When your relationship with your significant other is suffering, it can sour other parts of your life. If you’re fighting with your family, it can become easy to lose your temper at work. If you’re fighting with a friend, your free time can feel lonely.
Healthy relationships require honest communication, respect and a lot of effort. For those who suffer from relationship anxiety, maintaining a relationship can be even more of a challenge. Those with relationship anxiety might stress and obsess about their attachments. These added worries can make the work of maintaining relationships feel like an uphill battle.
Read on to learn how you can address relationship anxiety to improve your love life and friendships.
WHAT IS RELATIONSHIP ANXIETY?
Being worried about a relationship is normal, but if it gets to the point where you are constantly stressed about the future of the relationship, it may be that your anxiety has risen to an unhealthy level.
Relationship anxiety usually refers to stress about a romantic relationship, but you can be anxious about relationships with friends or family members as well. If you find yourself struggling with one or more of the following thoughts on a regular basis, you’re likely experiencing relationship anxiety:
- “I’m too boring/fat/ugly to interest them”
- “They don’t really love me”
- “They’re looking for someone else”
- “I can’t trust them to be honest with me”
- “There’s no way we can make a future together work”
Focusing too much on these negative thoughts will distance you from those around you, compounding the issues in the relationship. These anxieties make it difficult to be intimate, decrease your trust in your partner and make you feel emotionally distant. In turn, your partner may distance themselves from you, and end up feeling like they can’t relate to you anymore.
These anxious thoughts can also lead to acting out against the people that are close to you. In order to try to justify these anxieties, you might subconsciously start trying to get your partner to confirm these beliefs. This can take the form of causing unnecessary conflict, becoming defensive in inappropriate situations, losing trust or trying to test your partner’s commitment. It’s a self-fulfilling prophecy.
When you feel constant stress about your relationship with your family, friend or partner, your mental abilities are lessened. In a relationship, this is exactly the opposite of what you want to happen. You need to be able to use your cognition to properly empathize and listen to those close to you. When stressed, it becomes harder to approach relationship situations rationally and calmly.
COMMON CAUSES OF RELATIONSHIP ANXIETY
There are dozens of reasons why you might be feeling anxious about a relationship. Those reasons may or may not reflect reality, but they are still important. Here are some of the common reasons people feel anxious about their relationships.
Long distance relationships can be hard. Being away from significant others for long periods of time can make it difficult to reconnect with each other. This can lead to worries about whether the relationship is still viable, and lead to difficulties communicating.
Fear of Loss
It might seem counterintuitive, but when you’re afraid of losing someone, it becomes easier to distance yourselves from them. If you’ve been hurt during a past relationship, your mind will anticipate future pain. As a coping mechanism, you subconsciously distance yourself and make it difficult to create a strong bond in your current relationship.
Fear of Rejection
Many people are worried that their partner doesn’t think they are good enough. Thoughts like “my partner will love me when I lose weight” or “when we’re making more money, my partner will appreciate me more” come from a fear of being rejected. This self-doubt can wreak havoc on a person’s ability to bond with those around them.
When you’re not feeling well, it’s difficult to give your all to a relationship. Your partner might feel neglected, or harbor feelings of resentment towards you or your illness because you aren’t there for them in the way you were before. Disclosing health conditions to a significant other can be nerve-wracking, as there is a stigma against those with chronic illnesses.
Feelings of jealousy usually come from a lack of trust in your romantic partner or from low self-esteem. If you see someone with the qualities you wish you had, it can be easy to worry about your partner leaving you for them. Jealousy can come in the way of having a committed relationship based on trust.
Lack of Communication
When you don’t take the time to communicate, a lot of problems can build up. Conflicts remain unresolved and become bigger issues. Misunderstandings linger and can fuel feelings of resentment or frustration. Not communicating also gives others a hard time understanding where they stand with you.
Sixty-eight percent of people in relationships say that money is a big source of contention. Finances can be a touchy subject, especially in new relationships. Sometimes concerns about money aren’t actually about money, but about insecurities that you or your partner don’t feel comfortable talking about.
4 Ways to ADDRESS RELATIONSHIP ANXIETY
Sometimes a relationship needs to end for the mental health of both people in involved. Whatever solution is best suited to your needs, make sure you approach your partner, family member or friend with respect and compassion.
Figure Out if You Want to Keep the Relationship
Not all relationships are worth keeping. If you have someone toxic in your life, or just someone you don’t like being around anymore, maybe it’s time to move on. It may have nothing to do with the person’s character. Someone who was once your best friend may no longer be right for you. It’s important to be honest and prioritize mental health over keeping appearances or dragging on a relationship past its ability to be viable.
Being able to talk to your partner about how you’re feeling will help the two of you find ways to address problems you are facing. A lack of communication can make a relatively small issue snowball into the worst case scenario. Frequent and candid conversation is needed to nip small issues in the bud.
Working on a relationship takes time. You’re not going to be able to change things right away. If it feels like nothing is changing, don’t give up just yet. It might be that you haven’t given it enough time.
Reduce Your Overall Anxiety Levels
If you’re a naturally anxious person, that anxiety might be carrying over into your relationship. You might find that after taking time to address your own anxiety levels, your worries about your partner diminish. Breathing exercises are a great way to immediately address anxiety, in addition to seeking help from a mental health professional.
Spire is also a useful tool that can be seamlessly incorporated into your life. It sends signals to your phone when it detects higher levels of stress from your body, letting you know when it’s time to take a break and breathe.
LOVE IS ON THE WAY
It’s natural to be worried about your relationship. When those worries become so severe that you can’t live your life, this indicates that you may have developed relationship anxiety. Remember: You deserve beautiful and fulfilling relationships. These are within reach with a bit of self-awareness, patience and love.