Relationship Anxiety

Question -

Hello, I am in a loving, committed relationship where we have talked extensively about our future together. During rational moments I trust my partner implicitly and know he would never intentionally do anything to hurt me. However, more frequently I am experiencing periods of anxiety where I can't help but be fearful about him cheating on me/ leaving/ becoming ill. How can I overcome this and prevent it from impacting my relationship in the future? Thank you x

Answer -

Hello, Thanks so much for reaching out and sharing about your experience with your partner. It can be really tricky navigating how to feel safe and secure in our relationships, especially when our worried minds lead us to imagine fearful scenarios about the future.

It sounds like on a rational, cognitive level you can see that your partner is loving and committed to you, and that you have communicated a lot about your future together. It's much easier to feel good about the relationship when you are feeling calm and connected.

On another level (in your nervous system, and the lower parts of your brain such as the limbic system), it seems like you feel a sense of threat about your relationship, like something bad will happen which will leave you abandoned and alone. This perceived danger probably happens when you're feeling more tired, anxious, or generally not good about yourself.

Sometimes people can become preoccupied about their partner leaving despite evidence that they don't want to, due to an anxious template of attachment - meaning that they may have experienced feelings of rejection, worthlessness, loneliness, or abandonment growing up, from having a parent/caregiver who was inconsistently available to them for various reasons. As a result, these people tend to feel more anxious, seek more reassurance in their relationships and have difficulty finding comfort and safety with their partner because they're expecting to be let down.

If this resonates, it doesn't mean that there's anything at all 'wrong' with you. So many people develop different types of attachment templates depending on how their parents responded to them as children, as a way to adapt and cope with getting their needs met growing up. It also doesn't mean that your parents didn't/don't love you - parents often repeat patterns that they experienced as children themselves, and often aren't aware of how they're impacting on their own children.

The good news is, it's very possible to 'heal' your attachment style if you're in a healthy, loving relationship as an adult. Over time, your brain and nervous system will begin to rewire and learn that you're safe and that the fears you experience are from an old template that no longer has the power to rule the way you feel.

If not from your attachment patterns, your anxiety might also stem from previous negative experiences in relationships with a significant other. Anxiety about your relationship might have also come about from witnessing negative experiences in other relationships around you.

It can be helpful to seek support from a good therapist if you're interested in learning more about your attachment style, or where your fears are stemming from, and how you feel in your relationship. The topic of attachment is extensive, and it can help to do your own research and reading about this topic to understand why you feel the way you feel. Once you have the awareness of where your anxiety is coming from, you'll experience more compassion for yourself, have more control over how your thoughts impact on you, and enjoy the security of being in a good relationship.

We wish you all the best on your journey of overcoming this anxiety,

~ Thania & Christina.

Kristine Ross