'I Can't Stop Thinking About You:' Explanations and Ways to Cope

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“I can’t stop thinking about you” can be a way of expressing interest in a romantic relationship, but what does it mean when you can’t get someone off of your mind. There are times when people might take precedence in your mind, particularly at the outset of a new romance. The whirlwind of emotion and feelings of fledgling love can make it difficult to focus on anyone other than the object of your affection.

Sometimes this feeling can be a positive, albeit heady, experience that gradually fades as the initial infatuation, heightened excitement, emotion, and passion gradually temper into a steadier state of love. But sometimes feeling like you can’t get someone off of your mind—whether that person is a new crush or someone else—can be intrusive, disruptive, and distressing.

This article explores some of the reasons why you can’t stop thinking about someone and what you can do to cope. It also explores some signs that these thoughts might be problematic, and what you can do about unhealthy intrusive or even obsessive thoughts.

Reasons Why You Can’t Stop Thinking About Someone

There are a wide variety of reasons why you might think about someone often. Possible reasons: 

  • You are attracted to that individual
  • You are fascinated by what they think, say, or do
  • You are impressed by something they have accomplished
  • They have qualities that you appreciate
  • There are similarities in your backgrounds, goals, or experiences
  • You feel a connection with them

Unfortunately, sometimes thinking of someone all the time is the result of negative feelings. In such cases, the other person might occupy your thoughts because you dislike them or because you are afraid of them or what they might do. 

Factors That Can Play a Role

If you find yourself constantly thinking of a single person, it is important to consider some of the factors that might be playing a role. 

Attraction

In some cases, you might find that you can’t stop thinking about someone because you are attracted to them. There are many different types of attraction, so your interest might stem from a romantic, physical, sexual, emotional, or intellectual attraction to that person.

Attachment

Attachment can also cause you to think about another person. This can happen in close relationships, such as friendships or romantic partnerships, but it can also occur in other types of relationships. You might feel attached to a boss, mentor, teacher, or even a celebrity.

Emotional attachments are important for mental well-being. But sometimes these attachments are not healthy—or even toxic. In such cases, they can contribute to anxiety, insecurity, low self-esteem, and obsessive thinking. 

Problems with attachment, such as having an anxious or preoccupied attachment style, can also lead to a great deal of insecurity in relationships. People who experience attachment anxiety may spend an excessive amount of time thinking about their relationships and seeking reassurance from others.

Mental Health Conditions

Obsessive thoughts centered on a single individual may sometimes stem from unresolved or untreated mental health symptoms. Such thoughts may be influenced by:

  • Anxiety: Feeling of anxiety can sometimes contribute to worries or intrusive thoughts linked to a specific individual. For example, people who have generalized anxiety disorder may experience excessive worry about the health and safety of loved ones.
  • Loneliness: Sometimes you might find yourself thinking about someone because you are feeling lonely and are longing for their company or companionship.
  • Low self-esteem: In some instances, low self-esteem might lead people to think about others who they do not have the confidence to approach in real life. This can contribute to feeling preoccupied with that person.
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD): OCD is characterized by obsessions (repeated thoughts and images) and compulsions (repetitive behaviors). Obsessive thoughts often center on things such as fear of germs or a need for order, but they can sometimes be focused on a specific individual.

If your thoughts are accompanied by other symptoms that create distress or disrupt your ability to function in your daily life, consider talking to a healthcare practitioner or a mental health provider.

Reminder

It’s important to remember that not being able to get someone off your mind does not give you permission to intrude on that individual’s time or space unless they welcome or return those feelings. If you are interested in building a closer relationship with that person, let them know and see if they reciprocate those feelings. If they do not, it is important to respect their boundaries and look for ways to deal with your thoughts.

Signs It Might Be a Problem

Not being able to stop thinking about someone can sometimes be normal or even pleasant, such as the feeling that you get in the early stages of a romantic relationship. But it can often be a problem if it is linked to a deeper mental health issue or if it causes disruptions in other areas of your life.

