Relationships between spouses and friends are usually a source of joy and comfort. Some people, however, may have constant uneasiness while in a relationship; this condition is known as relationship anxiety. (1)
Relationships inevitably include significant degrees of unpredictability and unforeseen obstacles, which may explain why relationship anxiety is a widespread phenomenon in the modern age.
Some people have relationship anxiety during the beginning of a relationship before realizing their spouse is equally interested in them, or they may be unclear if they want to be in a relationship at all.
However, the same emotions can also arise in committed, long-term partnerships. Relationship anxiety can cause mental anguish, a lack of drive, and tiredness or emotional depletion over time.
Relation anxiety exacerbates stress and influences how you perceive your experiences and emotions. It is natural to have some amount of concern about relationships in a society where it is difficult to form strong relationships. Still, these sentiments may grow to impair your lifestyle, ultimately contributing to separation anxiety. (2)
Although relationship anxiety appears differently in each individual, it is defined by obsession or excessive concern about a romantic relationship. This is not anything exciting relating to the adrenaline rush, but It is the inverse. It stinks and may suffocate your relationship from within. (3)
Relationship anxiety may have a detrimental impact on your life and lead to various undesirable effects; thus, it must be treated. However, before we seek ways to overcome and treat it, let us dive further and learn more about it.
Common Types of Anxiety Disorders
Most of us are used to dealing with stress. We stress about future social occasions, job deadlines, and life milestones from time to time. However, an anxiety disorder is a medically diagnosed mental condition characterized by more acute and frequent spells of severe apprehension. (4)
Generalized Anxiety Disorder is one of the few types of anxiety disorders. (5) A familial history of anxiety may be one of the causes of and risk factors for GAD. Recent or extended exposure to stressful conditions, such as personal or family diseases. Caffeine and cigarette addiction can exacerbate pre-existing anxiety.
Social Anxiety Disorder is another common form of anxiety disorder. Social anxiety disorder, often known as social phobia, is characterized by acute anxiety or apprehension of being judged, adversely regarded, or humiliated in a social or performance situation.
People suffering from social anxiety disorder may be concerned about acting or looking overly nervous. (6)
Relationship anxiety, like social anxiety disorder, is centered on a certain scenario or collection of circumstances, and in this case, they are romantic ones. It is crucial to remember that you do not need a physician’s confirmed anxiety disorder diagnosis to experience relationship anxiety.
Signs of Relationship Anxiety
Relationship anxiety may manifest itself in a variety of ways. At some time in their relationship, almost everyone expresses concern.
This is not rare; therefore, you should not be bothered by passing worries or anxieties, especially if they do not bother you too much. However, these worrisome thoughts can expand and infiltrate your regular life resulting in relationship anxiety.
Here are some possible signs of relationship anxiety:
Desperate need for reassurance
One of the most typical signs of relationship anxiety is a constant need for reassurance. It is also frequent among those suffering from social anxiety disorder and depression.
Excessive reassurance-seeking is associated with interpersonal dependence, which is regarded as dependence on others for continuous approval and validation. (7)
Adopting Self Silencing Behavior
Another symptom that is also shared by many other mental health issues is self-silencing. According to one study, people, especially women who are sensitive to rejection, are more prone to self-silencing to satisfy their spouses. (8)
Self-silent people may not communicate their likes, ideas, or feelings to their spouse, especially if their ideas differ from those of their spouse.
People prefer to engage in self-silencing behavior to look similar to others whose acceptance they desire and avoid rejection.
And with time, a person may choose to remain silent and make compromises in an attempt to save the relationship. Unfortunately, this behavior tends to potentially reduce relationship pleasure.
Overthinking about your partner’s desire to quit the relationship
A healthy relationship should make you feel cherished, safe, and content. It is natural to want to stick to these sensations and hope that nothing can jeopardize the connection.
However, these ideas can occasionally turn into constant anxiety about your lover abandoning you. This concern might become a challenge if you change your attitude to keep their affection.
Over Concerned about Compatibility
Even in a stable relationship, relationship anxiety can cause you to wonder if you and your spouse are compatible. You doubt if you are truly happy or whether you just assume it.
As a result, you may begin to focus your attention on little differences and exaggerate their significance.
Sabotaging the Relationship
Relationship anxiety tends to be the foundation of sabotaging behavior. Picking pointless disputes with your spouse, pushing them away when you are upset, or challenging relationship limits are examples of situations that can sabotage a relationship.
