How To Deal With Relationship Anxiety
Relationships require hard work. Any relationship, romantic or not, requires an adherence to a balance of sorts, wherein both parties listen to one another's needs and respect one another's boundaries. Although this is true of any relationship, the give and take of respect is of particular value when dating with anxiety.
Dating with anxiety could mean numerous things. Anxiety within a relationship could manifest as difficulty asking for what you want, or a fear of being left behind. It could be far more broad, with a person experiencing actual anxiety due to simply being in relationship. There can even be an element of social difficulty involved, as in the case of experiencing social anxiety and dating despite those symptoms.
Anxiety and Relationships: An Overview
Anxiety can impact relationships in a handful of ways. Social anxiety is characterized by the fear of or discomfort experienced in social situations. For some, this looks like extremely shy or timid behavior, followed by difficulty speaking up or sharing. For others, social anxiety might manifest in hermit-like behavior, wherein the person avoids friendships, crowds, or other people as a whole to stave off the symptoms of their disorder. Social anxiety has varying levels of severity and can look extremely different for everyone.
Stress can also occur in the form of dating anxiety.Social situations are not necessarily avoided by the person dealing with dating anxiety, but romantic relationships and all of their entanglements are. The prospect of romance can create anxious feelings, leading to the avoidance of romance. Being within a romantic relationship can prove too stimulating and frightening for a person to form any lasting attachments. The exact mechanisms of this type of anxiety can differ. In some cases, a fear of abandonment creates anxious feelings within a dating relationship.In others, the fear of losing freedom or autonomy is the root cause.
Finally, anxiety while dating can derive from a general anxiety disorder. Because different types of mood disorders cause different obstacles and challenges, dating someone with any type of anxiety disorder can prove difficult. It requires patience and understanding from both parties. General anxiety disorder shows up in many different areas, and no two individuals with this particular condition are alike. Even two people with general anxiety disorder within a relationship may not fully comprehend one another's needs and concerns.
Dating Someone With Anxiety
When dating someone with anxiety, there may be several things to make a note of and consider. Anxiety manifests differently in everyone, but will likely come into play at some point within a relationship. Panic disorders, for instance, might mean plans must be canceled last minute due to a panic attack. Social anxiety might require taking longer to meet friends, acquaintances, or family members in a serious relationship. General anxiety disorders might ask for patience and calm in the face of your partner needing reassurance and support for tasks or situations that might not initially seem problematic to a neurotypical individual.
Although it can be hard, dating someone with an anxiety disorder is not definitively negative.Men and women who experience these conditions are often deeply emotional individuals and may offer much in the way of love, affection, support, and compassion. A disorder is not the inability to feel deeply or experience compassion. Instead, it might be described as the difficulty of processing everyday experiences that others might find mundane or inconsequential.
Dealing With Relationship Anxiety: Partner With Anxiety
Dealing with relationship anxiety depends on whether or not you are the one with the condition. Someone who is experiencing anxiety will have different emotional and physical reactions than the partner who is witnessing anxiety. If you arethe partner who has anxiety, the first potential step is seeking qualified help and understanding the condition. Gaining a greater understanding of your wants, needs, and quirks will go a long way in achieving harmony within your relationship. After all, if you are unable to identify your needs, how can you communicate your needs to your partner?
New relationship anxiety can be particularly problematic if you already live with an anxiety disorder. To help mitigate the symptoms, go slow. Work up to pursuing a relationship with someone new, and after reaching out, take your time. You don't have to jump into anything serious right out of the gate.You may feel more comfortable and safer if you have plenty of time to evaluate your feelings and experiences with a new partner.
Finally, make sure you are communicating your wants and needs with your partner. Anxiety can make effective communication difficult, but coming into a relationship with open communication and honesty regarding your unique needs will make for much smoother sailing for both your partner and you.
