Written by therapist Bria McCalpin

Relationships can produce a multitude of feelings. When you feel connected to another person, it can be exciting, amazing, and joyful. However, it is possible to feel overwhelmed, worried, and exposed when dating. A lot of individuals experience anxiety in their dating lives, whether you are casually dating or in an exclusive relationship. For some, the anxiety is short-lived. For others, it lingers or comes in waves. Relationship anxiety entails intense worry or discomfort in a relationship. A person can experience fear around the future of the relationship which may result in ending it or self-sabotage. Let’s explore some of the possibilities that contribute to fear in relationships.

Fear of Rejection

When it comes to relationships, vulnerability is something one should always expect. It takes a lot of courage to be open to someone else about our thoughts, feelings, and needs. However, there are moments that allowing ourselves to be vulnerable bears the risk of being disappointed or hurt. Majority of us want to be accepted by others, to have a sense of belonging. If we share a piece of ourselves to another, we would hope to avoid judgment, especially from a partner.

Childhood Relationships

In our early years, caregivers help to set the tone for our relationships. They are some of the most fundamental relationships we have because we depend on our caregivers to be consistent and meet our emotional needs. If a parent is not responsive to a child for their emotions, this can affect how and when that child responds to others as an adult. For instance, a child may have adults who are dismissive of sadness, which teaches that child to do the same and later struggle to cope with or express sadness in a healthy manner. Additionally, they may believe their partner could showcase similar behaviors as their parents.

Past Relationships

Depending on what happened in your previous relationships, a variety of things could influence how you show up in other romantic relationships. Negative experiences from the past can create anxious responses in the future when we notice a comparable event. When we have been hurt before, we can become wary it will happen again and carry this fear with us. We could question our partner’s feelings and motives, or we may shut down and overanalyze. Past trauma can plague anyone.  

How to Manage

It is important to learn how to effectively cope with any relationship anxiety or fears when they start to show up in your relationship. There are several methods to incorporate into your life to do so and they start with self. First, one should identify the root of these fears and what drives them. It is best to be honest and reflective on how this anxiety affects you. Second, pay close attention to any patterns you may usually overlook. If you are internally strict on yourself or others holding their promises or obligations (i.e,. being on time or doing what they say they will), reflect on time where others did not uphold their promises to you. It could show why you hold this expectation so tightly. It will take some time to understand and build a toolbox for techniques to help sooth you when fear arises, so working with a therapist may be a way of exploring any patterns or experiences that contribute to your anxiety.

If you are having a difficult time with relationship anxiety or want to discover more about why it presents in your relationship, think about seeing one of our therapists at Optimum Joy. We could support you in navigating your experiences and assist you in understanding your triggers, thoughts, or actions. When you are ready to learn more, reach out today to start seeing a therapist!

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