Dealing with certain levels of anxieties in a relationship is completely normal; however, the problem arises when anxiety becomes the 3rd member of your relationship. This happens when the fear of your relationship failing gets overpowered by the love you feel for your partner. Hence, rather than having a good time, you end up spending all your energy worrying about all of the things that could go wrong in said relationship.
Not only will this anxiety act up very randomly but, if not dealt with, it might lead to erratic behaviors that could end your relationship. Does that sound familiar? Do you think you (or your partner) might be suffering from relationship anxiety? Well, keep on reading to find out and figure out how to handle it!
What causes relationship anxiety?
- Past relationship trauma
For a lot of people, memories, and traumas of bad relationships in the past, tend to creep into anxieties regarding their current ones. These past traumas can include anything from being cheating upon, to being controlled, abused, and abandoned. The anxiety stemming from these experiences makes you live in constant fear of the same thing happening again in your current relationship. This makes it a lot harder for you to let down your guard and be more open with your partner.
- Fear of abandonment
People with relationship anxieties have a very common fear that their partner might one day get sick of them and leave for the silliest reasons. This stems more from past trauma than anything else; especially if as a kid they were abandoned by parents or people that they cared about. This factors into how hard a person finds it to devote themselves to a partner who might one day just pack up and leave.
- Self-esteem issues
Anxiety loves to feed off of insecurity. From the way you look to the way you behave, once those insecurities settle in, they can be very hard to get rid of. They make relationships especially hard because the low self-esteem morphs into you seeking constant validation from your partner. It might even lead a person to behave like someone else instead because they’re too ashamed of who they are. However, insecurities don’t just show up overnight. They have been planted; deeply rooted in your brain for years by people that you’re certainly, better off without!
- Fear of rejection
People, whose relationships are controlled by their insecurities, are constantly afraid of showing their flaws and failures to their partners for the fear of being rejected. They’re ashamed of their flaws, embarrassed by their quirks and afraid of opening up for the fear of being told that they’re just overreacting.
What does relationship anxiety look like?
Anxiety can accompany you late at night when your partner is asleep and your brain is too busy beating you down for. It gives you a reason to cry (and a shoulder on) when you have a small argument with your significant other and are wondering whether they’re getting ready to pack their bags or not.
Depending on the person, relationship anxiety can look different for different people. However, some of the most common traits of people who have relationship anxiety are
- Happiness takes a back seat
The best way to figure out if your relationship anxiety is surfacing its nasty head or not is to take a step back and question whether you’re happy or not. Are you spending more time worrying about various aspects of the relationship, instead of actually enjoying time with your partner? Are you spending most of your time being sad and feeling insecure and unimportant? If yes, then you have your answer!
- Settling in matters to avoid confrontation
People who are driven by the fear of rejection and abandonment often end up settling for things in a relationship rather than being vocal about what bothers them. If their partner does something that annoys them, (minor or major), they will most likely tell themselves to simply get over it. Afraid that if they were to bring it up, it could lead to an unnecessary argument that could result in their partner staying mad at them.
- Constant doubt and a lack of trust
Constant doubt stems from anxiety which leads to a lack of trust in a relationship. With the inner voice in your head negating everything your partner says, you end up questioning all of your partner’s excuses and motives. This inevitably leads to constant arguments and distance in a relationship.
- Constant Dependence
Anxiety in a relationship leads to you to constantly rely on your partner to help build you up, and validate you. Not only do they become you support limb but you also expect them to always be there for you when needed. However, since that’s realistically impossible, holding them to these high standards ends up in disappointment and might ruin your relationship.
- Constant Reassurance
Whether it’s the way you look, or how you can’t cook a certain dish right or how you’re being too emotional, you need constant reassurance from your partner that it’s okay. Otherwise, you feel like you’ve failed and disappointed them which results the fear that they might leave you.
- Being afraid of intimacy and vulnerability
The intense fear of intimacy is a social disorder that prevents a person from getting too close to their partner. Intimacy is one of the bases of a successful relationship. However, people with anxiety find it particularly hard to be intimate and vulnerable with their partner for the fear of getting hurt.
- Controlling behavior
Another very common thing that people with trust issues (and relationship anxiety) do is trying to control their partner’s outings, dressing, and social circle. This often just leads to a person feeling very oppressed and suffocated in a relationship.
Self-sabotaging comes from the idea that ‘I need to push them away before they can hurt me’. When the relationship starts getting serious such people to sabotage their relationship. This is because they’re so afraid of vulnerability and the fear of rejection is at an all-time high. The most commonly do this by:
They practice distancing in which they stop communicating their feelings with their partner. A wall starts to build up and they start saying no to hangouts. Eventually, it seems like the two people who are in a relationship, are leading two separate lives even if they live together. This usually just comes off as a couple falling out of love, when in fact, one of them was too afraid to fully fall in love in the first place!
#2 Testing boundaries
Now, if an anxiety-ridden person wants to end the relationship before they can get hurt, but don’t want to be the bad guy, they’ll push their partners to such limits that they will end up breaking up with them themselves. They will hold them to very high standards, start arguments over minor things, and do things to tick them off and push them away. At times they may even do it without realizing what exactly it is that they’re doing!
- Doubting your compatibility and constantly worrying about the future
A very common thing people with relationship anxiety do is constantly ask themselves questions like, ‘do I even love this person or am I just tolerating them?’, and vice versa. They worry about their goals coinciding and long term compatibility which makes them question what the future holds for their relationship. They might even start to question their worth in their partner’s life.
How to deal with relationship anxiety?
- Learning to love yourself
Since a lot of anxieties stem from insecurities, the most important step of trying to overcome it is to learn to love yourself first, so you won’t need anyone else to do it for you. This will take time and effort but you’ll know you’re successful when you end up loving everything about yourself that makes you stick out like a sore thumb!
- Talk to a therapist
It can be hard to figure out the triggers of your anxiety so we recommend seeking professional help from a therapist. Couple’s therapy is also a great idea if you want to work on fixing your relationship together, rather than just working on yourself.
- Find a support system
When working through any problems, it’s always good to have a support system at hand that encourages you to continue working on yourself instead of giving up. This can be anything from friends to families to support group therapies.
- Communicate with your partner openly
If you suffer from anxiety and have doubtful thoughts, it’s always a good idea to openly talk to your partner about it. For example, if you’re bothered by something, let them know upfront. Be open about your goals for the future, your expectations from the relationship, and learn what their expectations are from you so you don’t overthink and drive yourself crazy.
- Think before acting impulsively and try mindfulness
As hard as it can be, you need to practice more mindfulness and think before you impulsively start getting into fights or doing things to drive your partner away out of anxiety. You don’t necessarily have to start meditating or exercising every day, but try to find a hobby that’s therapeutic to you!
Good luck and happy healing!
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