Rabail Umair Khan
Understanding Relationship Anxiety
Updated: Jun 18, 2020
Ever been with someone, who is exactly the way you wanted your partner to be, with whom you feel at peace and yet your mind is a whirlpool of debilitating anxiety. Your heart says one thing and your mind another. You’re so torn between the two that the only way out you can see is running away from it. If you have experienced this, then my friend, you have come to the right place. Let’s talk about Relationship Anxiety.
Our fear towards intimacy in large part is related to the fear of losing. The more we have, the more we have to lose. Loving someone also opens the door to the possibility of us being hurt — that WHAT IF they leave us, and that is exactly what we try to avoid. But WHAT IF they don’t leave us? Ever thought of that? On the flip-side, if we were to get hurt, then you need to realise that you are not as weak as you think. We as humans are very resilient; we do recover and heal from a loss! Ultimately, every loss brings you a step closer to your ideal partner.
Negative experiences in the past, makes us hesitant to opening ourselves up to someone new, because it leaves our old wounds out in the open, and it hurts. However, until and unless you choose to be vulnerable and let your guards down, you will not be able to experience love fully. In other words, you cannot have love and fear simultaneously. You have got to let go of the latter, if you want to live a blissful life with your potential partner.
How exactly it can be done is what I want to discuss today. Below are some realisations I have had over the years about relationship anxiety and tips that you too can utilise to overcome your fears and let someone great in.
Do not over-control your feelings:
Feelings are meant to flow. It’s okay if it goes up and down. That’s completely normal. You’re not meant to feel infatuated towards your partner all the time. You don’t have to constantly question, am I feeling something towards him or her? Am I attracted enough? You suffer, not because of a problem in your relationship, but rather, you suffer because of the obsessions and compulsions.
When we start camping in our heads and give too much power to these anxious thoughts, we fail to accept our partners for who they are and actually fail to interact with them. The critical inner voice within you is what coloured your thinking, distorted your perceptions, and ultimately, led you down a destructive path.
As a relationship proceeds, the head over heels and having butterflies in your stomach feeling, tends to fade away and that is meant to happen; it is normal. Normal, because your love for one another becomes much deeper than that and you actually make a daily choice to love them despite their shortcomings and help one another become better.
Familiar is not necessarily safe; unfamiliar is not necessarily unsafe:
How you have seen relationships to be growing up, and the way you interacted and were treated by your caregivers, to a large extent affects your intimate relationships, later on in adulthood. Now, that in no way means you start hating your parents, because they too were unaware while raising you. But going back to your past is a very crucial part to understanding your relational patterns in the present moment.
If you have seen dysfunctional relationships in the past, or have actually been through it, then you subconsciously tend to go towards the familiar as an adult, even if it’s not necessarily safe or healthy. Ironically, there’s a sense of comfort in the familiar.
To your surprise, fear only crops up when we are actually getting exactly what we wished for and deserved, and when we are being loved unconditionally, like we have never ever felt before. Simply because it so unfamiliar that you physically start to panic. Remember, that doesn’t mean the relationship is wrong.
In order to break the cycle of toxic familiarity, you have to be aware that you wanting to escape from the unfamiliar is out of fear of a perceived danger; there is no real danger. You have to remind yourself that your heart is at peace, your soul wants this and you are not your thoughts. We can’t change the past. Yet, as adults, we can label the self-sabotaging thoughts that we’ve internalised and consciously choose not to act upon them.
You will click instantly — a highly overrated idea:
The perception that you will click instantly in all aspects is a highly overrated idea. It takes consistent effort to get to know someone and form that solid bond. You don’t have to agree on everything. There will be times when you have to correct one another when needed and grow together in the process.
I used to have this belief that if it’s meant to be, it will all happen easily, that every thing will fall into place in a snap. How naïve was I. Life is not a Bollywood movie. Effort is a huge part of a strong and long-lasting bond. Love, trust, respect and understanding cannot be built overnight. Period.
Communication is key:
As cliché as it sounds, it’s the one vital thing a lot of couples fail to do. If you are feeling anxiety, talk to your partner. That,
"I love you dearly but I am scared of my thoughts. I don’t know what to do, please help me."
There is no shame in asking for help, trust me. Chances are if your partner understands you well enough and cares about you, he or she would help you understand your fears and actually work through it with you or if needed together with a professional.
All in all, we all have a shot at experiencing love, if we allow ourselves to open up and let someone in. If this article resonated with you in anyway then I urge you to understand and implement what I have shared. Or if there’s someone around you struggling with this, please do help them out. Because, when someone understands our struggle, it gives us hope and the determination to get past it.
Originally Published on my Medium, on January 19, 2020. Click here to access it.