There are many different ways anxiety can impact our relationships. In our ultimate guide to anxiety, we provided some helpful advice on what to do about anxiety in general. In this post, we are focusing on two ways anxiety can affect your relationship and three ways to help.

Relationships And Anxiety

Relationships require teamwork. Sometimes, one of the team can have a bad day, week, or month due to anxiety. Having anxiety in a relationship is common and this presents itself in different ways and at different times. Sometimes you feel insecure in a new relationship, other times you have anxiety in an existing relationship and then other times, you are helping a partner with anxiety.  

A specific example may be: if you are with someone with social anxiety, this may affect your social life. You may have to consider which events you invite your partner to and how to communicate in a healthy way.


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What Ways Can Anxiety Affect Relationships?

There are a few ways anxiety can affect relationships, here are a couple of the main ones:

1. Dependence

Anxiety comes in many different forms, as explained here, and one of its common effects is a desire to satisfy its own insecurity. You may find yourself constantly seeking reassurance and support from your partner, becoming or already being very dependent on them.

The indecisiveness, the overthinking and the fear of rejection can lead to 1) an increase in the frequency of communication for support and 2) anxiety about the partner not responding. Both of these patterns usually result in a maintenance of anxiety and pressure on your relationship.

2. Isolation

Depending on the context and the individuals involved, a person suffering from anxiety in a relationship may also become avoidant and try to isolate themselves. They may avoid negative emotions by not engaging with their partners about their feelings.

For the other person, they may find this behaviour distant, and experience the communication as cold and emotionally void, which may begin to put extra stress on the relationship.

So, What Can I Do?

Well, as mentioned before, know that anxiety within relationships is common. Being aware of it, is the first step to helping your relationship get back on track.

1. Communication

We communicate with our partners everyday. However, many of us do not realise how important communication can be, especially when it comes to resolving issues that may have appeared due to anxiety.

One of the best things to do to help with your anxiety is to be open and honest about it, especially with your partner. It is important to try and not isolate yourself. If you really have to, then let your partner know it is because of the anxiety, rather than them.

It doesn't matter if you are experiencing anxiety, or it is your partner who is experincing anxiety, open and honest communication helps to understand what is going on and prevent issues such as dependence and isolation.

2. Manage Expectations

We have expectations formed in our minds without even knowing. This is true for relationships, too. So, if your partner talks about their anxiety in relation to your relationship, remember to focus on the issue at hand, rather than the anxious thoughts that may have appeared.

If you are experiencing an intense reaction, it may be useful to take a moment and calm down. You can find some tips on that here.

Being aware of your own expectations, as well as each other's, helps to communicate about the issue and find a resolution.

3. Listen And Acknowledge

Being listened to is one of the best ways to support someone with anxiety. Often, just explaining what is going through their mind helps them to feel calmer.

If your partner is taking some steps to work on their anxiety, it is important to acknowledge that. It doesn't have to be their attendance to therapy, it can also be smaller things, like explaining that they are feeling socially anxious and they can't come with you on a specific occasion.

The important thing to remember is being open, listening to each other and acknowledging each other's feelings and expectations helps you deal with anxiety in a relationship.