13 Tips From A Psychologist For When A Relationship Causes Anxiety

when a relationship causes anxiety

“Anxiety is love’s greatest killer. It makes others feel as you might when a drowning man holds on to you. You want to save him, but you know he will strangle you with his panic.” ~Anais Nin

When a relationship causes anxiety, we are groomed to believe our relationship anxiety is the problem. After all, anxiety can strangle love, suffocate it, tear it apart, leaving most of us to believe that relationships and anxiety simply don’t mix.

If we feel anxious, most of us believe we need to get ourselves under control lest we ruin our relationship. We don’t see anxiety as useful, we see it as a problem which adds pressure to the anxiety we are already feeling, and ultimately escalates it.

But what if anxiety wasn’t the problem at all, but was instead trying to tell us something? Something important that we needed to hear?

The most important thing to know about anxiety is that it isn’t dangerous, and nothing is wrong with you if you feel it. Anxiety can actually be a powerful help to you, a sensitive tool we can use to pick up on potential threats to the things we care about most. What we do with anxiety can make the difference between it being helpful, or harmful. Anxiety wants to be recognized, and understood.

If your relationship is causing you anxiety, here are a few things to consider.

1. Anxiety in relationships is common. 

Especially if you or your partner are prone to worrying or inadequately communicating, anxiety will be a part of your relationship, and that doesn’t necessarily make it a bad thing. Social by nature, we are pulled powerfully to love, long to feel connected, and want to protect our connections when we secure them. It isn’t hard to feel anxious when we don’t feel connected, and also anxious when we do feel connected, anticipating a time when we may not be. Anxiety and relationships go hand in hand.

2. Anxiety means you care. 

Fundamentally, anxiety means you care – we can only worry about things we care about – and relationships might be the most important thing to us. We care deeply about securing love, and keeping it safe. And we feel anxiety when love might be at risk. We want our relationships to work, and we also worry about not having them. It’s hard to imagine not feeling anxious from time to time when it comes to love. What isn’t helpful is worrying about your anxiety. When we worry about your anxious feelings it escalates anxiety, confuses us, and blurs the message we need to hear.

3. Tune into what relationship challenge your anxiety is signaling. 

Take a moment to acknowledge and name how you’re feeling (this actually lowers your distress according to research) Are you feeling a normal amount of protective anxiety, or is there something more significant worrying you?

4. Separate personal worries from relationship worry.

Anxiety can be just about you, and insecurities you bring to every relationship, or anxiety can reflect stresses in the relationship. Determining reasonable relationship anxiety from your own insecurity is important, and not always as simple as it sounds.

5. Detangle your baggage. 

We all bring our previous experiences, or “baggage,” into relationships – we can’t help but do this. But fears and anxieties left over from our childhood or previous relationships can flare up in current relationships. Unrecognized baggage can confuse anxiety’s signal, and add to what might otherwise be a manageable anxiety load. This can make us more irritable, less patient, and quicker to react.

Recognizing your buttons are getting pushed, and that the situation is similar but not the same, can help lower your anxiety again, and direct your focus to the actual problems at hand – your communication, the time you’re spending together, how you are feeling. These are the stressors that deserve your attention, and your collective solutions.

6. Beware of anxiety from other areas of life bleeding into your relationship.

Anxiety is a squirly emotion that doesn’t always “respect boundaries” when it comes to areas of our life. If you are anxious in one area of your life, it isn’t hard to feel anxiety in other areas too. This is called overgeneralization, and it is a common symptom of elevated anxiety. If you are feeling stress in your life – even good stress like when you are striving for more – your relationship could be bearing the brunt of your increased distress about other things.

7. Carefully sort your concerns from those of others.

Beware of external pressures that can cause relationship anxiety. Family, friends, religious, and societal pressure can be real, and can lead to relationship anxiety. Expectations we take in from others can be insidious and often tough to differentiate from our own values. Pressure absorbed from others can create anxiety about needing to simply be in a relationship, often obscuring your focus on deciding whether this is the right relationship.

8. Know when anxiety is causing its own set of relationship problems. 

If you are fighting more, communicating less, or starting to feel strained by anxiety in your relationship, this is a good sign that anxiety’s energy isn’t being put to its best use. Sometimes it’s hard to know what to do when a relationship causes anxiety, even as anxiety is always trying to signal something important that deserves our attention. When anxiety’s energy isn’t channeled into problem-solving solutions, it will  fester and eat away at a situation until it is addressed. Anxiety will continue to escalate until we address it.

