How Anxiety Can Ruin Relationships And What To Do

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IN THIS ARTICLE

If you often keep telling yourself, ‘my anxiety is ruining my relationship,’ you are not alone. People tend to overthink and imagine the worst scenarios when they love someone deeply.

For instance, you might think about your partner constantly and fear the worst. Or worse still, negative thoughts can cloud your mind and take away your peace of mind.

If you often question your own sanity or your relationship, read on as we talk about how anxiety can ruin your relationship and what you can do about it

Can Anxiety Ruin Relationships?

When you suffer from anxiety or anxiety disorder, you exhibit certain symptoms that can stress you out. If you are in a relationship, you project your anxieties on your partner. As a result, they are stressed as well. When your partner has been bearing the brunt of your anxious thoughts for a long time, it would not be long before the relationship begins to fray.

How Anxiety Ruins Relationships?

According to the Anxiety & Depression Association of America, around 40 million adults in the US suffer from anxiety disorders (1). If it continues for long, it can slowly cause your relationship to disintegrate.

1. You stop trusting your partner

Anxiety causes trust issues

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Paranoia is a common side effect of anxiety. When you are anxious, you start losing trust in your partner. You may not respond to their needs and even create scenarios where your partner cannot get close to you. You are often so worried about what might happen that you forget to live in the moment. This can make your partner feel neglected.

2. You think and speak in different ways

When you are anxious, you are often worried about your partner’s thoughts. To hide what you think, you may speak differently and not articulate your mind. Anxiety also distorts your decisions, so you often remain quiet when you have to speak and rush in when silence is required. For both you and your partner, this is likely to cause communications to become confusing and not meet the needs for a healthy and honest relationship.

3. You become selfish

Anxiety is another name for selfishness. You don’t do it on purpose, but you behave selfishly. This could be a major put-off for your partner. There is a certain degree of worrying in every relationship, but when your anxiety goes overboard, it might reduce your ability to be compassionate towards your partner. You can also react in egotistic ways as you have some resentment due to the anxiety.

4. You stop accepting

Anxiety prevents you from accepting the status quo. You might go through many feelings that do not allow you to relax even when you know nothing can go wrong. In your anxiety, you might push away things that might benefit you. You can even stop acting on something good for you because you are anxious it might be bad. You reject all the new things that you see, and this attitude often makes you unapproachable.

5. You become negative

Anxiety fills life with negativity

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Anxiety fills your life with so much negativity that you fail to see anything positive around you. This happens because anxiety makes you feel trapped. You feel scared of the unknown and cannot spread your wings. With such negative feelings, you cannot experience the little happy things in your life. Consequently, you are unable to enjoy good conversations, relaxing with your partner, or having sex or intimacy. You fail to be in the moment, which makes your partner feel unseen.

6. You overthink every little thing

Does my partner love me?” “Do I really love them?” Such questions often occur in your mind when you have anxiety. There is always a voice in your brain that tells you that you are not doing enough for your relationship. This causes you to overthink everything you or your partner do for each other and you measure it against an unseen and often unrealistic standard. This cannot help but impact the quality of your relationship (2).

7. You send mixed signals

You and your partner need to remain on the same page when you are in an intimate relationship. However, anxiety will cause mixed signals that need to be attended to. One day, you might be the epitome of a caring partner, while on the next, you might be standoffish. This blow-hot-blow-cold attitude is very unhealthy for a relationship, causing more arguments than necessary.

If you notice these signs in your relationship, it might suggest that your anxiety is more than normal, and is harming your relationship.

How Can You Prevent Anxiety From Ruining Your Relationship?

Even if you have serious anxiety, a couple can work through a path for change and hopefulness.. With some preventive measures, you can salvage the goodness of your relationship and put it back on track.

1. Do not use your partner as a therapist

Discuss your triggers and reactions with a professional

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While being open with your partner is a good idea as they need to understand what is going on inside of you, it is also necessary for such anxiety to be discussed with an appropriate therapist. There are certain boundaries that a therapist will guide you through. It is more productive to discuss your triggers and reactions with a professional. Talking to a third person about your feelings will allow you to look at all your emotions objectively.

