Doubting Your Partners Feelings For You
Youve exchanged I love yous . They always seem happy to see you and make kind gestures, like bringing you lunch or walking out of their way to see you home.
But you still cant shake the nagging doubt: They dont really love me.
Maybe theyre slow to respond to physical affection. Or they dont reply to texts for several hours even a day. When they suddenly seem a little distant, you wonder if their feelings have changed.
Everyone feels this way from time to time, but these worries can become a fixation if you have relationship anxiety.
Effects Of Relationship Anxiety
Before placing a magnifying glass on the way you act within your relationship, it’s important to note that not every demonstration of worry is a sign of relationship anxiety.
In fact, taking stock of what is working, changes in communication, and feelings shared within the relationship is healthy and encouraged. However, when the energy you expend in keeping tabs on your partner and their attitude within the relationship constantly leaves you feeling on edge, that could be problematic.
Relationship anxiety can produce the same tell-tale signs of anxiety in the person concerned. These feelings have increased the risk of developing anxious conditions such as and generalized anxiety disorders.
Constantly worrying about the relationship can also affect the quality of love and intimacy you enjoy. In some cases, experiencing persistent feelings of anxiety within the relationship can produce the most feared resultan end to the union.
If you realize that you frequently experience relationship anxiety, this can negatively affect your well-being and the chances of experiencing a future with your partner.
However, you should know that there are steps you can take to improve the quality of your life and your relationship to avoid the harmful effects of anxiety.
My Partner Has Anxiety And I Struggle With What To Do
We explore this even more on this page, and we encourage you to read it if you’re looking for tips to help someone with anxiety. But certainly, anxiety doesn’t just stress the person that is struggling. It can cause distress in the relationship as a whole as well. Dating someone with anxiety or marrying someone with anxiety can be confusing and it is not uncommon to need to learn ways to overcome it.
Go To Therapy To Process Your Thoughts & Feelings
Therapy is a great way to dig deeper and uncover some of the negative thought patterns and experiences that could be contributing to your relationship anxiety.7 Working with a therapist can also give you a safe space to work through your anxious feelings and gain more clarity on how to identify and maintain a healthy relationship.
To find a therapist in your area, use an online therapist directory to connect with a therapist you feel comfortable talking to and can build a trusting relationship with. Remember, there is no shame in experiencing this kind of anxiety, and sometimes, the first step to healing is simply telling your truth and asking for help.
Why We Feel Anxious In Relationships
The tendency to feel anxious about relationships is often a result of the attachment patterns we experienced with our parents or caregivers when we were young. These influence how we understand our needs and go about getting them met. If we experienced anxious-type attachment patterns, we are more likely to experience higher levels of relationship anxiety.
Low self-esteem and a long-standing negative view of yourself can also contribute to feelings of anxiety in a relationship. If you have beliefs that you are not good enough or don’t have as much to offer in a relationship as other people then you will likely think that this is what your partner thinks about you as well.
Low self-esteem and a long-standing negative view of yourself can contribute to feelings of anxiety in a relationship.
Previous romantic relationships will also effect how we view our present ones. When we form relationships, we place a great deal of trust in someone else which can lead us to feel exposed and vulnerable. If a past partner was unfaithful, ended the relationship suddenly or was dishonest then you may grow to expect this from future partners.
The relationship itself can also cause you to feel anxious. It would be natural to experience anxiety if your partner was secretive, critical, controlling or abusive. If your partner is threatening or abusive, details of organisations that can support you can be found at the bottom of the page.
Symptoms Of Adult Separation Anxiety
In the discussion of adult separation anxiety, again, due to lack of concrete diagnostic criteria, many look to the symptoms of separation anxiety in children as a way to gain understanding. In children, symptoms of separation anxiety include:
- Distress when attached to a specific figure or figures.
- Excessive worry about losing these figures.
- Anxious, “worst case scenario” thinking about separation.
- Trouble sleeping when away from a specific person.
- Physical complaints when separation appears imminent.
One might also add the belief that the person cannot live without another person, or that their quality of life will suffer dramatically.
Because adult brains are far more developed than the brains of children, it is likely adult separation anxiety will reveal itself in different ways. Nevertheless, severe distress at the thought of being without someone is very probable to be a central sign of ASA, and some variation of the above list would likely fit into any diagnostic criteria.
What Does Relationship Anxiety Look Like
Relationship anxiety, like all forms of anxiety and really big hats, looks different on everyone. Generalized anxiety disorder can cause restlessness, indecision, fatigue, insomnia, tense muscles, irritability and depression. Relationship anxiety can manifest similarly; the only difference is those manifestations emerge through the lens of the partnership. Note: Many of these symptoms are easily internalized. Someone suffering from relationship anxiety may work extra hard to hide it.
