People suffering from anxiety face many difficulties in all spheres of life, including relationships.
About 40 million people – or 18 percent of the population suffer from some anxiety disorder. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, anxiety disorders are the most common mental health condition in the world. People suffering from anxiety know that it impacts virtually every aspect of their lives, including their most intimate relationships.
There are many ways stress can lead to the demise of a romantic relationship:
1. Mood Swings
People suffering from anxiety problems can behave perfectly normal one minute and act like an entirely different person the next. This causes their loved one to feel confused. Frankly, it can become tiresome very quickly to always feel that you must walk on eggshells.
For an anxious person, their thoughts and feelings dominate a large part of their day. They are laser-focused on what they are thinking or feeling or facing, to the point that they have difficulty recognizing or expressing empathy for how another person is feeling. So, if their partner is experiencing a personal problem, they are unable to show sympathy or help him or her work through the challenge.
Given that relationships must be nurtured by both parties involved to succeed, this self-absorption can leave their partner feeling unsatisfied and unappreciated. As defined by Meriam-Webster, self-absorbed is a person who’s only caring about and interested in yourself.
Often, a person with anxiety wants to rehash a situation over and over, talking about it incessantly. While they are legitimately having trouble “getting over it,” their laser focus on a singular topic or event can become exhausting, leaving their partner feeling frustrated.
Most of us have the ability to move on from upsetting episodes, but people with anxiety continue to over-analyze a situation for a longer length of time, to the point that it can become an exasperating obsession.
Anxiety can result in serious trust issues. A person with anxiety who suspects that their partner is cheating, even without a shred of evidence, will convince themselves that something is amiss in the relationship.
While this deep-rooted suspicion may be based on previous relationships, they make assumptions that can lead to baseless accusations that, in turn, result in heated arguments. They also might exhibit extreme neediness, demanding constant reassurance that their spouse has not strayed.
Because anxiety can damage relationships, a person suffering from anxiety likely has endured some painful breakups. As soon as the glow wears off, he or she may begin to obsess over the end of the current relationship, obsessively wondering when and how it will end.
They believe that all of the problems in the relationship lie at their feet and that they are unworthy of a normal, healthy connection. A person who suffers from anxiety while in a relationship will, quite literally, expect the relationship to fail ultimately.
People suffering from anxiety can get extremely nervous about stepping out of their comfort zone. The idea of attending a party full of people they don’t know, even with their partner, can send them into a tailspin. We will obsessively fret over what they talk about, worry that they won’t be accepted. We also tend to obsess over what to wear and worry that they will say the wrong thing.
Every loving relationship is a give and take, and that means that occasionally we have to do something our partner wants to do, even if it isn’t our cup of tea. But that’s much more easily said than done for a person with anxiety, and their reluctance to experience new things can become tiresome.
Negative thoughts, as opposed to positive thoughts, can consume them to the point that they believe they will fail or, at the very least, look foolish, and these feelings can cause social paralysis that may leave their partner discouraged about the future of the relationship.
At different times in our busy lives, stress is perfectly normal. But for a person with anxiety, stress is constant and overwhelming. They may experience insomnia, phobias, and severe depression.
These extreme emotions can strain a relationship, particularly since the symptoms can be long-lasting. An anxiety sufferer’s partner may have difficulty understanding the endless stress his or her partner experiences.
People suffering from anxiety often struggle sexually. Depression caused by their anxiety can cause them to have little interest in sex. At the same time, their nagging self-doubt may affect their enjoyment during sexual encounters.
Consequently, they will be worrying about their performance and abilities. They may always be worrying that they don’t satisfy their partner, or that they aren’t desirable. These poor sexual experiences can lead the sufferer to ask, “What’s the point?” and they may begin to show little to no interest in sexual activity. Lack of intimacy can derail any relationship.
Anxiety in a relationship is clearly a strain on both the person who is suffering from anxiety and their partner. It takes hard work and an ongoing commitment to conquering. Anxiety can be emotionally exhausting for both parties in the relationship.
To maintain a normal, healthy, long-lasting relationship, it’s important that both sides seek professional help to learn the best methods for coping with an extreme anxiety disorder. Keep in mind that anxiety is a treatable disorder. So seeking help can allow both the sufferer and his or her partner to maintain the relationship they desire.