2. Be mindful of your partner’s feelings

Even if you have anxiety, you must try to be mindful of your partner’s feelings. When you feel anxious, take deep breaths before starting a conversation. Treat your partner with respect so that you receive respect in turn.

3. Be attentive

Try to be attentive towards your partner

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It is easy to think about yourself and forget about your partner if you have anxiety. However, in a relationship, your inattentiveness can cause your partner to drift away. Try to be attentive towards your partner’s needs to feel loved and drawn toward you.

4. Stop asking for reassurance

Every person needs reassurance to feel motivated and loved. However, when you have anxiety, seeking reassurance becomes second nature. You want it every time, and once you get it, you want more. You need to consciously stop this habit so that your partner does not feel pressured to compliment and reassure you for the littlest things.

5. Learn to handle emotions

Every relationship comes with its own set of emotional baggage. You may feel happy, sad, angry, and worried in turns. You need to find a way to calm yourself when you feel anxious. If you speak about your problems the moment you feel them with your partner, you might push them back. Instead, control your emotions before you talk to your partner to be more receptive to your issues.

6. Communicate

Communication is key in any relationship

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Communication is key in any relationship. The more transparent you are with your partner, the more successful your relationship will be. However, you also need to set boundaries and respect them so that your partner doesn’t feel overwhelmed. You need to be clear about what you want from your partner to know how to act when you are anxious.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. What does anxiety in a relationship feel like?

Relationship anxiety often feels like a lack of confidence, difficulty in self-expression, constant worrying about betrayal, thinking about bad past experiences, sabotaging relationships because of fear, relentless insecurities, negative thoughts, overwhelming feelings, and an unhealthy codependent relationship (3).

2. Why do relationships trigger anxiety?

Childhood trauma related to parent’s relationship, such as abandonment, gender differences in relationship goals, past experiences of betrayal, lack of quality time, attachment insecurities, and pre-existing behavior of getting stressed, may trigger relationship anxiety (3).

Anxiety and anxiety disorders are a part of many people’s lives. However, with proper handling and care, you can overcome it or prevent the symptoms from ruining your relationship. Recognizing the signs of anxiety and how it ruins relationships can go a long way. Hopefully, you will never have to say, “My anxiety is ruining my relationship.”

Infographic: Managing Anxiety In A Relationship

Anxiety issues may affect a relationship adversely; however, this does not mean that every relationship will face troubles or end in bitterness. If both partners are aware of the situation and are willing to overcome it, sharing a happy, long-term relationship with a partner dealing with anxiety is possible. Read this infographic to understand how.

how can partners work on easing anxiety together [infographic]
Illustration: MomJunction Design Team

Key Pointers

  • If you are constantly anxious, it may eventually spill into your partner and destroy the relationship.
  • Anxiety can turn you into an overthinker, insecure, and negative person.
  • Try not to burden your partner with your issue, understand their feelings as well, and seek out professional help if needed.

References:

MomJunction's articles are written after analyzing the research works of expert authors and institutions. Our references consist of resources established by authorities in their respective fields. You can learn more about the authenticity of the information we present in our editorial policy.
  1. Facts and Statistics, Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA);
    https://adaa.org/understanding-anxiety/facts-statistics
  2. Anxiety disorders in intimate partners and the quality of their relationship, ScienceDirect;
    https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0165032712001000
  3. Paul R. Brian and Renée Shen; New Relationship Anxiety: 9 Crippling Symptoms Causes & How To Overcome It.
    https://ncrw.org/new-relationship-anxiety/
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Shikha Thakur

Shikha is a writer-turned-associate editor at MomJunction. Having done a certification in Relationship Coaching, her core interest lies in writing articles that guide couples through their courtship to marriage and parenthood. She also specializes in baby names. Being a postgraduate in Human Resources from Jawaharlal Nehru Technological University, she likes understanding people and their relationships. This reflects in her relationship...
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Sharon Gilchrest O’Neill

(Ed.S., LMFT)
Sharon Gilchrest O'Neill is a Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist and family business consultant, who has earlier been a graduate instructor/advisor, an organizational learning consultant, and hospice volunteer. With experience working in the private as well as corporate setting, Sharon helps her clients think creatively and build upon their strengths. Previously, she trained Russian psychiatrists in Moscow in the skills...
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