Different Ways Relationship Anxiety Presents Itself
Here are some ways to tell that anxiety is manifesting itself in your relationship:
- Wondering if your partner truly has feelings for you
- Looking for constant reassurance from your partner
- Holding doubts about romantic compatibility
- Over-analyzing simple words and actions for signs of trouble
- Constantly feeling like your partner intends to call off the relationship
- Spending more time worrying about the relationship than enjoying it
In other cases, relationship anxiety may take the form of deliberately sabotaging things with your partner. This can be seen where slight issues are blown out of proportion or where traps are laid for your partner to test fidelity.
It may also appear in instances where you purposely stay aloof and guarded with your partner, all to steel yourself against hurt and pre-empt difficulties.
Treatment Options For Attachment Anxiety
Two standard treatment options to handle attachment anxiety are:
- Cognitive-behavioral therapy: It helps the individual with anxious relationship style identify or spot thought patterns that negatively affect their emotions and behaviors.
- Interpersonal therapy: This is generally a 12-16 week treatment program initially set up to treat depression. These days, interpersonal therapy effectively treats individuals with social anxiety disorder, attachment anxiety, and a host of other disorders.
How To Overcome Problem Behaviors In A Relationship
Now that we know some of the main characteristics of a person with the anxious attachment style, lets look at some things that can be done to help overcome some of these problem behaviors.
Many people do not have a lot of self-awareness. If youve ever seen an episode of Dr. Phil where people watch their behavior when they had cameras in their house, you know what Im talking about.
But change always starts with self-reflection. You cant change what you dont recognize. Even if it takes other people helping this person see themselves the way other do, then that might be what it takes.
Most of us have never had a class in school about how to communicate with other people effectively. And communication can mean yelling, screaming, and name-calling. But obviously, thats not effective.
You and the people in your life need to talk about how the anxious behavior is affecting them and the overall relationship in a negative way. The talk should be non-defensive and non-critical. Focus on finding solutions as a team.
This article can give you some tips:
3. Keep a Journal
When I say journal, I dont mean a Dear Diary like a 12 year old girl would do. I am speaking more to a feelings or emotions journal.
4. See a Therapist
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How Anxious Attachment Affects Relationships
If you have anxious preoccupied attachment, you may have trouble feeling secure in relationships and have a strong fear of rejection and abandonment.
Due to this insecurity, you might behave in ways that appear clingy, controlling, possessive, jealous, or demanding toward your partner.
Such behaviors often result in the opposite to the desired effect and can actually put a strain on your relationship and push your partner away.
Recognizing The Signs In Yourself
Some indications that you might be experiencing anxious attachment include:
- Worrying a lot about being rejected or being abandoned by your partner
- Frequently trying to please and gain approval from your partner
- Fearing infidelity and abandonment
- Wanting closeness and intimacy in a relationship, but worrying if you can trust or rely on your partner
- Overly fixating on the relationship and your partner to the point it consumes much of your life
- Constantly needing attention and reassurance
- Having difficulty setting and respecting boundaries
- Feeling threatened, panicked, angry, jealous, or worried your partner no longer wants you when you spend time apart or don’t hear from them for what most would consider a reasonable amount of time may use manipulation to get your partner to stay close to you
- Tying self-worth in with relationships
- Overreacting to things you see as a threat to the relationship
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Effects Of Relationship Anxiety
Before placing a magnifying glass on the way you act within your relationship, it’s important to note that not every demonstration of worry is a sign of relationship anxiety.
In fact, taking stock of what is working, changes in communication, and feelings shared within the relationship is healthy and encouraged. However, when the energy you expend in keeping tabs on your partner and their attitude within the relationship constantly leaves you feeling on edge, that could be problematic.
Constantly worrying about the relationship can also affect the quality of love and intimacy you enjoy. In some cases, experiencing persistent feelings of anxiety within the relationship can produce the most feared resultan end to the union.
