Relationship Anxiety: Stopping The Cycle

Relationship anxiety is excessive worry about either forming or keeping a relationship. And it is considered one aspect of social anxiety disorder which affects women much more than men and manifests in four distinct types. The treatment is the same for all four types of relationship anxiety.

Four Types of Relationship Anxiety

Researchers at Case Western University uncovered these four types of behaviors associated with relationship anxiety:

    1. Intrusive: constantly contacting someone to allay feelings of anxiety
    2. Exploitable: self-sacrificing to an excessive degree; pleasing
    3. Cold: emotionally distant, removed – someone who avoids intimacy
    4. Nonassertive: an inability to express wants, needs, or desires.

Interestingly, this study showed that the same four types of behaviors were present in generalized anxiety disorders and depression -- and they didn’t vary by how severe the anxiety was.

It is quite possible that you can see yourself in one of these four ways anxiety creeps into relationships.

Fear

All of the above types share a common attribute in relationship anxiety. They are all worries, either of a personal nature (“I’m not worthy”) or about the relationship itself. They are all fears that either an existing relationship will “go bad” or that no real relationship will ever be possible.

In a familiar way anxiety tends to create self-fulfilling prophecies, these behaviors can ruin the very relationships they are meant to protect. So the nonassertive, mousy type that always defers to their partner can eventually build up enough resentment that they explode with anger or cannot bear to continue the relationship.

Some relationship anxiety can be traced back to earlier failed relationships, violence or being exploited. However, history isn’t destiny, and these can be overcome.

On top of this basic fear comes the anxiety about being anxious. Here is when many patients come to realize they need help to escape the vicious cycle.

Stopping The Cycle

Therapists are very familiar, not only with anxiety in general but the types that present themselves in relationships. The current recommendation is a combination of cognitive-behavioral therapy (directed at the anxiety) and relationship therapy. There are specific needs that should be addressed in relationship anxiety that don’t necessarily manifest in other types of anxiety – but that’s actually good news.

Because there is a target for treatment (and a way to measure progress), custom solutions can be developed to help each patient and the problems they present. For one, it may be working on limiting contact and practicing anxiety-reducing techniques to overcome the worry. For another, recognizing they must learn to open up and share their feelings might be the key.

One of the most valuable things therapy brings is the expert advice of a non-judgmental third party. Something as simple as pointing out how often your conversation includes cues to your inner anxiety is very illuminating. From there, a plan of action can be developed that simultaneously helps you work on your relationships while reducing other symptoms of anxiety.

Photo: Pexels

Anxiety Support Groups

Latest Post by JustJules Wed, 10/16/2019 - 1:01pm
Comments: 0
Latest Post by MillieM Wed, 10/16/2019 - 11:13am
Comments: 0
Latest Post by MillieM Wed, 10/16/2019 - 11:17am
Comments: 3
Latest Post by MillieM Wed, 10/16/2019 - 11:31am
Comments: 2

More Articles

Who we spend our time with is just as important as what we spend our time doing; maintaining close relationships is a necessary and wonderful part...

This is a topic I have wanted to touch on for a long time. There are so many people that deal with this fear on a day to day basis. Unable to...

How should Wellbutrin be used?

Wellbutrin is an oral antidepressant medication. Wellbutrin is used to treat the major depressive disorder...

Monoamine Oxidase Inhibitors (MAOIs), like selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) and tricyclic antidepressants (TCAs), are a class of...

It would be easier to be a man with anxiety if it weren't for that doggone thing called masculinity. Whether it is free-floating anxiety, a phobia...

More Articles

Do you have trouble putting your worries and anxieties aside as you go about your day? If you find that they’re always on your mind, you may want...

Withania somnifera, known commonly as ashwagandha, sounds like a good name for an avatar in a fantasy game, but it is already the name of an herb...

Effexor is an antidepressant that has been on the market since 1993. It is a member of the SNRI class of antidepressants (serotonin-norepinephrine...

Anxiety develops after an extended period of stress, usually six months or longer. When you suffer from an anxiety disorder, it can severely...

Aromatherapy for anxiety may be a useful natural remedy in helping ease symptoms. Aroma means a pleasant or agreeable odor arising from plants,...

I subscribe to the Psychotherapy Networker e-newsletter and just read a great article by Nancy Errebo, Psy. D., about using EMDR with a returning...

SAM-e, or S-Adenosylmethionine, is a chemical that naturally occurs in the human body and is essential for many biological processes. Although SAM...

One problem that anxiety can cause is head pressure. It is not a symptom discussed as often as some others, maybe because not everyone who...

If you've found that being under stress has an effect on your appetite and weight, you're in good company. While some people lose weight when they...

Medications are an important tool for people dealing with anxiety, but most experts agree that they are best used as a short-term solution for...

Anxiety attacks are very frightening experiences, and for chronic sufferers, they can seriously impact everyday life. While there are things you...

It is a good idea to monitor your level of stress and do what you can to minimize it during the day. We might meditate, go for a long walk, soak...

Neurontin, generically known as gabapentin, is an anticonvulsant drug approved by the FDA to treat certain types of seizures in epileptics...

For sufferers of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), prolonged exposure (PE) therapy is a proven, effective treatment. Sometimes referred to as...

Email, convenient though it may be, can lead to chronically high levels of stress and anxiety if checked too often. Fortunately, new research...