In fact, Kathleen Smith, PhD, a licensed professional counselor, wrote on that pretending everything is fine because youre afraid to have a serious conversation with your partner is a big indicator of relationship anxiety. Similarly, if you feel extremely anxious when your partner isnt next to you or within eyesight, you could be experiencing relationship anxiety. This could mean you imagine all the ways they are cheating on you when theyre out somewhere else or you simply cannot stand to be apart from them. Now, if theres evidence theyve been unfaithful, thats a different story. But, brainwashing yourself into believing someone is cheating with no proof beyond your own imagination is a big indicator of relationship anxiety.
Finally, if you actively avoid dating or committed relationships entirely, you may have a general anxiety about relationships. Not earth-shattering news, but worth mentioning because pre-existing anxiety about relationships can bleed into new romances.
So Is It Anxiety Or Plain Old Stress
Heres the thing: Everyone, at some point, probably experiences some anxiety about a relationship. If we didnt, we might be sociopathic. When we like someone, we hope they like us too! When were married to someone, we work hard at it and its not always easy. Continued, overwhelming anxiety about relationship-specific issues is what requires some major rewiring.
Luckily, the stigma around mental health has been challenged in recent years and people are much more open to discussing anxiety disorders and learning how to tackle them, one step at a time.
Why Do We Get So Anxious At The Start Of A New Relationship
The beginning of a relationship is full of butterflies. Though, as romantic as that all sounds, sometimes the fluttering isn’t a giddy reaction at all; instead, it’s an uneasiness that stems from something called early relationship anxiety, and it’s a phenomenon rooted in the anticipation of the unknown.
“Relationship anxiety refers to the feelings one often associates with getting to know someone for the first time on a romantic level,” says licensed psychotherapist Siobhan D. Flowers. She goes on to say that It’s “an innate desire to be ‘liked’ and ‘accepted,'” she says, adding that it’s a “very common” anxiety.
Be Open With Your Partner About How You’re Feeling
If you’re experiencing early relationship anxiety, your feelings are valid and are often trying to relay valuable information, coach and sex educator Stella Harris tells mbg. “It can be helpful to tell your partner how you’re feeling,” she says. “For one, it’s helpful to set a precedent of honesty and transparency. Also, getting in the habit of asking for reassurances when you need them can be really helpful.”
If your partner responds poorly to your need for reassuranceor if you don’t feel comfortable asking for it from this person for whatever reasonthen that’s another reason to think through whether the relationship you’re in is really the right one for you. After all, Clarissa Silva, behavioral scientist, relationship coach, and the creator of Your Happiness Hypothesis Method, tells mbg you want to find someone who complements you and who brings out the best in you.
However, before talking to your partner, Harris tells mbg it’s important to think about how much attention and affection you expect from the people in your life and be realistic with yourself about those expectations. “It’s really important to get your needs for connection met in a variety of places, such as from your friends and social network,” Harris says. “It’s not possible or healthy for one person to be your everything.”
I’m Scared Or Afraid Of A Relationship
Some relationship anxiety has little to do with the partner and more to do with the fear of being in a relationship in the first place. Known as a “fear of commitment,” it is very common for those that:
- Have never been in a relationship.
- Have been in bad relationships.
- Have concerns that if they commit they may miss out on something else.
Some people have a fear of being in a relationship that cannot be easily explained. This type of anxiety is a challenge not only because of the anxiety itself but also because of the way it may harm potentially good relationships.
Anxiety Crushes Your True Voice Creating Panic Or Procrastination
Someone who tends to be anxious may have trouble expressing his or her true feelings. It also may be difficult to keep reasonable boundaries by asking for the attention or space that is needed.
Since experiencing anxiety is uncomfortable, subconsciously you may try to postpone the experience of it. On the other hand, anxiety can cause you to believe that something must be talked about immediately, when in fact a short break may be beneficial.
If you dont express what you truly feel or need, anxiety becomes stronger. Plus, your emotions may eventually spiral out of control if you keep them in. You may become and defensive.
so acknowledgeyour feelings sooner rather than later. A feeling or concern doesnt have to be a disaster in order for it to be addressed. Approach your partner with , so that youre neither nor panicking. Also, find time on your own to unpack some of the thoughts or fears circulating in your mind; they are draining your time and energy.
Strengthen Your Personal Identity
Many people lose themselves in their relationships. They become preoccupied with wanting to make the other person happy. They neglect their own passions, friendships, or self-care because the relationship becomes so consuming.
Healthy relationships require healthy people. Invest in cultivating your self-esteem. This may mean practicing positive affirmations and self-compassion every day. It may also mean spending time with positive influences or taking healthy risks with work or school.
Finally, you need to have a separate life outside of your relationship. This separation keeps you feeling refreshed and engaged with the world, and it can also actually bring the two of your closer.
