Maybe you're happy with your partner, but you still find yourself feeling skeptical, suspicious, or having difficulty being present.
You think you may have relationship anxiety. But you aren't sure why, what it means, or how to deal with it.
It's a tough spot to be in. But recognizing unhelpful thought patterns or behaviors is the first step to changing them.
We're here to help you learn more about relationship anxiety and provide you with the right advice to help you move forward in your relationship with a healthier perspective.
First thing's first: What is relationship anxiety, exactly?
Chances are, you're probably familiar with regular, plain anxiety. It's a stress response that brings up feelings of worry. You may notice yourself fixating on "what if..." thoughts, feeling nervous, or experiencing discomfort in your body. (Read more about how to know if you have anxiety).
Relationship anxiety is anxiety that manifests itself in personal relationships. You may be experiencing those strong fears and worries about your relationship even when things are going well.
Some of the reasons people experience relationship anxiety include:
This part is important, even though it sounds intimidating.
A respectful partner will try their best to understand where you're coming from.
Together, you can brainstorm ideas about what would help you feel at ease going forward. Maybe you need to take things more slowly, or draw different boundaries.
Be sure to take partner's feelings into account as well - ask them what they need. What you're experiencing is likely hard on them, too.
A CBT-based guided journal app like Jour can help you pay attention to thought patterns and what your inner critic is saying about yourself.
Even though relationship anxiety is about... well, relationships, oftentimes the relationship that really needs the most nurturing is your relationship with yourself.
Relationship anxiety usually comes from deep-seated negative self-beliefs that you'll have to work through on your own (or with the help of a trusted therapist).
When experiencing relationship anxiety, you may find yourself constantly focusing on things that could go wrong in the future of the relationship.
This can take shape in "what if" thoughts, doubting your own feelings or your partner's ("What if I don't like them enough?" "What if they don't really love me?") even when there's no real cause for alarm.
If you have relationship anxiety, you might experience overwhelming worry that your partner will leave you at any moment. These worries are often irrational, and not based in reality.
Things may be going really well, but you're reluctant to trust them and look for signs they are on their way out.
Notice how you respond to your partner's reassurance. If you have relationship anxiety, you may repeatedly tell yourself they don't really love you or mean what they say, no matter how they may try to communicate their feelings.
You may be asking for a lot of validation and reassurance from them, but finding that nothing makes the worry go away.
Irritability is a common sign of anxiety. With relationship anxiety, the worry and stress you're feeling may cause you to have a short temper with your partner.
You may be fighting more than usual, or notice yourself being overly critical of your partner, even about inconsequential matters.
Your fears may cause you to sabotage the relationship on your own terms before you have a chance to get hurt.
This could look like avoiding your partner, withholding affection, or looking for validation from other partners outside the relationship.
When you're caught up in all of these worries, it's easy to lose sight of the good. It's important to allow yourself to experience joy with your partner.
But, relationship anxiety can but cause you to be distracted by your inner critic instead of enjoying good times together. You may feel stuck in your own head instead of present with them.
Relationship anxiety often manifests in trust issues. You may be constantly questioning your partner, and not trusting their word about matters big and small.
You may notice that you're convincing yourself they are lying or have ulterior motives without any real evidence or cause for concern present.
If you are experiencing relationship anxiety, you may be looking to your partner to convince you your irrational thoughts are wrong - but no amount of reassurance they give you is enough.
You need constant contact to believe in the relationship. This codependency can cause healthy boundaries to dissolve to a point where you aren't able to function on your own.
You might react to the relationship anxiety you're feeling by looking for ways to feel more in control of the relationship and your partner's actions.
This can lead to unhealthy behaviors like telling your partner what they can and cannot do, micromanaging your time together, or threatening to withdraw affection if they don't comply with what you want.
On the other hand, relationship anxiety can cause you to withdraw out of fear or embarrassment.
You may avoid contact with your partner, refuse to open up, or end relationships abruptly.
Some nerves surrounding your relationship is normal (especially in times of conflict), but if you're experiencing significant worry and insecurity about your relationship that seems irrational, it might be relationship anxiety.
Now that you know the signs, you can be more self-aware going forward when anxious behaviors arise.
Always be sure to communicate with your partner, and above all else - invest in your relationship with yourself.