9. Recognize the motivation in anxiety to solve the problem. 

Instead of trying to ignore when your relationship causes anxiety, recognize the motivation it delivers to do something aboutthe problem. Are you worried about communication, constant unresolved fighting, betrayals of trust, or a lack of safety? Tuning into your rational concerns can deliver the information and energy you need to take constructive action.

10. Remember moderate anxiety can help you function at your best.

Contrary to popular belief, moderate anxiety can create the sweet spot of performance that allows us to strive for our best selves, and relationships. Not too little, and not too much, moderate anxiety can be a trusted partner in helping us strive to be our best. Anxiety keeps us focused on the things that matter most. Not just in our personal lives, anxiety can be a trusted partner in our relationships as well.

11. Prioritize self-care and wellness when relationship anxiety lingers.

When you are stressed, and your defenses are worn down, you can be more vulnerable to the negative symptoms of anxiety. Even if it’s not what you feel like doing, this is the time to limit alcohol, sleep more, heavy up self care. Proper sleep, wholesome nutrition, and physical activity will help keep your body and mind healthy, so you can harness your relationship anxiety most effectively.

12. Mind your attitude.

No one has ever claimed anxiety is a picnic, and feeling scared and confused can be deeply unsettling. But just because anxiety is uncomfortable doesn’t mean it’s a bad thing. How you think about stress and anxiety determines how it will affect you according to science. Anxiety plays dirty when it comes to grabbling our attention  and motivating change. Keeping a positive attitude can help you keep anxiety productive, rather than letting it devolve into something that isn’t.

13. Know when to ask for help.

If detangling your anxiety or communicating effectively proves to be a roadblock, it’s time for help. Friends and loved ones can be a great support, but sometimes their guidance doesn’t always feel helpful. A professional therapist can help you detangle your feelings and work through the roadblocks that are holding you and your relationship back. Ultimately the goal of therapy is to help you understand yourself, and your relationships better, so that you can more clearly see and implement solutions that are needed.

If anxiety has become overwhelming, or you are struggling with feelings of hopelessness, here is where you can access immediate help now.


It is normal to worry about even the healthiest relationships, especially if worry comes naturally or if we have had reason to worry in the past.

When a relationship causes anxiety, try not to be spooked, or jump to the absolute worst conclusion.  Thinking about anxiety as useful, rather than a nuisance, can help you use it constructively.

Don’t be afraid to name that you care about your partner and your relationship; this sometimes can be anxiety’s most effective use, fueling communication and intimacy that ultimately protects your bond.


Looking for more help managing relationship anxiety? Get my 9 Relationship Anxiety Hacks here, based on my bestselling book, Hack Your Anxiety. Using exercises and simple explanations, these 9 strategies expand the points of this article offering tools to better understand and harness your relationship anxiety for good. 

Photo by Maddi Bazzocco on Unsplash

When a relationship causes anxiety




Alicia H. Clark, PsyD


  1. Misty on February 11, 2018 at 9:20 pm

    I’m n a relationship to where it is a one way street. My feeling or thoughts don’t matter and if I bring them up it’s a big deal and causes a fight. It causes him to say things to me he shldnt. Like he doesn’t need me here. My anxiety level is out the roof bc of lack of communication and care…..someone help or give me advise I don’t want to leave but I may have to


    • Alicia H. Clark, PsyD on February 21, 2018 at 11:06 pm

      Hi Misty, thanks for your comment. I’m sorry to hear about the anxiety you are feeling. It can be hard to understand what is happening with your anxiety and even harder to know what to do with it, especially if you are not feeling emotionally supported. I hope you have other people who are supporting you in helping decide the best next steps. Wishing you all the best, Alicia

      • Alice on July 20, 2019 at 1:13 am

        I had a relationship like that when younger. He only wanted to talk about his problems. If I brought up my point of views or thoughts he said not a big deal. And even went as far as to say he would stop calling me if I didnt stop complaining that was the day I ran away…lol To this day I dont know if it was intentional since I had other abusive relationships happening but i still get anxiety thinking about it since I wanted to marry him. Ugggg…