If you realize that you frequently experience relationship anxiety, this can negatively affect your well-being and the chances of experiencing a future with your partner.
However, you should know that there are steps you can take to improve the quality of your life and your relationship to avoid the harmful effects of anxiety.
Communicate With Your Partner
Although it may seem daunting, talking to your partner about your feelings and fears can help ease your stress and worry. If your partners words or actions hurt you, communicate your feelings. An honest, open conversation can provide you with the clarity and support you need to cope with the anxiety you experience.
Open communication about boundaries and expectations can also help allay your fears about the future and your compatibility with your partner.
How Do I Talk to My Partner About My Relationship Anxiety?
Talking to your partner about what is causing your anxiety can often lead to even more anxiety. The best way to communicate with them is to choose a time where you are feeling calm and rational.
If you or your partner is having an anxiety-induced panic attack, our guide on how to stop a panic attack can help.
Once you and your partner are in a non-stressful environment, approach the subject in a non-judgmental, caring way. Accusations and emotional outbursts may only worsen the situation, and discussing your feelings calmly is the only right way to begin the conversation.
If you cant imagine bringing up the subject yourself, consider couples therapy and allow a therapist to guide the conversation in the right direction.
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Types Of Attachment Issues
Anxious attachment styles may include:
- Feelings of anger or helplessness in relationships
- Anxiety around and mistrusting of strangers
- Reluctance to get close to others
- Fear of rejection and abandonment
- Desire for attention and validation
Avoidant attachment styles may include:
- Social isolation
- Emotional detachment or lack of emotional awareness
- Unwillingness to be vulnerable with others
- Fear of being clingy or needy
- Being ore likely to seek out relationships but stay at a distance or avoid them altogether
Disorganized attachment styles may include:
- Often unpredictable combination of avoidant and ambivalent attachment styles
- Switching between caregiving and pushing others away
- Attraction to others who are similarly disorganized
- Being more likely to seek validation from others
How Do The Four Attachment Styles Affect You
The four relationship attachment styles have a direct impact on us. Biologically, they affect us:
In this quick video, I explain it all:
Fisher discovered that when we love someone, our brain produces dopamine and rewards our pleasure centers. This flood of dopamine also activates our stress systems, so in short, our relationships directly feed these neurotransmitters.
Your attachment style colors your beliefs going into a new relationship. They also make it easy to predict why relationships fail since you fall into the same traps over and over.
Whats more, like attracts like when it comes to attachment styles.
Anxiously attached and avoidantly attached people often end up together because they reinforce each others beliefs about relationships and attachment. On the other hand, securely attached often attract others who are securely attached.
This is why you, if you are insecurely attached, can easily end up in a vicious cycle of failed relationships.
Thats because as someone who is anxiously attached, you tend to follow specific patterns in relationships just like everyone else.
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How To Grieve The Loss Of A Secure Attachment
In order to grieve, you need to take the time to acknowledge the presence of five important emotions that consistently come up for people with anxious attachment.
Here are the five main emotions that come up :
These are the five emotions that you need to acknowledge and give space to, because what you resist persists.
If you dont take responsibility for working through them, its likely that no one else will, and you will pay the price in your relationships.
So go ahead and ask someone you trust to listen to you and sit with you while you try to process these emotions.
Youll Heal Anxious Attachment When You Have A Big Reason To Do So
Over the last 15 years, Ive managed to figure out how to move from anxious attachment to secure.
I was able to do it because I had something outside of myself that I loved enough, to make me change.
That something started with my husband. I could no longer stand seeing the sadness in his eyes when he tried to reach me and bond with me .
Then, more than 8 years ago, I had my first child and that helped propel me to heal even faster. Its like I had a chance to heal my own insecure attachment by learning to always be a dependable, responsive mother to them.
Not only did having my own children help me heal, the help of an intelligent, creative and committed husband allowed me the space to do so.
