What is Relationship Anxiety? Signs & Straightforward Steps for Overcoming It.

Relationship anxiety between two people

You are in a loving and trusting relationship with someone who makes you feel good. But, you still have worries and doubts. Perhaps you’re familiar with this feeling? 

 

You may ask yourself, “how do I know this is the right person for me?” Or “what if this relationship doesn’t last?” 

 

This anxiety can happen early in a relationship or well into a committed one. Either way, a feeling of constant worry about your relationship is a specific kind of anxiety.

It’s called relationship anxiety, and it refers to constant or periodic feelings of worry, insecurity, or doubt about a relationship. 

 

What is Relationship Anxiety (& How Do You Deal with It) 

Anxiety itself is complex and has a variety of causes and symptoms. While relationship anxiety itself lacks a formal diagnosis, it shares many symptoms with social anxiety disorder. 

 

Common signs of relationship anxiety 

First, it isn’t uncommon for people to feel some insecurity or anxiety at certain points in a relationship. 

For example, early on in a relationship, when things are informal or before you have developed strong communication, it would be relatively normal for you to develop some anxiety. 

It’s important to note that some worrying isn’t a sign of relationship anxiety. It is relatively normal. But when anxiety begins to impact your health, daily life, or the relationship itself, well, that’s different. 

 

Let’s examine some common signs of relationship anxiety: 

  • Overthinking the little things 

Regularly overthinking your partner’s words and actions can be a sign you’re anxious about the relationship. 

For instance, you could become fixated on your partner’s social media activity. You could see interactions with other people as threatening to your relationship. 

Maybe you are spotting signs of a potential issue; but it is also possible your partner is interacting with friends, and you have no reason to be concerned.

 

  • Worrying if they want to break up

This is a common sign of relationship anxiety. When you are in a relationship where everything is going well, it is normal to want to ensure nothing disturbs your happiness. This is usually not a significant problem. But for some people, this can grow into a fear that your partner could end the relationship. 

In turn, this can cause you to act differently to avoid any conflict and ensure your partner remains happy – even at the cost of your own happiness.

 

  • Doubting your feelings

Overemphasizing minor differences can happen, and it can lead you to doubt whether things will last. This can happen even when things are going well. You may become concerned with how happy you really are.

And it is often at this stage when you may be at risk of searching for reasons you may not be compatible with your partner and placing too much emphasis on these differences.  

 

  • Actively testing or damaging your own relationship

Unfortunately, this is also a common sign of relationship anxiety. It doesn’t even have to be intentional; you could be engaging in this behaviour without really being conscious of it. But ultimately, this behaviour is often about testing a partner to see how they react and to see if (or how much) they care about you. 

This can manifest itself in a variety of ways, but the common theme is doing things that could risk sabotaging the relationship such as: 

  • Testing the limits of a relationship to see how your partner reacts
  • Starting arguments with your partner

While it’s common to have periods where things aren’t as secure or satisfying, rough patches happen. But that should be the exception, not the rule.

 

Ultimately, if you aren’t enjoying your relationship because you’re constantly worrying about it, you could have relationship anxiety.

 

Causes of Relationship Anxiety 

The cause of relationship anxiety can be difficult to identify as numerous contributing factors often exist. And while you may notice a pattern in your own behaviour, it may not be clear why you are behaving in these ways. 

 

Common factors that contribute to relationship anxiety include: 

 

  • Low-self esteem

Low self-esteem can greatly impact all aspects of your life, including your relationships.

This lack of self-esteem can lead you to think that your partner also sees you in a similar way.

 

  • Attachment style

Attachment styles are considered to be influenced by your childhood relationship with your parents or other caregivers. This is a complex subject, but in essence, some people can form unhealthy attachment styles, like anxious or attention-seeking behaviour.

Over time this childhood attachment style, anxiousness or clinginess, for example, can impact adult relationships and is often a contributor to relationship anxiety.

 

  • Previous relationships 

Your experiences of past relationships can shape your approach to current and future relationships too. 

If you have been in a relationship where you were lied to, cheated on, or mistreated in other ways, it would not be unusual for you to be anxious or guarded in the future.

 

How to Overcome Relationship Anxiety

It can feel like this anxiety is permanent, but it doesn’t have to be. If you are coping with anxiousness, then there are steps you can take to overcome relationship anxiety. 

For example: 

 

  • Ask yourself why you feel anxious about your relationship
  • Communicate how you feel with your partner
  • Consider whether you could manage your anxiety with therapy

 

Taking these steps could help you recognize and confront your feelings of anxiety. In turn, this can potentially help resolve your feelings by sharing your feelings with your partner and a therapist. 

Given that the source of much relationship anxiety is the fear of causing a breakup, it may feel counterproductive to tell your partner or even a therapist about your anxiety. But, taking these steps could help prevent you from becoming overwhelmed and help strengthen your relationship. In turn, this could help you overcome many of the causes of your relationship anxiety! 

 

Focus Mental Wellness is here to help

Focus helps individual Canadians match and connect with licensed therapists online across Canada 

Book an appointment today to discover how Focus Mental Wellness can assist you in managing your anxiety and stress, so you can start living a happy and healthy life. 

 

 

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