Any intimate relationship acts like a mirror; it reflects both the good and the not-so-good qualities in us. The bonds we share either fuel our struggles or help soothe them. Don’t some relationships feel like magic? And yet, anxiety can ruin the whole deal, loosening the amazing connection that two people may be actually sharing. Every relationship is built on trust, patience, empathy, and openness. People who are anxious usually have truckload of these qualities, and want to generously invest them in their connections. The problem, however, is that anxiety in a relationship erodes these qualities, and that is something we need to check.
If you can identify with someone who is struggling with anxiety, you must know that there are plenty of qualities in you that make you lovely. Every relationship has struggles and when apprehension is at play, the struggles are quite specific, though completely normal. Anxiety works in curious ways. It does not affect all relationships in the same way. Yet, here are a few things that may be done to deal with anxiety in a relationship.
1. Replenish your emotional resources from time to time.
Image source: Google, copyright-free image under Creative Commons License
Do you think you are too sensitive to the requirements of others? That you give willingly and lavishly to your relationship? I don’t know if you already know this, but anxiety in a relationship drains you of all these resources, and you need to keep refilling your tank of emotions, topping them up. Whenever possible, shower your partner with thankfulness, affection, kisses – lots of that – and converse with them.
2. Allow your partner to see you as a support system.
Your partner makes efforts to not burden you with their worries, especially because they think those worries are insignificant when compared to yours. But you need to tell them, through your actions and kind words, that people with anxiety have great courage, because without it, it would be impossible to share breathing space with anxiety. Let your partner know that they can depend on you no matter how big or small their struggle.
3. Fill your partner in on what is going on in your mind.
Image source: Pinterest
Anxious thoughts are extremely personal, and it is very difficult to share them with anyone. But it is necessary to tell your partner about what you require to feel secured; what gets you worried; how they could help. Let your significant other in on the emotions and thoughts that arrest you. If you continue keeping things to yourself, the distance between the two of you will only widen.
4. Ask for reassurances, but not too much.
Anxiety creeps into every single thing, if and when it is left unbridled. It will make you suspect people who don’t deserve to be doubted. Like I said, asking for reassurances is not wrong. But if you keep asking for too much, it turns into neediness. Neediness, again, is the enemy of desire, which over time, kills the spark. Make certain that you give your mate the chance to love you spontaneously, without being impelled.
5. Be vulnerable.
Image source: Pixabay, under Creative Commons License
I know this point just set all your alarms off. But vulnerability is a virtue; it is beautiful and the essence of a healthy relationship. If you think you are going to switch off your vulnerable side, because what good can weakness do, all the positive emotions will also get blocked. I have said this earlier, and let me tell you this again: The fact that we are vulnerable makes us beautiful. We will never be comfortable with our susceptibility, our weaknesses. But it shouldn’t be excruciating either. It is necessary, and so, we should have the courage of accepting it; the courage to say “I love you” first; the courage of accommodating heartbreak as something inevitable, and not your or someone else’s fault; the courage to invest love, time, and energy in a relationship which may not work out. We must stop controlling and predicting.
Suggested read: 12 realistic relationship expectations that are normal to have
6. Do not project your anxiety onto your relationship
Anxiety is triggered by anything and everything, yet by nothing in particular. That is the worst thing about it! So it looks for a soft target, a soft yet strong target that will shelter it and help make sense of it. Feelings of doubt, suspicion, envy, and insecurity, the rogue called anxiety has all these in its arsenal. To fight it, you need to remind yourself that though you are worried, because it comes naturally to you, there is nothing to actually worry about. You are loved by someone, but you also have anxiety, and it is okay.
7. Don’t keep analyzing.
Image source: Google, copyright-free image under Creative Commons License
Have you heard of the saying, “analysis leads to paralysis”? Well, it couldn’t be truer!
Is this love? Or am I just physically attracted?
What if this does not work out? My heart is going to break into a million little pieces.
What if our parents don’t approve?
What if he doesn’t like the food?
What if she doesn’t like my choice in music?
You know the drill. My mother used to keep saying something which is so relevant to this situation. “Whatever you focus on, grows,” she would say. It will drain you of all the love, your energy, your optimism, everything. Here’s something that might help: Set yourself a time in the day when you will pretend as if everything is all right. Focus on everything being alright, and eventually, you will start to believe in it.
8. Come closer – go away!
If you focus on every minute detail, things are bound to get wobbly. You might be concentrating on the issues that aren’t going quite well between you and your partner, and at the same time, wanting your partner’s reassurance, that they love you and will stay with you. This will sum up to you pushing your significant other away from you, and then pulling them closer, to again push them away. You need to have a chat with your mate and tell them about what’s happening, if you want some kind of stability in your relationship.
9. Serious conversations will strengthen your relationship.
Image source: Shutterstock
In every relationship, you need to deal with the difficult stuff every now and then. But with anxiety in a relationship, things get tougher. If you don’t address them, they will fester only to reach the threshold. You have to place your trust in your partner, and have faith in your relationship. You need to believe that the bond you two share can cope with a hard talk; it can power through any kind of a difficult conversation.
10. Allow your partner to step into your shoes.
We are complex, aren’t we? Bringing someone close to us is itself a tough task, and actually telling them our story, telling them how it feels to be us, now that’s just too hard. But, isn’t that the élan vital of intimacy? Let your significant other know what being anxious is like. Talk to them about how you think your anxiety is affecting you, and them, and the relationship that the two of you are building. Also tell them that you are immensely grateful for their love and relentless support.
11. What triggers you?
Let your partner know. Is there a specific situation that triggers your anxiety? It could be crowds, or strangers, or even loud music or noise of any kind. Talk to them about it, so that whenever you find yourself in such a situation, they will know instantly and can help you make it through!
There are no quick fixes. So be patient.
The temptation to ease your anxiety may make you want to consider quick fixes, but let me be honest with you, they are not going to work. Instead you will become more irritable and even frustrated, driving your partner further away from you.
Breathe, converse, and don’t suppose that your partner is taking too much time or pulling out of a talk because they lack commitment or that they don’t think this issue is important. Be patient with them too. After all, however much they might sympathize with you, they can’t empathize. Patience is truly a virtue in such situations.
Suggested read: How to date an ex and have a good relationship
Look after yourself
When we are in love, we tend to stop loving ourselves because we think it is selfish. Well, it is not. For people with anxiety, loving themselves becomes a bigger struggle, because if you think you are out of balance, the ripples are surely going to affect all aspects of your life. Taking care of yourself in such cases becomes kind of a necessity. You need to eat well: a rich and healthy diet that includes omega 3 fatty acids, good carbs, and low processed sugars. Exercising regularly. Also meditating each day to concentrate your energies on the positive things in life. It is not fair to expect that your partner will take care of you, if you yourself aren’t willing to do the same. Build yourself a healthy lifestyle, which will positively impact your relationship.
Being in love is a magical feeling, but it isn’t without its own set of lows and highs. There are moments of ecstasy, and then there are agonizing moments of self-doubt and insecurity. But intimacy acts as the vehicle to all emotions. Anxiety affects relationships, I agree. But if you stay open to its impact and respond to it, rather than reacting, you can shelter your relationship, and turn it into one that is strong and resilient.