      • Marlon on June 29, 2020 at 5:19 am

        Hi , I really need help.. I’ve had a lot of past trauma in my life, the closest people to me hurt me when I was small. I feel like its affecting me today. Please don’t judge me but the reason I’m here today looking for anyone to listen is because I’ve been wanting to be a better person and I actually have been. But today was a total back peddle . You see my communication has gotten better but my girlfriend still struggles to communicate. Long story short we had gotten into a disagreement and she turned up the volume over my voice. I turned it down becauseI wanted to tell her “ I’m sorry I didn’t mean to upset u” but she started grabbing my wrist and trying to force my hand away from the volume. At that point I didn’t want to let her turn up the volume because the energy of the situation was overwhelming. Not only the energy but the music was so loud and I just wanted to apologize. So she’s grabbing and scratching my wrist as I’m driving and I get this head rushed feeling like I’m starting to feel claustrophobic, I’m screaming at the top of my lungs “pls don’t grab me” so many times I’m yelling because I really don’t want to hurt her. Then I hit her with my hand on her shoulder. I grew up watching my mother get hit. I don’t want that for my gf or any women that I’m with but what do I do ? Ik im a nice guy I don’t cheat or anything . I just want to feel heard. I need my feelings to matter . Why do women not listen when a man needs help.. do you think this is why men bury their feelings? Pls I really need help I truly love this girl and it breaks my heart. I don’t deserve her but I just need to hear your perspective because I feel horrible . I should’ve just left things alone but I couldn’t. I’m not sure why. Pls don’t hate me guys because I already do.

        • Alicia H. Clark, PsyD on June 30, 2020 at 11:20 pm

          Dear Marlon,

          Thanks for taking the time to write about what’s going on with you. It takes a lot of courage to acknowledge where you are struggling, and noticing patterns repeating in your life you do not want. I’m so sorry the people that were closest to you in your past betrayed and hurt you. You did not deserve it, it was wrong, and love should never hurt. There is no excusing what happened. Of course these experiences are part of you today, and stand ready to tempt you into the same behavioral patterns that feel familiar. This is one of the many ways unhealthy and violent patterns repeat themselves through generations. .

          The bravest part of surviving trauma is learning how not to repeat it. I believe you that you don’t want to repeat what was done to you, and what you witnessed happen to your mother. It isn’t easy, and yet it’s your responsibility. We may not be able to control what others do to us, or how others may make us feel, but we always have control over our behavior… This is what I sense you need help, and practice, with.

          The key in managing your anxiety and anger is in recognizing when you are getting activated, and rely on strategies that work for you to avoid channeling your anxiety and hurt into rage. For everyone, this toolbox is different. But you need a toolbox. Whether in books, educational materials, anger management courses, or therapy, you will benefit from learning skills and tools to use when you are activated. And especially when you feel justified, or wronged, or misunderstood. These are your many buttons.

          Your past may have made you vulnerable to feeling particularly deep rage when you feel controlled or marginalized (this is a normal reaction to your past), but getting a handle on your feelings and how you react is the hard, brave, and rewarding work that is your present, and is yours to do. Learning to communicate safely and finding ways to stop escalating situations will help you avoid resorting to the physical violence you were raised with. These skills need need to be learned, and practiced so they are there for you when you need them most (under intense pressure).

          I hope you will use this as an opportunity to seek help. If you want to email me for suggestions, I am happy to assist. . In the meantime, thank you for sharing your story that I know will help others in its honesty.

          Wishing you all the best,


          • nikki on August 21, 2020 at 2:58 am

            The only person needing to work on self control is his lady… Because her trying to control a situation like that resorting to putting her hands on him while hes driving is wrong in so many ways. She’s not only risking their lives but others sharing the road with them.

        • Nikki on August 21, 2020 at 2:46 am

          I don’t understand what you think the problem is?? give yourself more credit because you did nothing wrong.

        • Adrienne May on November 10, 2020 at 8:03 pm

          Hi hus I know this post is way way back but I am here today, 2020 really need help I have been really trying same with everyone else and the thing is I can keep my anxiety under control for sometime for like days or weeksand it keeps coming back, the thing is that it gets triggered by something I did not not getting reciprocated and it irritates and frustrates me a lot to the point that I get frantic and and struggles to breathe been being absent from work cause I felt being unappreciated and uncared. i get confuse at times understanding as well, I feel like I’m gonna be crazy , what should I do? Desperate for help here.

    • Makayla on July 10, 2018 at 12:37 pm

      So is mine!! How do you stop your anxiety

    • t on March 5, 2019 at 5:26 pm

      I was in that kind of relationship…RUN!!!!! even though it is hard because you care.
      Run forest Run!!! lol, but I am being serious.

