When it comes to relationships, the most important piece of knowledge you must pocket and never, ever forget is that relationships require work. All of them. Even the ones that appear so perfect from the outside have their own brand of turmoil and drama behind closed doors. Especially if you want to make them last.
But relationships aren't just about effort and putting in the time to make them work, but also about how they make us feel about the relationship as a whole and how they make us feel about ourselves. Some relationships can take such a mental toll that they can even cause anxiety in people who might not usually suffer from anxiety.
Behavioral Scientist and Relationship Coach, Clarissa Silva, tells Bustle that the most common cause of this type of anxiety is insecurity about the future of the relationship. "Often times, anxiety escalates incrementally with minor experiences over time," Silva says. "Sometimes, we aren't even aware that it is the person that is the root cause of why the anxiety is occurring."
Is your relationship causing you anxiety? Maybe is it and maybe you're not even aware of it. Here are seven signs that your relationship just might be the root of your anxiety.
1You're Preoccupied With Your Partner
"Preoccupation with the relationship can create anxiety," says Silva. "If you are constantly wondering what they're doing, checking their social feeds, or feeling insecure in the relationship, that diverts focus on what you need to be happy and only focuses on their happiness without you in it."
Although there's nothing wrong with checking your partner's social media, because, hey, it's there, if you're checking in on it with the intent of looking for something — that's probably not even there — it can definitely be a problem.
2You Overthink What You Wish You Could Say
In a healthy relationship, communication is key. But if you can't communicate what you want and you let it build up inside you, it's only natural that it will cause you anxiety. There's nothing quite like going over and over in your head what you wish you could say or did say in certain situations to drive your anxiety levels way up.
"If you feel like you can’t express what you feel without having a full script written or anticipate their reactions to you," says Silva, "this will eventually evolve into more frequent episodes of anxiety over time."
3You're Fighting With Yourself And Your Partner
When anxiety hits, it doesn't just stem from the arguments you have with your partner, but the arguments you have with yourself. There's an inner struggle for those of us who suffer from anxiety, as we fight with ourselves to make sense of situations — situations that concern not only us, but that also concern our relationships.
"If minor arguments create physiological symptoms of anxiety, it becomes you fighting with yourself," says Silva. "When someone: a) needs to have things their own way all the time, or b) is not willing to compromise and becomes manipulative (i.e., lying, begins demeaning you, intentionally tries to create self-doubt within you, abusive, or aggressive) when they don't get their way, it will only get worse over time."
4You Struggle To Resolve Arguments
In addition to the internal and external fighting, comes the need to resolve arguments — something that can be tricky when your relationship is giving you anxiety and they're controlling. As Silva points out, "[Your partner] needs to resolve what is triggering their controlling and uncompromising behavior before they continue being in the relationship." Especially since their behavior is causing you anxiety.
5You're Unable To Compromise In A Healthy Manner
It's one thing to not be able to compromise in a relationship because you're headstrong and won't budge, but it's another thing to compromise in a way that always lets your partner get what they want. In fact, on your end, that's not even a compromise; that's just giving up and, in doing so, you lose some of yourself, which leads to more anxiety.
"Relationships require a great deal of compromise and striking a balance where both partners are happy is sometimes challenging," say Silva. "But, if you find yourself acquiescing to your partner’s needs most of the time... it can exacerbate anxiety."
6You're Replacing Your Desires With Their Desires
"In defining what you want based on someone else in order to please them," says Silva, "you may be replacing your life’s desires in the long run, [increasing] symptoms of anxiety.
Because your willingness to overly compromise isn't enough to deplete your self-esteem and crank your anxiety into even higher gear, when you let your partner's desires replace yours, it's like you start to disappear. As more of you is lost to your relationship, more anxiety will follow.
7You're Turning To Harmful Ways Of Coping
Eventually, if you don't recognize the negative effects your relationship is having in regards to anxiety, a big sign, one that's impossible to ignore is that you're turning to unhealthy ways to cope with your relationship-induced anxiety. And, in some cases, because people want to numb the anxiety or erase it, they may turn to alcohol and drugs.
"When you are coping with things you don’t want to deal with, you can turn to something to help you cope," says Silva. "Drinking or recreational drugs are ways to cope or self-medicate away the problem. You might not be aware that you are binging because your subconscious is creating a different reality for you and your tolerance level increases based on consumption over time."
If any of these signs are ringing true to your life and your relationship, then it's time to get help and reassess the relationship, especially if a partner's toxic behavior is what's causing your anxiety. Although experiencing minimal amounts of anxiety from time to time within your relationship is normal, it's when it becomes constant that it's a problem. Try communicating with your partner about these issues and consider couples therapy. It's also important to think about whether this relationship is right for you, too. You deserve to be in a relationship that makes you happy.