Misinterpreting Your Partner’s Words and Actions
Overthinking and misinterpreting your partner’s words and behaviors might also indicate relationship anxiety. This leads to conflicts that end up ruining the peace of mind.
Missing Out on the Good Times
Relationships are supposed to bring you happiness; assess if you are having a good time in your relationship or whether you are feeling trapped and anxious all the time.
This might be the case amid challenging times. However, if you feel this way frequently, it might be an indication of relationship anxiety.
Causes of Relationship Anxiety
There are highly serious situations that can create anxiety, as well as far less significant concerns. However, every anxiety is a fight, and when you have relationship anxiety, you need to get rid of it.
As there is no apparent factor, determining what is causing your anxiety might require time and devoted self-exploration. You may even have difficulty recognizing probable reasons on your own.
Some of the most common causes of relationship anxiety are:
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a mental health condition caused by observing or experiencing a horrible tragedy.
Post-traumatic stress disorder may impair your entire life, including your career, health, and pleasure of daily activities and, most importantly, your relationships.
Even though you believe you have moved on from the events of the past, they might still have an impact on you.
For example, suppose a previous partner cheated on you, dumped you abruptly, lied about their emotions for you, or deceived you about the nature of your relationship. In that case, you may be more prone to suffer relationship anxiety.
It is normal to have trouble trusting someone again after being mistreated, even if your current spouse shows no signs of manipulation or deception. Some causes, whether you are aware of them or not, might potentially remind you of the past and cause you to question and feel insecure.
Low Self Esteem
Relationship anxiety and insecurity can sometimes be exacerbated by low self-esteem. When suffering self-doubt, those with poor self-esteem are more prone to mistrust their partner’s sentiments. (10)
Being dissatisfied with yourself might make it easy to assume that your spouse thinks the same way regarding you.
However, individuals with higher self-esteem tended to validate themselves through their relationships whenever they encountered self-doubt.
The attachment type we establish as children can have a significant influence on our adult relationships. You probably formed a secure attachment type if your guardian responded immediately to your needs and gave support and encouragement.
If they did not regularly satisfy your needs or allow you to develop freely, your attachment type might be less secure.
Long-term stress may be the most prevalent cause of relationship anxiety in troubled relationships. Typically, stress builds up over time, and long-term stress is unquestionably associated with worry; it can even lead to high-functioning anxiety. (11)
Relationships that are in trouble have a lot of negativity in them. You are no longer as helpful and nice to one another as you once were.
Even your lighthearted jokes turn negative, and the majority of what you say is either judgmental or in an aggressive tone. Constant negativity and negative thoughts tend to develop anxiety. (12)
Many early influences have molded our attachment patterns, psychological barriers, and internal thoughts. These things add to our relationship anxiety and can cause us to harm our romantic life in a variety of ways.
How does Relationship Anxiety Affect Individuals?
Relationship anxiety affects people in different ways, and the severity varies from person to person. However, these are some of the most common ways that relationship anxiety impacts us.
When we suffer from anxiety, we have a propensity to act desperate toward our spouse. We may no longer feel like the confident, powerful individuals we were before the relationship.
Consequently, we may find ourselves quickly breaking apart, becoming envious or insecure, or losing interest in independent activities. (13)
Dominating or Controlling
We may try to dominate or control our spouse when we feel intimidated. We may impose limitations on what they can and cannot accomplish to ease our own emotions of uncertainty or anxiety.
This behavior has the potential to alienate our spouse and develop bitterness in the relationship. (14)
If we are anxious about our connection, we might use arrogance as a coping strategy. To defend ourselves, we may become cold or dismissive. These acts can be subtle or pervasive, but they are always a certain method to push your spouse away or instill insecurity in them.
When we are frightened, we may withdraw from our spouse rather than express displeasure. We withhold little emotions or abandon a part of our connection entirely.
Withholding may appear to be a neutral behavior, yet it is one of the most silent killers of a relationship’s passion and desire.
Our anxiety leads us to be more violent, and we punish ourselves by venting our frustrations on our spouse. We might shout and rage, or we give our spouse the silent treatment. It is crucial to recognize how much of our behavior is a reaction to our partner and how much is a reaction to our thoughts and feelings.
When we are afraid in a relationship, we may abandon genuine gestures of love and closeness, favoring a dream bond.
A fantasy bond is a fictitious connection that takes the place of genuine acts of love. We put more emphasis on form than truth in this condition of imagination.
We may stay in a relationship to feel at ease, but we neglect the essential aspects of interacting. Many of the damaging habits we participate in are frequently used to establish distance and guard ourselves against anxiety.
