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It’s never fun to feel stressed and anxious.
It’s even more uncomfortable when it’s your partner who’s causing or triggering these feelings inside you.
After all, this is the person you’ve chosen to be your life companion; if they’re making you feel anxious and uncomfortable, who do you turn to for support?
And furthermore, how can you have a fulfilling relationship with someone who is causing you distress?
These feelings can come up for a variety of different reasons, and it’s important to be able to differentiate between them. After all, there’s a big difference between a cause and a trigger when it comes to emotional responses.
Your partner may directly cause you stress and upset with their behavior, but they may also trigger those same feelings by saying or doing something innocent that reminds you of a past trauma.
Let’s look at some causes first…
6 Ways Your Partner May Be Fueling Your Anxiety
1. They are aggressive toward you.
Do you brace yourself every time your partner walks into a room because you’re afraid they’re going to pick a fight?
Have they ever slapped, hit, or punched you?
Do you ever feel uncomfortable or upset after sex because of something that they’ve done or wanted from you?
Are you wary of bringing up potentially upsetting topics or voicing your true feelings because you’re afraid of being yelled at?
If you said “yes” to any of the above, it’s no wonder you’re feeling nervous and stressed out. This is all abusive behavior, and is completely unacceptable in a relationship.
2. They belittle or insult you.
Nobody wants to spend time with a person who’s constantly insulting them or being condescending toward them.
This type of behavior can often be seen in people with narcissistic personality disorder. They feel a need to cut others down in order to maintain control, or to make themselves feel superior.
Being constantly put down and criticized erodes a person’s self-esteem bit by bit until they’re a shadow of their former self. It’s a horrible situation to experience.
3. They’re controlling.
Does your partner try to prevent you from spending time with certain people? Or do they interfere with other plans you might have so you’ll do what they want instead?
Do they police your eating and exercise habits? Or intrude on your alone time when you ask not to be disturbed?
There are many different ways in which a partner can be controlling, and all of them can cause a tremendous amount of stress and anxiety.
If you find that you’re sneaking food when your partner isn’t around in case they “catch” you, or talking to friends privately because you’ll otherwise be eavesdropped upon, those are huge red flags.
The same goes for if your partner withholds affection or positive “rewards” unless you behave the way they want you to. Behavior like the silent treatment as punishment, or cancelling plans you were looking forward to so you’ll “do better next time” can make you feel like you’re constantly walking on eggshells.
4. They often lie to you.
All of us tell little white lies on occasion, especially if we’re trying to spare those we love from being hurt.
It’s another situation completely if your partner is flat-out lying to your face on a regular basis.
If it’s a cute lie, like you know they’re planning a surprise birthday party for you, then even if they’re causing you a bit of anxiety, it’s for a good cause.
In contrast, if they’re lying about using something of yours without permission, or snooping on your phone messages behind your back, that’s a huge betrayal of trust and personal boundaries.
5. They display signs that they’re cheating on you.
Do they hide their phone when you come into the room, or get defensive when you ask who they’re talking to?
Do they say they’re going out with friends and then come home late with no explanation (if they come home at all)?
Even if you’re in an open relationship, all healthy partnerships require trust to function. The cornerstone of that trust is open and honest communication.
If you’re feeling anxious because your partner isn’t talking to you, and you strongly suspect that they’re seeing someone else, that’s not okay.
6. They steal from you.
It’s one thing if your partner playfully steals one of the fries off your plate, and something totally different when money goes missing from your wallet or purse. Or disappears from the joint account without an explanation.
Do you feel that you have to hide or lock up items so your partner can’t find them? Are you afraid that your possessions will magically “disappear,” or be sold or given away behind your back? If so, your stress and nervousness are absolutely valid.
How To Deal With Triggers Vs Causes
All of the examples above are causes rather than triggers because they’re intentional.
In contrast, triggers are unintentional actions that remind you of past experiences.
If your partner unknowingly says or does something that reminds you of a childhood trauma, they might not have any idea that they’re causing you stress and anxiety. This could be a turn of phrase they use, the particular way they do something, or cooking a meal that reminds you of childhood experiences.
Should this be the case, it’s important for you to explain to them why you may react poorly. This person loves and supports you, and will undoubtedly try to avoid making you feel uncomfortable and anxious in the future.
But it might take them a while to change behaviors that trigger you, especially if some of their actions have become second nature over decades.
By being patient and understanding with one another, you can both grow toward greater peace and joy within the home environment.
Of course, this is just if the trigger is something that can easily be addressed by eliminating it.
Let’s say that what’s triggering you is that your partner or spouse has a close friend (or several close friends) of the opposite gender, and that causes you anxiety because a previous partner cheated on you with someone who was supposedly “just a friend.”
In a situation like this, it would be unfair to your partner for you to ask them to break off their friendships with opposite genders so you feel more comfortable.
And what if your partner is bi or pansexual? Should they not be allowed to spend time with any friends at all just in case they cheat on you? That would be a surefire way of pushing them away.
