How To Overcome Relationship Anxiety

Medically reviewed by Andrea Brant, LMHC
Updated March 21, 2024by BetterHelp Editorial Team

Relationship anxiety could mean numerous things. Anxiety within a relationship could manifest as difficulty asking for what you want or a fear of being abandoned. It could be far broader, with a person experiencing anxiety due to simply being in a relationship. There can even be an element of social difficulty involved, as in the case of experiencing social anxiety yet still dating despite those symptoms. If you experience relationship anxiety, and you think this might negatively affect your relationship or personal wellbeing, this article aims to direct you toward helpful resources and strategies. 

Mental health, anxiety, and relationships: An overview

Anxiety can complicate relationships

Anxiety can impact relationships in a handful of ways. Social anxiety is characterized by the fear or discomfort experienced in social situations. For some, this may look like extremely shy or timid behavior or low self esteem or self doubt followed by difficulty speaking up or communicating one’s feelings. 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 different from person to person. People with anxiety may also experience negative thoughts or have difficulties living in the present moment, which can affect how they relate to others and the world around them.

Stress can also occur in the form of dating anxiety. With dating anxiety, social situations are not necessarily avoided, but romantic relationships and all their entanglements are. The prospect of romance can create anxious feelings, leading to the avoidance of romance. Being in 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. If the person had a negative experience in a previous relationship, they may experience relationship anxiety or an excessive fear that their past experiences might repeat themselves. 

Finally, anxiety while dating can derive from a general anxiety disorder (GAD). Because different types of mood disorders can cause different obstacles and challenges, dating someone with GAD can prove challenging. It requires patience and understanding from both parties. GAD may show up in many different areas, and no two individuals with this particular condition are alike. 

Dating someone with anxiety

When dating someone with anxiety, there may be several things to consider. Anxiety manifests differently in everyone, but it will likely come into play at some point within a relationship. Panic disorders, for instance, might mean plans must be canceled at the last minute due to a panic attack. Social anxiety might require taking longer to meet friends, acquaintances, or family in a serious relationship. Anxiety can also cause some physical symptoms that can cause discomfort for your partner. General anxiety disorders might involve your partner needing reassurance and support for tasks or situations that might not seem problematic to a neurotypical individual.

Although it can present challenges, dating someone with an anxiety disorder or relationship insecurity is not always a negative experience. The people who experience these conditions are often deeply emotional individuals and may offer much in the way of love, affection, support, and compassion. An anxiety disorder is not the inability to feel deeply or experience compassion. Instead, it might be described as difficulty processing everyday experiences that others might find mundane or inconsequential.

If you are wondering how to handle relationship anxiety, try to keep in mind your partner’s feelings and consider asking them how you might best support their needs. If you want a deeper understanding of relationship anxiety and how it might affect your partner or relationship experiences, consider using honest communication to learn more about their needs and how you can offer them a safe space. 

How to start healing from relationship anxiety

Someone who is experiencing anxiety will have different emotional and physical reactions than the partner who is witnessing anxiety. There are many ways to help manage. You can learn coping skills, form healthy connections with others to gain support, and speak with a professional about potential treatment options. If you are wondering how to get rid of relationship 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, as you may keep some emotional distance. 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 and avoid the things that typically trigger relationship anxiety.

Finally, make sure you are communicating effectively 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 you and your partner.

Living with your partner’s relationship anxiety

If your partner experiences anxiety, it can present challenges. The two of you may not experience the world in the same way, and the disorder can make dating, communication, and intimacy difficult. Being in a relationship with someone who has depression and anxiety requires consistent communication with an open mind and plenty of empathy. Someone with anxiety does not choose to experience the symptoms of their disorder and cannot always remove themselves from any fear or uneasy feeling they experience. If you notice signs of relationship anxiety in your partner, offering kindness and understanding in the face of a panic attack, irrational fear, or spike in anxiety will go a long way in fostering intimacy and trust within your relationship.

Understanding your partner’s mental health may help you to support them and feel compassion for them. For example, your partner may have developed an insecure attachment style in early childhood based on their relationship with their primary caregivers, and this could be a contributing factor to their current relationship anxiety. In this case, you can perhaps encourage your partner to seek help in forming a more secure attachment style. Or, perhaps they had negative experiences with past romantic partners and now they have low self worth or are feeling uneasy about dating. Try listening to your partner’s words so that you can understand what’s going on and why. 

Part of communicating effectively with your 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. If your anxious 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. For some, this situation might not be ideal. But for others, it can create a fulfilling balance between your romantic and platonic relationships.

Navigating romantic relationships: What to do if you experience relationship anxiety

Anxiety on its own can be challenging and can even make people feel alienated by their peers. This divide can present itself 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 be rewarding. People with anxiety often have rich inner lives and can have healthy relationships. 

When dating anyone, it can be important to make sure you both create boundaries, communicate needs, and discuss expectations. Boundaries can include saving some discussions 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 and feel secure in the other partner, as many individuals with relationship anxiety experience fear of being abandoned, cheated on, or otherwise rejected.

Needs for the partner of the anxious person might include creating distance from panic attacks or overly attached behavior, for example. A thorough discussion of expectations may be in order. If one person expects the other to be their entire universe, this could be a recipe for resentment and anger. Discussing your expectations for the relationship can alleviate some of the stress and pressure.

Moving forward to a healthy dynamic

Anxiety can present challenges in relationships, and it can stem from many places. For example, attachment style can significantly affect how someone behaves in adult relationships. People with anxious attachment styles or insecure attachment styles may have a difficult time making an emotional connection.

With patience and perseverance, however, healthy relationships with people who experience underlying conditions can be just as rewarding as those with neurotypical individuals. As with any relationship, it is important to carve out time and effort to connect with your partner. To alleviate some of the pressure and worry regarding your relationship, set aside time to engage in an activity that brings you both joy.

Anxiety can complicate relationships

If you experience unnecessary relationship anxiety and are worried about treating it with therapy, you’re not alone. If you are constantly questioning your relationship or spend too much time worrying, you may benefit from professional help. The symptoms of attachment wounds can sometimes cause people to withdraw, making in-person therapy an intimidating prospect. Online therapy can be a viable option for relationship anxiety as well as other types of mental disorders. With this mode of therapy, you can talk to a mental health professional without ever leaving the comfort of your home. You can also schedule appointments outside of normal business hours, which could make it easier if you or your partner has a full-time job, for instance.

Researchers in the field of mental health have found that anxiety can be treated effectively with online counseling. One recent randomized control trial found that 40% of 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. If one partner is experiencing difficulties due to anxiety, a therapist can offer support and teach useful coping skills.

Read what others have to say about their experience with BetterHelp below.

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“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.”


Online therapy from platforms like BetterHelp can prove useful for a couple living with anxiety or a person experiencing relationship anxiety. Couples therapy, in particular, can help you and your partner understand one another and can lend insight into your unique wants, needs, and hopes to build a healthy relationship. You don’t have to navigate problems related to anxious thoughts alone. Reach out to a licensed therapist online for support on your mental health journey.

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