If you are finding it hard to rely on your partner or any word that they say, chances are that you might be struggling with relationship anxiety. And this could also affect you and your relationship as a whole. Relationships are one of the most beautiful aspects of life but at the same time, they can become a breeding ground for anxious thoughts and feelings.
Relationship anxiety can shatter potential relationships as it tends to make you more selfish since you would mostly be focusing on your insecurities without even showing concerns towards your partner’s emotional health. This would happen abruptly and without any further notice, you would see the end of a relationship that you tried to protect but ended up destroying. However, the good news is that you can do things to manage your anxiety and have a healthier relationship with your partner. Let’s read on to find out everything about relationship anxiety and how you can find help.
WHAT IS RELATIONSHIP ANXIETY?
Relationship anxiety is that stage of a relationship where either you, your partner or both of you spend more time worrying about the relationship and the possible future outcomes. You and your partner’s relationship anxiety symptoms might vary but the concerns regarding commitments to one another would more or less be the same.
Trust issues, fear of abandonment, worrying about infidelity and jealousy are a few causes of relationship anxiety. This can lead to emotional distress and lack of motivation, fatigue or emotional exhaustion over time. In the worst cases, relationship anxiety can also become one of the reasons for a relationship to end.
Experiencing anxiety during the initial days of your relationship is quite normal since many people come across it. In the start of your relationship, you are getting to know each other and sometimes, the fear of “Does he/she like me the way I like him/her?” can strike your mind, creating emotional havoc. Also, second thoughts of whether to be in a relationship or not can become the cause of your anxiety which again, is very normal.
Long-term and long-distance relationships can also induce a sense of insecurity within people as the impression of “He/she might have found someone better than me.”, can on and off govern one’s thoughts. This isn’t unusual and happens in almost all relationships. Let’s take a deeper look into the causes of anxiety in relationships.
WHAT CAUSES RELATIONSHIP ANXIETY?
Being anxious is quite normal. Starting a new job, shifting neighbourhoods or even taking a simple test can result in anxiety which is typical of human behaviour. These types of anxious thoughts usually come and go and they do not interfere with your day to day living. When your anxious thoughts start to disorder your everyday life, they become a matter of concern.
The anxiety of any kind is a day to day tussle and it gets relatively worse if you find yourself tangled with relationship anxiety. As humans are social animals, we demand the feeling of belongingness but sometimes, due to our anxious mind, we unintentionally push our loved ones, partners and better halves away.
Relationship anxiety can find its ground at any phase of your love life. Long-term relationships are as susceptible to anxiety as new budding relationships. Some of the evident causes of relationship anxiety can include-
The most likely cause of relationship anxiety is the loss of trust. The fear that your partner might be lying to you even if they are not can hinder your judgement about your partner’s integrity. This could become the reason for you to experience emotional havoc and incline you towards anxiety which is either good for you, your partner or your relationship.
The chances of losing trust in your partner might increase after either of you experience infidelity. This is a major problem as it feels unethical and makes one doubt the virtues of the adulterer. It is not unusual to find it hard to rebuild trust in a relationship that has encountered infidelity. Loss of trust due to infidelity can generate relationship anxiety in both of you as one would find it difficult to regain trust and the other would not be able to rely on any word or actions of the partner who was found guilty.
Other little things like forgetting daily errands such as going to the grocery store or picking up a parcel even after continuous reminders can cause trust issues even if they aren’t the most significant reasons and can be tackled easily. Forgetting important dates, meetings, or plans can be among other reasons that cause trust issues and subsequent anxiety.
Trust is a very fragile fragment of a relationship. Once broken, it can take several months, years or even a life-time to be restored.
Concerns about the future of the relationship
You can easily experience anxious thoughts when it comes to the uncertainty of a relationship which could, later on, become the prime reason for daily arguments and fights. This insecurity can creep in due to various reasons such as previous unsuccessful relationship(s), communication gap, or long-distance relationships. Sometimes, you can be uncertain about your relationship because of the dissimilarities between you and your partner.
Relationship anxiety due to concerns about the future of the relationship can be dealt with if you and your partner start to understand each other and talk about problems without turning them into arguments.
Home to Negative thoughts
Excessive load, stress or inner conflicts can be a plausible explanation for your stress and negative thoughts. This can be an apparent reason for regular fights and arguments between you and your partner.
