What causes relationship anxiety?
We are learning about relationships from the start of our lives.
From the very beginning, as babies we look to bond with our mothers. We develop our future relationships based on these early experiences of bonding and attachment.
If there are problems in these experiences then it is likely that we will have problems later on with other relationships. Often we can learn to function very well, despite having had a complicated and frustrating experience of our early relationships. But, when we become interested in someone, a potential partner or love interest, this can change as we find ourselves thrown back into our early patterns of relationship anxiety.
What can we do about our relationship anxiety?
We can be very lucky and meet someone who will be very understanding of our anxieties.
But the most helpful thing we can do is to try to understand more about what our pattern of relationship anxiety is based on. How did our early patterns and attachments work and develop?
The more we can learn about this the more we stand a chance of recognising the difference between ordinary relationship anxiety based upon actual events that are happening in the present, and relationship anxiety based on more emotionally unstable early experience.
- Psychotherapy provides a confidential and predictable relationship in which you can safely work on your relationship anxiety.
Relationships can make us feel anxious for lots of reasons.
Some of these are ordinary, like the anxiety we feel at the start of a relationship, the feeling that we like someone and want more of them, and the fear that something might go wrong and they might not want us.
Some relationship anxieties are based on more complicating things when we can become so anxious at the thought of developing a relationship with someone that we just can’t face it. Even though we might yearn for company we end up withdrawing into ourselves instead. We can feel worse for doing so
“I was so excited about meeting up, but then as the date approached I just got so nervous. I cancelled him by text and I haven’t been on a date since. I would love to be in a relationship, but I just can’t seem to handle the anxiety.” Emily (not her real name)
Emily’s story – my relationship anxiety
Emily came to see me in her 60s. She had been living alone for 20 years, since her last relationship failed. She was so hurt by the experience that she found it easier to live without emotional relationships. But over time she became very lonely.
When she came to see me she spoke about how her relationships had failed. She blamed herself and the choices of partners she picked. Gradually, as she developed confidence in her therapy she started to talk more about her early life and childhood. As she did so it became clear that from the very start she had lacked secure relationships. Her mother had Emily when she was a teenager, it was a very stressful time for Emily and her mother, and really set the tone for the way Emily’s relationships would subsequently work out.
Emily had thought about coming for therapy for years but lacked the confidence that it could help. It was a shame that she hadn’t come sooner.
- If you know that you suffer relationship anxiety, if you know that it is getting in the way of you living a more enjoyable and shared life, I suggest coming for psychotherapy to see how it can help you.
Why should I try psychotherapy to help me manage my relationship anxiety?
- Because unless you find a way to safely explore your relationship anxiety it will damage, quite possibly ruin, all of the relationships you try to develop.
Relationship anxiety is different for each of us
There is the anxiety that we will feel at the start of a relationship and there is the anxiety we can feel after our relationship has been going for some time, the relationship anxiety that our partner is no longer interested in us.
Relationships create pleasure and excitement but they can also make us feel stressed and anxious. And the more interested and involved we become the more anxiety we can feel. A new relationship stirs up our emotions like nothing else. It becomes hard to concentrate on anything as we find ourselves thinking more and more about our the new person we have met.
A new relationship can make us think of all the relationships that have not worked out for us in the past.
Relationship anxiety – We worry about things that might go wrong.
As we get closer, so our emotions, feelings and senses become more charged. We become more worried about whether the relationship might fail. At these times our past experiences, the ghosts and memories of our old relationships can come back to haunt us.
We can become anxious about how much we should tell someone about ourselves, how much do we want to share?
- Once our relationship anxiety has been provoked we can get caught up in some very tangled ways of thinking and feeling which can tend to create a spiral of further anxiety.
It can be very helpful to have a confidential place to talk through your concerns about your relationship anxiety. To do so in a way that makes you feel listened to. Psychotherapy can give you a place to talk openly about your relationship anxiety. A weekly session offers you a chance to feel heard and understood and a safe place where you know you can talk and explore your relationship anxiety further.
New relationships stir up all kinds of intense feelings and thoughts they excite us in very particular ways. As we become more interested so we can become much more prone to an irrational sense of fear and concern about how things might go wrong.
This emphasis on the potentially negative side is a particular feature of relationship anxiety.
- Can we learn from how things have gone wrong for us in the past?
- What might we be able to do now if we could find a way to avoid our old mistakes?
- Can we use our relationship anxiety as a spur to learn more about ourselves?
- To learn more about what tends to make us fear intimate relationships?
Taking the time to understand what happened in our past relationships can help to free us from relationship anxiety in the present.
I have twenty years experience of working with people with relationship anxiety.
Giving yourself the chance to speak in a confidential setting may prove helpful, it may be the beginning of starting to develop greater insight into yourself and your situation.
- It may provide you with the chance to manage your relationship anxiety in such a way that you can go onto pick better partners and have more satisfying relationships.
Contact me to arrange a free telephone consultation to discuss how my approach might help you.