Relationship Anxiety Puts Couples On An Emotional Roller Coaster

Having anxiety about whether a special someone actually loves us may spell trouble for the longevity of the relationship.

Many individuals feel anxious in their attachments, wondering if the other person will be always there for them, or whether they are worthy of the other's affection.

Researchers at Florida State University were curious how this insecurity impacts relationships daily, and designed a study to find out.

Doctoral student Ashley Cooper and colleagues found that those experiencing intense anxiety regarding a partner’s commitment were more likely to have fluctuating feelings about the relationship from day to day. Further, when women have relationship anxiety, their male partners report having volatile feelings about the attachment as well.

Of the 157 couples interviewed, 74 percent were dating, and almost half were in relationships lasting two years or less. Participants answered questions about how they communicated their attachment, their comfort level with connecting emotionally, types of existing conflicts, and relationship satisfaction.

The investigators focused on couples where one or both partners demonstrated distrust in relying on others (attachment avoidance), or exhibited fear about continuous care and affection (attachment anxiety).

Analysis of the interviews showed that couples reported lower levels of relationship quality and satisfaction when one of them had trouble trusting others. Fear of losing affection was associated with increased relationship volatility.

These findings, note the researchers, will aid clinicians doing premarital and couples counseling, and may provide insight for individuals who have drastically different feelings about their relationship day to day.

“For the average person, stay attuned to what your partner is saying and avoid making assumptions that can escalate conflict,” says Cooper. “Trusting in your partner and your relationship is important to daily interactions and stability for your relationship.”

Source: Florida State University
Photo credit: Wyatt Fisher

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