You meet many people every day. Some of them make a lasting impression on you even if the contact has been brief. For some strange reason, your thoughts keep drifting back to them. You can’t get them out of your mind.
You may experience a similar dilemma with people you already know. Your ex, for example. You have parted ways but you still continue to think of them.
Or someone who is interested in you but you don’t want to keep in touch with for your own reasons. Your thoughts may hover over someone you kind of love but consider unsuitable to have a relationship with.
The reasons are manifold. This article tries to understand why your thoughts keep lingering on someone and can’t stop thinking about them. Here you will also find possible ways to stop this.
What does it mean when you think about someone all the time?
It can only mean either of the two – you love them or you hate them. Sorry, there is no halfway point about it.
In both cases, it stands to reason that you are obsessed with them.
If you have a crush on this person, it is natural that they take over your thoughts and refuse to leave you alone. You are interested in them and your body is reacting predictably. You may continue to think about them, even if they make it clear that they are not interested in you.
Or you do not like the person. You may have constant disagreements, arguments, and fights with this person. It may be your boss or a colleague. Or it may be a family member with whom you find it difficult to get along. You feel bothered and frustrated with them and your mind keeps returning to the person and the interaction with them.
If left unchecked, this can turn into obsessive thoughts. This is unhealthy and can drive you into serious mental health disorders.
10 reasons you keep thinking about someone
When someone gets stuck in your mind, it means you have surrendered to rumination. Call it by any name – contemplation, pondering, or obsessive thinking – it is all the same. The long and short of it is your thoughts keep returning to the person.
When you find yourself in this situation, the question that bothers you is “Why?”. Here are some probable reasons why your mind is behaving like a hamster on a wheel.
1. It is human nature.
Connecting with people is in our DNA. Whether you want it or not, like it or not, you automatically connect with people you come across in your life. Building relationships with people is hardwired into your brain. You think about a person to assess their suitability for furthering the connection. Or you may obsess over them when the relationship fails.
2. You can’t decide whether you love them or hate them.
Your ex is the best example. You loved them sometime in the past and maybe you still do. But something turned your relationship sour and it fell apart. You hate them for it. When you are undecided about your feelings for a person, your mind keeps going back to them to figure out a clear answer.
3. You were rejected by this person.
You fell head over heels in love with this person, though the feelings were not reciprocated. You continue to pursue in the hope that your love can conquer the resistance. But when you are told outright that the relationship is a “no-go”, you can’t get over it. You keep thinking about the person.
4. You have unresolved issues with this person.
Irrespective of the kind of relationship you have with this person, you find it difficult to sit down and have an open conversation about the difference of opinion and lack of harmony in the relationship. The culprit can be either one of you. When uncertainty and confusion are clouding the relationship, it is natural that you try to find a solution by thinking about it often.
5. You are evaluating their prospects.
When you meet someone new, you try to gather more information about them and process it in your mind to decide whether the relationship is worth pursuing. When you find your mind hovering over someone you recently met, it just means that they have passed the first stage and you are appraising whether they are good enough to proceed to the next stage of the relationship.
6. You are reminiscing about your past.
Your thoughts are more about yourself than about the other person. You loved the person you once were when you were with this particular person. So, in your recollections of your former self, naturally, this person also pops up.
7. You crave company.
When you are feeling lonely and have nothing particular to occupy your mind, when you come across someone, you usually think about them a lot. This may not have any overtone or special meaning as in other cases. This is again normal human nature. When you are lonely, you tend to gravitate towards human company.
8. You have fond memories of this person.
Maybe you are not together anymore. But you loved this person in the past. You two had a wonderful time together. In relationships that lasted a long time, you are bound to have nostalgic thoughts about the person even after a bitter breakup. This may mean nothing or maybe an indication that you are missing them.
9. You were treated poorly by them.
When you endure trauma, it is typical for your mind to ponder on the events as a means to find a solution. In case, the person is from your past, you may be trying to figure out alternative ways to deal with the situation. Whatever the case may be, this is not a healthy practice. This unproductive exercise must be brought under control as early as possible.
10. You dreamed about them.
And it got you thinking why this person came into your dreams. This may be a casual acquaintance or someone from your past. You keep thinking about them to try to figure out the significance of their appearance in your dreams.
For more on this topic, see our article psychological facts about dreams of someone you love.
How to stop thinking about someone you like?
You may like them but don’t want them to be part of your life. So, when you find yourself constantly thinking about someone like that, you would want it to stop at the earliest as it is causing you annoyance and anguish.
Don’t resist the thoughts
The more you fight, the more it comes back with vengeance. Mind matters are often hard to fathom. Accept and acknowledge the thoughts even if you are uncomfortable and annoyed by them. Leave it be. Usually, they disappear on their own after a while.
When you get obsessed with a particular thought, the ideal way out of it is to think of something else that is more compelling and absorbing. Distraction is a tactic that works almost always, even when you are aware of what you are doing.
Live in the moment and not in the past or the future. Train your mind to be present at the moment. This may not be easy to achieve. As it involves changing the mindset, it will need patient practice and ample time frame. But once you learn to control your mind, it will be smooth-sailing.
Learn to forgive and forget
If the person concerned is connected to some traumatic event in your past or has done you an injustice such as abuse or mistreatment, you may be expecting an apology from them to close the chapter. Until then, you will be tormented by their thoughts. However, expecting an apology may not be a feasible idea. There is a high chance of it never happening. You better come to terms with forgiving them and forgetting about the event and the person.
Take the logical route
Stick to facts and try not to involve emotions. Maybe your perspective of the event was biased by your emotions. Exaggerated observations can assume control of your mind and destroy your peace and happiness. Whenever you find your mind wandering into the imaginary world, bring it back to the real world by focusing on the verifiable truths.
When you find yourself thinking of someone, you will naturally feel confused about what to make of it. Whether you should take some action such as reaching out to them. It depends on the relationship you have with this person and the situation as a whole. Then again, you are the best person to decide on the next course of action.
You are in an inevitable position if you are unable to decide what to do but can’t get someone off your mind. If you find the thoughts turning obsessive, don’t hesitate to seek the help of a professional.
You may also want to take a look at our guide on how to stop ruminating on the past and start moving on towards a happier present.