So many of us spend our lives searching for love, and yet, some part of us can’t help but fear it as well. Because falling in love can be incredibly beautiful, exciting, painful, and terrifying, all at once. So it stands to reason that although we may already be in a loving relationship with someone who makes us happy, we’re also weighed down by a lot of worry, uncertainty, and distress over all the ways it could all go wrong.
This irrational and persistent fear is known as “relationship anxiety”, and it’s something a lot of us struggle with. Because no matter how happy or in love we are, we always find ourselves wondering about things like, “Will this last?” or “Is it even real?” There’s no guarantee that this person is really the right one for you, that they won’t just leave you and hurt you in the end, that you won’t screw it all up somehow, even things are going great right now.
Does this sound familiar? Do you think you might have relationship anxiety? Well, here are 8 tell-tale signs that can help you figure it out:
1. You are insecure about your relationships.
First and foremost, the most common manifestation of relationship anxiety is insecurity. Whether it’s about your friendships, your romantic relationships, or your family, you find yourself constantly wondering if you matter to the people you love and how important you are to them. You ask yourself things like, “Will they miss me when I’m gone?” or “Will they be there for me when I need them?” You question if the connection you feel with them is real and what it all means. You often struggle with feeling like you don’t belong, like you have no place in their lives, and that you don’t mean as much to them as they do to you (Riggio, 2013).
2. You doubt your partner’s feelings for you.
Another clear sign that you are suffering from relationship anxiety is if you’re always doubting your partner’s feelings for you. No matter how many times they tell you they love you, you can’t help but wonder if they really mean it. Even when they make grand romantic gestures for you just to show you how happy and in love with you they really are, you still find yourself wanting more reassurance to quiet all the nagging doubt lingering in your mind. You want them to prove to you, time and time again, that you are the only one for them and that they will never leave you because you have such a deep-seated fear of abandonment fueling your relationship anxiety (Connor, et al., 2010).
3. You’re overly dependent on your partner.
Do you find yourself staring at your phone all the time, waiting for your partner to text you back? Or going out of your way just to spend time with them? Do you feel worried whenever you don’t see them and fear that they might forget about you? Do you get upset with them whenever they have to leave or spend time with anyone other than you? It’s only natural to feel attached to your significant other and want to spend a lot of time with them. But having a lot of relationship anxiety can turn you needy, paranoid, and overly dependent.
4. You want to please your partner too much.
Being too much of a people pleaser is never good, and it usually stems from unresolved abandonment issues or an unsatisfied need for love (Chen, Yang, & Liu, 2019). Being in a healthy, loving relationship should make you feel happy, secure, and good about yourself. But your relationship anxiety has wrongly convinced you that if you don’t do everything you can to please your partner, they will leave you. So you keep quiet about things that bother you; you’re afraid to start any conflicts or disagreements; and you go along with whatever your significant other wants. You put their needs ahead of your own and you always go above and beyond just to make them happy.
5. You overanalyze your relationship.
Overthinking is one of the most telling signs of anxiety, so if you have a tendency to overthink your partner’s words and actions, then there’s a good chance you are suffering from relationship anxiety (Hanton & Connaughton, 2007). You playback past conversations in your head and beat yourself up over what you think you should have said instead. You get hung up on every little disagreement you have and worry it’ll somehow end in you two breaking up. You fixate on every little detail — from the tone of their voice to the look on their face — and drive yourself crazy wondering about what it all means. Which brings us to our next point!
6. You beat yourself up over everything.
Whether it’s simply forgetting to greet your significant other good morning, missing their calls, or not being able to make it to a date, you always beat yourself up over all the ways you think you’ve failed them as a partner. You get mad at yourself for every little mistake you make and worry that it might mean the end of your relationship. No matter how much your partner reassures you that it’s fine or that you didn’t do anything wrong, you can’t help but be wracked with guilt and worry anyway. Does this sound like you? Because all of these behaviors clearly convey relationship anxiety (Martin & Ashby, 2015).
7. You’re afraid things will get too serious.
So, you love this person but can’t commit to them because you’re afraid of being in a serious relationship. Having relationship anxiety can make you hesitant to get too close to anyone and struggle to be vulnerable with them. You know why? Because in the back of your mind, you think that it can never last. You’re afraid of ending up alone and heartbroken so you hold back from your feelings and keep your partner at an emotional distance. And the moment they mention something like meeting their parents, going on a trip together, or moving in with them, you want to run far far away because you think it’s only a matter of time before it all falls apart.
8. You wait for something to go wrong.
You are constantly at the edge of your seat, waiting for something to go wrong because your relationship anxiety has convinced you to set yourself up for hurt and disappointment. You have a hard time forgiving your partner for their mistakes and letting things go because you’re always looking for reasons to leave. You make a big deal out of things and scare off easily. And although you might feel like it’s better to be safe than sorry by listening to your anxiety, the truth is, it’s holding you back from being happy, enjoying the moment, and giving your relationship with this person an actual chance (Rodman, 2008).
If you are suffering from relationship anxiety and don’t know how to deal with it, it’s always best to open up and talk to your partner about it. After all, relationships are all about trust, honesty, and mutual communication. You need to learn how to manage your relationship anxiety before it starts to complicate things for you and your partner. Recognize the signs and heal from your emotional issues, so that when genuine and authentic love arrives, you can finally embrace it instead of sabotaging your own happiness.
- Riggio, H. R. (2013). Peer relationships, social support, and relationship anxiety in young adulthood. Personal Relationships, 11(1), 99-114.
- Connor, B., Fauber, R., Gordon, E., Montesi, L., & Heimber, R. (2010). On the relationship between anxiety, fear of intimacy, and relationship satisfaction in young couples. Journal of Social Psychology, 42(11); 117-123.
- Chen, H., Yang, T., & Liu, X. (2019). Pleasing or withdrawing: Differences between dependent and self-critical depression in adolescent relationships. Journal of Social Psychology, 23(10), 14-29.
- Hanton, S., & Connaughton, D. (2007). Overthinking and the perception of control: a study on anxiety and relationship satisfaction. Clinical Psychology Review, 73(1), 87-97.
- Martin, J. L., & Ashby, J. S. (2015). Perfectionism and fear of intimacy: Implications for romantic relationships. Journal of Personality, 12(4), 368-374.
- Rodman, S. A. (2008). Mechanisms Underlying Difficulties in Intimate Relationships: The Roles of Fear of Positive Evaluation and Fear of Abandonment (Doctoral dissertation). University of Michigan Press.