October 30, 2023
Relationship Anxiety | Cause | Symptoms | Treatment Strategy
If you are suffering from relationship anxiety, you can likely relate to the experiences described in this article by the time you finish reading. Relationship anxiety is the constant fear that others may not like us and could abandon us someday. Individuals dealing with relationship anxiety struggle to establish a sense of security in their significant relationships, and they often grapple with a host of challenging issues that we will explore in the remainder of this article.
What is Relationship Anxiety?
Relationship anxiety is akin to the persistent storm that casts a shadow over what would otherwise be sunny partnerships. It’s an internal feeling that leads to self-doubt, a fear of rejection, and ceaseless worry about the state of your relationship. Consequently, you might find yourself continually checking to ensure that others are okay with you. While this behavior may offer temporary reassurance, the fear of abandonment can be so overwhelming that you may inadvertently irritate others with your constant need for validation.
You might notice yourself experiencing jealousy rooted in possessiveness and questioning your friend or partner’s loyalty. This may lead to engaging in violations of boundaries such as checking the other person’s phone, monitoring their activities on social media, and seeking information through various forms of inquiry. Additionally, individuals with relationship anxiety often report lower self-esteem, codependency issues and experience somatic symptoms like an increased heart rate, sweating, shaking, and an upset stomach when triggered by insecurities in their relationships.
What Causes Relationship Anxiety?
There are several reasons why someone may experience relationship anxiety. But the most common causes are related to our past negative experiences. Also, it is important to note that our relationship anxiety can stem from multiple forms of vulnerable experiences building on each other to create a sense of anxiety in relationships. Let’s look at the most common explanations for relationship anxiety.
Past Experiences: Negative past relationships, painful breakups, betrayal, or emotional trauma can leave deep scars and contribute to relationship anxiety. These past experiences can lead to a fear of history repeating itself.
Attachment Style: Your attachment style plays a significant role. People with an anxious-preoccupied attachment style tend to experience relationship anxiety more frequently. This attachment style involves a strong desire for intimacy but is accompanied by a fear of abandonment and a constant need for reassurance. Consider reading our article on anxious attachment styles to better understand attachment injury issues.
Unrealistic Expectations: Unrealistic expectations for the relationship can be a common trigger for anxiety. Believing that the relationship should be perfect, free of conflicts or challenges, sets you up for stress and disappointment. Often, these unrealistic expectations are observed and passed on to us by our parents and caregivers.
External Influences: Societal pressures, social media, and comparisons to idealized relationships in the media can contribute to anxiety. These external influences set unrealistic standards and make individuals feel inadequate.
Five Strategies to Overcome Relationship Anxiety
Self-Reflection and Awareness: The journey to overcoming relationship anxiety begins with self-reflection and self-awareness. Start by acknowledging and understanding your relationship anxiety. Take time to reflect on your past experiences, especially those that may have contributed to your anxiety. Consider your attachment style, which plays a significant role in how you approach relationships. Are you anxious-preoccupied, avoidant, or secure? Identifying your attachment style can provide valuable insights into your emotional responses in relationships. Additionally, pinpoint potential triggers for your anxiety – these could be specific situations, words, or actions that consistently raise your anxiety levels.
Self-awareness is a crucial first step in managing relationship anxiety because it allows you to identify patterns and areas for improvement.
Open Communication: Effective communication is a cornerstone of any healthy relationship. When dealing with relationship anxiety, open communication becomes even more vital. You can start by sharing your feelings and concerns with your partner openly and honestly. Explain your worries and fears without judgment or blame. Encourage your partner to do the same. Effective communication can help both of you better understand each other’s perspectives, needs, and concerns. It provides a safe space to address issues and work through them together.
The key is to create an environment where both partners feel heard and validated, which can significantly reduce anxiety and improve the overall quality of the relationship.
Set Realistic Expectations: Many relationships anxieties stem from unrealistic expectations. It’s essential to understand that no relationship is perfect. Ups and downs are a natural part of any partnership. To manage anxiety, consider resetting your expectations. Accept that challenges and conflicts are normal. These hiccups in the relationship don’t necessarily mean it’s in trouble. By embracing the imperfections and unpredictabilities of your relationship, you can reduce anxiety and stress.
Realistic expectations allow you to approach problems with a more balanced perspective and greater resilience, making it easier to navigate difficult times with your partner.
Self-Care: Prioritizing self-care is essential for managing relationship anxiety. Your emotional well-being is closely tied to your physical well-being. Make sure you’re getting enough sleep to maintain a clear mind and reduce emotional reactivity. Eating a balanced diet and engaging in regular physical activity can positively impact your mood and stress levels. Incorporate relaxation techniques into your daily routine, such as deep breathing exercises, meditation, or yoga. These practices can help you stay centered and calm, reducing the emotional intensity of anxiety.
Self-care isn’t selfish; it’s a critical aspect of ensuring you have the emotional resilience and strength to navigate the challenges of a relationship.
Seek Professional Help: If relationship anxiety is significantly affecting your life and partnership, don’t hesitate to seek professional help. Therapy or counseling can provide valuable strategies for managing your anxiety. A trained therapist can help you dive deeper into the underlying issues that contribute to your anxiety, providing insights and tools to overcome it. Individual therapy can be highly beneficial, allowing you to explore your anxiety in a safe and confidential environment. Additionally, couples therapy is a viable option if your anxiety is affecting the relationship. Couples therapy offers a platform for both partners to address their concerns and work together to improve the dynamics of the relationship.
Seeking professional help is a proactive and empowering step toward managing and overcoming relationship anxiety.
It is important to note that creating a supportive and secure relationship environment is crucial to overcoming relationship anxiety. Our friends and romantic partners can play a significant role in this by understanding our needs and providing reassurance and consistency when needed. We are hurt in relationships, and we are also healed in relationships.
Finally, remember that relationship anxiety is a common challenge experienced by many. It’s possible to manage and even overcome it by fostering self-awareness, practicing open communication, and seeking professional help. You can navigate through the storm and build healthier, more secure relationships. Don’t be afraid to seek support when needed, and remember that it is possible to feel safe and secure in significant relationships.
Start your therapy journey today.
Schedule a 15-Minute Free Consultation With Our Intake Coordinator.