Guide to overcoming relationship anxiety

Relationships are integral to our lives. They enrichen our experience and broaden our horizons. But having positive, meaningful, relationships are not the easiest thing in the world. And that is before relationship anxiety becomes a factor. Overcoming relationship anxiety is a very challenging process but it’s far from impossible. These days, you can visit one of the top online therapy sites and get help almost immediately. Aside from therapy, there are numerous other options that you can explore. In this article, we are going to explain the signs and causes of relationship anxiety, as well as provide you with some of the best options for overcoming it.

What causes relationship anxiety?

A degree of anxiety within a relationship is perfectly normal. Only when it becomes so crippling that you cannot move past it is when it becomes a real issue. Relationship anxiety can happen to anyone but it is more prevalent in people that have:

  • Negative experiences in the past
  • Low self-worth
  • Lack of communication
two people laughing behind another person's back
Negative experiences can contribute to developing relationship anxiety.

Previous negative experiences are rather simple to explain. If you have ever been in a relationship that questioned your own value as an individual (attractiveness, self-worth, intellect, etc.), you have an increased chance of developing relationship anxiety. It is similar to experiencing another negative event in the past and being wary of similar events in the future.

Low self-worth, on the other hand, presents a constant doubt about whether you are deserving of your partner’s/friend’s love. In most cases, it also introduces questions and assumptions that may jeopardize the entire relationship if not addressed. This leads us to a lack of communication, which is another cause of relationship anxiety.

If you and your partner do not have honest conversations about your feelings, relationship goals, or future plans, you can easily succumb to relationship anxiety. Relationships that feature a lack of communication are, essentially, in a “vacuum”. And that is the perfect “breeding ground” for relationship anxiety.

Signs of relationship anxiety

The signs of relationship anxiety differ from person to person. That being said, there are some clear indicators such as:

  • Overthinking
  • Fear of commitment
  • Motive questioning
  • Worrying about the relationship instead of enjoying it
  • Doubt
  • Premature relationship termination
person thinking about overcoming relationship anxiety
Overthinking is a very common symptom of relationship anxiety.

Again, we all do the above things from time to time. The difference between normal functioning and relationship anxiety lies in frequency. Even the best online anxiety treatment acknowledges this fact. We all overthink things from time to time, for example. But constantly overthinking is a clear sign of relationship anxiety.

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If you are spending most of your time “reading into” your partner’s actions and forming your own conclusions, you are most likely overthinking things too much. For example, if you are constantly thinking about what your partner meant by making a joke, you are overthinking it.

Fear of commitment

The most common sign of relationship anxiety is the fear of commitment. It usually stems from past negative experiences but may happen due to the difficulty of expressing your own feelings as well. If you have a need to put a “label” on your relationship, that may be a clear sign of relationship anxiety.

Questioning the motives

Another very common sign is constantly questioning the motives of your relationship partner. Overcoming relationship anxiety is extremely hard when you constantly think that your partner will find someone better, after all. You simply can’t have a healthy relationship if you are always fearing that your partner will break up with you for one reason or another. Most of the time, these reasons are non-existent but they may contribute to actual breakup reasons.

scissors cutting a marriage certificate
Constant fear of a breakup usually leads to a breakup.

Worrying about the relationship

This one is really hard to differentiate from “normal” worry. Almost every relationship has some worry and doubts in it. But if you are spending more time worrying about the relationship than enjoying it, it might be a clear indicator of relationship anxiety. The best online CBT therapy, for example, focuses heavily on the way that you form your thoughts and is a great way to correct this unwanted behavior.

Compatibility doubts

No two people are 100% compatible with one another. But most people have good compatibility with one another, provided that you don’t focus on incompatible parts too much. Doubting the compatibility between partners all the time is yet another clear sign of relationship anxiety.

Ending a relationship prematurely

Some people with relationship anxiety also tend to “cut off” other people before the relationship becomes any more serious. Needless to say, this is very detrimental and a very common sign of relationship anxiety. While some degree of caution is always prudent, not allowing great relationships to prosper is anything but good.

Overcoming relationship anxiety – What can you do?

Now that you know how to figure out whether you have relationship anxiety or not, it is time to see what you can do about it. Here are some of the best options at your disposal:

  • Identify the root cause
  • Being honest
  • Solve conflicts
  • Self-soothing techniques
  • Recognize that feelings may not be facts
  • Therapy
person talking to a therapist about overcoming relationship anxiety
Talking to a therapist is a great step toward overcoming relationship anxiety.

One thing to note is that overcoming relationship anxiety is a long and potentially very difficult process. Even if you augment your efforts by enrolling in therapy sessions, it may still take you quite a while to see significant improvements, that is the honest truth. That being said, the good news is that relationship anxiety is completely treatable, given time and effort. Some people can overcome it all on their own while others may need professional help. It all depends on your personality and self-awareness, as one person might benefit from interpersonal therapy the most, while another person can benefit from psychodynamic therapy. Either way, you will need to identify the root cause of your relationship anxiety first.

