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Anxiety Affects Relationships

Anxiety Affects Relationships

As I’m writing this, I’m thinking to myself – Ugh! Do we have to talk about this topic? It is probably one of the most challenging topics I will ever write about because of how much I blame myself for my relationship issues due to GAD.

Suffering from an anxiety disorder can be overwhelming, distasteful, and may overtly impact your life and relationship in a negative way. This is why dating someone diagnosed with an anxiety disorder can sometimes feel like an endless horror. On those days, it can feel like anxiety is another person in your relationship; like a threesome type of situation, except it’s not there for fun. According to a study published on PMC Library of Medicine, it was discovered along with previous research that anxiety disorder play a significant role in relationship distress. The association between anxiety and distress in relationships was concluded to be a process that occurs on a daily basis, not just at the level of general differences. The participants reported that they felt their partners caused them to experience a high level of anxiety, and annoyance. I am very guilty of this because I sometimes try to blame my boyfriend for causing me to be more anxious by saying things like “you are triggering my anxiety.” Some of us might blame the anxiety disorder for every problem in our lives. To read more about this study click here

There are different ways that anxiety affects relationships,  including: isolating yourself, lack of trust, low self-esteem, aggressive or possessive behavior, and being overly dependent on your partner.

Isolating yourself

People with an anxiety disorder can become isolated from their partner by detaching themselves from their emotions or that of their partner. They tend to strive for more independence, expect nothing from others because they are not willing to deal with disappointments or heartbreaks. By isolating themselves, they don’t feel vulnerable in their relationship. It may appear as if that person is selfish, lacks empathy towards others, or is an introvert.  This is not always the case when anxiety plays a role in your relationship.

Lack of trust

By not opening up to your partner, you probably don’t trust them at all. Anxiety disorder can cause lack of trust in relationships by creating a space for excessive worries about things that might go wrong in your relationship and overthinking every action made by your partner. You may experience thoughts such as: What if he likes someone better than me? What if I’m not good enough? Why is he taking so long to reply my text or call? Is he with someone else? What if he leaves me because I’m unstable due to my anxiety? Another reason why thoughts like this go through your mind is because people who suffer from anxiety disorder are more likely to think about worst-case-scenarios.

Can cause low self-esteem

Individuals like myself who have generalized anxiety disorder tend to suffer from low self-esteem. I didn’t understand what was happening to me despite the many compliments I receive from other people I still don’t feel the same way about myself. Doing more research and understanding my disorder has made it clear as to why I struggle with poor confidence levels and my overall self-esteem. Sometimes it’s easier to blame it on your partner or people that care about you the most, because you are not willing to accept genuinely how you feel and why you feel that way. The best way to get over low self-esteem is by being open to trying new things and developing the courage to accept rejections,  accept help from others and understanding your true feelings.

Overly aggressive or possessive

Being possessive or aggressive towards your partner can happen when you have an anxiety disorder. Not necessarily because you want it to be that way, sometimes you have no control over it. You are merely reacting to your thoughts and excessive worries. When you find yourself in this situation, I recommend getting help. Being in a relationship should not feel like a prison yard for your partner. They have the right to live free and happy just as much as you do.

Dependence on your partner

People with a generalized anxiety disorder can also develop a great deal of dependence on their partner. This can result from not being able to maintain a job, being indecisive on a lot of things and letting your partner make most decisions on your behalf. Emotional regulation therapy and Cognitive behavioral therapy can help manage this issue in your relationship.

What can you do to help your relationship?

There are several ways to improve your relationship and remove anxiety as a third party. Providing support, listening to your partner’s feelings, actions and thoughts – this can go both ways and not solely for the person who has an anxiety disorder. Providing support does not imply that you become your partner’s therapist instead, it lies in how affectionate and compassionate you are towards them; giving them a shoulder to cry on and always being there for them, attending couples therapy together, and giving them space and time to return to baseline. Doing something fun that you both enjoy can also help release stress and worries for your partner. I think its imperative for you and your partner to become actively involved in seeking help together.

What you should not do

Most people who don’t understand mental illness may attempt to fix their partner, blame them for their illness, become their ‘unlicensed therapist,’ say things like “everyone has anxiety, get over it,” become verbally and physically abusive due to frustration, or take your partners actions too personally.  Do not attempt to try any of these actions as it may result in losing your partner or worsening your relationship problems.

For available resources that I have tried and still use to reduce my anxiety, click here .


“Trust yourself. You’ve survived a lot, and you will survive whatever is coming.”



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