I cant tell you how much my union with a securely attached man helped to soothe and heal my anxious attachment. He now says in his own words youre not very anxiously attached anymore.
This is the first part of a two part series on anxious attachment. You can read my other article about anxious attachment triggers and managing them for dating.
In this article, I will share with you how you can heal anxious attachment and why its very possible!
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How Fear Of Abandonment Affects Relationships
Fear of abandonment may impact your interactions and how you interpret your partners reactions and behaviors.
You may feel you have to act a certain way to keep your partner, or you may have trouble being intimate and expressive out of fear of rejection.
In some cases, you may even spend a lot of time looking for flaws in your partner or the relationship.
While this can sometimes lead to the end of the connection, it can also serve as a form of emotional self-defense.
When fear of abandonment overlaps with a personality disorder, your relationships might be more severely affected. Research from 2017 focusing on abandonment fear in people with BPD suggests that women with the disorder were more likely to do things they didnt want to do like have sex for fear of losing their relationship.
Practice Stating Your Needs
As you explore your wounds, you’ll come to realize that you can become empowered by acknowledging and stating your needs. Rather than getting reactive or shutting down, you can state your needs to your partner in clear, healthy ways. By using “I” messages and communicating clearly, your partner will become more aware of your wounds and your needs.
For example, you might say to a partner, “I feel hurt when you multitask while I’m talking to you. I feel loved and connected when you focus on me during our conversations.” This clear and mindful “I-feel-I-need” template gives your partner the opportunity to care for your attachment wounds intentionally in the present moment.
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Anxious Attachment In Conflict
Those on the anxious side of attachment fight in and for relationship, feeling incapable of calming until another person meets their needs for assurance. This often leads to long-term deterioration of the relationship as their partners learn to distance, placate, and resent rather than pursue seemingly endless conflict. This withdrawal by partners may perpetuate negative beliefs: They are trying to leave me. I am not lovable. I have to make my emotion bigger to get a response.
During Conflicts Reassure Them That You Are Not Leaving
Usually, conflicts have a more significant effect on people with attachment anxiety because they will start thinking that you want to leave them.
People with this anxious attachment style are overly sensitive and emotional, and they are quick to fathom the worst-case scenario during conflicts.
You must remind and reassure them that you are not leaving even though there is a pending fight.
Learning How To Cope With Relationship Anxiety
Carly Snyder, MD is a reproductive and perinatal psychiatrist who combines traditional psychiatry with integrative medicine-based treatments.
Karen Cilli is a fact-checker for Verywell Mind. She has an extensive background in research, with 33 years of experience as a reference librarian and educator.
Picture this: it’s the start of what could be a perfect relationship. The conversation is fantastic, communication is loud and clear both ways, and everything seems set for a happily ever afterexcept for one or two doubts you can’t seem to shake off.
‘What do they even see in me?’, ‘Will they get bored?”How long until this one falls apart?’ In some cases, these questions linger on even after ‘I love yous’ have been exchanged in the relationship.
If you’ve ever found yourself asking these questions, there is a chance that you may be familiar with relationship anxiety.
When a person starts to feel anxious about life with a current or prospective partner, its an understandable worrythis is a big part of their lives. However, in certain cases, this worry becomes so crippling, it can prevent the relationship from flourishing, or even taking off, to begin with.
We’ll be examining the causes of relationship anxiety, what to look out for, and the appropriate ways to navigate this feeling.
Work On Your Disappointment From The Past
Those with an anxious attachment style become anxious because one or both of their parents were inattentive to basic emotional and/or physical needs. We humans bring the lessons we learned in the past into the present, to try and avoid that pain in our current relationships.
But sometimes, those lessons and tactics that were helpful when you were little are not helpful anymore. You may try ineffectively to keep yourself safe by controlling or worrying about outcomes, and directly affect your partner.
Check in with yourself about how your past has affected you, and what lessons you can let go of that arent helpful for you anymore.
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