Anxiety can cripple many aspects of your life – social life, career or work, personal projects and so forth. It is the voice that tells you that you cannot succeed, that no-one likes you, that you are destined to fail, that all sorts of unlikely events are suddenly, more than likely! ‘What if’ scenarios rule the day. Anxiety in relationships is no less problematic.
Signs of Anxiety in Relationships
Anxiety in relationships could look like a number of things. Psychology has some great information about attachment styles, which directly plays into the scenario of anxiety in relationships. If a person has anxious attachment in a relationship, they are likely to demonstrate the following features:
- Insecurity within the relationship
- Underlying feelings of mistrust
- Low self-esteem
- Overanalysing partner’s behaviour
- Exhibiting big reactions to small incidents
- Frequent need for reassurance
However, this type of anxiety in relationships can develop into more secure attachment, over time. This will depend on whether of not the partner is committed; if communication about the triggers are expressed; and sourcing assistance from a professional to assist the anxious individual to find safety and build self-esteem. Hypnotherapy is extremely useful here.
Jeff’s Anxious Attachment
Following a handful of long term relationships since his divorce, Jeff thought he had found ‘the one’ in Sharon. She seemed to think so too. It took around five months for him to come to this conclusion. Previously however, after one month in, Jeff broke things off because he misread some of Sharon’s text messages, and they made him feel uncomfortable. He would not accept her explanation of the texts but decided to reserve judgement for later. Fair enough as they hardly knew each other. Fast forward to five months in and Jeff’s feeling of love and passion had escalated, along with his fears.
On one hand, Jeff was never more certain; and on the other, he was producing compounding evidence that Sharon was not a committed partner. Every time Sharon explained her position regarding the particular complaint, Jeff wrote it off as a lie. He obsessed about the details in a n aim to catch her out, yet ignored information that conflicted with his verdict. Incredibly, their love still grew, but so did his distrust.
By this five month point, Jeff had expressed suspicion that Sharon was ogling other men on the beach; that she was dealing with only ‘good looking’ service providers; that she could only watch attractive men on television, and close her eyes if a less attractive specimen appeared, and a multitude of other accusations which made Sharon out to be some kind of deranged teenage-minded fanatic.
To make matters worse, Jeff involved his friends in the debate in a bid to condemn Sharon as guilty of her alleged crimes. It had now escalated to the point where Sharon no longer wanted to meet his friends for fear of being judged. When Sharon suggested that Jeff speak to one of her oldest friends about these allegations, Jeff refused. He did not want to hear any information to the contrary. Sharon sent her friend a text message regardless, stating Jeff’s main accusation at the time, and showed Jeff the response: “He really doesn’t know you”, wrote her friend of 30 years.
Jeff’s anxious attachment was a powerful bid for safety. As a background, Jeff’s childhood was heavily trauma based and he believed that he was not wanted. While Jeff wanted to be with Sharon, he wanted to protect himself from the possibility that she could hurt him. Essentially Jeff felt unsafe. Now he had made Sharon feel unsafe too.
Where to From Here?
I am unclear as to what happened to Jeff and Sharon after this point, as Jeff declined further assistance. However the crux to healing Jeff’s anxiety in relationships was to build his self-worth. Once he could feel more worthy in himself, his ability to manage events would increase and that would go a long way to resolving his anxiety. He would no longer be overwhelmed with ‘what if’ scenarios, rather, he would be capable of dealing with whatever came along.
It could be that Jeff was one of those people who actually needed medication, at least for a short while, as his mind was extremely good at catastrophising, as he had been doing for so long. He lacked the ability to relax and his sleep had been plagued with wakefulness since childhood. More than this, Jeff lacked the trust to be able to heal through therapy. As trust is key to overcome his anxiety in relationships, trust is also key in healing.