      • Marie on June 27, 2019 at 1:24 pm

        Yes run! I keep going back to mine. And now I’m stressed to being ill again. Wish I’d had the strength to stay away…

      • Emily on July 21, 2020 at 7:34 am

        My boyfriend and I have a lot of good times but he’s done things to hurt me. Anytime I feel bad about it cause I still do he doesn’t want to hear it. Also I just feel on edge around him sometimes and I want to move on but i told him it’s hard when he emotionally isn’t there. He said he feels physically exhausted and worn out and doesn’t know why and work is stressful and feels like a robot. I don’t know what to do.

    • tanya on August 7, 2019 at 3:30 am

      i two have this. Type of. Relationship. But he syrts in whenwe wske up nd continues til we go to bedihve ptsd also andbe wil not stop even when i beg hi to.

      • Sophie on October 15, 2019 at 8:40 pm

        My anxiety come from a man I live with who can never be honest. Lies lies and more lies. I’m stuck here unfortunately bc. Can not afford to live alone. I wish I could make it out there on my own but we have a house together and I’m unfortunately stuck. My anxiety has been threw the roof as to where I have to write someone and I start having tremors. I see a Theropist but it’s not helping!

        • Taylor Jones on December 28, 2019 at 8:08 am

          I’m in the exact same situation. I understand completely.

        • Rob on January 1, 2020 at 8:23 pm

          Is he trying to help you or does he argue?

    • Zokie on December 1, 2020 at 8:53 pm

      Leave. I’ve been there. It doesn’t get better. Follow your gut. Alone is way better 🙂

  2. Lizzy on March 9, 2018 at 2:07 pm

    I just wanted to thank you for writing this. Even though I knew most of it already, it’s good to hear it from a professional. A lot of other blogs/articles on this topic caused me further anxiety by planting the seed that there is something really wrong with my relationship. Thank you!

    • Alicia H. Clark, PsyD on March 9, 2018 at 5:29 pm

      Hi Lizzy,
      Thanks for taking the time to comment. I’m so glad to hear the post was helpful,

  3. Lee on March 13, 2018 at 6:52 am

    Is there a root incident i.e. Trama that can happen whilst within a relationship that can cause ptsd which then manifest into anxiety ?

    • Alicia H. Clark, PsyD on March 13, 2018 at 10:21 am

      Thanks for your question, Lee. Yes, any significant traumatic incident that has occurred in a relationship can generate understandable ongoing anxiety (for example, a spouse who has previously been unfaithful could generate anxiety when they engage similar avoidant behaviors to the traumatic incident). The trick is to notice the anxiety, rather than dismiss it, and look carefully for the signal it is sending. Once you are clear on why you are feeling anxious, it is easier to judge the rationality of your experience (i.e. is it something to worry about now, or is it simply a “ghost” from the past?) and what you should do with it.

      • Hayley on April 7, 2018 at 5:46 pm

        Thank you – that was helpful

        • Alicia H. Clark, PsyD on April 11, 2018 at 1:48 pm

          My pleasure!

    • Meli on April 23, 2020 at 12:59 am

      My boyfriend a whole ass angel. But he makes me uneasy and anxious to the point I cry sometimes. I love him so much but my insecurities get the best of me sometimes. I can’t help but get uneasy around him it’s insane. Makes me think he isn’t my peace.

      • madi on May 30, 2020 at 1:55 am

        I relate to this so much. My boyfriend is perfect but I have so much anxiety around him it makes me think its my body telling me we arent meant to be together and it makes me so sad. I feel like sometimes im just meant to be alone because it will happen in any relationship im in.

        • Julie on August 17, 2020 at 10:44 am

          This has happened to me in every relationship I’ve ever had and I’m fighting it again. I would love to hear how you are getting on now

        • Ruby on August 31, 2020 at 9:41 am

          I’m also feeling this way at the moment and I don’t know what to do. I love him dearly but I have this constant anxiety. Is that my body’s way of telling me he’s not the one?

          • JessF on October 8, 2020 at 12:56 pm

            I also am feeling this. Am wondering if any of you had resolved this?

