How To Manage With Anxiety In Relationships

Updated May 13, 2024by Regain Editorial Team

Relationship anxiety refers to persistent feelings of worry, self-doubt, and insecurity in relationships, either with friends, family, or romantic partners. In this article, we’ll explore signs of relationship anxiety and how to manage anxiety in relationships.

Symptoms of anxiety in relationships

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Is anxiety harming your relationship?

Anxiety disorders can look different for every person. Symptoms can manifest based on your circumstances. Anxiety can also manifest differently around the relationships in your life. 

Some signs of relationship anxiety may include:

Doubting how someone feels about you
Engaging in sabotaging behaviors, like picking fights or testing the boundaries of the
relationship
Overthinking and reading into what someone says and does
Doing things to please someone that surpass your needs or boundaries

Some people with anxiety may develop codependent relationships with a loved one, probably a romantic partner or a parent. Indeed, anxiety and relationships are often intertwined. Relationships with codependency issues (sometimes referred to as an anxious attachment style) can feel strained if there isn't an open dialogue about those anxious feelings. 

Feelings must be communicated during a calm moment to try and find a resolution to those feelings. This is why dating someone with anxiety disorder can take a lot of patience and commitment. If you're in a stressful relationship, you may go through times of frustration and discouragement.

On the other side of the spectrum is avoidance. Some people with anxiety might withdraw into themselves and not allow outside help. Avoidance can look like physically avoiding loved ones, refusing to talk about feelings, making plans to avoid facing an issue, and other similar behaviors. The strain this can leave on relationships can quickly turn to blame or anger from a loved one. And while the anxious person might not mean to be so closed off, their actions can still affect their partner and their partner’s feelings.

Anxiety thoughts sometimes turn into anger when other people get involved. When you don't know what to do to combat the raging thoughts or the physical symptoms that can come with anxiety, unsolicited advice or attempts to help could cause you to lash out without meaning to. If a partner isn't aware that their loved one or friend has anxiety, these bouts of anger could make them question the relationship or cause them to fight back, potentially turning a bout of anxiety into a fight.

For romantic couples, this anxiety is sometimes manifested because of the relationship itself. This is aptly named relationship anxiety and is a real form of anxiety that can cause turmoil in romantic relationships. Relationship anxiety can affect your relationship in ways you never intended, so now that two people can be directly affected by these anxious feelings, it may become all the more important to manage these symptoms and improve them. Even if the anxiety is one-sided, it can take both partners to get to the bottom of what is causing the fear. Both of you can then find a way to make your anxiety more manageable.

If you have anxiety in relationships

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Whether your anxiety stems from the relationship you are in or anxiety in general, the first step for communication may be realizing that only you know exactly how you are feeling. With counseling, you can use certain communication tools to explain these feelings to your family, friends, and partners. It can be hard to admit when you need help, but if your anxiety is interfering with your life regularly, counseling can be a great option for getting you the help you need. 

Certain types of therapy may help people who experience relationship anxiety manage their symptoms. For example, cognitive behavioral therapy is proven effective for relieving symptoms of anxiety. Cognitive behavioral therapy helps people identify thought patterns that may contribute to anxiety about relationships and change these thought patterns into more helpful ones.

Once you have the tools to communicate, you should do so often. Whenever you feel anxious, even over the smallest thing, let the other person know. You can judge what you can handle on your own and what you might need help with. Be upfront about what you are willing to do and what you cannot do. If you need to be alone to work through your anxiety or need to say no to an event that you previously thought you could go to, that's okay. Remember that your mental health is important and should be taken seriously.

On the flip side, allow your friends, family, and partners time to catch up. They might not be able to help you perfectly from the start. They might make mistakes that can feel overwhelming to you at times. That's why it can be so important to talk to them. The more you can educate the people you love about the things you are feeling, the more they can assist you, even when you have a hard time helping yourself.

If your partner has anxiety in relationships

If you have a partner with anxiety, offer support and encouragement, but let them take the lead in managing their symptoms. A lot of times, loving someone with anxiety may mean you need to listen to them. If you can lend an ear and allow them time to work through what's causing the anxiety, often you won't need to do anything else. If they do ask for help, be there for them as often as you can. 

This isn't to say you should be a crutch. When helping, let them know that they are doing well on their own. If the anxiety is an irrational thought or fear, ask them to talk out loud, question their thought process, and get them to see that they can overcome the fear through their thinking. It might be better to consult a psychologist or mental health professional regarding any irrational fears or phobias.

Finally, let them know it’s okay to need help. In a world that sometimes still attaches a stigma to mental health, your support can make it that much easier for your loved one to accept help.

Know your options

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Is anxiety harming your relationship?

While these tips can be handy, they cannot replace communication with a therapist, counselor, or psychiatrist. You might find that there is nothing more valuable than having couples therapy sessions with someone who is uniquely educated to get you the help you need.

There are so many options for therapy, including cognitive behavioral couples therapy that you can find the one that works best for you. For example, maybe you aren't comfortable sitting face-to-face with a counselor. That's okay! Many counselors offer phone therapy sessions or video chat options. There is also chat-based counseling. Chat-based counseling can allow you to communicate completely through text with a mental health counselor. 

Many people share that they are better able to open up over online mediums instead of in person. Online therapy has also been proven effective in treating anxiety, phobias, panic disorder, and many other mental health conditions. 

For more information about Regain and start using our platform with licensed mental health professionals, click here.

Takeaway

Anxiety in relationships is very common and doesn't have to be a deal-breaker. With the right tools for communication and help, you can thrive with anxiety and enjoy a happy and peaceful life.

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