Dealing With Relationship Anxiety: Partner Without Anxiety
Dealing with a relationship anxiety in your partner can be frustrating. The two of you will not experience the world in the same way, and the limitations placed on your partner as a result of their disorder can make dating, communication, and intimacy difficult. Being in a relationship with someone who has depression and anxiety requires constant, consistent communication with an open mind and a plethora of empathy. People with anxiety do not choose to experience the symptoms of their disorder, and cannot readily remove themselves from the fear and anxious feelings they experience. Offering kindness and understanding in the face of a panic attack, irrational fear, or outbreak of anxiety will go a long way in creating intimacy and trust within your relationship.
Part of communicating effectively with your anxious partner means communicating your own needs. If your partner has social anxiety, for instance, you might need to communicate your need for excursions with your friends without your partner. If your partner experiences panic attacks in new situations, you might need to experience new things on your own, or with a friend instead of your partner, then relay the experience to your partner. For some, this might not be ideal. But for others, this can create a strong balance between your romantic and friendly relationships.
Anxiety In Relationships
Anxiety on its own is extremely challenging and can make people feel alienated by their peers. This can spike within a romantic relationship if there is not clear, open communication and a willingness to work with one another’s needs. Working with one another to create a mutually fulfilling relationship, however, can make for incredible one.People with anxiety often have rich inner lives. Sharing this can be rewarding.
When dating someone with anxiety, make sure you both create boundaries, communicate needs, and discuss expectations. Boundaries can include saving some anxieties for the confines of a therapy session or keeping some frustration with anxiety for the safety of a confidant. Needs might include being able to discuss the relationship at length, as many individuals with anxiety experience fear of being left behind, cheated on, or otherwise humiliated.
Needs for the partner of the anxious person might include creating space from panic attacks or over-attached behavior. A thorough discussion of expectations is in order. If one person expects the other to be their entire universe, this is a recipe for resentment and anger. Discussing your expectations for the relationship and the role anxiety will play in the progression of your partnership can alleviate some of the stress and pressure.
Anxiety can wreak havoc on relationships, romantic and platonic alike. With patience and perseverance, however, a relationship with someone who experiences anxiety can be just as rewarding and moving as a relationship a neurotypical individual. As with any relationship, it is important to carve out time and effort to connect with an anxious partner. To alleviate some of the pressure and worry regarding your relationship, set aside time to engage in an activity that brings you joy and dispels the shadow of anxiety looming over one or both of you.
If you are worried about engaging in the process of treating your anxiety with therapy, it doesn’t need to be a source of concern. Anxiety is the most common mental illness among adults. Furthermore, researchers have been studying how best to treat it for decades. It can now be treated effectively with online counseling. One recent randomized control trial found that 40% of its subjects who were diagnosed with an anxiety disorder were completely free of symptoms after 14 weeks of online cognitive behavioral therapy. Others experienced alleviated symptoms.
Online therapy from platforms like BetterHelp can also prove extremely useful for a couple with anxiety. Whether the anxious person, the anxious person's partner, or both partners engage in therapy, it can help everyone develop more effective, healthy stress responses. It can improve any gaps in communication that can harm your relationship. Couples therapy, in particular, can help you and your partner understand one another and can lend insight into your unique wants, needs, and hopes. While therapy can have a negative connotation—particularly couples therapy—it can provide people with a means of better understanding one another. Read what others have to say about their experience with BetterHelp below.
“Debra is an excellent listener. After talking her ear off for several sessions, I believe we are getting to the core of my depression and anxiety and relating it to my trauma. She is helping me see patterns in my past that no longer serve me which are contributing to my fears and limiting my life. She is helping me learn new skills to improve the thoughts on which I dwell, my core beliefs, my relationship habits and my self-worth. I have a long way to go but I always feel better and more capable and empowered after a session with her. She is kind and understanding. Whenever I tell her, "this is going to sound crazy" she always helps me feel that -not only is it not crazy- but why it was logical for me to look at it a certain way. Her calm, capable expertise is a very welcome port in the storm of my life.”
