" Help, My Relationship is Stressing Me Out! "

Reviewed by Dr Sheri Jacobson

Everyone else seems so happy when they get together with someone. And you, well, you might feel excited at first. But the more you like someone, the closer you get…. the more stressed you secretly feel. What is wrong with you? And is relationship anxiety for real, or is it all in your head?

What is relationship anxiety?

A new relationship can make the best of us nervous or a bit anxious. And it's logical. There is risk with relating. Risk we will love them more than they love us, risk of being rejected, abandoned, or finding out they weren't who we thought they were. But if we are resilient then the risk is worth it and the stress fades.

Relationship anxiety isn’t as logic. It happens even if the person getting to know us better is perfectly nice and respectful, and things are going from strength to strength.

Symptoms of relationship anxiety

Relationship anxiety can look like classic anxiety symptoms, such as panicky, racing, and increasingly illogic thoughts. Changes to sleep and appetite. A racing heart, sweatiness, muscle tension, and panic attacks. (And all of this might also leave you more prone to flus and colds. A study actually links relationship anxiety with lowered immune systems).

Relationship anxiety can also look like:

  • emotional instability
  • feeling lonely for no reason
  • being unfocused or foggy
  • obsessing about the relationship
  • overthinking and overanalysing every detail
  • making irrational or impulsive decisions around it
  • constant indecision
  • push-pulling the other person.

But why would relationships stress me out?

Even if you consciously want to be in love, your unconscious mind might feel very differently. In our unconscious mind we hold our core beliefs.

Also called ‘limiting beliefs’, these are the beliefs we have mistaken for fact that we compare every decision we make too. And they generally are beliefs we developed as a child.

So let’s say your childhood had some tough bits. A parent who wasn’t really available to love you and give you the attention a kid needs, or even some trauma. You might develop beliefs like, “I am not worthy”, or “love is dangerous”.

And now here you are an adult, and someone tries to get close to you, and your brain rings the alarm. Anxiety is your brain’s way of trying to let you know there is danger and you need to be alert.

Anxious attachment style

Another way of looking at relationship anxiety and stress is to learn about attachment styles.

Attachment theory suggests that all children need at least one stable caregiver who gives them consistent love and attention, and keeps them safe. If this doesn’t happen, if we have, say, a parent who only loves us when we are ‘good’, or who puts us in harms way through their neglect or irresponsibility? We develop what are called ‘attachment issues’ that we then take into adulthood.

Anxious attachment means that we long for love and closeness. But we become insecure, try too hard to please, and ultimately end up very stressed out by our relationship and unable to relax.

Borderline personality disorder

Borderline personality disorder (BPD) is a personality disorder that means you will suffer constant relationship anxiety because you fear being abandoned. You will be hyper vigilant for any sign of rejection and overreact.

For example, if the other person doesn't text for a few hours, you might freak out, send a slew of texts, then even tell them it's over. Only for them to explain later their train was delayed and their phone battery died.

Can therapy help me with relationship anxiety?

Yes, and it’s highly recommended. Relationship anxiety tends to be based on complex issues that are unlikely to go away if we just ignore them. This is particularly true if there was childhood trauma or sexual abuse, or we have borderline personality disorder.

And by attending therapy it’s not only our romantic relationships that improve, but all our relationships, including those with our family and colleagues.

Time to learn how to love without the anxiety? Use our easy booking tool now to find a therapist who really understands and can help.

Need a Therapy Session ASAP?

Here's who's next available...

See other available therapists ›
Are you a therapist?
Apply to be on the platform  ›