In the following article, the reader will find some ideas about new relationship anxiety, some of its most common characteristics, as well as some ideas for handling it in the best possible way.
New relationship anxiety
It is absolutely normal to experience a certain level of anxiety and tension when a new relationship begins. These are normal reactions of our body to a new situation. When you start sharing your life with someone new, there’s some risk. The important thing is to know how to recognize that anxiety, and avoid it becoming an obstacle.
As we know from the knowledge we have acquired about anxiety and how it works, anxiety itself is not a problem. It is only problematic when its frequency and/or intensity rises beyond what is expected given the situation, the adaptation to new situations, and our previous habitual level of activation.
In different novel situations, a first-line response is an anxiety, which occurs at more or less different levels in all people, within the same normal range. Perhaps for some people, it is more difficult to adapt to the novelty and continue life, it may take a little longer.
However, after a little extra time, they adjust to the new situation and their anxiety levels move back into levels that are suitable for mental health.
In the case of a new relationship, this is no exception. In fact, it makes a lot of sense to get anxious about a new relationship! It’s not something that happens every day, brings into play various aspects of our lives, and comes with a number of implications.
New relationship anxiety: why?
As we’ve been talking about, we should start from the fact that anxiety in the face of new situations is normal. Watch out! We’re talking about anxiety, not anxiety disorders. It is important to make this difference. Anxiety is generally present in people, but anxiety disorders are diseases that develop in only a portion of people.
In a new relationship, there are many things involved, and one thing is clear: they create a lot of uncertainty. Will the person be the right one? Maybe I’m too old to start a new relationship? What if I don’t behave the way the other person expects? What if I don’t feel good and want out of the relationship?
As we can see, the common factor is uncertainty. That is, there are many things at stake that we don’t know much about in the future. The first step towards this is to accept uncertainty as part of life. It is not a question of suppressing our curiosity or our ability to make plans, but of accepting that sometimes we must wait and see what happens.
There are things that are uncontrollable, and in the face of them, we can only wait and understand our situation. New relationship anxiety is related to this, to our ability to wait that is threatened in this situation. What we want is to know what is going to happen! Even though we know this is not possible, the anxiety reaction is still there.
New relationship anxiety: what is its origin?
It is important to reflect on the origin of new relationship anxiety so that we can understand this phenomenon much better.
First of all, when we talk about new relationship anxiety we cannot lose sight of the fact that anxiety is a normal reaction to uncertainty. For that reason, the origin can be simply that, being in front of a new situation. However, there may be cases in which there is more than this that generates new relationship anxiety.
Traumatic past experiences in previous relationships
New relationship anxiety could be the response to a series of elements that are activated in the memory-related to traumatic events of the past, in the history of relationships of the person. Let’s be honest, almost everyone has had some kind of love failure, and this kind of thing is not easily forgotten.
In fact, relationships have such an important meaning in the lives of humans that they often leave strong marks on them, whether in a positive way or not. Given the above, it is to be expected that if in the past there was some situation that was traumatic with another person, in a new relationship this could appear again and generate discomfort.
How does this happen? It is relatively simple. As we discussed, the feeling of anxiety is generated, among other things, in the face of uncertainty or some threatening situation. If we have a traumatic memory, in a new relationship there will be no uncertainty, but fear that this will happen again.
In this way, new relationship anxiety will be experienced as a constant threat to the possibility that what happened in the past will happen again. It makes sense, doesn’t it? Since we don’t forget these kinds of things easily, they still have a weight in our emotional activation and can lead to discomfort.
New relationship anxiety: what about this specific relationship?
Perhaps the anxiety that is generated goes beyond a normal reaction and has nothing to do with some event in the past. It is also possible that the person perceives some factor of the relationship that is starting to generate insecurity or greater uncertainty than normal.
What if I’ve already identified something about this person that doesn’t seem to be working well with me and my way of being? Could it be this that I notice in the other person’s behavior, that I don’t like or don’t like, that could be generating so much anxiety? It’s possible, in fact, that there are some elements of the relationship that are beginning that the person, for some reason, perceives as threatening, uncomfortable, or difficult to handle.
Here, too, it’s understandable that such an anxiety reaction would be generated. It is important to note at this point that the person should evaluate his or her range of action with these kinds of things that bother him or her. Should I talk to the other person about them?
In any case, the important thing is that after having identified what generates high anxiety, one should try to do something about it if it is the case.
