"Bustle" Feature: Common Relationship Problems Among People with Anxiety

Alana Barlia, LMHC

Anxiety is characterized by excessive worrying that the individual finds difficult to control, which largely impacts interpersonal relationships and – you guessed it – romantic relationships specifically! The disturbance this dis-ease can cause in romantic relationship may range from things like making dinner plans with friends, to catastrophizing an otherwise minimal argument, to inability to perform sexually, as well as numerous other aspects.

  • Day to day plans – People with anxiety often find that their excessive worrying waylays their social life in a variety of ways. Tasks that seem menial to most people, such as reaching out for a cup of coffee or making a phone call, can be daunting for somebody with anxiety. In turn, significant others of those with anxiety may find that they are either not receiving the necessary time and energy conducive to a relationship from their partner, or they find that the social burden is primarily placed in their lap, potentially causing resentment.

  • Catastrophizing – Catastrophizing is an irrational thought pattern often exhibited by those experiencing anxiety. It is a spiral- type of thinking in which the person envisions the worst possible outcome to be the most probable outcome. Of course, this will impact one’s relationship with their significant other in a multitude of ways. Often when people are experiencing panic-ridden thinking, they focus this panic onto their relationship, beginning to question the current status or longevity of their relationship. This can be destabilizing for the relationship and cause distress for the couple.

  • Performing sexually – People with anxiety may find themselves less interested in sex or even struggle to perform sexually. Due to feeling restless, keyed up, or on edge, it may become difficult to focus one’s attention on sexual energy due to spiral thinking in other areas of their life, potentially causing disturbances in the couple’s sex life and relationship.

Thus, anxiety can cause strain on a relationship, and often will if it is not treated properly! One major tip to sustaining a relationship when one or both partners have anxiety is to practice clear communication. Communication is key to any relationship, but especially when one person is experiencing mental health concerns. Keep the communication open, non-judgmental, use “I” statements, reflect understanding and compassion, and negotiate. And know that individual therapy or couples therapy can be a great place to work through partner and relationship anxiety.

Read the full article in Alana’s Bustle feature here.