Anxiety is pretty much the worst, and the last thing anyone needs is a relationship that stresses them out on top of everything. So what are the signs your relationship is affecting your anxiety? I reached out to nine dating and relationship professionals, who gave me the low-down on indications that you're getting unnecessarily stressed out by your relationship.
Some were fairly obvious — you worry about your relationship all the time, and fret about its past, present and future, or you can't stop thinking about your partner when she or he is not near, or you constantly overanalyze every little thing your boo says or does or might say or do or didn't say or do or ... you get the idea. Other signs were less obvious, but no less interesting: For example, if the sound of your partner's voice stresses you out, you might be experiencing a sensory issue — aka an actual nervous system response, caused by ongoing stress.
Here are nine ways you can tell that your relationship is adding to your anxiety in a deep and real way, and some smart and helpful suggestions for moving forward. But first, check out the latest episode of Bustle's Sex and Relationships podcast I Want It That Way:
1. You're Stressed By The Sound Of Their Voice
"The sound of their voice makes you stress," zen psychotherapist and neuromarketing strategist Michele Paiva tells Bustle, "and there is science to this. When you hear their voice and they create stress responses in you, you have just experienced enough stress that it has created a sensory issue," she continues. "Ever hear someone say to kids, 'Stop making noise, I'm getting a headache?'" Who hasn't?
2. You Worry About The Relationship All The Time
"When you spend a great deal of time consumed with thoughts and worries about the relationship," you're officially stressed out by your partner, and your partnership is upping your anxiety, psychologist Nikki Martinez tells Bustle. This can impair other parts of your life too, she says. "You are not able to get things done, or to relax and enjoy yourself, because you are so preoccupied and concerned." Pretty obvious signs right there indeed.
3. You're Constantly Overanalyzing
"When you cannot stop thinking about your partner and wondering the status of your relationship," your anxiety is being affected by your romance, psychologist, image consultant and dating expert Dr. Jennifer Rhodes tells Bustle. "Attachment anxiety is a red flag that the relationship is a potentially poor fit, or your partner is emotionally avoidant." If you're in this boat, it can totally set you off. "Emotionally sensitive and anxious people who end up in the wrong relationship can go from being high-functioning to an emotional basket case overnight."
So figure out what you have to have in a relationship, and talk about it. "Knowing what you need emotionally and being brave enough to ask for it very early on will help avoid getting into a relationship with someone who cannot meet your emotional needs," she says.
4. You Obsess When You're Apart
"One sign is if you feel unable to breathe or bear it when your partner is not with you while you are at work," relationship coach and psychic medium Melinda Carver tells Bustle. "If you feel you cannot cope without seeing them during working hours, then your relationship affects your anxiety." Obviously, the first thing to do in this situation is to redirect your anxiety, and focus on yourself. "You become too worried about what your partner is doing, who they are talking to, or you count the minutes until you see them again," Carver says, and that is never a good thing. "Anxiety is not a fun state of being," she adds. But there are things you can do to change your feelings. "Ways to decrease anxiety include smelling essential lemon oil — spritz it in the air around you — [or] looking at something bright yellow, or taking a walk outside," she says.
5. You Worry About Difficult Conversations
"It is almost like a Geiger counter picking up on radiation: The closer you get to your significant other, the more it feels like an elephant is sitting on your chest," dating expert Noah Van Hochman tells Bustle. "You begin to assume that if you are close enough to talk, the things that will be said will stress you out." If this is happening, you might be blowing things way out of proportion. The worst. Discuss this with your partner to avoid any ongoing stress.
6. You're Putting In Way More Effort Than Your Partner
When you feel like you're making all of the effort, this can cause serious stress, Stefanie Safran, Chicago's "Introductionista" and founder of Stef and the City, tells Bustle. Whether you're the one who is always setting up plans and feel like they're not listening to your needs, you're likely anxious and worried about your relationship, and rightfully so. "If you feel that you are more able to connect with a friend over your significant other, this is also a bad sign," she says. Long talks with BFFs are important, but you need to feel like this type of thing happens with your partner too. If not, you can totally feel stressed out all the time.
7. You Don't Look Forward To Spending Time Together
"You get anxious at the thought of your spouse coming home, of having to spend time with him or her, and feel relieved or even excited when they are going to be out of town or out of the house," Dr. Ramani Durvasula, author of Should I Stay or Should I Go: Surviving a Relationship With A Narcissist, tells Bustle. Nope, never a good sign. If you find yourself cringing when you think about spending time with your partner, you're definitely feeling more stressed from your relationship — among other problems.
8. You Have A Critical Partner
"Your partner is critical and demeaning," Tina B. Tessina, aka Dr. Romance, psychotherapist and author of Love Styles: How to Celebrate Your Differences, tells Bustle. If your partner constantly puts you down, your anxiety levels will naturally rise up. "Anxiety is often rooted in low self-esteem, so criticism makes it worse," she says. It's not OK to demean a partner — ever.
9. They Make You Want To Check Out
"When you always feel that you need a drink to be together, it’s a sign that you’re anesthetizing your anxiety that arises when you’re together," New York–based relationship expert and author April Masini tells Bustle. "This isn’t about craving a margarita. It’s about not being able to sit down and chat with your partner calmly, without a glass of wine in hand and a bottle nearby. If you’re needing to calm your nerves as a prophylactic measure, chances are that your relationship is stressing you out." Indeed. That being said, if you feel as though you need to drink to deal with a partner, the issue might be more within you than caused by your partner, and it might be time to reach out for help.