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How to Deal With Relationship Anxiety

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Kaitlyn has a background in psychology and writes articles that teach you how to lean on your body, mind, heart, and on those around you.

What Is Relationship Anxiety?

Experiencing some degree of anxiety in our romantic relationships is normal. But when your levels of anxiety begin to cause you a significant degree of stress and negatively affect your life, that’s a sign that you should find out why you feel so anxious.

Feeling emotionally unstable, experiencing problems with impulse control, having impaired judgment, and finding difficulty in focusing or completing daily tasks are common symptoms of relationship anxiety. Feeling sad, depressed, lonely, tired, and lovesick is also common.

When you’re feeling anxious about your relationship, feelings of insecurity, stress, and even panic can come and go in waves. These feelings may also lurk persistently at the back of your mind prompting intrusive negative thoughts like “Am I good enough for them?”, “Am I pretty enough?”, “What can I do to lower the chances of them breaking up with me?”, etc.

Chronic relationship anxiety is not only mentally exhausting, but it's harmful to your mental and physical health and can ultimately destroy your relationship. So how does relationship anxiety start?

Poll: Trust

3 Main Causes of Relationship Anxiety

By Pixabay. CC0 Creative Commons.

By Pixabay. CC0 Creative Commons.

1. Lost Trust

One of the most common causes of anxiety in any relationship is when your trust in the other person has been broken. Whether it is from an unfulfilled promise, infidelity, or another kind of betrayal, when you no longer trust your partner, the vision of your future together can be turned on its head. That sense of uncertainty about your situation and suspicion of your partner is a major cause of mental stress, which will lead to a chronic sense of anxiety about your relationship.

2. No Communication

Open communication is the most important determining factor for the success of a couple, so when communication is lacking or has broken down in a relationship, anxiety can start to build. If you can’t express your feelings to your partner, you may be forced to hold in your feelings of sadness, disappointment, and anger towards your partner. Not being able to share your perspective with your partner can also be a very lonely experience. All these negative feelings will build up and cause you to question yourself, your relationship, and your partner, leading to high levels of anxiety.

3. Chronic Negativity

Maintaining a positive outlook will help you build a successful life and career. The same applies to your relationships. Approaching your partner with a positive attitude can do wonders for the long-term success of your relationship. On the flip side, relationships that are chronically negative are stressful and will cause one or both partners to feel anxious about the relationship. Negative attitudes can include passive-aggressive “jokes,” criticism, and communicating with a hostile or negative tone.

How to Deal With Relationship Anxiety

By Tan Danh. CC0 Creative Commons.

By Tan Danh. CC0 Creative Commons.

1. Hit the Gym

When you’re focused on working out and breaking a sweat, your mind will be distracted by anxious thoughts. And when you’re feeling physically exhausted after a trip to the gym, you may also experience less intrusive anxious thoughts as well. Becoming more physically fit will also help to increase your self-confidence and self-esteem, which will then help you feel more secure.

2. Build From the Ground Up

If the main cause of your relationship anxiety is from the loss of trust, you can consider wiping the slate clean and starting over from scratch as if it were the first day you started dating. Since trust needs to be built from the ground up, once it’s broken, you can’t build it up again without starting from scratch. If your partner agrees to start over, make sure you’re both committed to forming new, healthier habits and not falling back to old ones.

3. Talk About Your Needs

When you feel like you have a hard time communicating with each other, that often means that needs are not being met, which can cause further anxiety. So have a sit-down with your partner to hash out each other's needs. Write it down if you want, and do your best to meet them. Don’t expect them to put in the same amount of effort, though. Just focus on doing your part, and often a reluctant partner will be motivated by your efforts to return the favor. But if they’re still not making an effort after a few months, that may reflect their level of commitment to the relationship.

4. Keep Busy

Even though being in a relationship is about going through life together, don’t forget to build a life for yourself that is relatively independent of your relationship. That way, when your partner isn't there, you’ll still feel confident and fulfilled. When you feel anxious about your relationship, having a purpose outside of your relationship becomes even more important. Keep your mind busy by working on some of your favorite hobbies, do some outdoor activities, or spend the day treating yourself. When you’re busy doing things that make you happy and fulfilled, you may also gain some much-needed perspective on your relationship.

5. Increase Physical Affection

Studies have shown that hugging is calming and is an effective treatment for patients with anxiety disorders. Touching, holding, and other affectionate types of physical contact can make a couple feel closer and more reassured. Even if you’re angry, upset, or sad because of your relationship with your partner, making a point to touch each other more can be the key to opening the door to communication.

Poll: Your Needs

Remember: Just Do You

By CC0 Creative Commons.

