20 Signs You’re Experiencing Relationship Anxiety (And How to Cope)
The beginning stage of a relationship is often characterized by butterflies and a little bit of anxiety about the future of the relationship. After you have been seeing each other for a while, the butterflies should start to subside, but feelings of anxiety might not completely go away. It’s easy to worry about reciprocated feelings and the future of the relationship, but if these worries are outweighing positive feelings about the relationship, you may be experiencing relationship anxiety. Relationships anxiety is a general term for feelings of insecurity or doubt related to your relationships even when things are going well. These feelings are often unfounded and more related to personal things like low self esteem, mismatched attachment style or past relationship trauma.
1. Wondering if you matter
If things are going well in your relationship, and your partner is paying attention to your needs and prioritizing you and your time, then you do not need to worry about whether or not you matter to your partner. They are demonstrating that you matter by maintaining the relationship. Wondering if you matter to your partner when things are going well in the relationship might be a sign that you are experiencing relationship anxiety related to low self esteem. Coping with this can be hard, especially because these feelings are fairly unrelated to your relationship. But, addressing your self esteem issues and feelings of self worth can help you feel more confident about yourself and about your relationship.
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2. Questioning your partner’s feelings
After the beginning stages of a relationship, you shouldn’t doubt your partner’s feelings for you. They have committed to being in a relationship, and are clearly interested in you and have emotional and romantic feelings for you. Rather than question your partner’s feelings, try to take the relationship itself as a testament to their feelings. And consider all of their actions as proof that they have feelings for you.
3. Waiting for something to go wrong
People with relationship anxiety often feel like things in their relationship are “too good to be true”, and expect things to take a sour turn at any moment. While this certainly can happen in a relationship, most of the time things will not go wrong out of the blue. If things are going well with your partner, you should feel secure in your relationship and expect things to keep going well rather than taking a turn for the worst. If you feel yourself waiting for something to go wrong, try and focus on the positives in your relationship. If you notice that these feelings stem from past relationship traumas (perhaps a time when things really did start going wrong out of the blue), then it’s important to address these traumas so that the past doesn’t create problems in your current relationship.
4. Doubting your compatibility
Like we said before, people with relationship anxiety are often waiting for something to go wrong, which can mean doubting your long-term compatibility as a couple. This is not a totally unfounded fear. After the initial honeymoon phase of a relationship wears off, it is possible that general incompatibilities arise as you learn more and more about each other’s philosophies and world views. But most of the time, initial compatibility will outlast the honeymoon phase and your relationship will thrive. If you are worried about compatibility, you can suggest taking a compatibility test with your partner. These aren’t necessarily an exact science, but it can help put some of your anxieties to rest about your relationship compatibility.
5. Avoiding relationship milestones
People with relationship anxiety are often deeply afraid of rejection. This fear will cause them to avoid important relationship steps, like having sex, saying ‘I love you’, introducing your partner to friends and family, or meeting your partner’s friends and family in order to avoid rejection altogether. This can prevent your relationship from growing and can end up really hurting your partner’s feelings. To cope with this anxiety, try to relish in your evolving relationship and look forward to these milestones as testaments to the strength of your relationship.
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6. Comparing your relationship to others
If you are anxious in your relationship, instead of trusting your partner and trusting the normal relationship milestones, you may be tempted to compare your partner and your relationship to past relationships, your friend’s relationship, or your idealized version of relationships. Because you are unable to trust your connection to your partner, you focus your energy outward to make sure that things are going as they should be. But, comparison is never a good idea considering that all relationships are different. This kind of behavior will make it impossible for your partner or your relationship to succeed. To cope with this, try not to make comparisons and focus more of your energy into your relationship rather than into comparisons.
7. Looking for reasons to break up
People with relationship anxiety are often so anxious about relationships that they look for reasons to break up. If things are going well in your relationship, and you find that you really like your partner but are always looking for reasons to call things quits, you are experiencing relationship anxiety. If you find yourself in this position, you can cope with your anxiety by putting a positive spin on this type of mindset. Think of all the things you are grateful for in the relationship, and why you are glad that you are with your partner. Staying positive and actively working to affirm your relationship will help you feel less anxious about it.
8. Sabotaging the relationship
Some people with relationship anxiety go even further than looking for reasons to break up, and actually sabotage the relationship. The need to sabotage or effectively end the relationships normally stems from a fear that “things won’t work out anyways.” People with relationship anxiety often doubt the quality or long term potential of their relationship and so they try to end things while the relationship is still going well. If you find yourself sabotaging your relationship, reflect on what is motivating you to do so? Are you insecure about your partner’s feelings? Do you doubt your compatibility? Or do you actually want the relationship to end because you are not feeling fulfilled? Getting to the bottom of the reasons why you are sabotaging will help you cope with these tendencies and move forward.
