Don't Let Anxiety Ruin Your Relationships
Anxiety has a way of ruining relationships, making us feel unlucky in love. As anyone who has ever had a relationship involving two people and an annoying third wheel—anxiety—knows, love can be hard to feel and enjoy when anxiety gets in the way. Take heart: there are things you can do to keep anxiety from ruining your relationship.
How Anxiety Can Ruin a Relationship
When someone lives with anxiety, relationships can be tough. Anxiety, fears, worries, and what-ifs can become a barrier between both people, creating unwelcome distance (Is Anxiety Poisoning Your Personal Relationships?). Among other things, someone living with anxiety might:
- Question his/her own competence in the relationship
- Excessively fear doing something wrong to drive the other person away (Anxiety, Criticism, and Conquering Self-Doubt)
- Struggle with feelings of fear and doubt in his/her ability to be a worthy partner in the other partner’s love and tolerance and in the nature of the relationship itself (Anxiety, Relationships and Self-Esteem: A Love Story)
- Overthink and overanalyze his/her partner’s words, expressions, actions, and lack thereof
- Project his/her worries and fears onto his/her partner and the relationship (Mind-Reading and Projecting in Social Anxiety)
It’s challenging, too, to know how to communicate. For both partners, anxiety can make it hard to know what to say and what to do. Anxiety as a third wheel in a relationship zaps enjoyment and makes it difficult to do things outside the home.
If anxiety is messing with your relationship, you can take away its power and create the type of relationship that makes you and your partner lucky in love (Ways to Manage Anxiety in Love Relationships).
How to Stop Anxiety from Ruining Your Relationship
Tips for healthy relationships apply to all relationships, including ones with anxiety as an annoying ball-and-chain. Healthy communication, honesty, sharing common interests and activities, and mutual support are all essential characteristics of a healthy relationship. Unfortunately, anxiety can complicate any of these.
That doesn’t mean that anxiety has to forever interfere in, and ruin, relationships. You just might have to take a creative approach. Whether it’s you or your partner who experiences anxiety, you can side-step it.
The following ideas can help you move forward in your relationship without anxiety constantly interfering:
- Knowing who you are. What traits and strengths are you proud of? What are your hopes, dreams, interests, abilities, and more? Keep anxiety completely out of the description.
- Knowing your partner. The same criteria apply.
- Sharing your descriptions with each other as a way to exchange positive visions, thoughts, and more.
- Knowing what both you and your partner value so you’re on the same page for moving forward (Surviving Life Transitions in a Marriage with Mental Illness).
- Creating a reassurance box or jar. Write notes of encouragements to each other and read them when you are feeling especially doubtful or anxious.
- Saying I do. Commit to moving forward toward what you value in your relationship. Do things together that are mutually agreeable. Action beats anxiety every time (How To Turn Anxiety into Action).
Anxiety can ruin relationships, but it doesn’t have to forever. Know yourself, your partner, and your values, and do things as a couple to move forward. Anxiety might still run in the background, but it won’t run between you.
I invite you to tune into the below video for another tip on keeping your relationship healthy despite anxiety.
Peterson, T. (2017, February 23). Don't Let Anxiety Ruin Your Relationships, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2020, July 12 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/anxiety-schmanxiety/2017/02/unlucky-in-love-when-anxiety-interferes-in-relationships
Author: Tanya J. Peterson, MS, NCC
Only today have I realised I have anxiety, my relationship has suffered greatly. We are now on a slow it down see how we go till axman’s as holiday booked. How can I turn this around, do I need to look at medication?
It can be intimidating and overwhelming to realize that anxiety is a problem in your life and not knowing how to start reducing it. Have confidence that it is possible to reduce it and move forward. It's a process that can involve trial-and-error because there are many options available and each person responds differently to the various options (there are different approaches to counseling, different medications, holistic approaches, self-help, etc.). Medication can be helpful but isn't always necessary. That is a conversation to have with your doctor or a therapist (typically, therapists can't prescribe medication, but they can discuss pros and cons with you). Having a consultation with a therapist could be a good starting point. You can learn about anxiety and treatment options and go from there. You're already on the right track because you're seeking answers and want to move forward. Just build on that momentum and experience a welcome reduction in anxiety.
This is really interesting Tanya! Anxiety is such a funny dynamic and I often find that it can help as well as hinder relationships too! I have an overwhelming fear of losing loved ones so I treasure all my relationships and try not to let too many niggles affect them (maybe that's not healthy either but its an interesting take!). I also struggle with terrible over-sensitivity but, again, I sometimes think that this makes me more sensitive to others. Increasingly I am learning that anxiety brings positive traits with it too and that it can sometimes help relationships! xx
What a great perspective, and I'm so glad you shared it. You are so right -- anxiety isn't all bad. It can actually help us achieve things like relationship goals when we use it in a good way. When anxiety inspires action rather than shuts us down, it can be useful. I think this would make a good article topic! :)
Ha yes Tanya - that's a good way to describe it! "inspiring action instead of a shut down (or melt down
:) :) For me, thinking of it as inspiring action has been among the most empowering ways to turn anxiety around.
Been work traveling and anxiety seems to be low because I am in a different environment. Today, however, anxiety has been with me all day. Should have jogged, but didn't. The mind does weird things. Since my divorce from few months ago I have found a female friend that we have done a lot of things together. Most times anxiety has been very low. Sometimes it is elevated and I cannot sit and watch TV. I usually pace and think. TV can set in the wrong variables and too much can get the anxiety going. I am getting better.