It’s important to realize that the person you are with now is not the person who cheated on you or hurt you. Just because you had a bad experience with someone else doesn’t mean that this person, right here, will cause you a similar experience.
If you feel anxiety when your partner goes out with their friend, it’s okay to express that to them as long as it’s not with the intention of manipulating them into not going. Maybe the two of you can work out a way to make you feel more secure about their friendship, such as all of you spending time together so you get to know said friend(s) better. Or you can keep in regular contact when they’re out together.
Breathe through any anxious feelings as they arise, and bring your attention back to your center. Stay in the present moment by working on a hobby or craft, so your mind is kept on something at hand, rather than spiraling into the “what if” zone.
Also, remember to always speak to one another with love and an open heart, as these will help you progress together with love. Mutual understanding and support are part and parcel of an equal, loving relationship. Love and compassion can help you both transcend all kinds of past hurts.
It might take a while, especially if you’ve both been hurt deeply in the past, but you can support each other through all kinds of things, and accept each other unconditionally – even if your passions and interests don’t always coincide.
The only relationships worth being in are comprised of love.
5 Tips To Curb Anxiety Caused By Your Relationship
A lot of anxiety can be handled through small personal actions. The tips mentioned below can help you channel stress and nervousness in the moment while you determine what your next steps should be.
1. Do something physical that makes you feel strong and capable.
Working out and staying healthy can make a huge difference in terms of your overall well-being. That includes your level of self-confidence. It’s hard to belittle and manipulate a person who feels strong and powerful in themselves.
Make healthy eating and exercise a priority, whether it’s weight training, running, or yoga. Whatever makes you feel confident and capable in your own skin.
In addition to making you feel strong, physical exercises also forces you to keep your attention in the present moment. Your anxieties can’t spiral and explode when you’re concentrating on not dropping heavy weights onto your feet.
2. Meditate regularly.
Just as working out exercises the body, so does meditation exercise the mind. Search around to find a meditation practice that you really enjoy, and try each of them out for a couple of weeks to see whether they feel right to you or not.
Different practices will work for different people. Some people enjoy a physical practice like Tai Chi, while others prefer guided verbal meditations, mantras, or music to focus on.
Just like with physical exercise, meditation keeps your thoughts and emotions in the present moment. It also calms your limbic system with deep, regular breaths. When both of those aspects happen, your anxiety can’t help but be alleviated.
Meditation also allows you to control your emotions when stressful situations arise. Instead of instantly launching into fight-or-flight mode, you can breathe deeply and ground yourself. Then, you can respond to everything going on reasonably and calmly.
Additionally, if your partner is the type to accuse you of being oversensitive or dramatic in order to silence you, they won’t have a leg to stand on because you’ll being completely calm and rational.
3. Take space to gain clarity.
This doesn’t necessarily mean taking a break from your partner or buying a ticket to Guam to get away. It merely means that you remove yourself from where you are so you can be by yourself or with trusted friends in order to get a perspective on the situation(s).
Go for a walk to clear your head, or head down to the gym to work out for an hour or so.
If you prefer to work through what you’re feeling with people you trust, call or text a friend to see if you can get together briefly. Then you two can discuss what’s going on at home, and you can get their perspective on it.
Additionally, having physical space away from whatever is causing you this anxiety can be immensely cathartic. Sometimes, just being in different surroundings can help you gain better clarity on a situation.
Fear is very draining; more so than any auditory stimulation that might wear us down bit by bit. As such, if something or someone keeps inspiring it within you, then simply get away – even for an hour – for the sake of your own sanity.
It’s not cowardly or selfish to take breaks in order to recharge and gain perspective.
4. Cultivate your inner peace.
Despite the fact that it may be your partner who’s causing you anxiety with their actions, the majority of the battle is happening within you.
That might sound trite, but it’s actually true. Nobody can “make” any of us feel anything. It’s up to us how we choose to feel about different situations, and whether we remain in circumstances that inspire those feelings in the first place.
The battles that rage within us never end, but that’s actually a blessing in disguise. Why? Because these kinds of inner battle lead to tremendous self-development. We tend to learn the most in difficult circumstances, and dealing with partner-related anxiety and stress allow us to learn a lot more about ourselves.
When you recognize and know yourself, honestly and brutally KNOW what your quirks, strengths, and current failings are, you can identify what you need to do to improve yourself.
Additionally you can also perceive the nets that others cast about you. Most often, they’re surprisingly unaware that they are doing so. Deep down they may have the capacity to be wonderful people. But, crucially, they haven’t done what you have. They haven’t fathomed themselves and are thus in a state of great self-conflict and darkness.
This in turn gets projected externally onto their family, friends, and you, their partner.
The kicker is that it’s down to them to know themselves and find self-realization and happiness. As their partner, you may have a strong idea about what may help them, but it’s down to them to establish this journey before asking you for help and emotional support.
