Relationships are anxiety provoking because humans do not like loss. We dread loss of love, loss of dreams, loss of security, hair loss, and loss of life. We are fearful of losing what we care about, or of not getting what we want or need.
Because we cannot control everything, and because things change and pass away, many of us imagine the worst and live in an uncomfortable stream of anxiety. Being in a relationship can heighten anxiety because it gives us more to worry about.
Before partnering-up people may worry about growing old alone, but after finding someone special we might fret over wedding plans, in-laws, your loved one’s health and safety, staying together, raising children, and which way to hang the toilet paper.
Not only can we not control much of our own life, we cannot control our sweetheart’s life either. So, we worry, even knowing that worry accomplishes nothing of value.
We look at our future, the world, and our partner through the lens of our inner landscape. Our inner territory is the result of everything we’ve experienced up to the present day, plus whatever we brought with us into this world, such as DNA.
Any anxieties we had before being with someone, we naturally bring into the relationship. The result is that we become anxious not only about the future, but about being rejected, put down, or being inadequate in the present.
If you believe you are unlovable before a relationship, you will believe that while in one. If you have determined your feelings don’t matter while living single, you will have a difficult time sharing them when living double. Being with someone, no matter how special, will not automatically erase habitual negative self talk.
You cannot escape anxiety by being in a relationship, if the anxiety is anchored in your beliefs, or you are overwhelmed by the fear of loss.
To keep things in perspective, everyone experiences anxiety in or outside relationships. At least for now, it is part of the human condition. Anxiety becomes a problem when it hampers daily functioning or the ability to sustain and enjoy relationships.
If you are with someone and experience continuous anxiety do not assume the problem is the other person, or the partnership. Your partner is obviously involved with you, but the anxiety is yours, not theirs.
Take ownership of the anxiety. Tell your partner, “I am experiencing so much anxiety because I’m worried about _______________.” Give them a chance to know and support you.
(Therapists were invented to help people that cannot bring themselves to do this.)
However, if you are constantly being belittled, shouted at, criticized, blamed for everything, sniped at, the brunt of constant sarcasm, or cannot do anything without the other’s permission, the relationship is unhealthy. Without professional intervention, it will likely stay that way and you will remain anxious.
Relationships can disappoint us when we expect what they cannot give. A partnership is two individuals sharing a journey. Neither person can fix the other’s lifelong wounds, make the world safe, or make the other person happy.
Individuals must come to terms with their own beliefs, past experiences, and the limitations of organic life. As for happiness, that's an inside job as well. What we can expect from a partner is respect, affection, support, and that they share of themselves authentically; most of the time.