New relationship anxiety: attachment style matters
It is to be expected that in addressing the issue of new relationship anxiety, we will end up arriving at what is known as the theory of attachment styles. These refer to the fact that our previous experiences with love (for example, with our parents or in past relationships) when we were minors, influence the way we experience attachment today.
Thus, it is possible for a person to have a secure attachment style, under which the person feels secure throughout the relationship and remains connected through an attachment that is satisfying. On the other hand, it may be that the attachment style is anxious, and in this case, the person needs constant reassurance from her partner, in order to feel that everything is fine.
Finally, there is another type of attachment style that may appear, and that is the avoidance style, under which the person seeks to avoid intimacy at all costs.
The way in which each person involved in the relationship reacts to the beginning of this emotional bond also depends on the style of attachment of each of the people involved. For this reason, try to identify what your attachment style is, and if it is the one that is generating constant discomfort in this new relationship.
In this sense, this new relationship anxiety could be almost entirely due to the predominant style of attachment in the relationship or in one of the people of the couple.
New relationship anxiety: what to do?
One of the first things a person should do if they identify any signs of anxiety about the new relationship would be to evaluate this reaction in a deep and honest way with themselves. It is a question of asking oneself, without falling into judgment about why one is experiencing emotions, what is happening to make me feel this way.
As we have mentioned, the worst thing you can do in the face of new relationship anxiety is to struggle with the emotional reaction or to deny it. This will only make the situation worse.
On the other hand, it is important to be open with the other person and to express all these feelings in an honest and sincere way. You should know that your feelings are valid, and your partner should take this into account as well. For that same reason, it would be beneficial to talk about it and express any concerns that exist. Together, it may be easier to try to find a solution to the situation.
Finally, you should avoid at all costs reacting to hypotheses about what might happen in the future. What if it’s not the right person? What if I really want to be alone? What if I feel this way because I shouldn’t be with this person? What if…? All questions of this type generate discomfort, and if we focus on them as if they were true, our feeling will be even worse.
New relationship anxiety is a normal reaction to the new situation you are facing. Any new situation has the potential to generate discomfort, as there may be uncertainty and a sense of threat. It is important, first of all, not to fight the anxiety reaction and try to understand where it comes from.
It is possible that there are elements of the past, or of one’s own personality, that promote this anxiety reaction, in which case some action should be taken to help deal with it in the best possible way. In either case, communication and empathy with the other person will be key factors in handling the situation.
Frequently asked questions (FAQs) about new relationship anxiety
Is it normal to have anxiety in a new relationship?
Yes, it is completely normal to have an anxiety reaction when starting a new relationship. The important thing is to monitor such a reaction carefully and try to avoid creating further problems. On the other hand, if you have an anxiety disorder, it should be treated.
How do I stop being anxious in a relationship?
Some of the actions you might take to stop acting anxious in a relationship are: clearly communicating your expectations of the other person and the relationship itself, separating the “anxious self” from the “real self” (we’re not our emotions since they’re fleeting and we usually go back to our usual ways), accepting that you can’t control everything the other person does, talking about your anxiety and how you tend to express it commonly, making some rules for initiating arguments.
How do you trust a new relationship?
Some ways to build trust in the relationship are: say what you really care about and be clear about your wishes, take great care in communication and empathy, allow yourself to be vulnerable gradually with the other person, always remember the respect that each person deserves, always give the benefit of the doubt especially in conflicting situations, express feelings in a functional way, among others.
Can anxiety kill you?
Anxiety will not kill you. In the case of panic attacks, there may be a feeling that the person is going to die, however, this does not happen and you only need to do breathing and relaxation exercises to regain control of yourself.
Does trust take time to build?
Trust is a crucial element in any relationship, and it takes work to get it and build it. It is important to keep in mind that you don’t have it from the beginning of the relationship, so you must have patience and do your best to build it in a healthy way for both people.
- Love Me, Don’t Leave Me: Overcoming Fear of Abandonment and Building Lasting, Loving Relationships
- 4 Essential Keys to Effective Communication in Love, Life, Work–Anywhere!: A How-To Guide for Practicing the Empathic Listening, Speaking, and Dialogue Skills to Achieve Relationship Success
- Attachment Theory: Emotional Focused Therapy (EFT), Stop Anxiety and Jealousy In Love. Anxiety in relationships