This is actually why so many spiritual masters counsel others to seek space and silence far away from the madding crowd. It’s so one can face their inner demons; the terrible voices and perceived losses and wounds of the past. The first steps are usually truly awful. And the worst truth is that if you don’t keep going forward, you’ll inevitably tumble backwards.
Emotive markers of this journey to keep an eye out for are fear, despair, love, and joy.
When you finally master a pursuit you love, you’ll usually feel accomplishment and joy.
In contrast, fear is a marker of the opposite. It’s a warning.
So, if your partner is causing you anxiety and stress, delve deeply into yourself to try to figure out why. Not only why are their actions affecting you, but why are you involved with a person who’s making you feel this way?
5. Communicate clearly and patiently, and see whether things change.
Have a solid chat with your partner and re-establish ground rules, personal boundaries, and accountability.
Take note of how they respond when you approach them with these potentially uncomfortable issues. Do they get defensive? Play victim? Start yelling or bringing up the past?
Again, remember that it’s a huge red flag if you have to remind your partner to play nice and be kind toward you. These things should be happening already.
After the talk, take note of what happens once you’ve re-established the do’s and don’ts. Do the rules keep getting broken? Does your partner keep trying to push boundaries?
Then it’s clear you were feeling anxious for good reason!
These actions make it clear that there’s little to no love present; just selfish indulgence. This is a strong sign that it’s time to get out of this relationship quickly.
All of these things can be hard to do sometimes, but they’re incredibly important.
The hard path brings personal development, while the soft path can enable self punishment. How does this relate to partner-caused anxieties? Well, when you feel strong, with purpose and momentum in your own life, then it’s far easier to deal with niggling fears that relationships often bring.
Be strong within yourself so you can bring stability, love, and harmony to whatever or whomever you come into contact with.
Do You Have A Partner, Or A Live-In Enemy?
A partner is meant to be exactly that – literally someone who walks with you through life, having your back, being supportive, helping and loving you, just as you (hopefully) do the same thing for them in return.
We all have our own way of expressing ourselves, yet if you have serious anxieties regarding your current partner, then above and beyond addressing their issues, it would be a good idea to check in with yourself first.
How are you feeling about yourself? Are you happy with who you are in this present moment, or do you find yourself wishing that you were somewhere (or someone) else?
What would you want to change about yourself if you were able?
Then move the questions on to how you feel about your partner. Do you feel secure, stable, and happy being with them? Or do you often fantasize about being single? Or with someone else?
It may sound lame to write about this in a journal, but it’s important to put thoughts to paper on occasion. Write a pro and con list (or a joy and anxiety list) in which you jot down everything about your partner/relationship that makes you happy, and everything that causes you anxiety and stress.
Which side is longer? The one filled with joy and fulfillment? Or the one that lists everything that stresses you out?
If you find that your list of anxieties, worries, and hurt is longer than the list of things that make you happy, then it might be best to end this relationship. Partnerships are supposed to be loving, kind, and supportive – not battlegrounds.
If you can’t discuss things with your partner without them going ballistic and screaming at you, insulting you, or hurting you physically, then you’re living with an enemy, not a partner.
Ask yourself if you want to spend the next 10, 20, 50 years with this person, constantly on edge, flinching whenever they enter a room, bracing yourself for the next attack.
Is that the kind of life that you want? Probably not.
Focus on yourself and where you want to be, and then take the steps needed to make that happen. This might be a scary thing to work toward, especially if you’ve been in an unsafe, unhealthy living environment for a while now.
Many people stay in bad relationships for a lot longer than they should because they’re afraid of what their partner or spouse might do to them if they say they want to break things off.
Don’t be afraid to draw upon friends and family to help you out as you make this transition. In fact, you might want to make some plans for when you do end things. For example, it may be a good idea to keep a bag full of your belongings at your parent’s place, or with a close friend. That way, if you need to get out fast, you don’t have to spend extra time packing essentials.
Make sure that you keep up the exercise and meditation to help you through anxieties and stresses as they arise. Keeping up routines like these can offer you a measure of stability during troubling times. No matter what else is going on, you have that morning workout or afternoon yoga/meditation session to come back to.
Additionally, these measures will keep your heart and mind healthy, which is great for alleviating stress. The last thing you need on top of the anxieties your partner is causing you is a heart attack or stroke from extra emotional and mental strain.
Removing yourself from an abusive situation may be difficult, but that kind of chosen difficulty is one of the greatest gifts you can give yourself.
You can do this, and you’ll be a lot happier in the long run if you do.
Still not sure what to do about the anxiety your partner causes you to feel? As helpful as this article aims to be, you may also wish to speak to an experienced relationship expert to get advice that is specific to your situation. So why not chat online to one of the experts from Relationship Hero who can help you figure things out. Simply click here to chat.
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- 5 Sad Reasons Why Name-Calling In A Relationship Is A Form Of Abuse
- Why The Silent Treatment Equates to Emotional Abuse & How To Respond