Corrective Experiences For Brian And Alicia
For this young couple corrective experiences would require them to have behaved much differently. As in a different world type of approach from what they were doing.
They had given in to the fears. They unknowingly were placating the fear. That only makes it grow stronger.
What should they have done? For Brian it would mean talking with Alicia about his insecurities rather than hiding them. Thats right Brian, man up buddy!
It would also mean not rushing off to put in more hours at work simply to ward off his sense of inadequacy .
Alicias corrective experiences would involve discussing her fear that Brian was no longer committed to the relationship rather than avoiding such discussions.
If she thought he was playing with her why on earth would she not confront him? Playing with her? Really? Wasting her time, treating her as though she were of so little importance that he could string her along. Come on Alicia, get angry and confront that guy.
But lets imagine that she did get upset and confront him. He responds with reassurances and is all sweetness and light. She believes him. Terrific. But her anxiety may remain. What to do?
If she logically concludes that he is being honest then she need to suck it up buttercup and act as though those fears are groundless. She would need to remain fully engaged and attentive within the relationship. This is directly opposite from the reaction she had which was to back off from involvement.
Focus On Your Thoughts
Learning to manage how you think can be the first step in overcoming your relationship anxiety. Especially if you have negative thoughts or self-esteem issues, or if you have a tendency to make assumptions about your partners motivations and intentions, you can learn how to change your thought behaviors to better your relationship.
Because relationship anxiety is so often a result of consistent, excessive worrying, therapy approaches like cognitive behavioral therapy can be very successful in building skills to heal your relationship.
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Anxious About Anxiety Itself Do Less Not More
As we start to challenge these negative attitudes toward ourselves, we must also make an effort to take actions that go against the directives of our critical inner voice. In terms of a relationship, that means not acting out based on unwarranted insecurities or acting in ways we dont respect. Here are some helpful steps to take:
Maintain your independence. Its crucial to keep a sense of ourselves separate from our partner. As Daniel Siegel has said, the goal for a relationship should be to make a fruit salad and not a smoothie. In other words, we shouldnt forego essential parts of who we are in order to become merged into a couple. Instead, each of us should work to maintain the unique aspects of ourselves that attracted us to each other in the first place, even as we move closer. In this way, each of us can hold strong, knowing that we are a whole person in and of ourselves.
Dont act out no matter how anxious you are. Of course, this is easier said than done, but we all know our insecurities can precipitate some pretty destructive behavior. Acts of jealousy or possessiveness can hurt our partner, not to mention us. Snooping through their text messages, calling every few minutes to see where they are, getting mad every time they look at another attractive personthese are all acts that we can avoid no matter how anxious it makes us, and in the end, we will feel much stronger and more trusting. Even more importantly, we will be trustworthy.
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Building A Healthy Relationship
Warning: If youre mean to your partner or withhold affection from them, they may start to pull away from you. This can make your worries about losing them come true.
Missing Out On Good Times
Do you have relationship anxiety? Think about how much time you spend worrying about this relationship. If you are spending more time worrying than enjoying it, then maybe you should break up. When you are feeling down, it might be because of this. But if you feel this way all the time, you are probably dealing with some anxiety about your 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.
Trying To Dig Or Read Between The Lines Of What They Say
Are you constantly second-guessing or overthinking what your partner tells you? Do you feel like theyre lying or withholding something important from you? Do you struggle to really give them the benefit of the doubt?
Even in the healthiest relationships, there is no such thing as perfect communication. But a solid relationship requires a sense of mutual respect and trust- you should want to assume that your partner has your best interest at heart.
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Signs Of Relationship Anxiety
Relationship anxiety can plague anyone, and experiencing it doesnt necessarily mean that youre in a bad relationship. Oftentimes, fear and worry stem from not wanting to go through a breakup or being reluctant to be vulnerable due to previous hurts, like if youve been cheated on in the past.
