“Normal stress or obsessive thinking?”

Q—Hey, Alisa!

I’m not sure if you get many questions from a guy, but I need some advice and I’ve heard you’re the best to get it from.

So first off, I suffer from anxiety, and it makes dating and trying to get married really stressful. I might just be alone in this problem but I get really bad anxiety when I am not able to attend an event. For example, I go to college, and say there is a dance that I really want to go to but for some reason am not able to. I get this weird worried feeling that if I miss this dance or activity it might just be the place I will meet “her.” So if I miss this event there goes my chance at meeting “her.” Does that make any sense? It makes life so much worse cause then I switch between going and not going and stress the whole time if I do miss it. I don’t know whats wrong . . . any advice?

Also, what’s some advice on waiting and staying excited about life when you are single and all you really want is to love and be loved in return? I can honestly say I’m kinda bored, so I focus all my time and attention on how I am single and lonely. I don’t want to surround my life around trying to fall in love and always searching. I want to enjoy life.

OK, last thing: how do you separate having someone and your need for someone? I find myself so up and down sometimes in relationships. I either feel really happy because something great has happened or really depressed cause I haven’t heard or seen her all day. I don’t want to be that person. I want to be the same all the time. Help?

OK . . . I thought of one more thing . . . What advice do you have on commitment issues? My parents are divorced, so that might have something to do with it. But I find myself not finding someone I want to date for a long time. I’ve never been in a real relationship . . . if that makes sense; I always get to the point where I’m just uninterested and not attracted to them. My motto has become, “I can’t find anyone that makes me want to stop dating everyone else.” Is something wrong with me? I guess in the end my deepest fear is I won’t ever fall in love and have the kind of love I want.

Thanks so much, Alisa! I need all the help I can get.


A—Actually, I do have some specific advice for you. The details you describe fit with obsessive thinking (a specific type of anxiety). Now don’t take this too personally; this is a legitimate brain-related issue. Once you beginning thinking about something, it quickly turns into an obsession. I see this a lot in my mental-health practice, and you can learn to change this pattern, but you will need to get some help to do it. Write back if you would like to learn more about the disorder. I’m not currently taking mental-health clients, so you will need to see someone else. I’m just offering to explain that I suspect you have obsessive thinking. There is a difference between the normal stress of dating and the chemical, emotional, and thought patterns that lead to obsession. Many men and women struggle with obsessive thinking but are unaware that there is a problem that silently tortures them and reduces their quality of life.

I know that with help you can get a handle on this and begin to enjoy life and dating more. To contact the person I refer singles to for these issues call Heather Severn at (801) 505-1332 (you can also listen to a brief audio of where Heather and I talk about how mental health issues complicate dating, click here).

Good luck,

Alisa Goodwin Snell


I’m not offended at all, I figured it was kinda not normal. I’m really glad though I’m not alone. I would really like to hear (read) this specific advice that you have for me. Because my questions are way out of the ordinary and I’d love to figure out a way to not think in such a way and to get answers to them. I’m all ears to whatever you have to say. I would like any info you have if your willing to share. I thank you so much for all the support and for being so kind. I bet its even weirder cause im a guy, it make me almost sound like a girl. (hopefully not). Thanks again and I can’t wait until I hear from you whenever you get a chance!



A—I think you may have a mild case of obsessive compulsive disorder. Often people think this disorder is just about hand washing twenty times a day, but it is not. It’s about the brain locking up in a way that creates a pattern of obsessive thinking that is really chemically and emotionally difficulty to stop. You can learn how to do this, you just need to gain more tools, such as those found in the book Brain Lock or Stop Obsessing.

You also, and most probably, will need to get on an anti-anxiety med. Obsessive thoughts have a chemical base and can be nearly impossible to manage and avoid without medication. I suggest you check-in with your doctor and start with a simple anti-anxiety medication like Paxil, Lexipro, or Zoloft. And, no this is not just a girl’s issue. I work with many men who have these problems and others would have no idea because they seem so normal.

Good-luck. I hope this helps.

3 thoughts on ““Normal stress or obsessive thinking?”

  • Dear Anonymous,
    Maybe before you jump to taking meds to help with your thinking try this:
    Start everyday with positive thinking, gratitude, and positive affirmations. For example:
    I have let go of negative thoughts, emotions, and experiences.
    I am creating more and more experiences that generate feelings of joy.
    I am attracting like minded people with whom I love to interact.
    I am experiencing my intimate relationships as blossoming and growing effortlessly
    I am able to receive and give love and affection
    I am attracting women to date who are safe,respectful, and love me for me!
    I am grateful for being at the right places at the right times.

    Say these things outloud and as if you are already living it. Change any negative thought into a positive ” I am” message. What we put our thoughts and energy into we will get more of!!

    Hope this helps and good luck out there!

  • I have also experienced similar thoughts. It can be improved and my life today is proof of that. I used the obseesive compulsive workbook. Pay particular attention to the section on obsessive thinking. It is very helpful!

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