In 2023, we are well past impractical views on relationships like ‘love at first sight’ and ‘couples that never ever fight’ because the truth of any successful relationship is that it’s a rocky affair that takes work. Experts say 70% of relationships end near the 1-2 year mark because couples lose sight of themselves and each other.
A concentrated effort is needed to form, build, and maintain any healthy relationship; otherwise, relationship anxiety will kick in, leading to increased uneasiness, stress, and constant worry.
This kind of anxiety makes it difficult to fully experience the joy of being loved and clouds your mind with needless worry.
There are lots of ways a person might struggle with relationship anxiety and just as many ways to cope with it, more of which we’ll explore in this article.
What is Relationship Anxiety?
Relationship anxiety is best described as feelings of uneasiness and fear concerning your partner, where you may feel less loved, unimportant, ignored, and other negative emotions. These emotions may stem from actual events during the relationship, an experience, or childhood trauma-related abandonment issues. You may become more jealous and possessive of your partner and more insecure, constantly demanding reassurance and attention.
This kind of overthinking can have major negative effects on the happiness of a relationship. It increases stress and emotional turmoil and may even result in more aggressive or confrontational behavior, leading to couples breaking up.
How to Identify Relationship Anxiety
The strength of a good couple is their ability to work out their problems in a healthy, effective way; dealing with anxiety is no different. It’s an obstacle that can be overcome as long as couples understand the Truth about Relationship Anxiety, how it manifests, and the best ways to cope.
Since avoidance is not suggested, here are some common symptoms to look out for.
1. Doubting your partner
Probably the first and most dangerous sign of relationship anxiety is doubting your partner’s love, intentions, and loyalty. This leads to people questioning their partner upon the slightest confrontation or disagreement and immediately jumping to conclusions making effective communication impossible.
2. Holding back on your needs
Self-silencing occurs when a person has low self-esteem and is more willing to forgo voicing their needs to a detrimental extent for fear of rejection. People tend to hold back and be overly sacrificing because they don’t consider themselves worth the effort or don’t want to bother their partner.
3. Excessive reassurance seeking
A person will look for constant reassurance if they feel the relationship is too fragile and may break if they make a mistake. So, they rely on consistent validation and may even modify their behavior to please their partner leading to identity issues in the long run.
7 Ways to overcome relationship anxiety
1. Find the root cause
For any fear or worry you feel, an idea or thought is driving it in the back of your mind. Try to find it and unpack exactly what is driving your anxiety. Studies show that practicing mindfulness may lead to a 57% decrease in anxiety.
The better you can understand your own emotions, the easier it’ll be for you to explain them to your partner.
2. Try problem-focused coping
When dealing with relationship anxiety, a more active, hands-on approach like communicating with your partner, fixing bad habits, building trust, and seeking therapy is a lot more beneficial in creating long-term positive change.
Most couples struggle with relationship anxiety because they focus on the latter, emotion-driven approach, where they try to regulate their emotions without openly talking about the roots of their troubles. So, the two need to be practiced together.
3. Rewire your mind and face reality
Often people will fall into the trap of relationship anxiety while chasing unrealistic expectations of love. They think the perfect couple doesn’t argue, fight, or disagree, and in an attempt to pursue this impossible dynamic, they lose themselves and fall into an unhappy place. In reality, you must understand that a real relationship has turbulent moments. Disagreements occur as well as arguments which are good so long as you feel safe, respected and loved despite a bad fight.
Instead of running at the first sign of conflict, giving your relationship a chance and dealing with the issue head-on is important.
4. Practice vulnerability
We’ve understood how being clingy and demanding excessive reassurances are negative manifestations of relationship anxiety. That said, vulnerability and communication are vital in coping with really bad anxiety. A balanced and honest approach to open discussion can help you and your partner unpack your insecurities.
The key here is being vulnerable at the right time. If you disregard your emotions and bottle them up, they will burst out aggressively one day. Instead, practice vulnerability often to keep your partner up to speed on how you’re feeling.
5. Be supportive of your partner
A healthy relationship relies on two people. When learning how to cope with relationship anxiety, don’t forget to look out for your partner as well. Building intimacy requires a back-and-forth, and your partner should feel that you are also listening to their concerns, assurances, and insecurities. Validating and respecting one another will help you build trust, ultimately allowing you to keep your anxieties in check.
6. Distract yourself
At the end of the day, relationship anxiety is just white noise that often doesn’t have a foundation, to begin with. If you catch yourself over-thinking and stuck in a loop of ‘what ifs’ it’s best just to distract yourself to keep from spiraling.
Try some quick refocusing techniques; take a deep breath and walk around, exercise, or dive into a hands-on hobby like gardening or cooking.
7. Seek counseling
Often, a lack of emotional vocabulary and saying something the wrong way with the wrong words can hurt your partner and land you in a never-ending cycle of pointing fingers and never listening.
Couples counseling is a great option to look into if you’re stuck in an anxious-argumentative loop with no hope of getting out alone. A counselor can help you dive deeper to understand the root of your anxiety and offer support when having those difficult conversations that couples shy away from.
Love is a wonderful thing that is meant to be celebrated without feeling afraid. Unfortunately, relationship anxiety is a very real antagonist to happy relationships. One too many couples break up due to feelings of stress and nervousness when they could be methodically overcome. Hopefully, with these techniques, you’ll be able to conquer your anxiety in no time and keep the love going strong.