How Anxiety Can Ruin Relationships And What To Do

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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 have a misgiving 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

In This Article

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 and apprehensiveness on your partner. As a result, they experience disquietude 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.

Anxiety can have a profound impact on relationships. Harris O’Malley, a blogger and an ex-boyfriend, shares how he met a girl named J, started dating her, and how out of anxiety, he texted her desperately, which eventually ruined his relationship. He says, “I felt extremely stupid and embarrassed for how anxious I felt in the days leading up to my text. I was totally wrong. I apologized and tried to explain why I did it, that it was born out of anxiety and bad previous experiences but has never resulted in me sending a text like I did… I’ve always had anxiety (it’s human nature), but it’s never gotten to the point where it ruined something that was really good. I totally let it consume me and dictate my behavior. With it being the holidays and no one in town, no internet, and nothing to do, I couldn’t use my normal distractions to help quell the anxiety. I understand that this is something I really need to work on otherwise it will ruin things for me in the future. But I also want to try and make things better with J and hopefully date her again. I’m not going to talk to her for a while to give her time as well as myself so I can get a better handle on my anxiety (i).”

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

Image: Shutterstock

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.

protip_icon Point to consider
People with anxiety may isolate themselves to avoid experiencing negative emotions, thus making the relationship difficult to maintain. Open up to your partner and let them know how you feel to prevent this.

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 feelings of disquietedness and perturbedness 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

Image: IStock

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 dreadful questions of 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).

protip_icon Point to consider
People with anxiety may depend too much on their partners. This may cause them to make unfavorable plans, become upset with their partners for insignificant things, or fear rejection.

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.

8. You become clingy

Being too clingy because of anxiety can take a toll on your relationship. When you are anxious, you may always want to be with your partner and feel worried when they are not around. You may be overly dependent on your partner, and their absence can trigger negative emotions in you, eventually prompting you to bother them with continuous texts or calls. Anxious people also seek a lot of validation and reassurance from their partner, which may put them off. When you are too clingy and don’t give your partner enough space, they may feel suffocated. They may not have enough time to spend with their friends and family and feel stuck in the relationship. It is important to talk openly about your feelings and find ways to stop being clingy to have a fulfilling 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

Image: IStock

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 distress, 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

Image: IStock

It is easy to think about yourself and forget about your partner if you have the apprehension and jitters. However, in a relationship, your inattentiveness can cause your partner to drift away and experience discomposure. 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 worry quite frequently. 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

Image: IStock

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 and develop a feeling of unease and angst. 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 trepidation 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).

3. Can anxiety make you lose feelings for someone?

Anxiety can indeed influence one’s emotions towards someone else. It can generate uneasiness, concern, and uncertainty, potentially overshadowing positive emotions and making it challenging to sustain romantic or emotional bonds. Nevertheless, it is crucial to recognize that each person’s experience is distinct, and individual circumstances can differ.

4. Can anxiety make it hard to love someone in a relationship?

Anxiety can create challenges when it comes to loving someone in a relationship. The ongoing anxious thoughts and emotions can impede emotional involvement, trust, and feelings of safety. However, by fostering understanding, being patient, maintaining open communication, and seeking professional help, overcoming these obstacles and cultivating a loving relationship is feasible.

“Why is my anxiety ruining my relationship?” is a common concern and apprehension for many people. Negative thoughts and beliefs can lead to issues in a relationship. It can also trigger doubts, jealousy, and trust issues. Behavior shifts due to perturbation can also be overwhelming for the partner. Anxiety and anxiety disorders should be managed with the help of experts to cope with the symptoms. Timely management of symptoms could prevent anxiety from ruining your relationship.

Infographic: Managing Anxiety In A Relationship

Anxiety issues may affect a relationship adversely; however, this does not mean that every relationship is troubled or ends in bitterness. If both partners are aware of the agitation and uneasiness 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.

Is anxiety taking a toll on your relationship? Join us in this eye-opening video as we uncover the signs that your anxiety might be negatively impacting your love life and provide valuable insights for healing and growth.

Personal Experience: Source


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);
  2. Anxiety disorders in intimate partners and the quality of their relationship, ScienceDirect;
  3. Paul R. Brian and Renée Shen; New Relationship Anxiety: 9 Crippling Symptoms Causes & How To Overcome It.
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