Identify What Is Driving Your Anxiety
Is it fear? Low self-esteem? Lack of confidence? Or ? Assessing the root of your anxiety and drawing connections to previous experiences or how you were raised can increase your awareness. Sometimes, we feel insecure because we lack confidence in the ability to choose healthy relationships for ourselves.3
Ways To Control Relationship Anxiety
With that in mind, controlling your relationship anxiety has more to do with you than it does with them, and you can’t expect them to contribute. The following are basic strategies for making sure your relationship can heal:
These are both relationship tips and anxiety tips because in some ways they’re very similar.
However, you want to also address your anxiety like it is its own separate condition because in some ways it is. Even when has to do with your relationship, anxiety is still anxiety, and so it’s important that you figure out how to control it and improve your quality of life.
Relationship anxiety is quite common. An individual may already have anxiety in relationships, or it can manifest that way over time. Often this type of anxiety needs to be addressed in two parts first, addressing the relationship, and second, addressing the anxiety itself.
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Understand That Some Relationship Anxiety Is Normal
All couples experience relationship anxiety. Thats because all relationships entail some ambiguity. For example, you might feel anxious when you first begin dating. You want to know where things are going and if youre both on the same page.
In times of stress or conflict, you might question your partners loyalty. Do they really understand what you need? Can you two get through this? Finally, you may experience moments of resentment, sadness, or even boredom. Any of those feelings can trigger speculation if youre in the right relationship.
Rest assured that some anxiety is normal. In healthy relationships, people recognize the feeling and address it either alone or with their partner. The anxiety doesnt consume them.
Dont Pin Your Anxiety On Your Partner If Theyre Not Behaving Suspiciously
Its easy to assume that your anxiety is your S.O.s fault, but its not fair to put your fears on them if theyre not doing anything wrong. Youre an adult and you need to manage your own emotions and make yourself happy, Anderson says. Its not your partners job to alleviate your anxiety its yours.
How Anxiety Can Impact Your Relationship
If you are dating someone with anxiety, it is likely your partner spends a lot of time worrying and ruminating on everything that could go wrong or already be wrong with the relationship. Here are some examples of thoughts and questions that might be running through their brain:
- What if they doesnt love me as much as I love them?
- What if theyre lying to me?
- What if theyre hiding something from me?
- What if theyre cheating on me?
- What if they want to cheat on me?
- What if they like someone else better?
- What if my anxiety ruins our relationship?
- What if we break up?
- What if they dont text me back?
- What if Im always the first one to reach out?
- What if they ghost on me?
Most people have at least a few of these anxious thoughts. They are a normal part of being in a relationship, especially a new one.
People with anxiety issues or an anxiety disorder, however, tend to have these anxious thoughts more frequently and more intensely.
Our minds take over and go directly to the worst-case-scenario, said Michelene Wasil, a therapist who is familiar with anxiety on both a personal and clinical level.
The anxious thoughts cause physiological symptoms, including shortness of breath, insomnia and anxiety attacks. Someone with anxiety can react to relationship stress with a fight-or-flight response, as if the stress were a physical attack.
Unfortunately there are many anxiety-motivated behaviors people encounter in relationships. Here are a few more examples to look out for:
Childhood: The Root Cause Of Relationship Anxiety
Oftentimes, relationship anxiety stems from attachment patterns that develop in early childhood, says Zayde. A child will develop a prototype of what to expect from others based upon their early caregiving experiences.
She says that, depending on the accuracy and consistency of the caregivers response, a child will learn to either express or suppress his or her emotional and physical needs. This coping mechanism may work at the time, but it can morph into maladaptive behaviors when applied to adult, romantic relationships.
Oftentimes, relationship anxiety stems from attachment patterns that develop in early childhood.
A common example of maladaptive behavior is what psychologists refer to as an enmeshed relationship, or a situation in which a parent is overly involved in a childs life, as stated in Greenberg, Cicchetti and Cummings’ book, . This can lead to “reciprocally intrusive, controlling behavior,” and “much insecurity and distress on the part of both over real or threatened separation.”
On the flip side, for those who feel easily suffocated in a relationship, they may have had childhood experiences that caused them to become avoidant of relationships and bonding. For example, a child with an inattentive may learn to suppress their innate proclivity toward bonding in order to prevent heartache and feelings of rejection. As an adult, that child may have a difficult time committing to, or being vulnerable in, a relationship.
How To Deal With Relationship Anxiety
Relationships can be one of the most pleasurable things on the planet but they can also be a breeding ground for anxious thoughts and feelings. Relationship anxiety can arise at pretty much any stage of courtship. For many single people, just the thought of being in a relationship can stir up stress. If and when people do start dating, the early stages can present them with endless worries: Does he/she really like me? Will this work out? How serious is this? Unfortunately, these worries dont tend to subside in the later stages of a romantic union. In fact, as things get closer between a couple, anxiety can get even more intense. Thoughts come flooding in like: Can this last? Do I really like him/her? Should we slow down? Am I really ready for this kind of commitment? Is he/she losing interest?
