Relationship anxiety can cause you to experience persistent fear, worries, or doubts about your current romantic relationship. It can occur even if the relationship is going well.
If you experience relationship anxiety, you may find that you have a need for constant reassurance from your partner. You may also feel a need to go out of your way to please your partner, possibly ignoring your own needs and wants.
Your anxiety may not start because of any existing issues, but it can lead to distress and other issues if it persists.
But you can take steps to help yourself feel better, get healthy reassurance, and stop relationship anxiety from causing any issues.
Relationship anxiety is a term psychiatrists, counselors, or doctors may use to describe when you or a partner have persistent fears, worries, or doubts about your relationship.
Many people experience fears in relationships, such as will it last or does your partner love you. What separates relationship anxiety from common fears is the severity and persistence of the fear or worry.
A note on relationship anxiety
While many professionals recognize and label the fear you’re experiencing as relationship anxiety, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) doesn’t recognize it as a disorder.
This means there are no guidelines for doctors and other professionals to use to determine you’re experiencing anxiety about your relationship.
In other words, a doctor can’t diagnose you with relationship anxiety, but they may still refer to it as that if no other causes of anxiety are present. You may also experience some similar symptoms to social anxiety disorder, such as fear of rejection.
What causes relationship anxiety?
There’s no clear-cut cause of anxiety in relationships. You may have an overall very good relationship with your partner, or you may have some things you’re working on in a long term, committed relationship.
It can affect people just starting out in their relationship or those who have been together for years.
Some possible contributing factors to relationship anxiety may include:
- low self-esteem
- previous relationship issues, such as a cheating partner or being misled
- how you have learned to attach to other people
There are several signs that you or a partner may be experiencing anxiety about the relationship. According to a
- Partner accommodation: Refers to how your partner (or you) responds to the other’s anxiety.
- Excessive reassurance-seeking: A common symptom of depression or anxiety disorders. Some older studies suggest it may be related to interpersonal dependency. This type of dependency means you or your partner is constantly in need of acceptance from the other.
- Self-silencing: This means that you or your partner remain quiet about feelings, opinions, or thoughts for fear of rejection and to help prevent it. It can lead to you not getting everything you need out of the relationship and eventually lead to dissatisfaction in the relationship.
It’s possible that relationship-based anxiety will show up in other ways. The signs in your partner may not be obvious.
A therapist may be able to help you identify if you or a partner is experiencing anxiety related to your relationship.
If you find that you’re constantly worried about your relationship, you may be able to take steps to help calm your fears. The following are some tips to help get you started.
Several non-medicinal therapies used for anxiety disorders may help with relationship related anxiety. Some therapies a doctor may suggest include:
In some cases, a doctor may prescribe an anxiety medication to help ease your worries while you undergo other forms of therapy. Medications may include selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) and selective noradrenaline reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs).
You may also find that couples counseling may also help with reducing relationship-related anxiety.
Since there are no guidelines for relationship anxiety, doctors and therapists have no standard treatment guidelines. You may find you need to provide feedback and be an active participant in developing a plan that works for you.
Observe your feelings first
You may want constant reassurance from your partner. But you also may recognize this isn’t a healthy need that you’re feeling and the underlying cause may be anxiety.
If you notice you’re experiencing anxiety about your relationship consider pausing when uncomfortable thoughts or feelings arise.
Try to let go of judgment and practice self-compassion. Then take about 2 to 3 minutes to focus on your natural breath and gently observe your thoughts.
After taking time to pause, you may consider communicating your feelings to your partner or journaling.
Communication may help you improve your feelings of worry and distress. This can include taking steps like saying what you feel or letting your partner know what is going through your mind.
This can be intimidating if your fears revolve around rejection, but it may help you feel better if you talk out your feelings with your significant other.
Relationship anxiety can happen if you feel constant worry, fear, or doubts about your relationship. Though it’s not a diagnosable condition, healthcare professionals can help you out if you seek treatment.
Treatments can involve a combination of mindfulness, therapy sessions, and, in some cases, medications. You may find that couples therapy or individual therapy may help.
You may also find that communicating your feelings with your partner and taking time to understand and keep your anxiety symptoms in check may also help.