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How To Deal With Separation Anxiety In Relationships

Is Separation Anxiety Always A Bad Thing

What is Separation Anxiety? Fear of Abandonment?

Im someone who has always felt sad about separation, which is probably why Ive always been particularly interested in the topic. As a young girl, I got homesick if I spent the night with my best friend. And sleep-away camp well, when my parents downsized years ago, my mom sent me a bunch of letters I had written to her over the years. Among them were letters I had written from camp, with little circles all over the page and the note, these circles are where my tears have fallen while Im writing to you.

For much of my life, I felt ashamed of this tendency to hurt over separation. Cultural and family beliefs suggested that I should be self-sufficient and independent, and not need other people to make me feel good or comfortable. My early days of training to be a psychotherapist reinforced this idea as I learned about separation-individuationthat is, the capacity to be an independent person separate from parents and family and other supports.

But these days we recognize that the capacity for attachment is as important as the ability to separate. We also understand that individuation itself occurs best in the context of attachment, what some theorists have called attachment-individuation.

Dating Someone With Social Anxiety

If you are dating someone with social anxiety, the anxiety will most likely affect your social life. You might not be able to take your partner to all of the social events or gatherings you want to go to. Like with other forms of anxiety, social anxiety disorder could lead to arguments or cause the two of you to grow apart if it starts to impact your relationship.

Communicate Communicate And Communicate

I cant stress enough how important honest conversations in a relationship are. Communicate your worries and fears with your partner, communicate how you feel when they leave, communicate how you deal with it, and how you want them to support you through it.

Its okay if you are not sure about how you want your partner to support you, honest conversations will lead you both to discover that together. Clear pathways of communication only strengthen your bond with your partner and do not weaken it.

Again, it is okay to not know everything before you initiate the conversation, it is okay to explore together and discover one thing at a time. Taking it slow is okay and what you feel is okay.

Read Also: How To Beat Health Anxiety

Make Time For You And Your Partner

Even though you and your partner might be going out more often, it doesnât mean you have to drop the routine you created while in quarantine completely. You can still bake banana bread, watch Netflix, and spend your weekends at home â and find comfort in that familiarity.

Donât, however, hesitate to incorporate new rituals into your relationship. For example, start each day having breakfast together and talking about what your schedule looks like and when you can expect to talk, Dan Auerbach, B.Com, MCACPA, MPACFA, a relationship therapist with Associated Counsellors & Psychologists, tells Bustle.

Do something special in the morning when youâre both home, as well as when you return. âTake the first 10 minutes out to restore your bond by chatting about your day,â Auerbach says. âSet aside all tasks until you’ve had a chance to reconnect emotionally.â Knowing that you have new moments to look forward to will help ease anxiety and keep your post-pandemic relationship strong.

Focus On The Other Important Relationships In Your Life

How To Deal With Separation Anxiety In Your Relationship

If youre wondering how to deal with separation anxiety from your spouse, boyfriend, girlfriend, etc., one of the best cures is to spend time with other loved ones. Dont forget about those other important relationships in your life: your siblings, parents, friends, or even your children.

You might feel sad to be separated from your partner for a period, but there are dozens of other people who would love to spend some of that time with you.

Make a plan to have lunch with an old friend. Call your mom. Take your children out for a super fun outing.

These things will warm your heart and remind you that you are oh so loved.

Recommended Reading: How To Stop Chronic Anxiety

Encouraging Your Partner To Try Individual Or Couples Therapy

When you care for someone, its tempting to support them by trying to act as a surrogate therapist. The problem is youre not a therapist. Trying to play that role will be emotionally draining. It could make you resent your partner.

You are not responsible for providing therapy to your partner. This is why you should gently guide your partner toward professional help. A therapist can help them improve how they deal with anxiety, in and outside a relationship.

If youre in a serious, long-term relationship, consider couples counseling. An anxiety issue might be based on what is going on within your relationship.

Getting professional help by working with a couples counselor can take the pressure off your partner. Rather than encouraging them to do something on their own, you are inviting them to join you in therapy.

What happens in couples counseling?