Here are seven signs you may be experiencing relationship anxiety :
Relationship Anxiety Types And Tips
So many things can cause anxiety in relationships, and often that anxiety differs depending on what brought it on. Abusive relationships cause anxiety for reasons that are completely different than those that develop anxiety because of problems raising children. Some people have anxiety first that leaks into their relationship in other ways.
It is such an immense topic that entire books have been written about how and why some people develop relationship anxiety and the challenges that they go through. When we talk about relationship anxiety, we may be talking about any of the following:
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Stop Comparing Or Measuring Your Relationship
It would help if you avoided your tendency to compare your relationship with others because this is one of the primary causes of relationship anxiety. Every relationship is different, and you need to come to terms with that realization before trying to deal with relationship anxiety. Just because your relationship looks different doesnt mean that youre automatically settling for less or that someone doesnt love you as much as you thought. Stop comparing yourself to other relationships. Especially those you see on social media, it will rob you of happiness and contentment faster than anything. You need to realize that social media is a facade you cant rely on, and none of it is an objective basis of what relationships are supposed to be. For instance, just because your partner doesnt post photos of you doesnt automatically mean he no longer loves you. Thinking this way, consider your partners other behaviors, like how much effort he puts in or how he spends time with you. Realize that measurements and comparison arent good ways to prove someone loves you.
People show love in different ways: touch, words, service, spending time with you, or through gifts. Not everyone expresses their passion in the same way. Someone might not even realize how they express love, but its likely one of those five ways. You can start to notice if one of those behaviors is given by your partner to determine thats how they express their affection towards you.
How To Deal With An Anxious Partner
On the flip side, if you notice these behaviors in a partner and want to help, realizing how anxiety affects their thinking and behavior is a great first step. More advice:
- Dont criticize them for having anxiety, or dismiss the issue.
- Dont try to be their therapist or fix them. Realize that you alone cannot solve the problem.
- Communicate to learn their fears, triggers, and values, and share your own.
- Help them to feel safe.
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Can You Overcome Relationship Anxiety
It might not feel like it now, but relationship anxiety can be overcome. You have to work at it. It takes time and effort. And you should not just be told that your relationship is fine even if it seems that way now.
Sometimes, people become anxious even if nothing is wrong. It could be because they are not sure that the relationship is okay. They may feel safe or secure. Until then, they will likely continue to be anxious.
One way to address relationship anxiety is to talk about it early on before it becomes a problem. The tips below can help you get started:
Signs Your Relationship Anxiety Has Reached An Unhealthy Level
It is important to note that everyone has some relationship anxiety, and thats to be expected, reiterated Dr. Amanda Zayde, a clinical psychologist at the Montefiore Medical Center. However, if you find yourself hypervigilant for clues that something is wrong, or if you experience frequent distress that impacts your daily life, please, take some time to address it. Everyone deserves to feel secure and connected in their relationships.
Some clear signs that youre toeing the line or have sprinted beyond it include consistent emotional instability, impaired judgement, impaired impulse control, difficulty focusing and paying attention to daily tasks, feeling lovesick and sad, and a decrease in motivation, loneliness and fatigue, says Dr. Danielle Forshee, a psychologist who specializes in relational and marital issues.
This ongoing state of mind is not only mentally exhausting and detrimental to your own wellbeing, but can ultimately lead to relationship disintegration.
Relationship anxiety can cause people to engage in behaviors that end up pushing their partner away, says Dr. Zayde. For example, calling 20 times in a row, jumping to conclusions or becoming emotionally distant. It can also cause a tremendous amount of distress and distraction, as people spend hours trying to decode their partners behavior.
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Pause Before You Act Impulsively
When you feel anxious, you may act out to mitigate some of this discomfort. Acting out can include a variety of behaviors like:
Making rigid accusations about your partners behavior
Yelling, screaming, or making threats
Stonewalling and engaging in silent treatment
Making idle threats about leaving
Invading your partners personal property
Its no surprise that these behaviors can exacerbate tension. Similarly, they can worsen the relationship anxiety, especially if your partner doesnt respond exactly as you prefer. Its a vicious cycle, and its easy to feel overwhelmed by it.