          • Power on January 6, 2021 at 3:57 am

            I had the same issue and mine is related to ROCD (Relationship Obsessive Compulsive Disorder), so I suggest you check that out

  4. Rose on May 2, 2018 at 8:00 pm

    I understand this article very well because I tend to be a worrier. Still, when I try to listen to what my anxiety is telling me about my relationship, I have a voice in the back of my mind saying “there is just something off. The man is great and you love him but something is missing.” I love him and see a happy future with him, but that “something is missing” feeling haunts me and I think it has to do with my many ambitions that I do not think my boyfriend would join me in doing. I am afraid that this feeling will not let us move forward in our relationship unless it starts to fade away. But I don’t know how to do that. I followed the trail to why I am anxious and that’s were it leads me. I just don’t know how to resolve it. All these other websites say that he is just not the right one and I have a hard time getting my head around it and it makes me go in circles on what is actually happening in my head and my heart. Any advice?

    • Alicia H. Clark, PsyD on May 7, 2018 at 11:04 pm

      Hi Rose,

      Thanks for taking the time to respond.

      It sounds like you are tracking your anxiety and getting clear on what it is signaling – this is the best way to determine potential resolutions. Anxiety tends to resolve best when it fuels solution-focused action. So when you think about the things that are causing your anxiety, ask yourself what is in your control that you could do to forge a solution. Perhaps it’s a shift in expectations of him and your relationship, or perhaps a different way to think about your future and what you expect from a partner. The solutions that can effectively resolve your anxiety will always be in your control, and will have to do with you, not him.

      Wishing you clarity as you keep working your anxiety,


    • Adri on December 25, 2018 at 7:03 pm

      Hello Rose,

      I am going through the same situation. I love my boyfriend but I get really bad anxiety when I think of the future. He is great to me. I feel like something is missing . I feel like I have to focus on work then think about a relationship. I wish I can do both but for some reason I feel like I have to let him go yet I see him as my future husband. I am so confused.

  5. Jalissa on May 8, 2018 at 4:10 pm

    Hi, I seen you ask someone in another comment, is there a reason to feel the anxiety or is it just a ghost that’s causing the anxiety. And in my situation it is a ghost that’s causing my anxiety to run its course but I don’t know how to stop it. I keep thinking what if he does it again what if he leaves me and his kids. Am I enough for him what if I’m not enough for him so many questions that I believe one day it will cause us to end and I believe it’s because of the anxiety

    • Alicia H. Clark, PsyD on May 8, 2018 at 5:43 pm

      Hi Jalissa,

      “What if he does it again” can be a confusing worry – both a legitimate, reasonable concern, and also a “ghost” from behavior you are no longer seeing. Teasing out what is a realistic worry, and what isn’t, is the key here. How likely is it that he won’t do it again? Are you seeing any similar behavior to the last time that could be triggering your anxiety, or are you simply unable to forget how scary the situation was when it happened? Are your feelings of not being enough at all like what you felt last time?

      Insecurity in a relationship is a horrible feeling, and one that often signals trouble at some level that needs addressing. You should never feel inadequate to a partner who loves you. You should feel enough, and safe. It is your partner’s job to show you that you are enough, and you can be sure of his love. And it is your job to assess if you should believe him.

      Anxiety often serves the function of keeping us honest with this delicate and complicated process. Try not to drown out your anxiety, but instead let it breathe enough that you can understand and use it. We may not like what it is signaling, but anxiety is always there trying to keep us safe, and protecting what we care about most.


  6. Sarah Clare on May 9, 2018 at 3:53 am

    Hi, I firstly wanted to thank you for your posts….I have found reading them so helpful! I am a worrier and have been with my husband for 22yrs. I have always suffered with anxiety, however, since having our son 5yrs ago it has got slightly worse, to the point that my GP prescribed an SSRI. Although taking this helped I feel it has just masked my reasons for anxiety. I have recently weaned myself off the medication as its something I do not wish to be on. Since stopping I have been able to look at what is causing my strongest feelings of anxiety…..many years ago I had an affair and left my now husband totally in the lurch, he was devastated. We got back together and both feel it did our relationship good having such a break, however, I feel I am constantly living with the guilt of what I did and that is raising its head as quite a destructive form of anxiety at times. To be able to write this down is helping so much as it is something I have not discussed with anyone. I feel I can continue to work with what I have found and hopefully have a less explosive family life SSRI free! Thank you!

    • Alicia H. Clark, PsyD on May 9, 2018 at 1:37 pm

      Hi Sarah Clare,

      Thanks for taking the time to comment. I’m so glad to learn my posts are helpful, and that engaging with them is helpful to you as well. I am a big believer in “naming to tame” when it comes to our feelings and experiences. Sounds like you have a good handle on the feelings that can still flare from time to time, and why. This is more than half the battle in being able to make more constructive choices with them. Understanding our emotions allows us to feel more control over them, and I hope you will continue to “decode” your anxiety when it flares – it is ultimately trying to protect you, and things you care about most.

