Anyone who’s ever dated or been married knows that relationships have ups and downs. The warm, fuzzy glow of those first weeks and months settles into a steady rhythm. In the best case scenario we’re able to kick back and enjoy ourselves—knowing that it won’t always be so easy. But what happens when that sense of peace evades us? When, no matter how healthy, happy, or loving our relationship is, we still end up asking ourselves troubling questions:
Are they the right one?
Do they really love me?
What are they hiding?
For some, questions like those are a constant worry—even when their relationship is at its best. Those nagging worries and suspicions are a strong indicator of relationship anxiety.
If you’re on the fence about whether or not this is you, here are some more ways to recognize relationship anxiety.
Insecurity and Doubt
One of the more common signs of relationship anxiety is insecurity over whether or not your partner’s feelings for you are “real”. If you find yourself harboring those nagging doubts even when your partner is affectionate and attentive toward you, that’s a sign of relationship anxiety.
Are you so worried about your relationship that you can’t bring yourself to open up to your significant other? Fear of vulnerability and exposure is a common sign of relationship anxiety. If you find yourself holding back parts of yourself or your history from your partner.
Building trust is a key part of any healthy relationship. While keeping secrets might feel like a way to protect your relationship, you may be sabotaging it.
Do you avoid arguments because you’re worried about how they’ll end? Does it feel like the stakes for every disagreement is the future of your relationship? If you find yourself staying quiet about your needs, desires, and boundaries to keep the peace, that’s a strong indicator you may be suffering from relationship anxiety.
People with relationship anxiety often miss out on the best parts of their relationship. They get so wrapped up in analyzing the words and actions of their partner, that they’re no longer able to enjoy the relationship. Every action or comment takes on increased importance. The relationship takes on new life as a puzzle that eats up time and attention to the detriment of all else.
Relationship anxiety often stems from bad experiences in childhood, or prior romantic relationships. If you were dumped or lied to by an ex, you may wind up suffering from relationship anxiety until that trauma is addressed.
Anticipating the End
A hallmark of relationship anxiety is a constant sense of dread that the end of the relationship could come at any time. Do you find yourself preparing for the end of your relationship, even when things are going well? Are you avoiding relationship milestones or making alternate plans just in case things fall apart?
As with many of the other signs of relationship anxiety, this one represents a tendency to worry about the future rather than enjoying the present. It’s hard for a relationship to flourish without a sense of safety. By anticipating the end, you might be hastening its arrival.
What’s the best way to cope with relationship anxiety?
There are a few things you can do to limit the impact of anxiety on your relationships. Talk to your partner about your difficulties and try to connect with them and have them understand your difficulties. Having frank and open conversations with your partner, even if difficult at times, will bring you closer, and help build trust between you. If your partner does things that increase your anxiety, try to find a way to discuss this with them, and perhaps you two can find a compromise that would help regulate your anxiety to an extent.
If you want to try and get deeper, to find the root cause of your anxiety, receiving anxiety treatment with a therapist on understanding your dynamics with your partner, as well as the relational patterns that you grew up into, is a very effect way to try and create changes in the dynamics and bring you to a place where you can feel more trusting and more connected to your partner.
Relationship anxiety is normal and treatable. If you believe you have some form of relationship anxiety, and you’re having trouble managing it, please reach out to me for help.