How to Deal With Relationship Anxiety
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?
How much do you trust your partner?
3 Main Causes of Relationship Anxiety
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
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
Do you think your needs are being met in your romantic relationship?
Remember: Just Do You
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.
Questions & Answers
© 2018 KV Lo