“Nicole has really helped me thus far to build a toolbox of skills to work through my relationship. She always lessons without judgement and is very helpful and offering things to think about . I always leave my sessions with her feeling positive.”
Other Commonly Asked Questions
How do I stop anxiety from ruining my relationship?
How Do I Stop overthinking my relationship?
Is my anxiety ruining my relationship?
When should we break up?
What is red flag in relationship?
How do you know when a relationship is really over?
Frequently Asked Questions
Why do relationships give me anxiety?
There are many reasons why relationships could give you anxiety. For example, you may have an insecure attachment style that is having huge effects on relationship anxiety in your life and your mental well-being in general. Peer reviewed studies, and medical reviewers consistently show that attachment style is one of the most common factors in relationship satisfaction (or dissatisfaction) and mental health, so it may be having a bigger effect on your daily life than you realize. A clear sign that you have an insecure attachment is that you consistently worry about your partner’s feelings and intentions and are constantly questioning whether you are worthy of a relationship.
However, many people have anxiety about relationships and other future events if they had a bad previous relationship. If you had an abusive relationship or at least a relationship that lacked love or any kind gestures, then you may be resistant and anxious to start dating again. Furthermore, ending relationships often results in lots of drama, so it’s understandable you would be anxious about potentially going through that again.
However, there are many other reasons why you may be experiencing relationship anxiety. To get to the root of the problem, the best thing to do is talk to a therapist with relevant experience to help you find the cause and manage your anxiety.
What are signs of relationship anxiety?
It’s perfectly normal to feel a bit of anxiety in relationships, especially in the early stages. But having too much anxiety can sabotage your relationship and may even lead to mental and physical health conditions. Therefore, it’s important to have self-awareness of your anxiety and learn to manage it. Some signs of relationship anxiety include:
- You have lower self-esteem than when you’re single
- You spend an enormous amount of time worrying about how your partner feels about you
- You worry about your partner leaving you
- You need constant reassurance from your partner and are constantly questioning their intentions
- You struggle to stay in the present moment
- You doubt that you matter to your partner at all, even if there is evidence to the contrary
- You feel anxious constantly
How do I fix relationship anxiety?
First of all, understand that experiencing relationship anxiety is perfectly normal. Everyone gets nervous, especially in the early stages of the relationship, and many people feel insecure from time to time, even when they are in long-term relationships. So don’t beat yourself up about your anxious feelings.
But if you spend a significant amount of time worrying about your relationship or are plagued by relationship anxieties, then you may want to consider talking to a therapist. A therapist can help you find the causes of relationship anxiety (such as bad past experiences in relationships) and help you develop strategies to manage your fears.
You can also journal your thoughts to manage your emotions. Journaling can help you remember the positive aspects of your relationship and help you see whether your fears have merit.
You should also make sure to keep communication open and have honest conversations about your anxieties. Talking with your current partner about your feelings will help the two of you tackle them together. Your partner’s words may be able to provide the constant reassurance you need to have more faith in your relationship.
Why am I so insecure in my relationship?
There are many reasons why you may be insecure in your relationships, but the most likely reason is that you have an insecure attachment style, such as anxious attachment or fearful attachment. These attachment styles often result in low self-esteem and self-worth and often stem from problems in childhood or past relationships.
Attachment styles are influenced by one’s relationship with our parents. Parents that were neglectful, abusive, or just couldn’t provide for their child’s needs often develop insecure attachments with their children and fail to adequately bond with them. This can leave the child feeling insecure and unloved, giving them a weak foundation for healthy relationships later in life. This insecurity and lifelong low self-esteem can make it difficult to fully connect and feel secure with romantic partners. Being mindful of your relationship-based anxiety, attachment style, and worries, as well as working with a therapist, can help ease your insecurity.
How do I calm my relationship anxiety?
If you have relationship anxiety, start addressing the problem by identifying the source of your anxiety. Here are some questions to consider:
- Do you have an anxiety disorder?
