I don’t think any human being who’s attracted to fellow human beings can claim that they’ve never felt anxious in a relationship, but relationship anxiety takes things to a whole other level.
What is it, exactly?
It’s the direct result of feeling insecure in your relationship. You worry about all kinds of things that could negatively impact or end your relationship.
If you’ve had bad experiences in the past, your brain will have learned to respond to them in a certain way and expect patterns to repeat themselves.
You might live with constant levels of underlying anxiety about your relationship, or small, seemingly insignificant things might trigger waves of it. You doubt yourself and you doubt your partner’s feelings toward you.
If you think that what you’re experiencing might be relationship anxiety, these telltale signs should help you to identify if this is truly a problem for you.
1. You Believe The End Is Nigh
No matter how well your relationship is going, you can’t shift the nagging feeling that it’s all about to go a bit ‘Titanic’ and hit an iceberg before sinking with you on board.
Even the most insignificant disagreement between you and your partner has your stomach churning with fear that your chances of a happily-ever-after have well and truly bitten the dust.
2. You’re Jealous
Jealousy is a pretty standard emotion, but no relationship can survive if it gets out of hand.
You showing signs of jealousy won’t necessarily mean that your partner will change their behavior, and it may well push them away. But if there’s one thing for sure, it’s that it will definitely make you miserable.
This one is all about self-preservation. Whilst it might not seem all that logical, you may be reluctant to lower your protective walls and take steps toward a more serious relationship.
This might be because you’re scared that the relationship will end and you don’t want to lay yourself open to getting hurt.
Perhaps you’ve been burned when you’ve committed to someone in the past, and this is feeding your anxiety now.
6. You Question Your Compatibility
Relating closely to your commitment phobia, you try to find reasons why you and your partner are simply not compatible.
Sometimes, the things you come up with are so small that they could easily be overcome, but you don’t see them that way. You see them as landmines just waiting to be stepped on.
(Of course, your anxiety may also be based on genuine differences that could prove too big to reconcile such as beliefs around marriage or children or where you want to live in the long run. These anxieties are slightly different to the more general and vague ones this article mainly discusses.)
7. You Get Angry
You’re constantly on edge, which means it’s easy for you to lose your temper when something happens that really triggers your anxiety. You’re always expecting something to go wrong, so when it does, it’s difficult not to explode.
Because you’re insecure in the relationship, however, after you’ve lost your temper you probably worry that your outburst is going to change how they feel about you.
8. You Ask A Lot Of Questions
You’re never happy just to accept an explanation. You ask question after question and analyze the answers, turning over their words in your head to try to find hidden meaning in them.
9. You Don’t Enjoy Sex As Much
Your anxiety about the relationship makes it difficult for you to truly relax in the bedroom. If you’re a woman, you struggle to achieve sexual satisfaction as often (if at all), and if you’re a man you might struggle to perform in the first place.
Your relationship anxiety might mean that your partner thinks you’re cold, stand-offish, or distant. You’re defensive, and don’t like to show cracks in your armor in case they manage to penetrate through, and then hurt you.
11. Or You’re Too Clingy
On the flip side, your relationship anxiety might mean you go entirely the other way. You might need constant physical and verbal affection and reassurances that they still love you, and haven’t changed their mind since they last said it 5 minutes ago.
Relationship anxiety is a horrible thing to experience. It means you aren’t able to enjoy the magic of being in love, so worried are you that your partner will fall out of it.
Ironically, all the negative energy you’re exuding worrying about your relationship might be the reason that your partner ends up wanting to end it.
Luckily, there’s plenty you can do to calm your thoughts and start readjusting your mindset so that you’re able to relish your relationship rather than living in a constant state of stress.
Here are some simple ways to help you overcome relationship anxiety.
1. Remember that it’s all going to be okay.
When you’re in the midst of a relationship that is falling apart, it can easily feel like the end of the world. With all those hormones rushing around, it can be incredibly hard to keep things in perspective and see the light at the end of the tunnel.
It’s as simple as remembering that, whatever happens, it’s all going to be okay. Think back. You’ve probably experienced heartbreak before, and you came through it just fine.
You were absolutely fine before you met your partner, and, tough as it might be, life would go on after them should things ever go south.
Your life will not end if your relationship does, and being in a relationship is not the be all and end all. A relationship can be a wonderful thing, but it never defines you.
If someone doesn’t want to be with you, there’s nothing you can do about that. You deserve someone who would move heaven and earth to be with you.
When panic starts to rise, just whisper to yourself that everything will be okay. If you say it to yourself enough, sooner or later you’ll start to truly believe it.
The less you fear the end of the relationship, the more you’ll be able to relax into it and just enjoy it in the moment.
2. Talk to your partner about how you’re feeling.
A lack of communication or miscommunication is often a trigger for relationship anxiety, so it’s best to be proactive in talking to your partner.
If you’re making plans to see each other, be the one to push for concrete details such as when and where. This doesn’t mean you always have to make the decisions (though you’ll want to share that responsibility), but it does mean being the organizer in your relationship.
You might say that this is merely an extension of being too controlling, but it’s not. You’re not driving every single little thing by yourself, but you are giving your thoughts on the direction of travel.
If your relationship is more established, but you still feel anxious about its future, speak to your partner from a place of honesty and openness.
Explain how you feel and tell them that it’s not them that’s causing it, but rather your past experiences. Try to give examples of situations that you find difficult and how they might be able to allay your fears.
If they are serious about the relationship, they will want to do what they can to give you peace of mind.
Expressing your feelings might also help them to react more compassionately when your anxiety causes you to do something that upsets them. They will know that you don’t necessarily mean what you say (or do) all the time and that they can help you overcome your feelings by not adding fuel to the fire.
And the very act of telling your partner about your anxiety can make you feel better straight away. You’ll feel like a weight has been lifted from your shoulders, and if they respond positively and with love, you’ll feel more confident that they aren’t going anywhere.
3. Nurture your independence.
When you’re in love, you can feel like you’d quite happily live in your partner’s pocket if you possibly could, but losing yourself in your relationship is a sure-fire way of upping your levels of relationship anxiety.
If you begin to define yourself only in terms of your relationship, you put too much pressure on it to succeed in the long run. After all, who would you be if you were to break up?
Make sure you consciously do things just for you and keep a life that is separate from your partner. Work to preserve the things that make you unique, and were probably the reason that your partner was attracted to you in the first place.
Your partner is not your ‘other half,’ and they don’t complete you. You’re already complete and perfect just as you are. Being in a relationship is fantastic, but it’s not essential to your happiness.
4. Consciously stop yourself from analyzing their every move.
People make throwaway comments. They don’t consider every word they say, or analyze the ways in which every text message they send could be interpreted by your anxious mind. So you shouldn’t allow the small things to affect your state of mind.
5. Remember that you control your mind; it doesn’t control you.
You’re not at the mercy of your mind. You have the power to steer it, shape it, and train it. Once you’ve realized that, you may well still experience anxiety, but you’ll be able to recognize it for what it is and allow it to pass, rather than allowing it to consume you and guide your behavior.
Katie splits her time between writing and translation. She writes about travel and self-care and never stays in one place for too long. She’s currently based in beautiful Cornwall, England, after long stints in Brazil and Mexico. She spends her free time trail running, exploring and devouring vegan food.