Relationship Anxiety (A guide)

Relationship Anxiety

In this article, we will discuss relationship anxiety, its signs, causes, as well as we will give some tips that may help you overcome relationship anxiety and build a healthier relationship.

Relationship Anxiety (A guide)

Relationship Anxiety Definition

If you often catch yourself on constant worries that you are not able to support a healthy and committed relationship, it can mean that you have got a relationship anxiety. Relationship anxiety can appear even if you and your partner are in a good relationship, and there are no big argues or some other destructive problems. 

Is Relationship Anxiety Common?

Relationship anxiety is common, even if it seems strange. Relationship anxiety can be at the start of the relationship when one of the partners feels anxious, not knowing if his/her feelings are mutual or not. Relationship anxiety also occurs in long-term and committed relationships. 

Signs of Relationship Anxiety

There are different signs of relationship anxiety. Below are some main signs, which can help you understand your state better, and figure out if you have relationship anxiety:

Suspecting If You Matter to Your Partner

It is connected to the feeling of security, and may assume: 

  • You worry that your partner does not (or will not) miss you when you are far,
  • You worry that if you get in problems, your partner will not support you and will not be by your side,
  • You worry that your partner is with you because of some benefits. 

Doubting if Your Partner Truly Loves You

Although your partner is attentive to you and takes care of you, you may doubt if your partner truly loves you, if he/she:

  • Answers your calls or replies to your messages later than before,
  • Comes home a little later,
  • Talks to you a little strictly or not in a lovely way,
  • Is slow responding to your physical affection and some other cases.

The mentioned cases can happen with anyone and in different kinds of relationships (also with parents, with siblings, or friends), however, if you have relationship anxiety, they may become a fixation.

Relationship Anxiety (A guide)

Worrying About a Breakup

Your relationship may be positive and good. However, you worry that it will not take long, and someday you will break up. That fear of a possible breakup can make you hide and not express your annoyance connected to some behavior of your partner (being late, not cleaning after himself/herself, entering home in shoes or other things), to save his/her love and affection. 

Questioning Your Compatibility

You may suspect if you and your partner are compatible, or if you are delighted, or you think you are. You may start focusing on small differences between you two, which can make you more attached to the thought that maybe you are not compatible in reality.

Spending More Time Worrying about the Relationship, Than Enjoying It

If you spend more time worrying about your relationship instead of enjoying it for a long time or often, it can be another sign of relationship anxiety.

The Causes of Relationship Anxiety

The causes of your relationship anxiety can be different. These are the most common causes:

Previous Experiences

You have a higher chance to get relationship anxiety if your past partner:

  • Has cheated on you,
  • Left you unexpectedly,
  • Lied about his/her true feelings.

Your negative previous relationship experiences can make it difficult for you to trust someone again.

Low Self-Esteem

Having low self-esteem can make you doubtful about your partner’s feelings for you, as well as opinion about you. Sometimes people use relationships to raise their self-esteem or affirm their high self-esteem.

Relationship Anxiety (A guide)

The Type of Your Attachment

Relationship anxiety manifests itself through attachment behavior. According to Lisa Firestone, Ph.D., there are four types of attachment:

Reliable attachment

If you were protected and comforted in childhood by your mother, you could have a reliable type of attachment. Your needs were probably satisfied right after you expressed them. Your parents were proud of whom they grew up. It could create internal security and comfort regarding who you are.

In a romantic relationship, you feel safe and trust another person in difficult times. You recognize the individuality and independence of your partner.

Anxious attachment 

In this case, in childhood, you were most likely forced to believe that your needs were not essential. Perhaps whenever you were angry or hurt, your mother left you instead of supporting and comforting. As a result, you grew up feeling in danger. You were probably never taught how to deal with emotions. When you are taught that emotions do not matter, you begin to fear them.

Thus, when you are covered with a wave of anger, you do not know how to express it. Therefore you may decide to suppress your emotions. This leads to anxiety because the mind thinks you are trying to avoid a very dangerous emotion.

Avoiding-repulsing attachment

If you have an avoidant attachment, you may be emotionally inaccessible. You may deny the importance of your loved ones, ignore and make them feel unloved. You may also avoid conflicts, not considering them necessary for the development of relations.

Anxious-avoidant attachment

If you are with this type of attachment, you are most likely stuck in ambivalent feelings: you may crave love and attention from your lover, but at the same time, you are afraid to let him/her too close. You do not want to be disappointed or experience pain. To prevent this, you “run away” from the person whom you love. You avoid feelings, thoughts, and relationship problems.