- Do you have an anxious attachment style with this person?
- Do you have other mental health issues?
- Are you feeling insecure?
- Is there a lack of communication in your relationship?
- Are you giving and receiving love and support in the relationship?
- Are there other signs of relationship issues?
- Do you worry that your partner doesn’t love you?
- Did you develop an attachment style early in life that makes relationships hard now?
- Are you listening to your critical inner voice?
- Is your mind filled with negative thoughts?
You might be able to answer these questions on your own, but a therapist can help you in many ways. They can help you understand the questions and why they matter. They can not only help you find your own answers, but they can also help you solve the problems behind the questions. With therapy, you can learn to identify and change negative thinking and let go of anxious thoughts. You can learn coping skills and psychological techniques to deal with your anxiety more effectively, too.
You can also work on your relationship issues in couples’ therapy. Whether you seek therapy alone or your partner goes with you, you can get to the root of your relationship problems. You can learn to recognize and address your and your partner’s feelings and concerns. And you can improve your communication skills to help you build a healthy relationship.
How do I stop anxiety from ruining my relationship?
Several steps can help you with relationship anxiety. First, recognize and accept that your anxiety about the relationship is not beneficial to either of you. Second, identify the specific problems that are causing you the most distress. Then, take steps to understand and deal with those problems.
Recognizing and working on an unhealthy attachment style is also far better than struggling along with it. For most people, working on attachment issues requires psychotherapy. Your counselor can help you understand how your first attachments were formed. Then, they can help you choose the right thoughts and behaviors to develop healthier attachments now.
It’s important to learn and practice healthy communication, too. That doesn’t mean you’re better off dwelling on negative thoughts in conversations with your partner. And it doesn’t necessarily indicate that you should expect your partner to solve your problems. However, your relationship can benefit when you are open enough with each other to develop a strong sense of mutual trust in the relationship. It’s all about balance. Share your significant concerns but avoid rehashing them over and over. Learn to express your love – as well as other emotions – in healthy ways.
There’s something wonderful about improving both your anxiety and your relationship. When you work on both, one impacts the other. That is, as your relationship becomes healthy, your relationship anxiety decreases. At the same time, feeling less relationship anxiety changes the dynamics of the relationship. Doing both opens the door to a healthier, happier life all the way around.
How do I overcome my fear of relationships?
First, remember that avoiding the things you fear only tends to increase your anxiety. That’s true for relationship anxiety, just like any other type of anxiety. So, to overcome relationship anxiety, you need to either work on your current relationship or be open to a new relationship. You don’t have to jump into a relationship with the first person you see. But when you stay open to the possibility of a relationship and don’t avoid it, you’ve conquered the first step in overcoming relationship anxiety.
What does it mean when you get anxiety around someone?
That depends on how well you know them and what type of situation you’re in. On the one hand, it could be social anxiety. Signs of social anxiety disorder usually show up in social situations but are less common when you’re in a one-on-one conversation with someone close to you. But if you experience relationship fears when you are involved or think you’re about to become involved in a romantic or friendly relationship with someone, the issue is different. In that case, it’s probably not social anxiety but rather relationship anxiety.
Fortunately, therapy can help ease your symptoms of both mental health issues. And, while your therapist will tailor your treatment for the mental problem you have, many aspects of treatment are the same for both. For example, in both cases, therapy might include recognizing, assessing, and changing negative thoughts behind your fears. One part of the treatment for nearly any mental health problem is to recognize and refute your critical inner voice. And no matter why you’re feeling anxious, your counselor can teach you coping skills and relaxation techniques to manage when you’re having a hard time. Finally, they will give you emotional support and encouragement as you face whatever fears you have.
What triggers anxiety attacks?
Anxiety attacks can be triggered by a variety of things, including events, people, objects, and places. If you have relationship anxiety, the triggers usually relate to these things but in the context of the relationship.
