Love is one of the most powerful emotions you feel, and when you start to experience anxiety over love, it can have a profound impact both on your relationship and on your quality of life. Relationship anxiety is complicated and means different things to different people.Relationships can be one of the most pleasurable things on the planet… but they can also be a breeding ground for anxious thoughts and feelings. Relationship anxiety can arise at pretty much any stage of courtship. For many single people, just the thought of being in a relationship can stir up stress. If and when people do start dating, the early stages can present them with endless worries: “Does he/she really like me?” “Will this work out?” “How serious is this?” Unfortunately, these worries don’t tend to subside in the later stages of a romantic union. In fact, as things get closer between a couple, anxiety can get even more intense. Thoughts come flooding in like: “Can this last?” “Do I really like him/her?” “Should we slow down?” “Am I really ready for this kind of commitment?” “Is he/she losing interest?”All this worrying about our relationships can make us feel pretty alone. It can lead us to create distance between ourselves and our partner. At its worst, our anxiety can even push us to give up on love altogether. Learning more about the causes and effects of relationship anxiety can help us to identify the negative thinking and actions that can sabotage our love lives. How can we keep our anxiety in check and allow ourselves to be vulnerable to someone we love?
What Causes Relationship Anxiety? Put simply, falling in love challenges us in numerous ways we don’t expect. The more we value someone else, the more we stand to lose. On many levels, both conscious and unconscious, we become scared of being hurt. To a certain degree, we all possess a fear of intimacy. Ironically, this fear often arises when we are getting exactly what we want, when we’re experiencing love as we never have or being treated in ways that are unfamiliar.
As we get into a relationship, it isn’t just the things that go on between us and our partner that make us anxious.; it’s the things we tell ourselves about what’s going on. The “critical inner voice” is a term used to describe the mean coach we all have in our heads that criticizes us, feeds us bad advice and fuels our fear of intimacy. It’s the one that tells us:“You’re too ugly/fat/boring to keep his/her interest.”
“You’ll never meet anyone, so why even try?”
“You can’t trust him. He’s looking for someone better.”
“She doesn’t really love you. Get out before you get hurt.”
This critical inner voice makes us turn against ourselves and the people close to us. It can promote hostile, paranoid and suspicious thinking that lowers our self-esteem and drives unhealthy levels of distrust, defensiveness, jealousy and anxiety. Basically, it feeds us a consistent stream of thoughts that undermine our happiness and make us worry about our relationship, rather than just enjoying it.
How Can I Overcome Relationship Anxiety? Overcoming relationship anxiety requires us to take a step back and to focus on our thoughts. Instead of feeding into our inner fears, we have to rationalize them and remind ourselves that they won’t be real unless we let them be. While our past can shape what we know about relationships, it can never truly determine how a relationship will turn out. Additionally, Relationship Anxiety manifests from pre-existing anxiety, in order to overcome your worries you have to start at the root problem.