If you’ve ever been called “clingy” by a partner before, you probably suffer from relationship anxiety. It starts with negative thoughts that stem from your past failed relationships and those intrusive thoughts end up ruining what could be a stable and loving situation with someone new. If this sounds familiar to you, here’s how to cope.
- Communicate but don’t overdo it. Communication is vital in any relationship because it creates a deeper bond and prevents misunderstandings that can permanently tear two people in love apart. Sometimes you’ll need a bit of reassurance from your partner, and it’s OK to ask them for support when you’re feeling overwhelmed. On the flip side, you don’t need to reveal every insecure thought about your relationship that enters your mind, particularly if your relationship anxiety is severe. If you tell them everything, you risk creating issues that aren’t there.
- Make a list of all your positive qualities. Behind extreme relationship anxiety lies insecurity and low self-esteem. Whether it’s due to a bad childhood or a past abusive relationship, anxiety is plaguing you because of feelings about yourself that you haven’t processed or move past. This low self esteem is bringing you down. Try making a list of your positive qualities and attributes. If you believe there aren’t any then make a list of the positive qualities others have pointed out. Keep this list so when you’re feeling insecure about yourself and your relationship, you can read it remind yourself that you’re freaking amazing. The more you tell yourself that’s the case, the more you’ll begin to believe it.
- Don’t let the green-eyed monster take over. Your relationship anxiety can lead to serious jealousy for no real reason at all. You could feel jealous of your partner’s work friend or over someone they smiled at to be polite while you were at the mall. This jealousy will kill your relationship faster than anything else. It’s natural to be a little jealous from time to time, but if it gets out of control, it can lead to accusing them of things they aren’t doing and ultimately wreck your relationship.
- Give your partner the same support you need. Helping others is a true act of kindness and it can make you feel pretty good too. Relationship anxiety can suck you into living in your head 24/7. I don’t know about you, but when I’m stuck in my head, I get a little stuck on myself as well. Anxiety creates self-absorption. Stepping outside of your head to support your partner with the same tenderness you’d expect from them can take you away from the constant stream of negative thoughts. It’s a win-win for you both.
- Trust what your partner says. Have some faith in your partner. They’re with you for a reason so you must not be too bad. Not everyone is out to break your heart. If you’re battling relationship anxiety, you’re probably still healing from a crappy past relationship. That’s understandable, but if you want a healthy relationship with your current partner, you need to give them the benefit of the doubt and trust them a bit. You’ve already been through the worst that can happen in a bad relationship and you survived. Even if this relationship falls apart and your trust is broken, you’ll survive.
- Accept what you can’t control. Anxiety is all about feeling out of control. Your body is in defense mode; you see everything as a threat to your relationship, from not getting a text back right away to a misinterpretation of a look your lover gives you. It’s easier said than done but you need to accept what you can’t control. You can’t control what they think or feel about you. You can only control your own actions. This includes letting your anxiety overrule your logical side.
- Just breathe. When negative thoughts about your relationship take over, it can be difficult to keep yourself under control. Fear can grip your heart and the pressure on your chest can be unbearable. Fortunately, there are a few breathing techniques for anxiety and panic attacks. Take a giant breath in through your nose, then slowly exhale through your mouth. You can place your hand on your chest or on your belly. Feeling your muscles work while you’re taking deep breaths can help you relax. Keep up this breathing routine until your anxiety calms down.
- Analyze the situation. Some relationship anxiety can be brought on by your partner. If your partner is triggering you by never calling you or being out until late at night, your fear might be trying to tell you something. Once you’re calm and not fighting those negative thoughts, take the time to analyze your situation. If there’s a good reason for your anxiety, you should move on from them. Relationships are complicated—you don’t need anxiety making it even worse.