For example, you might have an anxiety attack when your partner is away from you if you don’t have a secure attachment style with them. This kind of relationship insecurity can cause you to become panicked when your partner spends time with a friend. You are feeling insecure already, but then you begin to ask yourself disturbing questions. What if my partner likes them better than me? What if my partner ends our relationship to spend more time with them? Your mind begins to whirl with the undesirable possibilities, and suddenly, you’re having a full-blown panic attack. And, unfortunately, getting carried away with such fears can cause them to become a self-fulfilling prophecy. Your anxiety attacks and your desperate need to hold onto your partner could eventually drive your partner away.
The good news is that there are ways to deal with panic attacks and even prevent them. Your therapist can teach you deep breathing and relaxation exercises to manage the attacks when they happen. If you need a short-term solution for debilitating anxiety attacks, a psychiatrist can prescribe anti-anxiety medications. Finally, working on issues like an unhealthy attachment style and unhelpful thought patterns can help resolve your relationship anxiety for the long term.
Can anxiety come on for no reason?
No, but it can seem that way. The truth is that everything happens because of something that came before it. The cause might be something that happened in your childhood, a trauma you’ve experienced, or unhealthy habits of thought that you’ve developed over the years. It could also be rooted in an anxiety disorder that you didn’t realize you had. It could be you’re in a dysfunctional relationship. Or it could just be that you’re stressed because of recent challenges in your life.
It’s important to recognize that, while the anxiety might not be your fault, you do have the power to take control of it. You can make changes that decrease anxiety problems like relationship anxiety through positive thoughts, words, and actions.
In many ways, we don’t understand why things happen the way they do. After all, humans aren’t capable of knowing everything in the universe, much less understanding every cause and effect. Still, there’s a lot you can know, and more you can learn in therapy. And with effective treatment, you can put that knowledge to use in improving your relationship and your life.
Does anxiety go away if you ignore it?
Usually not. In fact, pretending you aren’t anxious is often a ticket to even more anxiety. If you have relationship anxiety, the best thing you can do is to look at it honestly and seek help. But don’t expect your partner to feel comfortable listening to you constantly pouring out all your feelings of insecurity and fear. Share with them, certainly, but also reach out to others who can help you, too. For example, you can talk to a therapist or a close friend. Join a support group for people with relationship anxiety. But whatever you do, acknowledge the problem so you can take steps to solve it. Only when you address your fears can you quell your critical inner voice and experience relationship health for the long term.
How do you kill anxiety?
You might not be able to kill the anxiety completely, but you can reduce it to a manageable level. Our brains are designed to react quickly when we’re faced with a threat. That’s the fight or flight response. You need it when you are faced with a physical threat, and it can also help you meet everyday challenges at work or at home. But when the anxiety goes beyond the limits of usefulness, it’s time to make changes.
Suppose you experience relationship fears with anxiety. Then, practice self-care instead of waiting for your partner to take care of your every need. In terms of anxiety, you can do this by:
- Taking a few moments to breathe deeply and slowly.
- Stay in the here and now by paying attention to all the information that is reaching you from your five senses.
- Take a walk in a natural setting.
- Call a friend or family member and have a casual chat.
- Exercise vigorously for a few moments or longer.
- Get a massage.
- Tell your critical inner voice why it’s wrong.
- Express your fears and feeling through journaling, music, or art.
- Drink a cup of chamomile tea.
- Engage in a new hobby or activity.
- Pay attention to signs of relationship problems and address them.
- Go to a support group where people talk about the same kinds of issues you’re facing.
Can anxiety ruin your life?
No, not necessarily. It is true that some people live a very limited existence because they avoid life due to anxiety. They might have a hard time engaging in activities and events that might make them happier. Work might be a serious struggle for them. And it’s hard to have a healthy love relationship when anxiety is its theme.