In couples counseling, you and your partner will gain insight into your relationship, learn how to effectively resolve conflicts, and improve your overall relationship satisfaction through various therapeutic techniques. Therapists will often assign tasks to the couple so that they can apply the skills learned in therapy in their daily interactions. Most couples conclude therapy with a better understanding of their relational patterns and heightened communication skills, allowing them to continue their relationship in a much healthier, more fulfilling way.

How To Stop Adult Separation Anxiety

Because adult separation anxiety is only recently being recognized as a serious mental health problem, approaches to treatment are lacking. Yet there are some treatments that are thought to be potentially beneficial. If you believe you or someone you know has ASA, finding help is important. Once there is an awareness of the problem, identifying treatment is vital.

  • Countering Other Anxiety Treating your anxiety symptoms can be very helpful. Many people with ASA display obsessive thoughts very similar to OCD, and some experience anxiety attacks when left alone. Recognizing the symptoms of other anxiety disorders can be extremely advantageous. Click here to start my anxiety test and see what you can treat
  • Childhood Separation Procedures The same treatments that help children with separation anxiety may help adults as well. ASA can benefit from cognitive behavioral therapy, as well as systematic desensitization – learning to be alone in a way that is calming and better for mental health. Some medications may also be recommended, and relaxation strategies can be implemented as well.
  • Support Groups Finding support can also be beneficial. Support groups for ASA may be a big help because it provides the person with additional social support beyond the person they’re connected to. Often one of the fears is losing that support so that a solid support group may be of assistance.

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Numb The Pain With Surprises

Big baby or not, everyone loves a good surprise. You love surprises and your partner does as well. Why not take the time you have spent apart to plan your next big surprise for them?

This activity gives you something beautiful to channel your energies into, permits you to let down your creativity, and provides the perfect platform to reinforce your relationship.

Instead of sitting around and moaning the next time you have to be away from your partner, take the time to plan a good surprise for them. It doesnt have to be anything grand. Even planning a dinner date to their favorite restaurant counts as something noble.

Might Induce A Lack Of Trust In The Relationship

Separation Anxiety in Relationships: The Toxic Paradox Killing Your Marriage

Its only natural that excess fear of being left alone by your partner could lead to trust issues in the relationship. Excess insecurities arent good for any relationship for obvious reasons. It takes a toll on the mental health of the partner whose loved one is going through separation anxiety, and can create a lack of intimacy and trust.

This is especially the case when there is a lack of communication and the anxiety isnt addressed. If you find that your relationship is starting to lack the desired trust, do reach out to your support system or a counselor for help.

Read Also: Can Social Anxiety Be Diagnosed

Life Stress Or Unwelcome Changes

In some cases, separation anxiety might develop after a significant loss.

If youve just lost a loved one, you might begin to consider your own mortality, and your partners, for the first time.

Surviving a disaster or traumatic event can also prompt some unwanted familiarity with lifes transience. If your partner faced a dangerous situation, you might begin to feel terrified over what might happen the next time youre apart.

Spending a year in tight quarters during pandemic lockdowns can also prompt anxiety as you slowly begin to resume a more independent schedule. You probably got pretty used to each others company, however difficult that adjustment may have felt at first, and the sudden increase in alone time might feel uncomfortable.

Leaving home for the first time can also cause some stress, Botnick points out. Whether you move out to live alone or with a partner, you might feel unaccustomed to your new independence and anxious about being on your own.

What Is Separation Anxiety

is the fear of being separated from loved ones or people who we perceive to be a source of safety and connection, says Jesse Hanson, PhD, founder of the private practice Hanson Healing and advisor at Rehab.com.

Its worth noting that its normal for anyone to feel some loneliness and uneasiness about being away from loved ones, but when it feels out of control or causes a lot of distress, its a sign that it requires attention, says David Klemanski, PsyD, MPH, a psychologist at Yale Medicine.

This article explores the characteristics and causes of separation anxiety, its impact on relationships, and strategies to help you deal with it.

Also Check: How To Get Rid Of Test Anxiety

Focus On Other Important Relationships In Your Life

Apart from your romantic relationships, there are various other relationships in your life that hold importance. When you suffer from separation anxiety in relationships, you should focus on the other meaningful relationships that of siblings, friends, family, and others.

