Love is hard. The good stuff is easy: the loving, the intimacy, the celebration. It's the gritty parts that make love difficult. If you were to ask people what are the most destructive things that can happen in a relationship, they would likely say:
- Financial burdens
- Growing into different paths in life
There is an item quietly missing from that list: an alternative matter that tucks itself quietly into a relationship, creating conflict, stress, sadness and almost inevitably the dissolution of the relationship.
Relationship anxiety is difficult to identify, since it's hard to delineate from generalized anxiety. The vital difference is that relationship anxiety is an exact situation, specifically: your relationship and your neurosis within it. Through self-awareness and honesty, you can become mindful when these reactions arise and learn to work through them in a healthy way that benefits both you and your partner.
What is it?
You may have relationship anxiety if you:
- Require constant reassurance about your role in the relationship.
- Cause unnecessary conflict as a means of "testing" your partner's loyalty.
- Find yourself in a continual state of fear of abandonment, worry, dread or doubt over the relationship.
- Are generally irritable with others due to your own anxiety in the relationship.
- Often become jealous/suspicious of your partner.
Concerns are natural
Concerns are a natural part of a relationship. They become problematic when turned into a daily obsession. That is a heavy load for your significant other to bear, especially if they genuinely respect your feelings and have reiterated their love and devotion to you countless times.
No matter how much they declare their love, it will never be enough until you are secure with yourself. This requires honing in on previous relationship issues that have followed you into your current partnership.
No healing without dealing
"How did I become this way?" Unresolved matters from past unions contribute to current issues. Once you experience trauma, you don't heal from it until you identify what caused the grief and pain in the first place.
When someone has been cheated on, it affects their self-esteem. Insecurities arise and they're left wondering why their partner strayed. "Am I not attractive to him/her anymore?" "Am I not a good lover?" "Am I not a good partner?" "Are they ashamed of me?" When a person cheats, it's less about you and more about their character and personality.
But if you go into your next relationship unsure of your worth, it will eventually surface. That's what trauma does: It resurfaces in a vicious cycle until we learn its purpose for us. Only then can we overcome and evolve beyond the lower levels of thinking that do not serve us.
It sabotages the relationship and puts a lot of pressure on your partner to be on guard at all times because they know you're a ticking time bomb. Testing your partner's loyalty is manipulative and mean. How would you feel knowing you had been tested – every word and expression from you hyper-analyzed and twisted around, leaving you confused and irritated?
That's exactly what you do to your mate when you require constant reassurance. It leaves them unsure of how to make you happy or how to do anything right at all. Now they harbor animosity towards you and you're both in a melting pot of dysfunction.
Communication is key
It is imperative to communicate what you need and why you need it. Showing vulnerability allows your significant other an entrance into your heart instead of leaving them on the doorstep, knocking without an answer. This does not mean they are inclined to go above and beyond to fill your emotional cup; remember, the goal here is balance.
You want to be specific about what you need and not require them to guess. Then ask them what they need in return from you.
"I was cheated on before and he said he hadn't loved me in a long time, which is why I need reassurance. It helps me to feel secure in our relationship."
"I will happily give you reassurance, but you need to believe me when I say I love you… I've never cheated on you and you have to understand that when I tell you I'm happy with us, I mean it."
Get out of your head
Catch yourself when you are fretting. Take a moment to get out of your head. Overthinking leads to over-analyzing, and before you know it you've worked yourself into a frenzy. Who caused this? You did! Realize that whatever you're focusing on, if it isn't happening in the present moment then it's not real.
Get up and move, do an exercise routine on YouTube, meditate, throw on some music. Do anything that gets you out of overthinking. Tell yourself that if it's important enough to worry about then it's important enough to talk with your mate about.
Emotions are vital components of our humanity, and they exist to serve us as a means of personal growth. When you find yourself wallowing in insecurity and stress over a relationship, take control. Discern where your fears are coming from and what can make you feel better about them, then implement resolutions instead of taking the chance on sabotaging your relationship.