms.

This moves us to the question of the article.

I Can’t Get Them off My Mind, Is It Love?

The answer is more than likely,no. Just because you are thinking a lot about someone does not mean they are uniquely significant and someone you must pursue/be with. If someone is consistently making you feel , unworthy, unchosen and is showing a lack of interest, your anxiously charged feelings are not a sign of love. They are a sign of deprivation. And that is never lovusedAs someone who use to see this mindset as a marker of something worth pursuing, bringing awareness to this pattern has changed the way I view relationships.

Overthinking and ruminating over someone who is unavailable/giving mixed signals can simply be seen as our brain’s way of searching for a hit. As mentioned above, it’s a form of immediate mood repair in times when their lack of attention or uncertainty is causing us distress. Maybe if we think about them enough we’ll figure out why they aren’t committing to us. Maybe we’ll find out why they don’t message us or ask us out despite the fact their words say otherwise. Better yet, and this is where it gets really wild, maybe we can conjure up daydreams and fantasies to seek out the reward we can’t get in real time.Our brains don’t know the difference between imagination and reality. Sometimes, we can use our imagination as a way to gain satisfaction when we aren’t feeling like we’re getting it in real-life This is a maladaptive behavior as in our daydreams/fantasies we are reinforcing a belief that they are someone who can make us feel good -when they can’t.

Genuine Connections

Love should never need to be an obsessive, anxious, experience, and if it is for you then I would recommend looking at the other individual and their actions before assuming the two of you are star-crossed lovers. The difficulty here is that many people see this experience as love because of the tumultuous highs and lows that come with it. High’s and low’s that are relatively absent in more genuine connections. Societies conditioning of us through movies, sitcoms, and popular music has taught us that love is exactly that; some crazy, obsessive, all-consuming thing that disrupts our day and threatens to topple our lives. That couldn’t be further from the truth.

Without the unavailability, the doubt, and the risk of reward, secure individuals may be seen as boring, dull, and lacking excitement when in fact, they are the people we should be pursuing if we wish for a true, long-lasting relationship. The relationships that drive us crazy are built on insecurity and anxiety. It’s not unusual for those who win the chase -though this is few and far between- to find themselves questioning the validity of the partnership once the high fades. They may find they were never truly attracted to the individual and their character but instead the game and thrill of possibly obtaining the reward. I mean, surely this is the case. Why else would we be attracted to someone who is unavailable to us? Lack of communication, initiative, and care are all characteristics of someone we don’t want. There has to be more at play here, and there is.
Ask Yourself This

If this post resonates with you then I’d like you to ask yourself what it is about your love interest that is making you want them so badly. I then want you to turn it around and ask yourself what you can be doing to cultivate that yourself. After all, we are chasing them out of a sense of lacking and a wish for fulfilment.

Do they bring excitement to a life you find boring on your own? Do you lack self-worth and are searching for validation in someone else? Have you never had a relationship and feel that getting one will bring the security you have been conditioned to believe is found in partnership? Ask yourself where this longing for connection is coming from.

Remember, we should be feeling satisfied in ourselves before pursuing romantic partnerships otherwise we will find ourselves being drawn into dynamics like these. If we are unable to source happiness, joy, and satisfaction in our own lives we will turn outwards to find it elsewhere. We will also settle for less. We will chase after the unavailable person because anything is better than the life we have on our own.

One of the biggest things that have helped me not fall into these patterns as easily as I use to has been cultivating an independent life that I love on my own. I no longer see relationships as the answer to my problems. They should add to my life, not complete it. Once I began finding a sense of joy and satisfaction in my own life, I was able to deter myself from following these sorts of attractions. I don’t need to chase someone else, I have myself.

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