If you suffer from anxiety, you know it can get in the way of enjoying your life. It can hold you back from trying new things, or it can make you avoid social settings. Anxiety seems like a protective instinct, but when it’s overdeveloped, it hides you under an unnecessary shell.
Anxiety can be especially troublesome in romantic relationships. If you suffer from anxiety, you’d probably like to hide the symptoms from the people around you. However, romantic relationships tend to cross a line of intimacy that makes it impossible to keep secrets. Managing your anxiety in a romantic relationship can be a challenge.
How Anxiety Impacts Relationships
Romantic relationships can be especially difficult when you suffer from anxiety. There are a number of ways your anxiety can cause problems, including:
- Difficulty Maintaining Appropriate Boundaries. You don’t trust your own feelings, so you aren’t willing to share them with someone else. The communication deficiencies inherent with anxiety can keep you from asking for what you need, including affection or space.
- Difficulty Developing a Deep Connection with Another Person. When you suffer from anxiety, you spend a lot of energy worrying about what could happen or what will happen next. That concern is always self-centered and keeps you from focusing on the other person. It’s as if you’re constantly having a conversation with yourself and ignoring the other person in the room.
- Constantly Paralyzed With Worry. Instead of speaking up about something that makes you uncomfortable, your anxiety keeps you stuck with the discomfort. You may recognize something about your relationship that doesn’t work for you, but you cannot make any changes because your anxiety won’t let you move.
- Unable to Feel Joy. True happiness comes out of a sense of safety and freedom. Anxiety keeps you from feeling truly safe or free to express yourself. An intimate relationship without safety and freedom won’t reach its full potential. Continuing in a romantic relationship like this deprives you and your partner of real joy.
Romantic relationships require a level of interaction with another person that doesn’t come easily to people who suffer from anxiety. That doesn’t mean you can’t have a healthy relationship. It’s just important to realize your specific challenges.
How to Overcome Anxiety's Effects on Relationships
Once you see that your anxiety presents specific challenges in romantic relationships, you can overcome those problems. Here are some specific ideas to help you:
- Share to Add Trust. When you have concerns, it is better to articulate them early, before your anxiety has a chance to spiral out of control. Learn to calmly express your concerns without making them into a full-blown crisis. The response you get from your partner will be less defensive and more productive.
- Live in the Moment. Train yourself to live in the moment, especially when you’re around your partner. When anxiety brings fear into your mind, decide whether it’s unfounded or not and forget it, or decide to share it with your partner if there is some legitimacy to it. By dismissing your fears one way or another, you will spend more time mentally engaged in the moment.
- Try Not to Let Fear Rule. You can counter your fear with compassion. Instead of letting anxiety turn to that paralyzing knot in your stomach, turn your thoughts to the compassion you have for your partner. Practice turning your fears around and then gently connecting with your partner.
- Remember to Laugh. Let your sense of humor replace those anxious thoughts. Approaching your partner with a playful sense of fun can lead to more relaxed intimate moments and greater pleasure for both of you.
Through a combination of open communication, mindfulness, and compassion, you can overcome the challenges of anxiety in romantic relationships. To learn more about coping with anxiety, contact Brookhaven Retreat, a mental retreat facility for women.