Consider adopting a more mindful approach to improve your ability to withstand distress and learn how to pause. Take a few deep breathstake note of your feelings and motives. Identify your needs. Pause and reflect on the best way to approach the situation.
Understanding Attachment Styles And Relationship Anxiety
Working through relational anxiety sometimes requires understanding how you generally attach to others. Attachment styles refer to how we bond and connect with other people. Research shows we form these bonds during our infancy years, and they can follow us throughout life.
If you identify with an anxious or preoccupied attachment style, you might:
Immensely fear rejection or abandonment.
Question if people are really there for you.
Feel insecure or inadequate around others.
Seek continuous validation from others.
Become overly clingy to maintain a sense of control.
Sacrifice your own needs to keep someone else happy.
Feel like your needs are never really met.
Consequently, people with avoidant/fearful attachment styles may:
Withdraw from others during moments of stress.
Immensely fear vulnerability and sharing their true selves.
Present as aloof or disinterested.
Come across as cold to others.
Show discomfort at physical intimacy or touch.
Avoid emotional expression or struggle with it.
Aim to present as strong in all circumstances.
In many cases, the opposite attachment styles attract one another. For example, if you identify with an anxious attachment style, you may be drawn to people who present as more emotionally unavailable and vice versa. As a result, both partners may feel somewhat anxious, frustrated, or even resentful.
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What If Vs What Is
One of the most common tools that I have my clients utilize when theyre getting wrapped up in their tangled web of anxiety is to check in on whether theyre using What if? vs. What is? thinking.
What if thinking always produces anxiety. It puts your mind in the future, and places you in a fear-based, invented place.
What is thinking brings you back to the present moment and allows you to see your situation for what is truly is.
More often than not with people who deal with anxiety, our minds are simply fountains of noise, spewing off endless fears that are ultimately unproductive. Or, as Mark Twain once said, Ive lived through some terrible things in my life. Some of which actually happened.
But how do you know if your anxiety in the present moment IS about the reality of your situation?
Work On Feeling More Secure
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Feeling secure in a relationship works hand in hand with relationship anxiety. In the above article, youll find 8 Steps to Build Security in a Relationship. Its a real game changer!
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Be Logical About Your Fears
So youre freaking out again about this new relationship. Youve gotten yourself in a spin worrying about it, and you are one step away from calling the whole thing off.
Before you do, have you actually thought about whether there is any reason for you to be so anxious? That doesnt mean hypothetical what ifs of everything that could go wrong, but actual warning signs youve noticed in the relationship that suggest things will go sour?
Sometimes we can get so caught up in our own heads, we cant separate fact from fiction.
If youre getting anxiety over the thought of them leaving you or cheating on you, try to remind yourself that these worries are unfounded, most likely drawn from past experiences.
Unless your new partner has given you any indication there is a reason to distrust them, then theres no reason to doubt them just yet.
Breaking The Anxious Pattern
Lets look at how this sort of pattern can be changed so that happier, healthier relationships can be formed.
Well start with a brief one-question quiz:
The key to breaking free from this sort of destructive anxiety is:
A. Visiting a psychoanalyst five days a week, laying on the couch, and saying
whatever comes to mind
B. Burning incense, chanting, drumming, eating a strictly vegan diet for six
months, and wearing paisley print bell bottoms
C. Using a combination of clear communication and corrective experiences.
The answer, get ready for it C. Clear communication was the giveaway, right? Absolutely. Had Brian or Alisha been clear about what they were thinking, the situation very likely would never have spiraled downward.
But, it is worth noting that there are some people wherein clear communication would not be enough to save the relationship. This occurs when one, or both partners, have unusually intense fears about being in an intimate relationship.
The anxiety is so deeply rooted that even with good communication the fear remains. It is similar to talking to someone with a fear of flying and telling him or her about the exceptional safety record of air travel.
The information may be clear, accurate, and even accepted at an intellectual level. But at the gut level, that person just knows the plane he or she happens to fly on is surely going to fall from the sky and crash.
Something more is needed in order to help that person get over the fear of flying.
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