Put simply, relationship anxiety is relationship-based anxiety.
It’s when one person, or even both people involved, have preoccupations, negative thoughts, stresses, anxiety (or whatever you’d like to call it) around their relationship. This anxiety can range from worrying if you’re good enough, worrying if they’re really the right person for you, or questioning how long it will last. There’s a host of other ‘what if’s’ or questions a person with relationship anxiety might circulate in their mind when it comes to thinking about their relationship. This doesn’t mean that they don’t have a great relationship or that both parties aren’t happy, it just means they are still harbouring some concerns, trying to find answers or worried that the carpet might be pulled out from underneath them.
How Common Is Relationship Anxiety?
Relationship anxiety isn’t a recognised or diagnosable condition so there isn’t any clear data that suggests how common it really is, however, it is predicted to affect approximately 1 in 5 people. This shows that it is a fairy normal experience for many people, and while it may not happen in every relationship, chances are a person might have had some varying level of it previously.
What Are Some Of The Signs Of Relationship Anxiety?
- Overanalysing what your partner says or blowing things out of proportion
- Harbouring an inflated sense of mistrust and looking for signs that your partner may have been unfaithful
- Doubting your partner’s feelings for you, even if they constantly reassure you
- Worrying if they want to break up with you even if there are no signs to suggest this
- Doubting the long-term compatibility of the relationship
- Co-dependency or always wanting to be around your partner
- Testing your partner’s feelings or intentionally pushing them away
What Are Some General Tips To Remember When Trying To Overcome Relationship Anxiety?
Recognise the behaviour: The first step is to recognise when you are experiencing relationship anxiety by being mindful of the thoughts you’re having or your responses to certain situations.
Identify what is driving your anxiety: Relationship anxiety usually doesn’t just spring out of nowhere, so it is important to try to understand where your anxiety is coming from. It’s normally a result of things like fear, lack of confidence, low self-esteem, lack of trust etc.
Be open abour feelings: While relationship anxiety can sometimes mean your emotions are heightened or inflated, it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be honest about what you are going through. Talk to your partner about your worries or fears as it can keep the lines of communication open and explain behaviour.
Use self-soothing techniques: When recognising that you’re experiencing relationship anxiety, try some self-soothing techniques like deep breathing, meditation or yoga to try and alleviate some of the physical symptoms.
Address any conflict: Sometimes relationship anxiety can spring from certain things your partner says or does. If this is the case, try to have an open and honest conversation about how it makes you feel. Rather than using blaming statements like ‘you did this’ or ‘you’re making me feel’, use words that focus on your actions as a result of theirs. For example, ‘I sometimes feel insecure if you’ve gone out with your friends and I don’t hear from you.’
Talk to an expert: If you’re not comfortable expressing your feelings to your partner or to those close to you, ensure that you still talk about it. That’s where an expert like a psychologist can come in, who can act as an understanding ear whilst being able to provide you with ways to cope. Resources like Lifeline or Beyond Blue are services that provide free over-the-phone counselling with trained experts that can help you through any mental health concerns. Services like Lysn provide access to psychologists via video chat, which can be accessed from the comfort of your own home around the clock.
How Can You Help Your Partner If They're Going Through Relationship Anxiety?
Start a conversation: If you’ve noticed that your partner might be suffering from relationship anxiety, gently broach the subject with them. Let them know that it’s ok to talk about it, rather than them having to suffer in silence.
Reassure them: Talk openly and honestly about their concerns and consider ways that you might be able to reassure them. It might be something as simple as sending an extra text when you’re out with your friends or occasionally telling them that you’re thinking of them.
Explain that feelings aren't always facts: It’s important to let your partner know that while their feelings are valid, they aren’t always facts. It’s important not to minimise their feelings, but to gently explain that their fears are usually around something that ‘might’ happen, rather than something that will.
Suggest support: If you’re sensing that your partner’s relationship anxiety is really affecting them and the relationship, suggest some ways that they can get help. It might be as simple as suggesting they discuss their concerns with friends or alternatively, seeking expert advice.
Nancy Sokarno is a psychologist at Lysn. Lysn is a digital mental health company with world class wellbeing technology which helps people find their best-fit professional psychologist whilst being able to access online tools to improve their mental health.
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