How to Overcome Relationship Anxiety

Different ways may be helpful for you to overcome your relationship anxiety. Below are some of them:

Maintain your sense of self

Do not forget that your partner started dating you because of your personality, because he/she liked you in the way you are, so you should not make an effort to change some parts of yourself to hold the relationship smoothe. It can make your partner think that he/she has lost the person with whom he/she fell in love.

Practice mindfulness

Try to be more aware of what is happening in the present moment, and when you catch yourself on negative thoughts, recognize them, and let them go instead of focusing on them.

Practice good communication

If you are worried about some things, you should talk to your partner and express your feelings and thoughts about the thing. It may be more helpful than if you hide your feelings and gradually get distant from him/her because of that.

Avoid acting on your feelings.

Texting or calling your partner very often can cause a conflict. As soon as you get a desire to text or call so often, you should not do it, and instead, you should practice a relaxation technique (for example, a breathing technique), or go for a walk, or using some other way to distract yourself.

Meet a therapist

A therapist can help you to understand your and each other’s feelings better, and find solutions for overcoming relationship anxiety and construct a healthier relationship.

Relationship Anxiety (A guide)

Recommended books and sources

  1. Anxious in Love: How to Manage Your Anxiety, Reduce Conflict, and Reconnect with Your Partner
  2. Relationship Anxiety: How To Stop Being Anxious, Worried And Afraid in Intimate Relationships
  3. Anxiety in Relationship: How Anxiety Ruins Relationships and Why You Need to Stop Feeling Insecure and Attached in Love. Learn To Identify Irrational Behaviors That Trigger Anxiety!
  4. HFNE “I hate my wife.”
  5. HFNE “52 lists for happiness.”

FAQs about the topic “Relationship Anxiety.”

How do I stop being anxious in a relationship?

To stop being anxious in a relationship, you should:

Maintain your sense of self,
Practice mindfulness,
Practice good communication,
Avoid acting on your feelings,
Meet a therapist.

What is relationship obsessive-compulsive disorder?

Relationship obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is a subtype of OCD in which the person worries about his/her relationship with the partner. The person experiences doubts about their own feelings and the feelings of the partner, as well as their compatibility.

What is commitment anxiety?

Commitment anxiety is when you experience anxiety, stress, panic, or fear instead of happiness. What about “commitment phobia,” it assumes fear to enter in a committed or a long-term relationship.

Are doubts normal in a relationship? 

Doubts are normal in a relationship. When you start dating someone, you do not know him/her well enough yet, so you have some doubts. By the time the doubts may go away, if all goes well and you get closer to knowing each other more and more.

What is a toxic relationship?

A toxic relationship is a relationship that destroys people, damages, and poisons their lives. It is characterized by control, dominance, insecurity, and self-centeredness.

How do you know when to end a relationship?

You may know it is the time to end the relationship, for example, if:
You do not feel loved,
You do not love your partner,
You feel that your partner wants and tries to change you little by little (your look, your clothes, your hair, the way you talk, and other things),
You feel that there is a lack of understanding between you and your partner: you do not understand each other and do not try to improve it, 
In your relationship, you experience more negative emotions than positive ones.

Conclusion 

Summarizing the article “Relationship anxiety,” we can say that If you often catch yourself on constant worries that you are not able to support a healthy and committed relationship, it can mean that you have got relationship anxiety. Relationship anxiety can appear even if you and your partner are in a good relationship, and there are no big argues or some other destructive problems.

If you have relationship anxiety and you want to overcome it, you can try the tips that are given above, as they may be helpful for you.

Please feel free to comment on the content or ask any questions in the comments section below.

References

  1. Overall, N. C., Girme, Y. U., Lemay, E. P., Jr., & Hammond, M. D. (2014). Attachment anxiety and reactions to relationship threat: The benefits and costs of inducing guilt in romantic partners. Journal of Personality and Social psychology, 106(2), 235–256.
  2. Paprocki CM et al. (2017). Worried about us: Evaluating an intervention for relationship-based anxiety.

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Relationship Anxiety (A guide)

Juanita Agboola

Juanita Agboola is the editor in chief of HFNE and an expert in mental health online. She has been writing about online behaviour, mental health and psychology issues since 2012. All Guides are reviewed by our editorial team which constitutes various clinical psychologists, PhD and PsyD colleagues.