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Nine thoughts that show you could have relationship anxiety – and how to tackle it


Every relationship has its peaks and troughs (Picture: Getty)

Feeling some anxiety while in a relationship can be normal – and it isn’t always a bad sign.

Sometimes we do have a reason to feel anxious, and having that emotion can be an indication for us to communicate that something isn’t right.

But when it tips over to an unhealthy level, relationship anxiety can really work against us, and make us believe in problems that aren’t actually there.

So, while you shouldn’t cast aside genuine worries triggered by real events, it’s worth being mindful of whether your relationship anxieties are actually the useful kind.

Neil Wilkie, a psychotherapist specialising in relationships, tells us ‘relationship anxiety is very common during all stages of a relationship.’

Explaining that relationships fluctuate during their time, he adds that the pandemic has ‘increased fear and uncertainty – raising our stress levels as a result.’

He continues: ‘Many people have been trapped in the primeval fight, flight or freeze mode with little chance of escape into work, friends, and fun.

‘High anxiety levels can lead to people having irrational thoughts about their relationships. It’s important to remember not all of our thoughts are true.

‘It is, however, good to deal with any anxieties about your relationship, so you can move forwards.’

Due to past relationships, childhood and attachment styles, we might fall into the trap of ‘looking at our current relationship through the lens of what went wrong in the past.

‘If so we’ll be looking for the bad and will suffer from confirmation bias.

‘Remember we cannot change the past, but we can change how we allow it to affect us in the future.’

There are common thoughts Neil has noticed in clients that can be telling of experiencing relationship anxiety – so here’s how you can tackle them:

‘They don’t love me’

Neil says to tackle triggering thoughts like this, you should ask yourself: What evidence do you have for this? Have they changed the way in which they are behaving to you?

Some people have different love languages, and it might just be that yours are different.

‘The best way of dealing with worries about this is to create the time and space to have an open and honest discussion about how you are feeling,’ Neil advises.

‘I’m not good enough’

Low self-esteem can affect how you view yourself in the relationship.

Neil says to ground yourself away from anxiety, you should ponder on this: Have they suddenly got a lot better or you have got worse?

The chances are, no.

It’s important to feel worthy within yourself regardless of anyone else in the picture.

Neil says: ‘Write a list of the ten things you love about yourself and the ten things you respect about yourself. Then ask your partner to do the same.

‘You could then do the same for them. Having heard these, how are you feeling now?’

‘I don’t matter to them’

It’s unlikely that suddenly this has changed – as to be in a relationship together, you must matter.

Neil says: How secure are you feeling in the relationship and what might have caused this to change?

‘Is this something that they have told you directly or are you mind reading them?’, something that he advises against doing as this doesn’t come with facts.

He adds: ‘Maybe they have a lot of pressure on them and you have fallen down their priority list because of this, not because you don’t matter to them.

‘Ask them very specifically for what you need and see how they respond,’ adding it’ll give you more of an indication of how much they care and an opportunity to say how you’re feeling.

‘We’re drifting apart’

It might be that you’re growing apart as can happen, but it might instead be that you’re not investing enough time in each other, being swept up by everything else going on around you both.

‘This can happen in relationships when couples get distracted by life and forget to invest time and energy in nourishing the relationship.

‘Have a discussion about how you are feeling about the relationship and what you would like to be different. Then get your partner to express their feelings.

‘Listen to each other without interruption and see what similarities there are. Then agree on what you’re going to do to improve things,’ Neil says.

It could be regular date nights or planning a getaway.

‘Something is not right’

‘Your gut is telling you something is wrong in the relationship, but you can’t put your finger on what it is.

‘It is important to trust your instincts and find out what the reality is.

‘Talk to your partner about how you’re feeling and see if they are feeling the same,’ Neil says.

He suggests rating yourselves out of 10 for how you feel you’re doing on the following key pillars of a relationship: communication, connection, commitment, fun, growth and trust.

Compare your scores and talk about where change is needed.

‘They don’t listen’

‘This is a common problem in relationships,’ Neil says, ‘the communication breaks down and ends up being about criticism.’

Set aside 30 minutes – half of it spent with just one of you talking, then swap.

Make sure sure you do it at a time without distractions to really commit to listening to each other.

‘I don’t trust them’

If you’ve forgiven your partner for a breach of trust in the past, you need to commit to that.

If it’s too difficult, then it might be that the trust is too far broken.

However if this is an anxious thought not founded on reality, Neil says: ‘Suspicion can become corrosive and result in the erosion of trust. It is often caused by misunderstanding.

‘If you see or hear something which worries you, you must raise this as soon as possible to find out the truth rather than worrying about something potentially needlessly.’

‘They have changed’

Change is normal, especially over a long period of time.

‘People do change and at different rates. It would be surprising if they were exactly as they were when you first met them.

‘You will have changed too. For a good relationship the individuals need to grow and the relationship needs to grow as well.

‘Problems can come where the growth is at different rates and in different directions,’ Neil says.

He suggests talking about what has changed and the directions you want to move in as individuals and as a couple.

‘We are not really compatible’

If you’ve recently been clashing, it might not be a sign that you’re incompatible.

‘You are different people and will have different interests,’ Neil says.

‘This is only a problem if these breach your boundaries, or if activities that are important to you (such as sex) they have different desires for.

‘Talk about where you think the friction is and see if you can understand each other’s needs and if compromise can be achieved.’

Do you have a story to share?

Get in touch by emailing MetroLifestyleTeam@Metro.co.uk.


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