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  • Sara

How Anxiety Can Affect Your Relationships and What to do About it

Anxiety can affect many parts of your life, including your relationships. It can take a toll on those close to you and, as well as yourself, if you are not aware of how your thoughts and actions are hurting you or others. While you can’t stop yourself from having anxiety, there are certain ways you can manage it within your relationships. You’ll want to ensure you manage your symptoms in a way that you and anyone who is around you understands what you’re experiencing and what can be done to ease these symptoms.

Anxiety can present itself in relationships in many different ways, but most of these ways can be placed in three common behavioral categories: dependence, avoidance, and tension. Chances are your anxiety is causing disruption in one of these areas.

Dependence often develops over time when someone with anxiety looks to a specific person for comfort and stability. People with anxiety often fear change and being alone, so when they find a person that makes these things seemingly go away it can be easy to become dependent on them. Being around individuals who make those suffering with anxiety feel safe helps to eliminate racing thoughts, rumination and negative self-talk.

Unfortunately, being entirely dependent on another person to feel okay ends up becoming an unhealthy form of connection called codependency. This occurs when an anxious person becomes so reliant on other human being, they begin to lose their own sense of identity. This can be a very scary place to be in and being left alone seems incredibly daunting. If you find you often rely on your relationship for comfort during specific situations, try to find ways to cope on your own. While this is easier said than done, finding coping strategies that you can practice by yourself can take the strain off of your relationship. That’s not to say that you can’t ever go to your relationship for comfort – it’s important that you and partner both feel you can go to each other when in need – but if you are constantly needing comfort from the other person they may feel unheard or unappreciated. If codependency is something you struggle with, you can work with a therapist to help you identify healthy ways to manage it.

On the complete opposite end of codependence is avoidance. Avoidance is when someone avoids their relationship altogether in order to avoid negative feelings. Often, people with anxiety struggle to open up about their feelings for fear of being judged, and ultimately, feeling worse. A person with anxiety may have difficulty distinguishing between rational and irrational thoughts, making it difficult to know if an issue is even worth addressing. This is when it becomes easier to just evade the issue.

Of course, avoiding the issue doesn’t make it simply disappear altogether. Most of the time, people with anxiety will bury their emotions for as long as they can until they feel like they are going to explode and have to confront their feelings. Normally, this explosion is not a healthy way of facing the problem and this can make the situation much worse than it needs to be. Not only is there a refusal to accept that something needs to be talked through, but a person’s partner may be incredibly confused and take this response as a disinterest in engaging in the relationship altogether. They may also believe that their partner is mad at them or like they’ve caused the avoidance. If you want to work on your avoidant habits, seek the help of a mental health professional who can only only guide you through the underlying causes of these habits, but can be help you learn how to express your feelings to your partner in a health way.

Tension is something that everyone who suffers from anxiety experiences from time to time. However, this tension often affects relationships. When you are feeling tense, it often comes out as irritability or anger, which can make it difficult healthy communication to take place. If you are feeling tense, it may be time to practice some self-care. You may even come up with some self-care activities that you can practice with your partner.

You may feel guilty at times for allowing your anxiety to affect your relationship – don’t. Anxiety can be incredibly difficult to manage without the right resources. Instead of allowing yourself to linger in guilt, repeatedly unhealthy patterns that got you there in the first place, make a commitment to yourself to change these behaviors once and for all. Recognizing the negative behavior and becoming determined to change it is an important step. You should never feel guilty for having anxiety or needing help. This is a common mental health condition, and you don’t have to struggle alone.


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