Relationship Anxiety: How to Overcome Fear and Have a Healthy Relationship


Being in a relationship with another person can be challenging, especially when it comes to relationship anxiety. Relationship anxiety is a state where an individual feels a range of negative emotions like doubt, fear, and worry that begin to interfere with the health of their bonds. 

Anxiety can make a person worry about the future of a relationship, and people who suffer from this may end their relationship out of fear, or they may maintain the relationship in a high state of anxiety, affecting the quality of love and intimacy they enjoy. It might seem hopeless, but this situation can get better with a little bit of effort.

In this article, you will learn about relationship anxiety and how to overcome it. You will also discover the various reasons for this form of anxiety, whether it’s from the individual or the relationship itself. Let’s dive further to improve your relationship intimacy without anxiety.

Understanding relationship anxiety 

Relationship anxiety arises for a variety of reasons, the most common being related to past relationship experiences, childhood traumas, and low confidence levels. People with dating anxiety might experience a consistent stream of thoughts that undermine happiness and make them worry about the relationship rather than enjoy it.

It is reportedly a common problem predicted to affect approximately 1 in 5 people. Sometimes, people experience relationship anxiety at the beginning of a relationship, though this may go away over time. However, for other people, the feeling may continue or develop into a long-term relationship. 

Relationship anxiety might sound severe, but there are things you can do to overcome this issue, which we will discuss below.

Causes of Relationship Anxiety

A survey by Thriveworks reported in 2022 showed that depending on where they are in a romantic relationship, different people have different things that make them feel anxious. For instance, people report feeling anxious about the following things early on in a relationship: asking someone out (55%), talking about the future (49%), waiting for a text from a date (4 %), and looking for a match.

The following are the things that people who say their relationships are more stable worry about the most: the relationship ending (66%), meeting a partner’s family and friends (58%), getting married (52%), moving in with a partner (48%), waiting to get engaged (44%), and deciding whether or not to have children.

Aside from the various personal reasons for why one might feel relationship anxiety, there are also some common causes that most people share.

Anxious attachment

Adults with an anxious attachment style may become so preoccupied with their relationship that they appear “clingy” to their partners. They frequently worry that their partner will end their relationship or stop loving them. 

One study by Rodrigues, et al. found that trust in a relationship can be affected by anxious attachment. When they feel mistrust, anxious attachment sufferers are more likely to become psychologically abusive, become jealous, and even snoop through a partner’s belongings – causing strain in their relationship.

Anxiety after breakup

For those who just experienced romantic relationships for the first time, a breakup often seems like an end to a mature relationship. Betrayal or heartbreak experienced in a first love leaves lasting emotional scars, creating the trauma of trusting someone else and being vulnerable in future relationships. Besides that, the intense and idealized first love creates an unrealistic standard. When relationships do not meet those standards, this can lead to disappointment.

On the other hand, heartbreak after heartbreak is seen as a “never-ending” quest for searching for an ideal life partner. This signifies the difficult effect of the end of a relationship, including anxiety, sadness, low self-esteem, questions about one’s identity and role, and even sexuality.

Trying to figure out how to deal with breakup anxiety can drain you, and the worry of whether the experience will repeat itself might trigger new relationship anxieties. Remember that these worries are valid, and you ought to get time to process and recuperate them.

Low self-esteem

Anxiety and insecurity in relationships can be exacerbated by low self-esteem. According to a study, people who have low self-esteem respond to self-doubt by having more doubts about how their partners view them, which hurts their perceptions of their partners.

On the other hand, high self-esteem individuals tend to draw confidence and validation from relationships when they feel doubtful or insecure about their worth. They do this by becoming more convinced that their partners will continue to accept them. This might be a kind of projection, as high self-esteem individuals assume their partner sees them as they see themselves generously. 

Poor communication

A steady stream of communication is essential to any healthy relationship. However, relationship anxiety sufferers tend to be poor communicators. This can come out in a variety of ways, including:

  • Poorly expressing your feelings and needs,
  • Not being able to communicate what you want or need,
  • Overthinking and overanalyzing the situation, assuming the other person is angry when they are not, and
  • Getting defensive or angry when asked to explain yourself.

Signs of relationship anxiety

Relationship anxiety doesn’t come out of the blue. There are signs that you should look out for so that you can deal with them appropriately, as explained below.


Overanalyzing your partner’s behavior is quite common in relationships. You might ponder their thoughts, their feelings for you, and whether you’re both on the same page. However, people with anxious attachments tend to feel unsafe and uncertain in their relationships, which causes them to worry excessively about what they could be doing wrong. 

When can you tell when you’re anxious, and not just overthinking like normal? The difference between the two can be seen in the scenario below:

You had a disagreement with your partner about where to eat. While you suggested a new restaurant, your partner insisted on going to the usual place. The difference between normal overthinking and relationship anxiety-induced overthinking occurs after the argument happens. Normal overthinking is wondering if you should defend or let go of your suggestion of the restaurant option. 

A person with a relationship anxiety-induced overthinking tendency starts thinking about the entire relationship instead of focusing on the disagreement. You start doubting whether your partner’s disagreement is a sign that they don’t value your opinions. You start doubting their feelings for you and worry they might leave you.