All this worrying about our relationships can make us feel pretty alone. It can lead us to create distance between ourselves and our partner. At its worst, our anxiety can even push us to give up on love altogether. Learning more about the causes and effects of relationship anxiety can help us to identify the negative thinking and actions that can sabotage our love lives. How can we keep our anxiety in check and allow ourselves to be vulnerable to someone we love?
You Believe The End Is Nigh
No matter how well your relationship is going, you cant shift the nagging feeling that its all about to go a bit Titanic and hit an iceberg before sinking with you on board.
Even the most insignificant disagreement between you and your partner has your stomach churning with fear that your chances of a happily-ever-after have well and truly bitten the dust.
Causes Of Anxiety In Relationships
There are very serious issues that cause anxiety and much less serious issues that can cause anxiety. Yet all anxiety is a struggle, and when you find yourself with relationship anxiety it’s something that you want to cure. Some of the universal causes of relationship anxiety include:
- Loss of Trust: In Relationship Future
Easily the most common cause of anxiety is uncertainty about the future of the relationship. This can come from lots of fights, or it can come from previous breakups, or it can come from growing distant. No matter the cause, when that trust that the relationship is going to work out is lost, the uncertainty can cause a lot of anxiety as you become unsure of what to do with your life.
- Loss of Trust: General
Of course, a general loss of trust is also a problem, after things like infidelity or less serious issues like forgetting to run important errands around the home. Trust is a very important part of a relationship, and if the trust is gone it can be very hard to build it back naturally.
- Fight Eggshells
Fighting often is a problem. But the problem isn’t just that fights involve anger it’s also this general feeling of worry that you’re going to fight again. This worry can cause significant anxiety because you become too afraid to do anything around the home since you are worried another fight will happen at any moment.
Try Being More Mindful
Mindfulness practices involve focusing your awareness on whats happening in the present moment without judgement. When negative thoughts come up, you acknowledge them and let them move on.
This can be particularly useful when youre stuck in a negative thought spiral. It can also help you to prioritize your day-to-day experiences with your partner.
After all, maybe the relationship will end in a few months or a few years, but you can still appreciate and enjoy it in the meantime.
What Are Some Signs Of Relationship Anxiety
Relationship anxiety can show up in different ways.
Most people feel a little insecure about their relationship at some point, especially in the early stages of dating and forming a commitment. This isnt unusual, so you generally dont need to feel concerned about passing doubts or fears, especially if they dont affect you too much.
But these anxious thoughts sometimes grow and creep into your daily life.
Heres a look at some potential signs of relationship anxiety:
Corrective Experiences As The Key To Change
This is where corrective experiences are essential in order to break the anxious patterns weve been discussing. A corrective experience is one that strategically pushes back against some compelling fear. It corrects a lie, heals a distortion. The experience, to be corrective, needs to refute the very foundation upon which the anxiety remains alive in ones life.
These foundations are always built upon falsehoods. No one could genuinely love me if they knew the real me. People think Im successful but that is only a façade if they could see the truth it would reveal that Im an imposter. If I let that person into my life and things dont work out I would be totally devastated.
The corrective experience powerfully refutes such lies. Not through thought, but through action. It is ones immersion in the experience that gives it power.
Let me elaborate. Using the fear of flying example again, a corrective experience would be one in which the person got on an airplane, remained relatively calm throughout the flight , and safely landed.
The person would have had the experience of safely, and calmly, flying in an airplane. The lie of If I get on that airplane Im going to crash and die would have been proven false in a very powerful way. lived experience! Score one for truth. A huge step forward toward the freedom that comes with being rid of the fear of flying.
Anxiety And Relationships: How To Stop It Stealing The Magic
Intimate relationships are a mirror, reflecting the best and the worst of all of us. They can inflame our struggles or soothe them. When theyre right, they can feel like magic. Even when theyre completely right, anxiety can steal the magic and loosen the connection between two people who belong together. All relationships require trust, tenderness, patience and vulnerability. People with anxiety often have these by the truckload and will give them generously to the relationship. The problem is that anxiety can sometimes just as quickly erode them.
If youre someone who struggles with anxiety, there are plenty of things about you that would make loving you easy. All relationships struggle sometimes and when anxiety is at play, the struggles can be quite specific very normal, and specific.
Anxiety can work in curious ways, and it will impact different relationships differently, so not all of the following will be relevant for every relationship. Here are some ways to strengthen your relationship and protect it from the impact of anxiety:
Let your partner know what triggers you.
Is there a particular situation thats tends to set your anxiety alight? Crowds? Strangers? Difficulties of exit? Loud music in the car? Being late? Talk to your partner so that if you find yourself in the situation without warning, he or she will understand whats happening for you.