How Anxiety Affects Relationships

If you suffer from anxiety, chances are it has had an impact on many areas of your life. Your anxiety may have affected your performance at work or school, your social life may not be what it once was and you may spend less time enjoying your free time because a great deal of your time is spent being consumed by your anxious thoughts. And if you are struggling with anxiety, it is very likely that your partner and friends are also struggling, because anxiety tends to affect the way you act and behave in relationships.  

anxiety and your relationship, orlando anxiety therapyA 2004 research study by the Anxiety Disorders Association of America found that individuals with Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) were:

  • Twice as likely to have one or more major relationship problems
  • Half as likely to have supportive, healthy relationships
  • Three times as likely to have problems with intimacy

Anxiety disorders tend to create a great amount of uncertainty in people, which often leads to seeking reassurance from one’s partner or friend on a consistent basis. When a person with anxiety feels worried, insecure or afraid, they want to be reassured that all is well, which is quite normal. However, when reassurance seeking is done too much, it can become a problem and eventually put a strain on even the strongest relationships. Eventually, constant reassurance tends to lessen the effectiveness of the reassurance as the anxious person begins to stop believing the person who is providing the reassurance. In addition, the person providing the reassurances begins to feel drained and exhausted.

Another way anxiety affects relationships is by affecting typical relationship activities such as going out and socializing with others. When a person with anxiety avoids social events, family functions or even refuses to leave the house, their anxiety can cause tension in relationships.

Anxiety also affects communication in relationships. Anxious individuals often avoid talking about important issues with others because they tend to be afraid that a confrontation would have a negative affect on the relationship. Serious issues often remain undiscussed until they reach a boiling point.

Anxiety can also make a person controlling. Anxious individuals soothe their fears by doing all they can to make sure that things happen in a certain way; routine and order is comforting and soothing. Often, anxious people micromanage and control others because it makes their world feel a little more safe and predictable, but it often drives the people they love a little crazy.

Rigid thinking can also be an expression of anxiety and have a damaging effect on relationships. Rigidity can manifest as excessive anxiety and irritability if typical schedules and routines are changed or interrupted. Rigid thinking can also make it difficult for a person with anxiety to see things from another person’s point of view, which is never a good thing for two people in a relationship.

Making decisions is often difficult for individuals with anxiety. Choices can make them very anxious and they may agonize over what to do, waver back and forth and then second-guess themselves after they have made a decision. Friends and partners often become annoyed and because the individual with anxiety is so indecisive, the other person may make the decision just to get the decision over with. The anxious person then becomes irritated and views their friend or partner’s actions as controlling.

In a romantic relationship, anxiety can also be expressed as insecurity, suspicion and jealousy. The anxious partner may have an unrealistic fear of being abandoned, fret about the chance of a breakup, or worry about the partner being unfaithful, even when the partner has not given them any actual reasons for their worry.

Individuals who suffer with anxiety spend much of their time ruminating and pondering. Many of their thoughts are very negative and include a great deal of catastrophic thinking. To love a person who is anxious can be very frustrating and challenging.

Can anything be done to change this way of thinking and help the person with anxiety live a less anxious life and experience better relationships? Yes! CBT to the rescue! Cognitive behavioral therapy can help an anxious person begin to challenge their anxiety by seeing situations from a different perspective, teach new ways of thinking and challenge the negative thoughts and behaviors that have such a detrimental effect on relationships.

 

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