• 3 Ways That Anxiety Affects Relationships

    Anxiety is the number one mental health issue on the planet. The divorce rate has hovered around 50 percent for many decades. According to studies, people with anxiety disorders have higher rates of divorces than people without anxiety disorders. In fact, if you have anxiety, you’re more likely to be single.

    Obviously, anxiety affects relationships. This includes your relationship with yourself. As is often the case, the first step is to learn more. What does anxiety look like in a relationship? How can you address it? What if it’s your partner who is the anxious one? Let’s take a closer look.

    3 Ways That Anxiety Affects Relationships

    1. Worry

    Worry is a red flag. You may chronically worry that:

    • Your partner is cheating (despite the lack of any evidence)
    • You’re being lied to in general
    • Your partner likes to be with other people more than with you
    • You’re not attractive enough and/or you’re not sexually satisfying them
    • Your partner is going to break up with you

    The anxiety may escalate into rumination when you’re not together. It can then build on itself as you feel anxious that your anxiety is hurting the relationship. Your worrying puts strain on your partner.

    2. Dependence

    As you can see from the above worry list, anxiety can leave you needing your partner to constantly reassure you. Over time, this develops into:

    • Being unable to make decisions
    • Planning for worst-case scenarios
    • Overthinking to the extreme
    • Requesting/demanding regular communication
    • Freaking out if your partner doesn’t immediately respond

    These behaviors create a climate of resentment for both parties.

    couple holding hands

    3. Avoidance

    Conversely, anxiety can inspire avoidance. It tells you that if you pull away, you don’t have to deal with negative emotions. Take a good look at your choices and discern if you’re:

    • Delaying important conversations to avoid conflict
    • Not being vulnerable
    • Suppressing your feelings
    • Going along to get along
    • Being called “cold” or “distant” by your partner

    Side note: You don’t have to currently be in a relationship for anxiety to be a factor. People with anxiety disorders have been found to avoid pursuing relationships as a way to not experience the expected rejection.

    How to Deal With Relationship Anxiety

    If you found yourself nodding your head as you read the above sections, it is essential to talk to a therapist. Anxiety can be addressed and thus, relationship anxiety can be managed. At the same time, you can supplement your therapy sessions with self-help steps like:

    • Identify when you’re avoiding: Denial will only deepen the issues. Catch yourself when avoidance starts to happen.
    • Open up about what you’re feeling: Give your partner a better idea of what you feel like. Help them understand your condition.
    • Develop other interests: Take some of the focus off of the relationship. Cultivate hobbies and interests. Connect with friends on your own.

    If it’s your partner who is displaying anxious behaviors, remember:

    • Do not dismiss their problem or make them feel bad about it
    • Recognize that you can fix things
    • Take time to understand their fears and triggers
    • Guide them to therapy and help them feel secure
    • Let them know they are not alone

    Why Therapy?

    Anxiety is a skilled liar. It will keep you living in fear. Your actions will therefore spring from being afraid of rejection, vulnerability, and failure. Working with an experienced therapist allows you to understand the anxiety. It’s not about eliminating it — anxiety can be very helpful. But rather, you’ll learn coping skills to channel it more productively.

    I can help you discover triggers, underlying causes, and — most importantly — new approaches. Let’s connect for a free and confidential consultation for anxiety therapy and get this healing process started. I look forward to working with you.