Your question: Why do I have anxiety about my relationship?

My reply:

Hi, I hope this message finds you well. My name is Cesar Guedez, a psychologist trained in cognitive behavioral therapy. Through this blog I would like to answer the question of why relationships can generate anxiety, and also, why it is part of the process of learning to bond with someone, as long as it does not cause significant discomfort.

Couple relationships are complicated. When it comes to two inevitably different people trying to adjust to each other, as well as dealing with the pressures of adult life, it is difficult for couples not to have periods of anxiety or stress and cause them to question things about their relationship.

Studies show that anxiety is an everyday experience for couples, having to deal not only with problems and communication needs between them, but with the demands of daily life such as money management, work pressure, and in some cases, parenting (1).

Undoubtedly, it is normal to feel relationship anxiety, because people are complicated and to put in tune the differences of each member of the couple is difficult. In addition, there are certainly doubts and fears associated with relationships, such as questions about how long they will last together and fear of ending the relationship.

However, I would like to tell you that your anxiety and fear about your relationship is common, and can be addressed through effective communication and addressing the dysfunctional thoughts that generate anxiety.

What does it feel like to have relationship anxiety?

Relationship anxiety, like all forms of anxiety, expresses itself in different physical and emotional symptoms that generate persistent distress in the person and interrupt his or her performance of daily activities. Some of these symptoms are:

  • Sudden thoughts that your partner might break up with you.
  • Tachycardia, sweating and numbness of the muscles when you have a conversation with your partner.
  • You feel that the relationship is always tense and in conflict.
  • You are afraid to express your opinion on a relationship issue because you think your partner will get angry.
  • Excessive jealousy; you feel that at any moment your partner could be unfaithful.
  • Frustration and resentment towards your partner.
  • Constant communication problems.
  • Recurrent fights and arguments.
  • Avoidance of being with your partner.

Why do you feel anxious about your relationship?

Many people believe that experiencing anxiety or fear in a relationship is an automatic problem, and means that they should break up with their partner. As long as there is no violence of any kind, relationships can resolve their conflicts, but first they must find the source of the anxiety that is present. Some causes of relationship anxiety are:


It is natural to feel insecure from time to time, but thoughts of insecurity when we are in a relationship can be very overwhelming. Insecurities are related to anxiety because they create distressing thoughts that have no logic to them. For example, an anxious thought about your relationship may be “my partner will get tired of the way I am at any moment,” despite having no proof or evidence to support that idea.

Low self-esteem

Low self-esteem is related to an anxious attachment style. This causes you to feel that you have to be with your partner all the time, feel unwarranted jealousy, and have a deep-seated fear of abandonment. Low self-esteem may make you feel that you have to do things to “make up” for your relationship, since you feel that you do not deserve your partner. You may also feel fear or anxiety when you and your partner are separated for an extended period of time.

Intimacy problems

Anxiety problems can affect a couple’s sex life. You may experience fear or anxiety if you feel that you are not satisfying your partner in intimacy, and this in turn is related to insecurities and communication problems. High levels of anxiety and stress in couples are known to affect sexual desire, so it is common for tension to build up between partners that is rooted in problems occurring in the bedroom.

Previous negative experiences

If you have experienced abusive or violent relationships in the past, whether physical, emotional and/or sexual, you are likely to experience deep anxiety and fear when entering into a new relationship. This is because the trauma in our brain acts in confusing ways, and makes people believe that the traumatic experience is still present and can happen again at any time.

How can you overcome anxiety in your relationship?

If the anxiety becomes too intense and persistent, and if you feel unable to solve problems together, it is time to seek professional help. This are some strategies for coping with relationship anxiety, however, I recommend that you seek professional attention, either with a psychologist who provides individual or couples counseling, if you feel your anxiety and general relationship problems are getting worse:

Emotional self-reporting

First, it is necessary to identify the source of your relationship anxiety before finding a solution. Every time you experience those annoying physical and psychological symptoms related to your relationship, write in the journal what you feel and think. This way you will be able to identify if your anxiety is related to jealousy, fear of abandonment, intimacy problems, communication problems, or any other relationship-related issues.


One of the hardest things to do in a relationship is to accept yourself as a person who will make mistakes. A useful strategy is to identify the things you feel you are doing wrong, or can do better, in your current relationship. For example, if you think you should communicate better with your partner and not keep everything to yourself, or if you feel you have too high expectations and therefore you are too demanding of your partner.

Communicate honestly

Communicating as a couple is not an easy task because complex feelings are involved. One thing you can do is to write down everything you want to say to your partner and rehearse it in front of a mirror. This way you will be clear about whatever it is you want to communicate and have been holding back to “avoid conflict”.

Relaxation and breathing

Progressive muscle relaxation is a holistic relaxation technique that is extremely useful for coping with episodes of fear and intense anxiety(4). To apply it, you should find a quiet space free of distractions. Lie down, wearing comfortable clothes, and close your eyes. Take short breaths (3 seconds to inhale, 3 seconds to exhale). Rest one hand on your chest and one hand on your abdomen. 

Now, focus on each muscle group in the body, either from head to toe or toe to head. The point is you should squeeze each muscle group tightly for five full seconds before releasing the tension. This technique is useful when you feel overwhelmed with emotions and physical sensations related to anxiety, and through practice it will become more effective and easier to execute.

Come to terms with your emotions

Feelings are not facts, and that is something that many people find difficult to understand. Our emotions carry us through a multitude of sensations, but they are not necessarily rational. Therefore, you need to make an objective assessment of those upsetting emotions you experience when you suffer from relationship anxiety.

Let’s say you are feeling sad and dejected because you are afraid that your partner will be unfaithful or break up with you. That’s when you need to confront your emotion and ask yourself what real evidence do I have to believe this?

In my experience…

Yes, relationships are difficult, but not impossible. Relationship anxiety is common, and can be addressed through honest communication and identification of dysfunctional ideas about the relationship. It is necessary to accept that no relationship is perfect. 

All will go through complicated adjustment processes; financial problems, moving, temporary travel separations, and more. Therefore, the key is to constantly monitor the dysfunctional thoughts that generate anxiety and agony, and that the couple is willing to constantly improve things.

I believe you have the ability to improve and heal these feelings of discomfort you are experiencing now. The fact that you are seeking professional help through this message proves it to me, and I applaud you for making that decision and being on track to improve your mental health and overall, your physical health.

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