In relationships, I have found this negative thinking typically happens more often in females than males. Our emotional thinking and dramatising of a situation allows us to pick up on every negative thing our partners do. Males are typically much simpler. Their emotional range is usually a lot lower, so their focus is less driven by emotions, and the extent of their thinking about a particular subject is usually a lot lower; they spend less time dwelling on things.
I found a great example of this on http://www.esselmancounseling.com/:
Tonight, I thought my husband was acting weird. We had made plans to meet at a nice restaurant for dinner. I was shopping with my friends all day long, so I thought he was upset at the fact that I was a bit late but he made no comment on it. Conversation wasn’t flowing so I suggested that we go somewhere quiet so we could talk. He agreed but he didn’t say much. I asked him what was wrong. He said “Nothing”. I asked him if it was my fault that he was upset. He said he wasn’t upset, that it had nothing to do with me and not to worry about it. On the way home, I told him that I loved him. He smiled slightly and kept driving. I can’t explain his behaviour. I don’t know why he didn’t say “I love you too”. When we got home, I felt as if I had lost him completely, as if he wanted nothing to do with me anymore. He just sat there quietly and watched TV. He continued to seem distant and absent. Finally, with silence all around us, I decided to go to bed. About 15 minutes later, he came to bed. But I still felt that he was distracted and his thoughts were somewhere else. He fell asleep. I cried. I don’t know what to do. I’m almost sure that his thoughts are with someone else. My life is a disaster.
Motorcycle won’t start…can’t figure out why.
Let’s take a look at her negative thoughts:
She assumed he was upset that she was late
He wasn’t talking to her much
She assumed he was lying when he said nothing was wrong
He didn’t say I love you too
He was being quiet and watching tv, seeming distant
He seemed distant when he came to bed, and fell asleep without talking to her
She assumed his thoughts are with another woman
Her life is a disaster
And now let’s look at the positive actions she didn’t focus on:
He wanted to meet her for dinner, and showed up on time
He gave her no grief for being late
He assured her he wasn’t upset, and nothing was her fault, she had no need to worry
He smiled when she said I love you, it pleased him, concentrating on driving
He relaxed in front of the tv with her
He came to bed shortly after she left the room, choosing to be in bed with her rather than staying up alone
Negative thinking from either or both partners can bring about many problems in a relationship, so be forgiving of your partner’s little mistakes. Focusing on the bad things will only bring about more bad things. Everybody slips up occasionally, forgets something important to their partner, snaps at them because they are in a bad mood. We all do it. Try and focus on all the good they bring to you. Instead of thinking ‘he hasn’t moved over to cuddle me like he normally does, something is wrong’, maybe focus on what you might have missed – for example he may have walked in and the first thing he did is kiss you on the head. The first thing he does is give you affection. He missed you, he loves you, and now he needs a bit of space to wind down after work. He has chosen to be with you, like you have chosen to be with him. Find reassurance in the fact he is still there, still sharing his life with you. Notice his body language. If he is annoyed at something breaking, perhaps stomping around a little, but then he comes and joins you on the sofa, that’s a positive thing. He’s choosing to spend time with you, even when he’s in a bad mood. Perhaps if we all try to think more positively, and focus on the positive aspects of our relationships and be more forgiving of the negative, we’ll find we actually do have a very happy, healthy relationship :)