      Wishing you all the best,


      • Heather Howington-Barr on September 11, 2020 at 6:09 am

        My anxiety is very high righ t now every time I see my man it goes up and every time I talk to him my anxiety goes crazy I broke up with him. But I don’t he gets the picture

  7. Nicole on May 13, 2018 at 9:12 pm

    I have a history an anxiety, but it has been under control for 6 years. I’m getting so frustrated in my relationship. It’s like he doesn’t understand me. I figured i’m a highsly sensitive person. He will continue to cuss and talk to me in a rude way and it makes me so upset. We bicker at eachother and have pointless arguments. I am super happy around my friends and other people, but when I go home to our apartment and around him I get anxious. He gets mad because i’m sensitive and says I shouldn’t be the way I am, but I can’t help it. I told him when he cusses or yells I get upset and start crying. He doesnt care. We have been on and off for 4 years and im finally thinking this isnt right for me. We planned to buy a house and have a child, but ai cant see myself living with him and dreading it. Of course I want a house and a kid in my future, but he makes it so difficult. That’s the only thing that is an issue in my relationship. We cannot agree that I am sensitive and dont like conflict. Example: he asks me where my keys are several times and I said why? He said just give me the f!ckin keys in a rude tone.. i said that hurt my feelings and he said stop being so sensitive just get the keys and lets go. I didnt end up going with him to store and that made him more mad and then we argued almost the whole day. Its just little things like that.. he has a temper and gets irritated when i take him somewhere and i dont know where things are. We went to an island and he got mad because i didnt know how to read the map and he was saying “use your f!cking phone! Are you stupid?” When he asks me questions and i take a few minutes to collect my thoughts and then answer he says “why are you so slow oh my god! Are you dumb?”. If we go to the store and i wonder off and start looking at things Im interested in he gives me a dirty look, shakes his head and walks away. Its like wtf? Everything i do he has a attitude and i just want to enjoy life with him but he has to have everything be perfect. So that’s why i am having this anxiety around him.

    • Stephanie on May 27, 2018 at 6:45 pm


      Your anxiety is completely justified. What you are describing is abusive behaviour and anyone would experience anxiety being confronted in such a demeaning way. Get out before you get too deep. Relationships are complicated and it isn’t easy to see when abuse is happening and our feelings of love for that person can muddy our vision.

      I hope you can get help from a counsellor or support in some way and get yourself to a more peaceful place away from this abuse.

      • Alicia H. Clark, PsyD on May 27, 2018 at 8:12 pm

        Hi Nicole,

        I’m afraid I agree with Stephanie that your anxiety appears to be completely justified, and most likely a signal your relationship may not be what you hoped it was. This is never easy to face, especially when it is not what you want or want to believe. And yet, your anxiety is there to protect you, and nudging you toward safety. It sounds like your partner has tremendous difficulty moderating his own irritability (and possible anxiety), but unfortunately isn’t taking responsibility for his behavior and is instead blaming you for his behavior. This is likely to get worse, not better, and I sense you understand this.

        I hope you can access the support you need to take a hard look at your relationship and do what you need to do to protect your emotional safety. We all deserve to feel valued, loved and respected, and when we don’t, it is our responsibility to look honestly at the situation, and be courageous in making needed change.

        Wishing you all the best in your path ahead,


  8. James on May 17, 2018 at 5:32 pm

    I tend to be an over-thinker so when I am in a relationship I tend to ruminate on one thing or incident. with my last relationship I was unhappy with the person so it made sense but I have recently started doing this in my current relationship and I am very happy with this person. I don’t know why I only get this form of anxiety in a relationship but once it starts I don’t know how to turn it off without being single forever.

    • Alicia H. Clark, PsyD on May 27, 2018 at 8:40 pm

      Hi James,

      Rumination is a particularly tricky form of anxiety where thoughts circle on themselves and fuel more anxiety, not less. Often related to irrational fears or patterns of circular thought, rumination need not be triggered by a bad situation (or relationship). It is generally a habit people use when they are stressed, uncomfortable, or vulnerable – all of which are possible in even the best relationships. Of course, rumination can be triggered by familiar relationship patterns or “pushed buttons” as well. What makes rumination so unhealthy is that it targets situations or realities that are beyond our control, happening to us (ie, how she behaves, what someone said, what situation happened) rather than the things we are doing and those dynamics within our control.