How to Overcome Relationship Anxiety
To alleviate relationship anxiety, we must turn our attention inside us. This self-discovery approach can be a significant step toward understanding the emotions that drive our actions and, eventually, form our relationships.
In addition, we may obtain a better understanding of where these sentiments arise from by delving into our past.
If you do not address your relationship anxiety, you could discover that your worried thoughts grow more common. In the long term, this can lead to increased anxiety, frustration, and despair.
Therefore, we have compiled a list of useful tips to practice yourself to overcome relationship anxiety and enjoy a happy relationship.
Identify what is Driving You Anxious?
Determine the cause of your anxiety is a crucial step. Is it apprehension? Do you have low self-esteem? Do you lack self-assurance? Or is it embarrassment?
Identifying the source of your anxiety and making links to prior events or upbringing might help you become more conscious. For example, we might feel uneasy at times because we doubt our capacity to choose good partnerships for ourselves.
Be Honest with your Partner
It is essential to communicate your feelings with your partner when you are anxious, even when you do not want to do so. It might help to strengthen the bond between you and maintain the channels of communication open.
Allow the individuals who care about you into your inner world.
Use Self-Soothing Techniques
Anxiety is frequently accompanied by physical symptoms such as a racing heart, shortness of breath, or dizziness.
To improve your self-awareness, practice body scanning techniques self-soothing techniques include breathing exercises, guided meditation, yoga, and activities that focus on one of your five senses. (15)
When looking for a practice that works for you, you may think outside the box.
Address the Problems
Relationship dispute that is not addressed can lead to bitterness and the breakup of the relationship. Although conflict cannot be avoided, it is critical to manage and resolve it healthily.
It may be tough to explain yourself, but begin by utilizing “I” words and accepting responsibility for your role in the disagreement.
Be More Mindful
The practice of mindfulness entails concentrating your awareness on what is happening in the present moment without judgment.
You acknowledge and let go of unpleasant ideas as they arise. This is especially helpful if you are trapped in a negative thought cycle. It can also assist you in prioritizing your daily interactions with your partner.
Therapy for Relationship Anxiety
Psychotherapy is commonly used to treat anxiety disorders. However, it may be treated in various therapies, and one should consult with their doctor to determine which option is best for them.
People suffering from anxiety problems greatly benefit from psychotherapy or talk therapy. However, psychotherapy must be focused on the individual’s specific concerns and adapted to his or her requirements to be effective.
Couples therapy, such as couples-based psychoeducational sessions, is highly efficient in controlling and managing relationship anxiety.
The efficacy of a single psychoeducational session was evaluated, and it focused on self-silencing, partner accommodation, and obsessive reassurance-seeking as patterns of behavior linked with relationship anxiety. (16)
Behavioral Couples Therapy
Behavioral Couples Therapy is a type of behavior therapy in which both the spouse and the person seeking assistance are involved. (17) Behavioral Couples Therapy (BCT) aims to strengthen a couple’s connection while also fostering abstinence support.
To promote effectiveness in recovery, this involves boosting positive activities and strengthening communication between partners, with both tolerance and adjustment.
Cognitive-behavioral Conjoint Therapy
Cognitive-behavioral conjoint therapy aims to lessen PTSD and its symptoms while also improving romantic relationships.
Psychoeducation, couple-specific goal planning, emphasis on good experiences, increased dynamical interaction, and focus on activities that contribute to behavioral and experiential avoidance while also serving as mutually pleasurable activities for the couple are all part of therapy. (18)
Cognitive Existential Couples Therapy
Cognitive Existential Couple Therapy is an adaptation of Cognitive Existential Group Therapy that attempts to address major existential and functional issues such as anxiety symptoms, fear of recurrence and coping with ambiguity, and managing cancer therapies and their adverse effects.
It also discusses the impact of the management and therapy on the couple’s relationship, including sexual impacts, family conflicts, body image and self-image issues, lifestyle impacts, and future objectives. (19)
Furthermore, several additional forms of couple therapies have also been shown to be effective. (20)
Relationship anxiety is a type of anxiety that doctors may find difficult to identify and address. Many of the symptoms experienced by persons with relationship anxiety are frequent in other types of anxiety.
While your experiences are different, some understand and wish to assist you. Learn about the triggers, indications, and coping methods of relationship anxiety, and then consider allowing those individuals in.
You may not be able to eradicate relationship anxiety entirely. Still, you can take steps to reduce the continuous wondering and spend more time appreciating what you have with your spouse.