These fights and arguments once over, can induce the feeling of worry that you and your partner might quarrel again over some insignificant issue.This mere thought can make you or your partner conscious about your actions which again can result in anxiety.
Like Hans Selye says, “It’s not stress that kills us, it is our reaction to It.”. This quote is self-explanatory as we all know that stress is that one unwanted element in life which can not only ruin your emotional balance but is also capable of damaging your relationships.
Stress due to any event in life such as parenting, financial crisis, or running daily errands can be exhausting for your relationship. The major reason for negativity in your relationship or courtship can also be your stress. Arguments among couples are sometimes the result of stress which, later on, can take an ugly turn.
Stress can also hamper your sex life as it can increase the level of cortisol in your body, which reduces your libido. As stress can result in anxiety, it can as well prevent women from getting lubricated enough to have sex. In men, it affects erection and the hormonal rush.
Relationships that aren’t at their best, are more or less consumed by stress caused due to the tension between the partners.
Stress management is crucial for you to live a healthy life, both physically and mentally. You can indulge yourself in stress-busting activities such as work-out, yoga, meditation and walk or you can even develop new hobbies or polish the old ones.
TACKLING RELATIONSHIP ANXIETY FROM LONG DISTANCE RELATIONSHIPS
Long-distance relationship anxiety isn’t easy to deal with; but if you are certain that you’d want to spend the rest of your life with them, it’s worth trying.
Trust your partner
Trust is the key to a healthy relationship. If you ever feel that your partner might find someone who is more attractive and smarter than you, then always remember that they love you and just because you both are apart, doesn’t mean that their love will fade away for you.
Trust them when they say that they are out with their friends. Let your partner also feel comfortable and let them know that you are willing to give them their space and they have all your trust and support.
Don’t compare your relationship with someone else’s
Like every individual, every relationship is unique. You might see couples living together, making future plans and going on small regular dates which might seem very ‘normal’ to you. This can make you feel frustrated about your situation and your own relationship since you aren’t able to do the same things. It is important to understand that everyone’s ‘normal’ is different.
The mere thought of not being able to see your partner, or remembering the time when they missed a phone call from you can make you angry.This way, you would be neglecting the positives in your relationship and focusing more on the negative aspects.
Rather than thinking about the missed phone call, you should remember the times when you talked all night over a video call, the quality and not the quantity of time that you both spent together, the small dates that you both had planned, the talks, the random “I love you”– and everything amazing.
It’s not healthy to compare your relationship with others because what you have is special to you and only you can understand its worth.
Try not to be too controlling
It is important to understand that your partner has their own life which cannot and should not be controlled. With a lot of distance between you both, your long-distance relationship anxiety can turn into a strong fear of losing one another which can create emotional turbulence. This can, later on, develop an urge to control your partner’s life.
You would want to monitor everything they do or everyone they meet. And this can make your partner feel suffocated or under the microscope at all times.
Instead of thinking about what your partner is up to, you can start developing new hobbies and focus on what makes you happy. Similarly, you can let your partner also do what they like. You can always call them and ask them “how it went?” This will let your partner know that you care about their individuality and respect their choices without being too controlling.
Be honest about your anxiety
Long-distance relationship anxiety can be difficult for people who are already suffering from severe anxiety. If you are getting anxious too often and cannot control your mind, consider being open to your partner and seeking professional help.
If you seek help, it would make it easier for you to cope up with your anxiety and understand the core reason behind it.
HOW DOES RELATIONSHIP ANXIETY AFFECT US?
Letting your anxiety govern your inner voice can result in the following actions-
Your anxious thoughts can make you act desperate towards your partner. Your insecurities regarding your relationship would increase and you would not be the strong, independent person that you were because of getting into a relationship. You might start to act jealous and fall apart easily, and would desperately require your partner’s validation for everything that you do or say.
You might feel the need to control your partner’s life because your insecurity would get the best of you. Just because you are afraid that your partner might leave you, you would start to dominate or control them. This would only create a sense of resentment in your partner towards you and it can alienate them as well.
Your worry about your relationship can change you into a cold-hearted person. This defense mechanism of yours might make you unappreciative towards your partner and a sense of hostility could develop in your partner for you.
You might withhold your emotions from your partner because you are afraid of intimacy. This feeling can stir up in you because you think that closeness can bring disappointment as people can hurt you and then leave you. You might even abstain from showing affection to your partner which can become the reason for distance to creep in-between you and your partner.