Related Reading: 10 Important Things To Remember About A Relationship

Signs Of Separation Anxiety

Is separation anxiety killing your relationship? Hereâs how to deal ...

You might have experienced or even seen children crying on the very first day of school. This is because they fear losing their mother or guardian. Similarly, when you leave home to study in a university far away, you experience mild anxiety leaving your family and your comfort zone. Such emotions are very common, however, people with separation anxiety feel a stronger rush of these emotions compared to other people.

  • To know how to overcome separation anxiety, one must be aware of the signs or symptoms of separation anxiety.
  • Physical Symptoms: For some people, separation anxiety can cause bodily experiences like feeling nauseous , feeling difficulty in breathing, rapid heartbeat, stomach aches, tingling in the limbs, or fatigue.
  • Emotional Symptoms: Separation anxiety can cause changes in our emotions like mood swings, sadness, anger, lower concentration, clouded decision-making, feeling fearful and worried.
  • Behavioural Symptoms: Separation anxiety also causes behavioural or functional symptoms like avoiding spending time alone, feeling embarrassed to go out on events alone, repeated nightmares, reluctance to apply for a new job, even turning to substances.
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    Anxiety Robs You Of Joy

    Experiencing joy requires a sense of safety or freedom. Anxiety makes us feel either fearful or limited. Also, a brain and body trained to stress may have a much harder time enjoying sex and intimacy. Negative thoughts and fears impact a persons ability to be present within a relationship, potentially sucking the joy out of a moment.

    so dont take yourself too seriously. You can use your sense of humor to overcome anxiety. Remember to laugh and play with your partner. Joy physically heals and comforts your brain in ways that are vital for a healthy relationship.

    My Partner Has Anxiety And I Struggle With What To Do

    We explore this even more on this page, and we encourage you to read it if you’re looking for tips to help someone with anxiety. But certainly, anxiety doesn’t just stress the person that is struggling. It can cause distress in the relationship as a whole as well. Dating someone with anxiety or marrying someone with anxiety can be confusing and it is not uncommon to need to learn ways to overcome it.

    Recommended Reading: Does Abilify Help With Anxiety

    If You Think You’re Experiencing Separation Anxiety In Your Relationship

    If you’re reading this and finding it sounds similar to some things you experience, I encourage you to talk to someone about it. Whether it’s your partner or a friend, get it out of the dark shame space and let it out into the light.When something is kept inside, it seems to get bigger and often creates other issues. When you share these feelings, you release any shame and get support, whether that’s from a friend, lover, and/or a therapist.

    If you want to dive in even deeper, I encourage you to talk with your therapist or begin therapy to start deconstructing even further. Your body is truly amazing at trying to protect you most of the time you just need to uncover why it’s trying to protect you and help give your body some peace of mind. Some helpful tips:

    Distrust Starts Creeping In


    One of the signs of separation anxiety in relationships is that you may begin to suspect your partner and even try to put them on a short leash, regardless of where they are and what they are up to.

    If you find yourself always suspecting your partner when they arent with you, it could be a sign that separation anxiety may be a challenge.

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    Is It The Same As Having A Dependent Personality Or Codependency

    Separation anxiety is different from dependent personality disorder , which has similarly been described as being clingy but extends past a romantic partner or children. Separation anxiety can be a symptom of DPD, along with difficulties with decision-making and autonomy.

    Likewise, separation anxiety can be a symptom of codependency behaviors, but a person whos codependent holds their self-worth in feeling needed by another person.

    Anxiety Breaks Down Trust And Connection

    Anxiety causes fear or worry that can make you less aware of your true needs in a given moment. It can also make you less attuned to the needs of your partner. If youre worried about what could be happening, its difficult to pay attention to what is happening. When you feel overwhelmed, your partner may feel as though you arent present.

    so train your brain to live in the moment. If you notice a fear or concern that causes your thoughts to stray from the facts or the present moment, pause and think about what you know . Calm down before you act. You can make purposeful steps to build trust in your partner. Share openly when youre feeling worried, and consciously reach out to your partner when you might normally withdraw or attack in fear.

    Read Also: What To Do If You Have Anxiety At School

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