Some signs that this type of thinking might be a problem include:

  • You are fixated on a person to the point that it interferes with your ability to focus on other things
  • Your thoughts are accompanied by anxiety, depression, or other mental health symptoms
  • Your thoughts about the person are intrusive and unwanted
  • You find yourself monitoring, following, or stalking the person online or in-person
  • You are making repeated attempts to contact the person, even if they have made it clear that they do not want to talk to you
  • You are making plans or taking steps to harm yourself or the other person

If you are experiencing any of these signs, it is important to reach out for help. Talking to a therapist or another mental health professional can help you understand your thoughts and develop healthier coping mechanisms.

If you are having suicidal thoughts, contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 988 for support and assistance from a trained counselor. If you or a loved one are in immediate danger, call 911.

For more mental health resources, see our National Helpline Database.

How to Stop Thinking About Someone

If you find that you can’t stop thinking about someone, there are a few things you can do to try to reduce the frequency of those thoughts or at least make them less distressing.

Identify Your Triggers

One of the first steps in managing intrusive thoughts is to identify what might be causing them. If you can be aware of what tends to set off these thinking patterns, you can sometimes avoid those triggers—or at least be prepared to deal with them.

Some common triggers for thinking about someone include:

  • Seeing the person in person
  • Thinking about things that remind you of that person
  • Seeing the person’s name
  • Hearing the person’s voice

Once you have identified your triggers, look for ways to minimize them as much as possible. If you can’t avoid your triggers, find ways to cope with them. For example, if you know that hearing the person’s voice will trigger thoughts about them, have something else ready to listen to so you can distract yourself.

Challenge Your Thoughts

Another way to deal with intrusive thoughts is to challenge them. This means taking a close look at the thoughts and asking yourself if they are really true. You may often find that the thoughts you can’t stop thinking about might be based on unfounded assumptions or irrational anxieties.

For example, you might find yourself thinking about someone all the time because you are convinced that they are angry at you. What this really means is that you might be using cognitive distortions such as jumping to conclusions and mind-reading, which cause you to make assumptions about what the other person is thinking.

By challenging your thoughts, you can start to see them for what they really are: irrational and based on fear. This can help you to start to let go of those obsessive, intrusive thoughts.

Focus on Self-Care

Another way to deal with intrusive thoughts is to focus on taking care of yourself by making sure that you are taking care of your physical and mental health. When you are feeling good physically and mentally, you are less likely to be focused on intrusive thoughts.

Some self-care activities that can help reduce intrusive thoughts include:

It is also important to make sure that you are not using alcohol or drugs to cope with your thoughts. While it might seem like substances can offer a temporary reprieve from your uncomfortable, distracting, or upsetting thoughts, they can often make this type of thinking worse and lead to more problems in the long run.

Talk to Someone

If you are struggling to stop thinking about another person on your own, it might also be helpful to talk to a trusted friend or loved one about what you are experiencing. This can be a helpful way to get some emotional support and gain additional perspective on the situation. 

Enlisting the help of other people in your life means you’ll have someone to turn to if your thoughts become overwhelming. They can also help you make a plan for how to deal with the problem and offer to help find ways to keep you distracted from your thoughts.

Seek Professional Help

If you find that you can’t stop thinking about someone and it is affecting your ability to function effectively in your daily life, it is important to seek professional help. A therapist can help you understand your thoughts and develop healthier ways to cope.

A mental health professional may recommend treatments such as talk therapy, medications, or a combination of both. Types of therapy that may help include cognitive-behavioral therapy or dialectical behavior therapy. Medications that might be prescribed include antidepressants or anti-anxiety drugs.

The specific treatment your therapist or doctor recommends will depend on your situation, symptoms, and diagnosis.

A Word From Verywell

If thinking about someone so much is interfering with your ability to function in your daily life or causing distress, it is important to take steps to get out of this thought pattern. There are a number of steps that you can take on your own, but talking to a mental health professional can also be helpful.

4 Sources
Verywell Mind uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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