Anxiety isn’t a one-size-fits-all issue. There are many different types of anxiety that can impact your quality of life. Some people struggle with performance anxiety or intense worry. Others have a fear of social interactions and settings.
Some people even deal with relationship anxiety. Sound familiar? Unfortunately, because there are different types of anxiety, you might not immediately recognize what you’re dealing with, so you might try to ignore it in hopes that it will get better or work itself out.
But emotions will always demand to be felt. Understanding the signs and symptoms of relationship anxiety will not only help you to get a diagnosis sooner, but can start you on a path toward healing so you don’t end up living with fear forever.
With that in mind, let’s take a closer look at relationship anxiety, including what it is and how you can move through it.
What Is Relationship Anxiety?
Relationship anxiety occurs when you have feelings of doubt or insecurity about your relationship. Even if you’re in a loving relationship and your partner is crazy about you, you might find that you’re never “satisfied” because you’re in a constant state of fear or doubt.
These kinds of relationships often require a lot of reassurance from one partner to the other. While having relationship anxiety doesn’t mean you’re codependent or that you “need” your partner to survive, it’s the idea of something being “wrong” with your relationship that drives your fear.
What Causes It?
There’s no singular cause that can trigger relationship anxiety. Often, it’s rooted in childhood issues that were never fully resolved. Maybe you didn’t have a secure attachment with your parents or caregivers, causing feelings of insecurity that have lingered into adulthood. Or maybe you have had negative experiences in your past adult relationships that have influenced these anxious thoughts and feelings about your current relationship.
An insecure attachment style can impact all of your future relationships — not just romantic ones. However, when it comes to the connection you have with your partner, the issues that stem from childhood or the past can have a negative effect on the balance and how you and your partner “need” each other.
What Are the Signs?
Aside from feelings of insecurity and doubt, there are some common signs associated with relationship anxiety, including worrying if you really mean anything to your partner. Even if you have no reason to believe they “don’t care”, your feelings of doubt might start to take over.
You might also read into everything they do or say with a negative undertone. They might not mean anything negative by a certain statement, but you interpret it the “wrong way” and assume it means the worst for your relationship.
Finally, you might start to stress over your long-term compatibility with your partner. As that fear and doubt take over, you might find yourself sabotaging the relationship “on purpose” because you’re so convinced it won’t work, anyway.
What Can You Do?
So, what can you do to overcome relationship anxiety? The first step is recognizing that you are experiencing anxiety about your relationship. Consider the signs and symptoms above. Your feelings are valid and makes sense considering the evidence you have gathered from previous relationships. However, in your current relationship, what does the evidence tell you? Consider whether the thoughts about your relationship are fact or perceived.
If you’ve struggled for a long time to find peace and comfort in your relationship and you’re constantly dealing with doubt, there’s a good chance relationship anxiety is taking hold of your partnership. Thankfully, there are things you can do on your own, with your partner, and with outside help to overcome relationship anxiety.
Practicing mindfulness is a great way to fight back against the effects of relationship anxiety. Mindfulness allows you to focus on the present, rather than dwelling on the past or worrying about the “what ifs” of the future.
It’s also a good idea to talk to your partner about what you’re feeling. Relationship anxiety isn’t something you need to be ashamed of. The more you open up to your partner about your struggles, the more they can help you work through them. Communication about your fears and doubts might even be somewhat quelled with some validation.
Strategies from cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) might also be helpful to identify your thoughts and their impact on your feelings and behaviours. CBT can also help with reframing thoughts, gathering new evidence, and weighing how true a specific thought might be.
Don’t hesitate to reach out for professional help. A skilled therapist can help you get to the root cause of your relationship anxiety. Once you understand where it stems from, you can actively work on healing.