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Ways Anxiety Can Cause Relationship Problems

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Updated May 21, 2014

Young woman sitting on sofa, looking at distressed man at table
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Having significant anxiety or even generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) can impact all parts of life. One of the biggest ways this can play out for people is in close relationships. The following is a brief overview of three ways that anxiety can cause disturbances in relationships, and some quick ways to try and prevent these problems from happening. For more on coping with anxiety, check this article.

Suspiciousness

In relationships, anxiety can often lead to suspiciousness. This can manifest as worry about a partner being unfaithful, not loving you, not caring as much as you do, or a variety of other individual issues. Trusting your intuition is an important part of living, but for people with GAD, this can become confused with anxiety. If you find yourself becoming paranoid or suspicious about your relationship, remember that it may be fueled by your anxiety, and allow yourself to explore for any hard data that may support your worry. Also remember that the data that does not support your worry. Finally, if you have a partner who is patient and understanding of your anxiety, asking for occasional reassurance can be helpful as well.

Neediness

People with GAD often worry that they are too “needy” in relationships. This is usually thought of as needing constant reassurance and having a partner regularly prove that things are OK. Sometimes anxiety can pressure people to become overly needy and it can cause some relationship stress. If this is true for you, finding ways to cope with your anxiety and relying more on yourself for feeling better can take the pressure off your partner. It also allows you to become more self-sufficient, even in anxiety. For example, instead of needing your partner for comfort each time you are anxious, try to reassure yourself and take some thoughtful action.

Impulsiveness

Anxiety can create states that are so intolerable that we are compelled to take actions that are impulsive and misguided. In relationships, this could mean some sort of acting out that is destructive, quickly jumping to conclusions, or making decisions that will not bring desired results. If you find that your anxiety makes you impulsive in relationships, it can be important to slow down, be still, and think through anything you are doing. If it is simply just to relieve anxiety, try and find a better solution that won’t result in increased problems and stress.
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