Yet, anxiety doesn’t have to ruin your life. There’s no reason to give up on happiness just because you have a problem with anxiety. Look for positive solutions that will decrease your relationship anxiety for the long term. Don’t put off addressing problems with your attachment style. After all, if you have an unhealthy attachment style, it will follow you into every relationship until you learn to overcome it. Seek help from a therapist and a support group where you can discuss your fears extensively without causing undue strain on your relationship. Refuse to let your critical inner voice have the last say. You can overcome anxiety and live a full, happy life. You just have to be willing to make healthy changes.
At what age does anxiety peak?
That depends on the type of fear. Many fears peak early in life, either around 5-7 years old or during adolescence. However, stress during adulthood can increase anxiety. And worry can increase anywhere along the way as you age from young adulthood into older adulthood. Plus, fear of falling can become a concern when it never was before. Relationship anxiety can happen whenever you are in a relationship, wanting a relationship, or are otherwise fearful or concerned about relationships – not only romantic ones but also friendships.
Yet, it’s not productive to think too much about when anxiety peaks. Every person is unique, and their anxiety problems are different, too. Suppose you’re 28 and you hear that anxiety peaks at 30. While more people might have anxiety at 30, that isn’t a sign that you should worry about your anxiety getting worse in a couple of years. Instead, improve your mental wellbeing through self-care, rational choices, and getting help and support when it can improve your life.
Can you control your anxiety?
You can definitely take steps to manage your anxiety and prevent anxiety symptoms in the long term. Take relationship anxiety, for instance. Maybe things seemed beautiful when you first fell in love, but now things have changed. Now, you feel anxiety creeping into your life.
The great thing is that you have the power to make changes that diminish that anxiety and improve your mental wellbeing. For example, by being aware of your attachment style and working to build better relationships, you can reduce your tendency to having this type of anxiety. And, by taking good care of your body and emotional wellbeing, you can reduce your vulnerability to anxiety. If you also learn to talk back to your critical inner voice, you can put a stop to much of the negativity that fuels anxiety.
What does anxiety prevent you from doing?
Many things, or at least they can if you give in to your fears. You might stop facing every challenge. You could stop taking on new projects at work or even quit your job. If you have relationship anxiety, you might not allow yourself to ever get romantically involved again or make a new friend. Anxiety can also prevent you from enjoying your life to the fullest.
Remember, though, that to overcome your anxiety, you must stand up to your fears. If that seems impossible, you may need help from a counselor. That’s okay. Many people get therapy and see amazing benefits from it. There’s nothing wrong with asking for help, and your life may improve dramatically when you do.
What is the best job for someone with anxiety?
It might not be what you think. For many people with severe anxiety, the best jobs are those that involve little contact with the public, such as a maintenance worker or a graphic artist. For others, it’s a quiet job, like working in a library or being a writer. Some people feel more secure when they can tackle problems with definitive solutions, such as being an accountant or a computer programmer. You might like working with animals as a groomer or a vet tech if animals soothe your nervousness. Whatever job works for you is what is best. Don’t be afraid to try different jobs until you find one that meets your needs. Remember that it’s more helpful in the long term to face your fears than to quit trying to work at all.
Can anxiety prevent you from working?
In some cases, anxiety can be considered a disability because it makes your work-life next to impossible. That is usually only the case when you have a severe and long-lasting anxiety disorder. So, if you have such intense feelings of anxiety that you can’t function at work at all, your anxiety might qualify as a disability. However, whether you have a severe anxiety disorder or mild relationship anxiety, you will be calmer by getting help for your anxiety issues.
Is anxiety a mental illness?
No, simple anxiety is not a mental illness. It’s a natural facet of life and facing challenges. Without a little anxiety, you might not have the energy and drive to accomplish your goals.
However, anxiety disorders are mental illnesses. If you have PTSD or agoraphobia, for instance, that anxiety isn’t likely to go away without extensive therapy and possibly medications. Even if you have relationship anxiety, your attachment style may be a serious mental problem that impacts your life in many ways. So, if you have significant anxiety that doesn’t go away on its own, the best thing you can do is see a therapist for diagnosis and treatment.
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