Some relationship anxiety issues normal, especially in the beginning stages of a relationship anxiety is normal, especially in the beginning stages of the relationship. However, sometimes we might experience relationship anxiety that is debilitating and overwhelming. Relationship anxiety occurs in a healthy, safe relationship : it’s different from responding to legitimate red flags or abusive behaviour.
You’re in a healthy, safe relationship where there’s mutual respect, clear communication, honesty, and trust. You think that other person is awesome and everything is fine – but you still feel anxious about your relationship. What could be going on?
Instead of automatically interpreting relationship anxiety as a sign of break up, let’s talk about some other potential causes and contributing factors.
- You aren’t used to safety. If you’re used to chaos and unhealthy relationships – either due to your childhood background or past experiences with relationships – a healthy, safe relationship might feel boring or scary. We’re comfortable with the things that feel familiar, even if those things are not good for us. If we’re not used to safety, heathy relationships can feel triggering and uncomfortable at first.
- You struggle with self-worth. If you struggle with self-worth and self-esteem, you might feel unworthy of a healthy, safe relationship, or feel like your partner will break up with you at any moment. You might realise your partner but view yourself in a negative light, which can contribute to insecurity and people-pleasing behaviours and make you anxious.
- Vulnerability is scary. Vulnerability, especially if your experiences with it in the past have been negative, can be really scary and a fear of vulnerability can lead to many different kinds of anxieties in a relationship. For example, if you’re afraid of getting hurt when you show your vulnerable side, you might struggle with intimacy and get anxious whenever your partner tries to connect with you.
- Past trauma & hyper-vigilance. If you’ve experienced trauma in the past, especially relational trauma, you might get anxious in a relationship when your partner accidentally does something that triggers you. You might also be hyper vigilant, constant scanning for threats and monitoring your partner’s emotional state and behaviour as a trauma response.
- Attachment style. Your attachment style can contribute to relationship anxiety. With an anxious attachment style, you might get anxious whenever you feel like your partner is withdrawing or being distant. With an avoidant attachment style, you might get anxious or feel like you’re losing your identity when your partner tries to get closer to you on an emotional level.
- Relationship OCD. Relationship OCD is more than just feeling occasionally anxious. Relationship OCD involves compulsive behaviour or thought patterns that are triggered by intrusive thoughts about the relationship. Relationship OCD can feel all consuming, overwhelming, and take up a lot of your time, and you might question everything about your relationship.
The beginning of a relationship is filled with new experiences and uncertainties – it’s normal to feel anxious. However, it’s also important to recognise when anxiety is starting to take over your life. Here are some ways to cope :
- Communicate your feelings to your partner.
- Identify your triggers & learn to self-soothe.
- Don’t blame yourself for experiencing difficult emotions.
- Remember that feelings & thoughts aren’t always facts.
- Consider therapy to address the root cause of your anxiety.
Have you ever experienced relationship anxiety? What other causes would you add?