Don’t worry. Relationship anxiety is completely normal. Whether you've been dating someone for a short time, are longtime partners, or you've been married for a few years, feeling hassled about the state of your romantic affiliation isn't at all bizarre.
What is Relationship Anxiety?
Relationship anxiety involves feelings of extreme worry about a romantic or friendly relationship. Unlike other forms of anxiety, such as generalized anxiety disorder and panic disorder, doctors do not have specific guidelines to diagnose or treat relationship anxiety.
Although many people may worry about acceptance and reciprocal feelings in a relationship, anxiety tends to develop when a person experiences excessive fear or worry.
What causes Relationship Anxiety?
One of the root causes of anxiety is fear. Fear is a core emotion that stimulates physiological sensations in the body or irrational thoughts and insecurities. Anxiety can be a funny little way our body alerts us that there may be perceived danger.
When it comes to relationship anxiety, some of the fears (whether they're conscious or subconscious) could include "rejection, abandonment, fear of being authentic, fear of intimacy, or unresolved trauma from past relationships."
However, it is possible that what you're feeling might not be anxiety, but rather, excitement as the two trigger similar emotional responses. If you're feeling anxious about a relationship, maybe ask yourself, What am I afraid of? But then also ask, What am I excited about?
Signs and Symptoms:
1. Excessive reassurance-seeking
Excessive reassurance-seeking is also common in social anxiety disorder and depression. Some researchers suggest that excessive reassurance-seeking is related to interpersonal dependency. Interpersonal dependency refers to a person’s reliance on others for constant evaluation and acceptance.
Self-silencing is another symptom shared across many mental health conditions. People who self-silence may not express their tastes, opinions, or feelings to their partner — especially when these thoughts are different to those of their partner. Over time, a person may silence themselves and make sacrifices to preserve the relationship. However, this has the potential to lower relationship satisfaction.
3. Partner accommodation
Partner accommodation is a response from the other partner toward the anxious partner. This is a common effect observed in relationships where one or more people have obsessive-compulsive personality disorder.
How to deal with it?
1. Maintain your independence
It’s crucial to keep a sense of ourselves separate from our partner. Each of us should work to maintain the unique aspects of ourselves that attracted us to each other in the first place, even as we move closer. In this way, each of us can hold strong, knowing that we are a whole person in and of ourselves.
2. Don’t act out no matter how anxious you are
Of course, this is easier said than done, but we all know our insecurities can precipitate some pretty destructive behavior. Acts of jealousy or possessiveness can hurt our partner, not to mention us. Snooping through their text messages, calling every few minutes to see where they are, getting mad every time they look at another attractive person—these are all acts that we can avoid no matter how anxious it makes us, and in the end, we will feel much stronger and more trusting. Even more importantly, we will be trustworthy.
3. Don’t seek reassurance
Looking to our partner to reassure us when we feel insecure only leads to more insecurities. Remember, these attitudes come from inside us, and unless we can overcome them within ourselves, it won’t matter how smart, sexy, worthy, or attractive our partner tells us we are. No matter what, we must strive to feel okay within ourselves. However, it doesn’t mean looking to our partner at every turn for reassurance to prove we are okay, a burden that weighs on our partner and detracts from ourselves.
4. Stop measuring
A relationship should be equal in terms of maturity and kindnesses exchanged. If things feel off, we can communicate clearly what we want, but we shouldn’t expect our partner to read our minds or know exactly what to do all the time. As soon as we get into the blame game, it’s a hard cycle from which to break free.
5. Go all in
We all have anxiety, but we can increase our tolerance for the many ambiguities that every relationship inevitably presents by being true to ourselves. When we allow ourselves to be loved and to feel loving, we are bound to also feel anxious, but sticking it out has more rewards than we may imagine. No time is wasted that taught us something about ourselves or that helped nourish our capacity to love and be vulnerable.