11 Ways Anxiety Can Affect Your Relationship, According To An Expert
If you have anxiety, then you know how profoundly it can impact every area of your life. It follows you to work where you struggle to focus. It tags along while you socialize and nags you to go home. But perhaps worst of all are the ways anxiety can affect your relationship.
This is where it gets really annoying, in my opinion. First, there is the tricky business of finding the courage to date. Anxiety doesn't exactly approve of such things, and can make coupling up feel like an impossibility. (How will you meet someone? Will they be OK with your nervous ways?) But even if you find a partner, the problems can still stick around — and may even get worse.
As Nicole Martinez, Psy.D., LCPC, says in an email to Bustle, "If someone is struggling with social anxiety, they will be less likely to go with, take part in, or actively engage in activities with their partner." This might mean date nights are a no-go. And traveling as a couple? Not likely.
Anxiety can also make you feel jealous and paranoid, even if you try really hard not to be. "[Anxiety sufferer's] beliefs may not be based in proof, but they are not able to 'shut off' the worries," Martinez says. This can obviously cause quite the strain between you and your SO, and isn't always going to lead to relationship bliss. And that's precisely why recognizing some anxiety-induced problems, like the ones below, can really help. If you are aware of all the ways anxiety can affect your relationship, then it'll be much easier to work on the issues as a couple.
1. Neediness Can Be A Constant Issue
Anxiety causes all sorts of unwanted stress and paranoia, so you shouldn't blame yourself for feeling needy. But do remember that neediness can cause some relationship stress, according to William Meek on VeryWell.com. Your partner wants to be there for you, sure. But they can only offer so much support. When they don't come through 24/7 (and how can they?), you'll both likely feel kind of frustrated.
2. Date Nights Can Get Cancelled On The Regular
Is your partner kind of giving up on date night? It could be "they assume you will either say no, or be uncomfortable if you do go," Martinez says. It's a fair assumption on their part, but not always what you actually want. If that's the case, be sure to speak up, instead of just laying around and feeling left out.
3. Jealousy-Fueled Disagreements Abound
Accuse your partner of cheating once, and they will likely try to calm your fears. Accuse them 50 times, however, and you guys may have a disagreement on your hands. "They'll be exhausted after defending themselves from imagined concerns about their behavior, and feel attacked and not trusted," Martinez says. It makes sense why they'd feel that way, so be ready to talk it out.
4. Arguments Occur All The Time
With all that anxiety-induced stress I was talking about, it's no wonder you might find yourself picking fights, or starting arguments out of the blue. "In relationships, this could mean some sort of acting out that is destructive, quickly jumping to conclusions, or making decisions that will not bring desired results," Meek said. If you see this happening more often than not, reminding yourself to calm down (and step away) can help.
5. You Worry, Worry, Worry
Aside from worrying that your partner is cheating, you might also worry that your partner wants to move on, or that the whole relationship is about to go up in flames. "This worry is often unsubstantiated, but, even so, the person with anxiety cannot stop," said Eileen Bailey on HealthCentral.com. Despite knowing anxiety is the cause, you and your SO will likely feel angry and frustrated. And that's never good.
6. Communication Isn't Always The Best
Communication is hard enough in a "normal" relationship. Add anxiety into the mix, and it can feel downright impossible. As Bailey said, "Part of the problem may be in being able to communicate feelings and how anxiety impacts daily life." In other words, if your partner doesn't have anxiety, it can be really difficult for them to "get" what's going on in your head. When that's the case, confusion and circular arguments will likely ensue.
7. Sex Can Become A Thing Of The Past
Mental illnesses undoubtedly affect sex drive. While depression can make you forget about sex, anxiety can make you overthink it. Or, it can totally freak you out, or cause you to feel utterly disconnected. Whatever the case may be, your partner can end up feeling rejected and can you end up feeling misunderstood.
8. You Guys Might Not Have Any Mutual Friends
One fun thing about relationships is creating a circle of mutual friends. This is unlikely to happen, however, if you're suffering from anxiety — especially if it's the social kind. Your partner may be out on the town with his or her pals, while you're at home riddled with worry.
9. The Anxiety Can Start To Spread
Spend enough time with your partner and you'll likely start loving the same foods, dressing the same way, and finishing each other's sentences. This is adorable... until it pertains to some shared anxiety. Your partner can get dragged down with you, feeling all the same worries and fears. Of course it's never done intentionally, but it can happen.
10. Important Outings Feel Impossible
As a couple, you'll have to attend many a wedding, baby shower, and holiday party. This is stressful enough, but anxiety can make it all worse. People with social anxiety show up to such events in complete distress, according to an article on WebMD. It doesn't exactly make for fun nights, or good memories.
11. "Meeting The Fam" Might Never Happen
You're too anxious to work, and way too worried to hang out with friends. So how can you expect to gather the guts to meet your potential in-laws? Well, oftentimes, you can't. Once you get to that important "meet the family" stage of your relationship, don't be surprised if the whole thing stalls.
Because when anxiety is involved, pretty much everything in a relationship can feel messed up. That's why it's important to stay on each other's side, and weather the thing together. A little understanding can go a long way.
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