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The root cause

The first thing in dealing with almost any mental issue is identifying the root cause of it. When it comes to relationship anxiety, you need to figure out what is driving it in the first place. It can be a variety of factors such as low self-esteem, fear, shame, lack of confidence, etc. Identifying the key “variables” can be very difficult to do on your own, and is usually done with some assistance from a professional therapist.

But this is an essential part of any healing process. Understanding what drives your anxiety is the basis of every other technique. To be able to work on your issues, you first need to understand what they are.

Be honest with your feelings

Having relationship anxiety usually makes it very difficult to express your feelings. However, expressing yourself in a relationship is extremely important and you need to work on it. You need to be honest about your feelings and keep open lines of communication at all times. You can “train” to be honest by sharing your innermost feelings with supportive people around you. Alternatively, you can share them with your therapist, as all the information that you share that way is purely confidential.

five wooden blocks forming the word "truth"
If in doubt, speak the truth!

Overcoming relationship anxiety is not a “one-person” project. While it is you who needs to be healed, everything is easier if you allow for some help from those who love you the most.

Solving conflicts

Most of the time, it is not the relationship anxiety that ends relationships. It may be the cause but conflicts are what break people up. As conflicts are all but unavoidable, what you need to do is slowly start resolving them in a healthy manner. There are always two sides in a conflict and no side is more important than the other. You need to understand that before you start solving anything. You are important and your partner/friend is important, too. Both of you need to take responsibility for conflict resolution and come to a mutually beneficial understanding.

Opposition and cooperation

Now, this is obviously easier said than done. If conflicts were that easy to solve, fewer people would have relationship anxiety in the first place. But if you leave conflicts unresolved, they will eventually create resentment and may easily break the relationship on their own. According to the National Library of Medicine, relationship conflict resolution benefits from three different communication types:

  • Direct opposition – This is beneficial when both partners are feeling able to resolve the issue and is useful for diagnosing the problem in the first place. It can be harmful when either partner does not feel like they are able to resolve the issue.
  • Indirect opposition – Mainly used to induce guilt in the partner and thus reduce the insecurity of the relationship. But it may be harmful when the partner strongly resists any change.
  • Indirect cooperation – Best used with defensive partners to address problems. However, it can be extremely harmful when the problems are addressed but the partner continues to exhibit the same behavior.

Of course, as every person and relationship is unique, it may be that these lines of communication are reversed. For example, direct opposition and indirect opposition may switch their beneficial/harmful effects, depending on the relationship in question.

person overcoming relationship anxiety by punching another with a boxing glove
Direct opposition is not always the answer.

Try self-soothing techniques for overcoming relationship anxiety

Anxiety usually manifests numerous other physical and mental reactions. Examples include lightheadedness, increased heart rate, tightness of the chest, etc. These effects may make it very difficult to think rationally and may even put you at risk of developing other mental and physical conditions.

What you want to do is learn and practice self-soothing techniques. They will help you overcome relationship anxiety and will be helpful in a variety of other situations. Meditation and deep breathing are the most commonly-used techniques but yoga and other activities are equally suitable. Basically, any activity that focuses on a single sense can be considered to be self-soothing. One of the main benefits of emotion-focused therapy, for example, is the fact that it allows you to “get in touch” with your emotions. The goal is to take control of your own body and mind. Any activity that helps you do that is a “weapon” that you want to have in your arsenal. Feel free to experiment with various activities and see what works for you and what does not.

While meditation, for example, is able to help most people, it is practically useless for others. Every individual is different, after all. What works for some might not work for you and vice versa.

Feelings might not be facts

This concept may be difficult to understand at first. Your feelings are your “compass” after all. But the feelings you are experiencing are not necessarily factually correct. It is very easy to arrive at a negative conclusion based on your feelings alone. However, it is important to realize that your feelings can be “wrong”. In other words, what you are feeling right now might not be what is actually happening.

The main issue is that it is extremely hard to recognize when your feelings are wrong. They are right most of the time, after all, and you should listen to your feelings. But you should not let them be the only thing that dictates your decisions. If you are experiencing negative feelings on a regular basis, you might want to try and change your thought pattern. Positive reinforcement is an exceptionally strong tool, after all. Repeating positive thoughts can be all the difference between a healthy relationship and an unhealthy one.

Therapy is always a great way to overcome relationship anxiety

While overcoming relationship anxiety on your own is definitely possible, seeking help from mental health professionals is usually the best way to tackle the problem. Traditionally, you needed to find a licensed therapist near you, which was not always possible. But these days, you have numerous online therapist networks who can help you overcome relationship anxiety from the safety and comfort of your own home. The advantages of online counseling go even further than that, including lower treatment costs, easier scheduling, complete privacy, etc. In most cases, online therapy can help you overcome your issues in a fraction of the time it would otherwise take.

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To find all the best online therapy networks, all you need to do is browse and explore the Consumer Opinion Guide. We also have numerous helpful articles that can help you overcome almost any mental health issue. Peruse our knowledge database and “arm” yourself with up-to-date, pertinent, information!

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