9. Constantly thinking your partner wants to break up
In addition to doubting their partner’s feelings, people with relationship anxiety often fear that their partner wants to break up with them. These fears are normally completely unfounded and can put unnecessary stress on the relationship. There are normally clear signs that a relationship isn’t going well or that your partner is unhappy and might want to end things. In the absence of these signs, take your relationship at face value and trust that your partner wants to be with you.
10. Over-analyzing their words
People with relationship anxiety often put too much stock into little things that their partner’s say. It is important to hold your partner accountable for things that they say, but be sure not to over-analyze off-hand comments. If there is a real problem or conflict, it will become apparent sooner rather than later, there is no need to over-analyze everything your partner says or look for conflict that doesn’t actually exist. If you find yourself over-analyzing things that your partner says, you can try and cope by taking things at face value and asking for clarification or elaboration if there seems to be a disagreement.
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11. Over-analyzing their actions
In addition to over-analyzing a partner’s words, people with relationship anxiety will often over-analyze their partner’s actions, reading into a slammed door or a weird voicemail. If you find yourself obsessing over little things your partner is doing, and reading too much into them, the best way to cope is to ask them if everything is alright. Bringing up a specific incident that is causing your anxiety and sharing how you interpreted it can help you and your partner navigate similar situations moving forward.
12. Missing out on good times
People with relationship anxiety are often so worried about things going awry that they miss out on all the good times in the relationship. All serious relationships will go through rough patches, which is why it’s so important to enjoy the good times when they’re here. Focusing on staying present in the relationship, not fretting about the future, will help you cope with this relationship anxiety.
13. Constantly needing reassurance from your partner
As we mentioned before, low self-esteem can often be a cause of relationship anxiety and it can often manifest as needing constant reassurance from your partner. Reassurance about their feelings for you, reassurance about your worth in the relationship and reassurance about the relationship itself. Providing this kind of constant reassurance can be taxing to your partner. Addressing feelings of low self-esteem is crucial in order to cope with this type of relationship anxiety.
Relationship anxiety can sometimes stem from differences in attachment style. There are four different types of attachment styles ranging from secure to more and more insecure. If you have an insecure attachment style, you might feel the need to cling to your partner out of fear that they will leave you. This clinginess can come off as overwhelming or overbearing to people with secure attachment style or a lack of relationship anxiety and can actually cause more problems in your relationship. Some insecure attachment styles arise out of relationship trauma or certain insecurities. Getting to the bottom of your attachment issues may help you reduce relationship-related anxiety.
15. Checking your partner’s texts
People with relationship anxiety often are not able to fully trust their partners. This is often due to past relationship trauma, and can manifest in sneaky behavior like going through your partner’s phone. The irony is that looking through your partner’s texts behind their back actually makes you untrustworthy! Instead of invading your partner’s privacy, you should try to open up a dialogue about trust and honesty so that you are both on the same page.
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People with relationship anxiety will often shy away from voicing their own opinions, preferences or needs out of fear that it will contradict their partner. People do this because they fear that any disagreement between them and their partner could lead to the end of the relationship. But, the fact of the matter is that no matter how compatible you and your partner are, you will have different opinions on some things, and it’s important to express your opinions so that you have a voice in the relationship.
17. Being overly accommodating to your partner
In addition to self-silencing, people with relationship anxiety are often overly accommodating to their partner, bending over backwards so that their partner can get their way. While it is important to compromise in your relationship, it’s important that compromise is coming from both sides. If you accommodate all of your partner’s wants and needs, your needs are being overlooked which can lead to other problems in your relationship. This fear is rooted in the same fear that causes self-silencing, this idea that if you and your partner disagree, or if your partner doesn’t get what they want, then the relationship won’t work. Learning to accept that relationships weather compromise and disagreements will help you stand up for yourself and your needs.
18. You are demanding or controlling of your partner
This is another sign of relationship anxiety that can be related to a mismatch in attachment style. People with insecure attachment will often act controlling towards their partner. The controlling behavior is often possessive and jealous, and stems from personal insecurities and insecurities about the relationship. Addressing your attachment issues will help you cope with your general relationship anxiety.
19. Sex-related anxiety
Becoming sexually intimate with your partner is often a source of anxiety for people in a new relationship. Heck, intimacy is scary! But as you explore sexual intimacy as a couple, these feelings of sex-related anxiety should subside. If they don’t subside, this is a sign that you are experiencing relationship anxiety. Coping with sex-related anxiety will require you to be open and honest with your partner about what is causing the anxiety so that you can work through it together, making sure the sexual intimacy is pleasurable for you both.
20. Keeping secrets
Trust and honesty are important pillars of any romantic relationship. If you are keeping secrets from your partner, you are undermining these pillars and jeopardizing the relationship. Secret-keeping is a sign of relationship anxiety. Coping with it will require you to be honest with your partner and to create an open dialogue about communication.
Managing different types of relationship anxiety is often easier said than done, especially when it requires dealing with deep-seated insecurities and/or past relationship trauma. Relish is a relationship coaching app that you and your partner can use to help address relationship anxiety as a team with the help of an expert relationship coach.
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