How Rumination Can Sabotage Your Relationships

29 Sep

The cognitive process of rumination is rather simple, it involves deep thinking about something that has already happened or is due to happen — it becomes an issue when you get stuck in a cycle of unproductive thoughts. It can be one of the unhealthiest thought habits around hurting you and your relationships.


When going through a difficult time or situation, it is not uncommon to repeatedly mull over the events that took place (as well as those that have yet to happen) and the things that were said (or not said). Sometimes this process can be helpful — it’s a way of thinking through things, weighing up our options, and figuring out new, creative solutions. But it can also make us feel stuck and less inclined to do anything constructive about the situation and our associated distress. The deeper you are in a cycle of rumination, the louder our inner voice starts to overpower your thoughts.

“It is all my fault, why did I say that?, why did he not reply?, what if…” I’m sure we’ve all experienced such thoughts after an argument in a relationship or even after a first date. But if you not only dwell on these thoughts but play them on repeat in your head, they can become obsessive and harder to manage.

Rumination is known to influence romantic relationship and even sabotage future relationships. Excessively talking about or rehashing problems, not only negatively impacts your emotions but the feelings and thoughts of others. This can sometimes be referred to as co-rumination. Co-rumination is a slippery road

Rumination can negatively impact your future relationships and/or current relationships in various ways:

A Negative Mind Set

Let’s say you have ruminative thoughts about your date last night. You don’t think it went well and your date did not talk much and left early. Rumination can have an unpleasant effect on our perception of  optimism and pessimism. As we know, rumination can cause negative moods and increased sense of doubt.

Less Proactive Behaviour 

When we are feeling anxious or stressed, we are prone to higher disengagement from problems and less proactive behaviour. This can cause a downward spiral of negativity influencing our personal wellbeing, making us less likely to engage in new relationships and also damage exciting romantic relationships.


As humans we are programmed to focus our attention on the source of our stress, and when experiencing rumination we are more likely making things harder for ourselves. Coping behaviour such as self-sabotaging is a common response, which can make you less approachable to new people, and more destructive in romantic relationships.

It is critical to recognise rumination or ruminative thinking before you get caught in a cycle of obsession, stress, and self-sabotage in your relationships. If you think you need that extra support to navigate any of these issues, get in touch today.

by Alexandra Dalton

Open Membership manager, London

Born in Ukraine, educated in France and the UK and currently residing in Spain, Alexandra has a diversified international background and is very much a linguist, with fluency in English, French and Russian and a rudimentary understanding of Spanish and Ukrainian. This lifestyle has also given her a broad understanding of differentiating cultures, attitudes and perspectives and is very much a people’s person. Alexandra has a degree in Psychology and a Masters in Organisational Psychology and Psychiatry from King’s College London. Her education has developed her comprehension and study of human behaviour, social constructs and the evolutionary underpinnings of romantic behaviour. Alexa now uses her knowledge and experience facilitating the Vida team as Operations Coordinator. Outside of Vida, Alexandra is also passionately involved in her family-run non-profit, which helps orphans in Ukraine.More by this author