      Breaking rumination habits can start with letting your anxiety fuel the things you have control over (ie how you think about things, how you react, what you aim to change). Anxiety is meant to harness focus and fuel action – the trick is to channel it into things within your control, rather than letting it keep you stuck fighting patterns you can’t control. There is excellent professional help out there too if breaking these patterns feels too overwhelming.

      Best of luck to you,


  9. talz on May 31, 2018 at 3:50 am

    Hi guys, let me just say I am in an amazing relationship with a man who is completely loving and supporting, I got engaged 3 weeks ago and my family wasn’t really positive about the whole idea ( I am an orphan) he got complete support from his family, I cried so much over it but I was okay, or so I thought. two days later after we returned back home, I woke up and I just had a thought, do I really love him and the anxiety has been out of control ever since, I find myself crying, my feelings are not even warranted, sometimes I am so numb, I spoke to him about it and he keeps reassuring me that il be okay, I started seeing a therapist I just want to be well, I love this man, I wanna be with him, we live together but sometimes thinking about him gives me panic attacks and it has never been like this. I don’t know where the anxiety is coming from, this is my first stable relationship and this man is so so loving and the whole thing is so devastating, sometimes I am okay and I see a bright future but sometimes I am just sad and anxious and I don’t know why. my doctor gave me a pill to calm me down coz I was at a point where I couldn’t even eat. I kept thinking if I leave the relationship ill be fine, but I love my person and there is no red flag in my relationship I just wanna get to the bottom of the anxiety

    • Alicia H. Clark, PsyD on June 5, 2018 at 6:59 pm

      Hi Talz,

      Gosh it sounds like you are really struggling to understand how you feel about your fiancé, and the sudden anxiety you are feeling now that you have agreed to marry him. I’m glad you have sought the support of a therapist, and hope you getting more clarity as you continue your work. Since you mention you are an orphan, I am curious if your anxiety has more to do with potentially losing this great love of your life, than of making the right decision to marry him. Your family relationships are likely confusing to you, and it might be hard to process why they are not more supportive, and what their reaction means to you.

      Continue leaning on people you can trust, and those whose feedback make sense to you, and to your heart. You will work through this, and get to the bottom of your anxiety if you resolve to be patient with yourself.

      All the best,

    • Sydney Elise on July 17, 2020 at 12:07 pm

      I am going through the exact same thing right now. I hate that dumb thought that pops into my head and start crying because he’s my baby. I went from worrying about my past mistakes and it led to that one question. My anxiety will literally go through the roof. But when I feel like that I try to think of all the reasons as to why I do love him.

    • Power on January 6, 2021 at 4:09 am

      This sounda like ROCD to me, please mention this concept to your therapist (Relationship OCD).
      Some of us are not used to be happy, loved and cared for. We strive for what is familiar in our lives, and it could be abuse or neglect even. It can happen we start associating these bad things with love if we didn’t have a proper care growing up.

      It is 2 years later… I hope you are doing better!

  10. Chrissy on July 26, 2018 at 9:15 pm

    I’m very fussy and i finally met someone post divorce but I question if he’s not taking me seriously whenever he doesn’t do what I expect someone who wants me should do, if there are other women, I get anxious when I think I see changes to his behaviour.
    Then I ask if he’s right for me.
    I’ve decided the right man will accept the fact that I have anxieties, be patient with me and help me overcome my relationship fears by showing me that he’s sticking around. Ive never found myself wanting for male attention so I guess this doesn’t help either.
    The fact that my current relationship is long distance, he has a demanding job and he is very emotionally guarded makes things even harder. We’ve had a couple of close calls. I’ve backed off, he’s come through because I know he doesn’t want to lose me, only to slip back to where we left off. He has told me he gets frustrated with my insecurities but he understands- although I don’t know if he’s just saying it to appease me.
    I don’t know how long this ‘dance’ will contInue until we both wear each other out.

    • Alicia H. Clark, PsyD on August 13, 2018 at 1:50 pm

      Hi Chrissy,

      Thanks for taking the time to share your experience. Long distance relationships are hard, and can make navigating relationship anxiety particularly challenging. Sounds like you know yourself pretty well and are asking the right questions. Healthy love, even if long distance, should make you feel more confident, not less so. Keep listening to your feelings and communicate them when you need to. Communication is one of the best ways to bridge the gulf of physical separation.