Sometimes when dealing with your relationship, anxiety can take a very aggressive turn. You might depict your emotional frustration in the form of rage. You might scream and yell or give a cold shoulder to your partner. This can also turn into violence and you might hit your partner in anger.
RELATIONSHIP ANXIETY SYMPTOMS
Couples or individuals who deal with relationship anxiety often suffer symptoms similar to anxiety disorders. Following are some of the symptoms-
Insomnia is a very common anxiety symptom. Since your mind is filled with thoughts, you would find it hard to calm your nights and sleep safe and sound. This would result in sleepless nights and gloomy mornings.
Feelings of depression
Feeling blue and depressed are also common to relationship anxiety. You might feel gloomy and unenthusiastic because you might be busy over-thinking about your relationship and might not be able to reach a conclusion.
If you haven’t slept well due to wandering negative thoughts, your body would automatically feel worn-out. This psychological stress can act as a physiological stressor, resulting in muscle tension.
Anxiety can cause heavy sweating even if you are sitting in a chilled room.
Nervousness, restlessness, or being tense
You might start doubting yourself and might find it hard to make decisions or accomplish a task.
Relationship anxiety symptoms can also include rapid breathing (hyperventilation), weakness and lethargy, and gastrointestinal problems. You might also feel a strong urge to avoid things or events that can trigger your anxiety. Focusing or thinking about anything other than the matter in question would become difficult.
You wouldn’t necessarily feel all the above-mentioned symptoms since everyone’s coping ability is different but yes, these are the most evident relationship anxiety symptoms. If you or anyone around you is suffering from at least any three of the above-mentioned symptoms, then it is a matter of concern and should be wisely taken care of.
HOW TO COPE UP WITH RELATIONSHIP ANXIETY?
Dealing with your relationship anxiety can be an emotional hustle. Sometimes, it gets hard to figure out if it’s your anxiety or your true self speaking. For this, it is very important that you get professional help so that you can find help.
You can take an anxiety test or a relationship attachment style test which could make it easier for you to understand where you are lacking in your relationship management.
There are different ways in which you can cope up with your relationship anxiety. Below, are mentioned a few ways in which you can keep your anxiety in-check so that your relationship can progress smoothly-
Try to open up gradually
Intimacy plays a vital role in establishing a strong bond between couples. Letting someone in and showing them parts of yourself that you cover up from the rest of the world makes your bond special.
Feel free to reveal your messy, anxious and complicated self without the thought that they will love you less. Open up to them gradually at your own pace. This way, you would understand how much acceptance your partner has for you and how much they are willing to understand you.
Bridge the communication gap
Let your partner know what you expect from them. Try to communicate effectively and tell them how you feel or what you expect from this relationship.
Talk about what is bothering you. It can be your anxiety about the future of the relationship or maybe something your partner did that you disapprove of. Talking out things is a better solution than letting your anxious thoughts consume you.
Learn to distinguish between your anxiety and your true self
Your anxious self will always tell you that your partner will leave you if you open up to them about your anxiety and start going for therapy, but don’t listen to it. Always listen to your true self because it says positive and comforting things about you.
Dealing with your relationship anxiety can sometimes be difficult because it can get hard to understand whether it’s really your anxious mind or is it just that your day was bad. It is always advisable to seek professional help and go for therapy if you think that things are going out of hand.
Understand that you cannot control your partner’s life
If you want to deal with your relationship anxiety effectively, then you need to let go of a few habits such as trying to control your partner’s life.
Your partner might like to go for outdoor games on a sunday morning, whereas you would like to sit at home and watch a movie with them. This can get you annoyed, making your anxiety worse but you should understand that your partner has their own likes and dislikes which should be respected.
Both of you can plan it out like on alternative sundays, you can go for outdoor games and the remaining day can be spent watching a movie. You can also shift your movie time to evenings. This way, both of you can enjoy your idea of an ideal sunday.
It is important to understand that your partner’s individuality matters. Even if they have some annoying habits which you dislike, doesn’t mean they have to stop doing it. You can always talk things out and find common grounds.
Coping up with relationship anxiety can seem difficult, but it’s never impossible. When you take a few steps to understand how it impacts your relationship and mental health and seek professional help, you can fight this demon and do great at your relationship.
Don’t be scared of love just because it broke you once. Young people fall in love with the wrong people sometimes, but that is only until they find the right person. This is something my mother used to tell me, “You will find your man on the most unexpected day.” So, I will pass the same advice to you.