By CC0 Creative Commons.

The only person you can change and control is yourself. So when you enter into a relationship, you're inviting someone into your life whom you can't control or change. When there’s a problem, both parties need to put in the effort to fix it. No one is solely responsible for fixing a relationship problem.

Instead of trying to make your partner change, what you need to focus on is on improving yourself and becoming a stronger person. Hopefully, when your partner sees you trying hard, they will also become motivated to improve.

But if that doesn’t happen, that’s okay. By then, you will have become a more confident and secure person where moving on to a better relationship isn’t such a scary thought anymore.

One final note: Anxiety disorders can be severely debilitating, so don't be scared to seek help from a professional when you're seriously struggling to control your anxiety.

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This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2018 KV Lo


MonsterFrogaki on July 27, 2018:

I can totally relate. I haven't been into a relationship for over a year because of trust issues and also because of the abusive behavior of my ex. He was triggering my anxiety and I had panic attacks frequently. I hope I will overcome all those issues one day and finally find happiness xx

Amanda on April 09, 2018:

I definitely needed to read this, I've been feeling overwhelmed about my anxiety in regards to my relationship. I think it's time to set back and focus on myself - the rest should fall into place if it is meant to

Cherishingflo on April 09, 2018:

These are wonderful tips and I love this list! It’s very informational and it makes a lot of sense. I think I might feel a lot better if I kept busy more often. Great post!

KV Lo (author) on April 04, 2018:

@Marie: Thanks for sharing your story and I'm so happy to hear you're doing well now. :)

Rose on April 03, 2018:

Great post, I liked the ways to help anxiety at the bottom. Plus we all forget that the only thing we have control over is ourselves, great reminder!

KV Lo (author) on March 27, 2018:

@Rosemerry Thank you! I believe every image in this post is pinnable? Let me know if you meant something different. :)

Rosemerry on March 27, 2018:

Great post. I liked your point about staying busy and remembering that each individual is an individual and should not be dependent upon another person for the purpose. I would love to have a pinnable image to pin for you.

Alice on March 27, 2018:

Great post, forwarding this to some friends!

Travel For Change Blog on March 20, 2018:

Great idea to touch on this subject and highlight some important issues and realities for relationships. I really like how easy it is to read and believe that negative relationships can create a lot of anxiety without people even realising it. Stay Happy and Be Kind To One Another :)

KV Lo (author) on March 11, 2018:

@dashingscorpio, You bring up some very valid points, thank you for your great contribution! It's true that many of us are so afraid that a relationship will fail that we forget to consider whether the relationship is the right one for us in the first place. A relationship should definitely not simply be a means to getting married before a certain age.

dashingscorpio from Chicago on March 11, 2018:

I would also add "Baggage from past failed relationships" as being a major cause for many people who have relationship anxiety.

For most people there was a "first love" where they were "all in" and got dumped, cheated on, or felt betrayed in some way.

For many of us this "first love" took place during our immature teenage years or early 20s when were naïve and had unrealistic expectations. Sadly many of us use that heartache as the overall determining factor how we approach all dating and relationships. Essentially we never want to be that vulnerable again.

The real lesson we should have taken from our experience is not avoiding being vulnerable but instead becoming more selective!

A failed relationship or heartache helps us to craft our own mate selection/screening process and "must haves list".

The truth is when it comes to love and relationships most of us (fail our way) to success. Rarely does anyone hit a homerun their first, second, third, or fourth time up at bat. If this were not true we would all be married to our high school sweethearts!

When you have a mate selection/screening process and a "must haves list" you no longer allow "impulsive connections" and "happenstance" to dictate your relationship choices.

You also are aware every {new relationship} has an "infatuation phase" and therefore you do not confuse that period with love.

Another reason why people experience relationship anxiety is due to self induced pressures of wanting a specific outcome. Instead of going with the flow and allowing things to naturally evolve they instead stress over whether or not things are going as (they) want.

No one is asking you to decide on whether to cut the red wire or the blue wire! Its just a date! Relax, laugh, and enjoy the dinner, play, concert, or whatever it is. Dating is about getting to know each other (over time). These days many people want to fast forward through the dating/courtship phase and jump into exclusivity or marriage. They HATE dating!

In fact some women I've known have proclaimed they were "ready to get married" and didn't have a boyfriend!

Essentially they're chasing after a relationship/marital status.

Ideally the (person you're with) should be the impetus for why you're having thoughts about exclusivity and marriage. In other words there is something "special" about (him or her).

The goal is to marry the "right one" not the "next one".

Having a goal to be married by a certain age is likely to cause anxiety.

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