Anxiety can impact every part of our lives — but romantic relationships can be an especially sensitive realm for anxieties to surface. While romantic relationships can be beautiful and fulfilling, they can also pull out the most vulnerable parts of ourselves. Those with an anxiety disorder feel this in a heightened way. Let’s examine 3 ways that anxiety affects romantic relationships.
3 ways anxiety may impact a romantic relationship
1. An anxious partner can seem closed off
Closing off from a partner is just one way anxiety affects romantic relationships. Anxiety can lead some people to close off from their partners in order to avoid vulnerability. This can stem from a fear of rejection — if you never show who you really are, there’s no opportunity for rejection by a loved one.
However, as Brene Brown says, “Vulnerability is the only bridge to build connection.” She describes vulnerability as uncertainty, risk, or emotional exposure — which definitely isn’t something that comes easily or naturally to most people. But the good news is, it’s a muscle that can be strengthened. Deliberately practicing vulnerability not only makes it easier, but it builds an immense amount of trust between couples. Over time, that trust can help the anxious partner release some of their worries.
2. They tend to assume the worst case scenario
Anxious partners have a tendency to catastrophize and assume the worst case scenario. This can make regular parts of a relationship, like arguments and disagreements, really stressful and difficult to recover from. It’s tough to shake the assumption that disagreements mean a breakup is looming. But this is something couples can work on together with check-ins and reassurance.
3. They often overthink their partner’s — and their own — words and actions
Those who experience anxiety often feel there is something off about their relationship, even when there’s no conflict. They also overthink their own words and actions, and assume they are driving their partner away. That’s why it’s so important to establish trust. So either partner can ask for clarification and reassurance when they need it.
It’s possible to decrease anxiety in romantic relationships
Whether you’re an anxious person looking for more calmness in your relationship, or a couple hoping to strengthen your bond, Wellin5 can help. An experienced counsellor can support couples through their relationship worries, and help establish positive coping mechanisms — leading to stronger and happier relationships. Get matched with a registered counsellor who meets your specific needs.