Understanding Relationship Anxiety

Sometimes, relationships bring us joy, and sometimes they create anxiety.
Today at Flure, we are going to touch on the subject of anxiety in relationships to understand what it really means and consists of, look at the main signs and causes, and also share advice on how to deal with anxiety in your relationships.

What is relationship anxiety

Relationship anxiety is, as you may guess, an anxiety that appears in romantic relationships.
It can be described as a feeling of unease and worry that we feel with regard to our partners. Someone with relationship anxiety might find themselves constantly overthinking about where things are going, how stable the relationships are, and fearing that their partner is not in love with them, regardless of what the said partner’s words and actions are.

Signs of anxiety in relationships

Relationship anxiety is not a science and symptoms might vary, but there are several signs that are pretty standard.

Fear of separation

Not wanting to leave the partner’s side is cute for the first couple of weeks of the relationship, but if it continues, it probably signals a potential issue. For example, if your girlfriend likes to hang out with friends or work out in the gym, but every time she’s about to head out you panic – this is a clear sign of relationship anxiety.

Excessive worrying about the relationship

If you’re in love, it’s normal to have occasional worries about the partner leaving you or thinking about whether or not you guys will make the next step. Yet, if it’s all you’re concerned with throughout the day, it’s defo relationship anxiety.

Overthinking about pretty much everything

Am I good enough? What is my partner thinking about now? He’s probably planning to leave me. That joke I made in front of their friends must have been embarrassing, I am such an idiot, no wonder he doesn’t bring me along when they hang out. He moved away a bit when I sat down on the sofa, he probably hates me.
– If this is what it feels like inside your head all the time, this is relationship anxiety. It’s a problem because being in this constantly stressed state will inevitably affect how you act and make you say or do things you don’t really mean and aren’t proud of.

Need for validation

When suffering from relationship anxiety, many people will seek constant validation, asking their partner to vocalize and demonstrate their love through actions. It adds a lot of pressure on the relationship and can make the partner want to distance themselves, which, in turn, will only serve as proof for the anxious one.

Identity loss

When two people spend a lot of time together, and one of them is extremely anxious, it’s possible to lose a sense of identity. This can look like a complete adaptation of the partner’s mindset and habits. Losing yourself like that is never good and, in the long run, it will only worsen the anxiety that you’re feeling.

Mental withdrawal

You may be surprised, but having relationship anxiety is not all about being over the top and excessive with how you feel, think, and act. One of the signs of this issue is actually withdrawal. Basically, a person can shut down and not talk to or engage with their partner, causing the latter to play the guessing game.

What causes relationship anxiety

Now that we understand what anxiety in relationships looks like, let’s identify the main causes of such behavior.

Blast from the past

A lot of our anxieties come from childhood. People who grew up with parents who’ve shown them love inconsistently, often develop an anxious attachment style which makes them seek constant reassurance that they are indeed loved and adored. You can also develop anxiety caused by what you saw in your parents’ marriage. For example, if they had a long-distance relationship at some point, and infidelity was involved, you’ll probably grow up fearing that a similar situation will cause your partner to cheat too.

Negative romantic experience

Parents are not always to blame, sometimes it’s the issues in our past romances that scar us and cause anxiety. If you’ve had an issue with your lover in the past, it’s perfectly normal to worry about this scenario repeating again. Sometimes, however, this worry goes out of control.

Low self-esteem

It can also happen that you simply struggle to see your self-worth, even though there were no traumatic experiences with parents or partners. In that case, the person won’t be able to help themselves but worry and stress about how they are perceived by the partner and whether or not they really deserve love.
If people don’t talk in a relationship, and we mean really talk about important stuff, then it’s very easy to spiral and become anxious. Imagine being in a long-term relationship but still not knowing 100% if the person loves you, if they see you as the one, if they’re eventually seeing yourself as their spouse, etc. It’s nerve-wracking!

How to deal with relationship anxiety

If you have relationship anxiety, it’s better to deal with it and keep it under control. Often, it’s the anxiety of what could happen that is ruining relationships and not the real problems. It would be a shame to break up with your partner because you’re so afraid that they’ll cheat that you drive them insane, right?
Here is how you can overcome your anxiety in a romantic relationship:
  1. Analyze your feelings. Think of all the doomsday scenarios that you create in your head for your partnership. There’s probably a couple that you keep getting back to. Try to identify where they’re coming from.
  2. Practice self-care. And by self-care, we mean both Pinterest-like morning routines and warm baths, and the unpleasant elements of it, such as being honest with yourself and making hard choices that will do good for you in the long run, such as opting out of a nightclub party, going back to working out or addressing the issues at work that drain you every day.
  3. Have some meditative, quiet time. Meditating on the balcony, walking your dog in the park, sitting on the beach and listening to the waves, even a solo walk around the city without headphones – all that can bring you peace and help you cope with negative thoughts. Just remember to do it regularly, even if it’s only for 15-30 minutes.
  4. Talk to your partner. Share your thoughts, dreams, and worries. An open and honest conversation can do wonders.
  5. Talk to a therapist. It’s good if you acknowledge the problem and want to solve it, but there’s no reason why you shouldn’t reach out to a professional who’ll be able to guide you in reaching a happy end sooner.
  6. Train yourself to focus on and enjoy the present. It’s not easy at first, but if you practice, you’ll be able to stop your mind from wandering off and you will enjoy the current moment.
How long does relationship anxiety last before it ruins what the two people have together? We don’t know. What we do know is that it will have a negative impact on the connection you have with your lover, and, in some cases, it can turn into something bigger like ADHD, OCD, or depression. So if you suspect that your anxiety is more severe than normal, reach out to the therapist. A professional will give you personalized advice on how to cope with and overcome this problem.