This Is The Psychology Behind Why You Repeatedly Ask If Your Partner Is Okay

Always asking your partner if they are okay is a common habit but usually reveals something deeper.

Do you ever find yourself asking your partner if they are okay, just to ask them again within a couple of minutes? By this point, they are usually still fine but now they’re irritated because they already told you that they are okay?

It’s not the best feeling on either side of the conversation but there is psychology behind why you feel the need to ask more than once.

According to Psychology Today, this urge is called ‘emotional monitoring’ and they describe it as ‘empathy’s evil twin.’

What is emotional monitoring?

When you feel empathy towards somebody, it’s a reaction to their situation. Whether they’ve injured themselves or they are going through emotional difficulties, empathy is a response to that.

Emotional monitoring, according to Psychology Today, doesn’t occur as a result of seeing somebody struggle. They said: “Emotional monitoring is a constant, often subconscious, scanning or monitoring of others’ emotional states in order to anticipate any negative feelings they might experience.”

Sound familiar?

You’re not alone.

This is apparently very common in people who come from marginalised groups or those that have experienced childhood trauma. People who grew up in a home where the needs of others far outweighed the needs of themselves often tend to monitor emotions.

According to psychologist Dr Nicole Lepera, emotional monitoring is a constant focus on scanning the moods of those around you in order to feel safe. Most people aren’t aware that they do this because it’s a subconscious survival technique.

Signs of emotional monitoring can include:

  • constantly asking somebody if they’re okay or if they’re upset even when they say they’re not
  • having extreme anxiety when a close friend or partner is upset or hurting
  • a constant focus on the mood shifts of others
  • feeling like your role is to cheer someone up at all times
  • chronic apologising
  • replaying social interactions over and over mentally

If this sounds like you, there are ways to help yourself.

How to stop emotional monitoring

Dr Lepera recommends these steps for stopping emotional monitoring:

  • Become aware: spend the next couple of days noticing how often you are monitoring people’s emotions around you. Notice how often you ask “are you ok” or make assumptions someone’s upset with you
  • Begin introspection: people who emotionally monitor rarely do internal introspection because they’re so focused externallyJournal your thoughts or feelings, spend time alone, focus on your own needs. Self reflection is a practice
  • Practice emotional tolerance: if you notice someone’s irritable or in a bad/upset mood ask: “how can I support you?” If they don’t want it need support, just allow them to be in their mood. You’ll teach yourself emotions are fluid and not something to fix
  • Don’t seek perfection: you will fall back into the habit and that’s ok. Just be aware and redirect your energy.

She added: “When we give people around us space and trust that they can cope with their emotions—we create intimacy and connection.”