Overthinking can have detrimental effects, leading you to lose grip on your life and doubt every choice you make. If left unaddressed, this type of behavior can lead to depression or make daily activities more difficult because they seem too overwhelming or complicated at times.


Jealousy is a normal human emotion. Everyone feels jealous at some point in their lives, whether they love their partner or not. However, there are healthy ways and unhealthy ways of dealing with jealousy. An individual who has relationship anxiety may have trouble distinguishing between the two.

Individuals with relationship anxiety will often experience other symptoms as well, such as:

  • Fear of abandonment.
  • Fear of being alone or single again.
  • Inability to trust others (both romantic partners and friends).

Need for validation

For individuals who exhibit relationship anxiety, being with their partner alone is not enough to make them happy. They need constant approval, validation, and acceptance from their partner.

If this need is not being met, the person with anxiety will feel unloved. According to a study conducted in 2018, individuals in romantic relationships who require external validation tend to exhibit specific behaviors, such as sulking, whining, and intentionally displaying sadness to elicit emotional support.


Anxiety makes an individual feel like they have no control over their own life. This can lead them to isolate themselves as a form of self-protection. Unfortunately, this withdrawal act does not bring any positive aspect to the relationship, rather, it’ll be worse due to lack of communication.


Feeling insecure is just one of the problems an anxious person has. This can be caused by past traumas and low self-esteem, resulting in a person worrying too much about whether what they do in relationships is wrong.

Read more: From Insecurity to Intimacy: Cultivating Secure Attachments for Stronger Relationships 


Anxiety affects not only the thoughts of a person but also how they deal with their life. Sometimes, they depend on their partner too much to the point where they can not “breathe” without their partner. Someone with this problem may not be confident enough in their own ability, so they rely on someone else to solve the problem instead of building their dignity.

Besides influencing how an anxious person deals with their problem, this also affects their identity. The overly dependent person has tied their identity to their partner, not to themselves. This can cause everything they do to be for the sake of their partner, not based on their willingness.

Read more: Unraveling the Emotionally Entangled: The Difference Between Codependency and Attachment

How to deal with relationship anxiety

After knowing the root of the problem, it is time to deal with this relationship anxiety to achieve a meaningful connection with your partner. You can follow the following suggestions.

Practice mindfulness

People want to avoid repeating the same mistakes in relationships. Instead of seeing the strengths in new relationships, they tend to unconsciously focus on preventing past failures from happening again, making them forget to enjoy the present and drowning in worry. Focusing on the good things in your relationship can help you enjoy the relationship and eliminate the negative energy.

Consider taking a mindful approach to improve stress endurance and learn how to pause, letting you appreciate your current relationship better. Take the steps below:

  1. Enjoy the present moment
  2. Take a few deep breaths while reflecting on your thoughts and feelings
  3. Find out what you need
  4. Take a moment to find the most effective way to approach the situation.

Communicate your feelings

If you feel anxious in your relationship, your feelings are valid and contain useful information for the growth and health of the relationship. However, one can’t realize the benefits realized without communicating one’s feelings.

Thus, it’s essential to openly discuss your worries, hopes, or dreams for the future with your partner. Uncertainties that can exacerbate anxiety can be avoided by speaking clearly, allowing for a healthy appreciation of the relationship. 

If something specific is causing your anxiety, such as your partner often playing with their phone when you talk to them or not wanting to spend the holidays with your family, try bringing it up in a respectful and non-accusatory manner.

Although their assurance may not completely alleviate your anxiety, it is likely to be beneficial. In addition, revealing oneself and being vulnerable can bolster the relationship you already have.

Avoid acting on your anxious feelings

Relationship anxiety can sometimes make you want to prove that everything is fine, but acting based on this feeling is not encouraged. When you are anxious, your brain likely won’t make a good decision, so you’ll regret doing things based on your anxious feelings. Anxiety-based actions can take many forms, such as:

  • Accusing your partner
  • Yelling
  • Screaming
  • Silent treatment
  • Not respecting boundaries
  • Invading personal property
  • Threatening to leave

Even though it’s normal to want to feel better, try not to act in a way that will ultimately hurt the relationship. Pay attention to the difference between impulsive and regular behavior. 

For example, when you feel the urge to get in touch with your partner, but they are not available at the moment, try to redirect that desire to other activities. The activity can range from a simple one, like taking a breath or going for a walk, to big acts like confiding with someone you trust.

Talk to a therapist 

If the anxiety reaches the point where it is beyond your control and even limiting your daily activity, seeking a professional is recommended. By doing professional therapy, you can shed light on the root cause of your relationship anxiety and reframe negative thoughts. You can also feel safe to tell all your problems without getting judged.

In conclusion

Relationship anxiety can hinder the health of your relationship. This anxiety can be rooted in various factors, such as anxious attachment, post-breakup distress, low self-esteem, and poor communication.

Recognizing the signs discussed thoroughly in the article can be empowering to identify and navigate these challenges. You are encouraged to practice mindfulness, communicate openly, resist acting on anxious impulses, and seek professional guidance to address the relationship anxiety.

If you would like to see more resources on relationship anxiety, check out the Relationships Science Labs. The lab uses the research of the Institute for Life Management Science to produce courses, certifications, podcasts, videos, and other tools. Visit the Relationships Science Labs today.

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