If you have an anxiety disorder, then you already know how much it can impact daily life, including how you feel at work, while out with friends, and even while you’re (trying to) relax at home. But
anxiety can also affect your relationship, typically by introducing stress, doubt, and worry — all things that can disrupt your connection as well as the progression of your lives as a couple.
When you see the world through an anxious lens, it can be tough to know what's worth worrying about and what isn't. It’s why you might
feel insecure in your relationship or shut down during tough moments. You might even start to have thoughts like “ my partner is making my anxiety worse“ and become even more disconnected and distrustful as time goes on.
If any of the above strikes close to home, “one of the best things you can do is see a counselor,"
Katie Ziskind, LMFT, a licensed marriage and family therapist, tells Bustle. "Seeing a therapist will help you learn positive coping skills to deal with your anxiety in a constructive way."
It will also help to begin
talking to your partner about your anxiety so they can offer support and help whenever possible. It might be tough to admit at first, but ultimately it’ll mean having a healthier relationship — and hopefully avoiding certain anxiety-related mistakes, such as the ones listed below. 1 Not Being Present With Your Partner
side effect of anxiety is that ongoing feeling of being checked out or detached. As it relates to your relationship, “it can make it difficult for [your] partner to feel truly connected," Dr. Paul DePompo, a clinical psychologist, tells Bustle. And vice versa.
If it seems like you’re becoming strangers due to lack of connection, DePompo suggests making a conscious effort to remain present whenever you’re around your partner. The moment you catch yourself drifting away to all the “what if?” questions of life, bring your attention back to the here and now.
2 Refusing To Open Up
Unchecked anxiety might also impact your desire or ability to open up and talk to your partner. "You may be concerned about the 'consequences' of what you say," DePompo says, which can in turn create a sense of disconnect. To counteract this symptom in particular, focus on sharing honestly and truthfully, particularly in the moments when you
really don’t want to. 3 Jumping To Conclusions
Similarly, anxiety often involves
jumping to conclusions. For example, if your partner is being distant, you might immediately take it personally and assume you did something wrong, Dr. Helen Odessky, a clinical psychologist, tells Bustle. And from there you might get upset, snoop through their phone, assume they’re cheating — the list of side effects goes on and on.
It all takes a toll on your sense of trust, which is why it helps to train your brain — possibly with the help of a therapist — to look for more reasonable explanations first, Odessky says. That way you’ll feel more secure
and you’ll be way less likely to pick fights with your partner. 4 Refusing To Try New Things
Relationships need to grow and evolve in order to remain healthy. But since change can be incredibly
scary for someone with anxiety, try to remain aware of moments when you feel yourself saying “no.”
While it may soothe anxiety in the moment, sticking to a predictable path “can make your relationship stale over time,” DePompo says. “If this is you, make a point to try things regardless of the certainty you will like them — let it be about the experience and shaking it up over the perfectionism of 'the right' choices."
5 Expecting Your Partner To Fix Your Anxiety
While your partner should definitely be aware of your anxiety and remain as supportive as possible, don’t let your anxious thoughts convince you they need to “cure” it.
"If we expect them to assuage every fear or constantly provide reassurance, we are putting them in a position that they are not meant to occupy: namely, taking responsibility for our anxiety,"
Julie Williamson, LPC, NCC, RPT, a licensed professional counselor, tells Bustle. "Not only is this not fair to your partner, it's not fair to you because it's impossible for your partner to cure your anxiety."
That part’s up to you. By taking care of yourself, finding relaxing hobbies (like yoga or meditation), seeing a therapist, and maybe even taking medication, you can begin to cope by yourself.
6 Being Passive Aggressive
Since anxiety can lead to
feelings of irritability, you might find yourself lashing out at your partner or responding to them in passive aggressive ways, Williamson says. Over time, you might also notice that you can no longer have conversations with them without it quickly going downhill. And that won’t fair well for the future of your relationship. 7 Venting To An Unhealthy Degree
If you aren't coping with your anxiety in a healthy way, don't be surprised if you make the mistake of
venting to your partner 24/7. While it's OK to let off some steam, doing it too often can become a burden.
"When anxious, we can feel so overwhelmed we need to be heard right then and there,"
Melissa Kester, LMFT, a licensed marriage and family therapist, tells Bustle. "However, what we share is a very chaotic speech with everything plus the kitchen sink. While we are monologuing hoping desperately to be heard, our partner [might tune] us out."
Instead of falling into this unhelpful habit, go to the gym, take up running, call a friend, or leave it all with a therapist.
8 Getting Super Angry
"Anger can come when we are feeling panicked, trapped, and unheard,” Kester says, which is reality for pretty much every anxious person, particularly when arguing. Instead of listening or hearing what your partner is saying, your anxiety kicks in and you lose control of your temper. Not good.
9 Doubting The Relationship
If you always think your relationship is “doomed,” anxiety may be the root cause.
"People with anxiety have negative self-talk, which can cause them not to trust that they are loved,"
Tina B. Tessina, PhD, a psychotherapist, tells Bustle. "This doubt can frustrate a partner, and eventually cause them to give up on the relationship." 10 Struggling With Jealousy
Similarly, anxiety might cause jealousy to rear its ugly head,
Rosalind Sedacca, CLC, a dating and divorce coach, tells Bustle, possibly to the point you become suspicious of your partner’s every move. Even though it's stemming from anxiety, this habit can still impact your relationship and cause your partner to step away. But that's just one more reason to look for ways to control anxious feelings and thoughts, so they don't become overwhelming. 11 Being Controlling
"People with anxiety frequently cope by trying to 'control' their lives," Sedacca says, which might explain why you have a tendency to be extra controlling in your relationship.
12 Catastrophizing Small Problems
As Sedacca says, "Anxious partners tend to
catastrophize situations, blowing things up to mean more or appear more threatening than they really are." It’s one reason why, even when something small happens, before you know it you’re having a huge argument with your partner. 13 Avoiding Conflict At All Costs
All of that said, anxiety isn’t always “in your face.” It might also cause you to shut down and stop talking to your partner, in a way that definitely isn’t beneficial to your relationship.
"People who tend to be more anxious tend to think disagreements are a bad thing,"
Elizabeth Su, a life coach and relationship expert, tells Bustle. "We are often people-pleasers and worry that if we have a disagreement with our partner, it means our relationship is doomed."
Anxiety makes it difficult to understand that
arguments are actually a good thing. "Usually what results is an important conversation about something that has been brewing between one of you, or both," Su says. So try not to let your anxiety get in the way of a productive chat. Sources: Katie Ziskind, LMFT, licensed marriage and family therapist Dr. Paul DePompo, a clinical psychologist Dr. Helen Odessky, clinical psychologist Julie Williamson, LPC, NCC, RPT, licensed professional counselor Melissa Kester, LMFT, licensed marriage and family therapist Rosalind Sedacca, CLC, dating and divorce coach Tina B. Tessina, PhD, psychotherapist Elizabeth Su, life coach and relationship expert