      Also, here is an article I wrote on managing and strengthening Long Distance Relationships. http://time.com/3957763/long-distance-relationship-tips/

      All my best,

  11. Lilia Robberts on August 14, 2018 at 11:21 am

    Walking down the halls of the university I go to made me so scared to go back to school. My heart was racing, and I wanted to break down and start crying. Thank you for letting me know that anxiety is common and isn’t totally bad. It’s true what you said, it is because I care. Maybe I care too much. Lately, I have been thinking it might be wise if I take a stress test. I want to make sure that I am being taken care properly for what type of anxiety I have

    • Alicia H. Clark, PsyD on August 14, 2018 at 3:29 pm

      Thanks for your comment, Lilia.
      I agree that seeing a medical doctor, and even undergoing a stress test if recommended, is an important step in making sure your heart is healthy. Hoping your anxiety continues to clarify itself, and that the transition back to school improves.
      All the best,

  12. Maggie on August 23, 2018 at 2:22 pm

    Hi ! I’m having a really hard time with my anxiety in a new relationship I’ve entered. We’ve been dating for a couple months and now I’m becoming so anxious. He is such a sweet, smart handsome guy. I started out so confident but now that my feelings are deepening I find myself thinking I’m not good enough for him. I want to give this relationship a real chance but I’m worried my negative feelings will impact it. He tells me all the time how wonderful he thinks I am but now I feel less attractive than before I dated him. I don’t understand why because you’d think this would boost my confidence. What is going on and what should I do?

    • Alicia H. Clark, PsyD on September 3, 2018 at 1:01 pm

      Hi Maggie,

      Thanks for your comment. Sounds like you are in a tough situation of trying to understand your anxiety which isn’t always easy. Anxiety is a deeply sensitive tool that is designed to protect us, and I agree should quiet as a healthy relationship progresses. The right relationship helps us feel loved, adequate, and connected.

      Keep listening to your anxiety, wading through the irrational fears that you aren’t good enough (because you are), and tune into what else your anxiety could be signaling. Could you be picking up on his insecurities? Someone else’s? Trust your anxiety and use it to dig a bit deeper into what else it is signaling.

      If you are looking for more targeted help, you may also want to pick up my new book, Hack Your Anxiety, which has a toolkit that walks you through this process.


      All my best to you,


  13. c on August 26, 2018 at 1:23 pm


    im currently experiencing symptoms of anxiety nd hardly sure if it is a problem to attend to…. headaques, tens muscles, weeping for no specific reason , shaking……im in a marrige were my spous has been married before nd had 3 kids in the previous marrige….. nd we share a daughter together…. we constantly argue about the kids rules applied to them nd our daughter included… many occasion the tend to clash well as if i start to rise my opinion it becomes violent… so actually im in an abusive realationship aswell + i hav my inlaws living with me aswell …..etc what to do?

    • Alicia H. Clark, PsyD on September 3, 2018 at 1:16 pm

      So sorry to read about your distress. It is hard enough being in a challenging and stressful marriage, but an abusive one becomes particularly toxic and dangerous. An abusive relationship causes understandable and rational anxiety – you are in danger. This kind of anxiety doesn’t go away until you do something to protect yourself, and tends to escalate as you look for compromises that don’t solve the problem. It also sounds like you are feeling trapped by a family situation that is crowded and possibly unsupportive.

      I don’t know where you live, but if you are in the US, here are national hotlines that are monitored by volunteers and available 24/7 1−800−799−7233 or TTY 1−800−787−3224. Also, this website is helpful https://www.thehotline.org. If you live elsewhere, use the internet and a safe internet connection to find resources that are available in your area. Knowing what is around you that can help is an important first step in accessing safety for yourself and your family.

      All my best,


  14. Nelly on November 11, 2018 at 2:39 am

    I have a slightly complicated situation. For 3 years I was best friends with these two guys (for the sake of clarification I will call them A and B) . A and B and I did everything together. After having mutual feelings for A for about a year, we started dating. About a month into the official relationship, A decided he wanted a different girl, but instead of telling me this, he just told me I wasn’t good enough for him and I would never be good enough for him. Then he stoppped talking to me and a month later was dating this other girl. We haven’t talked since. It broke me losing someone I had loved, and also someone who was my best friend. B tried to keep his friendship with me, but I was too scared that he would also think that I wasn’t good enough to have in his life, so I shut him out. We didn’t talk for probably 6 months. Eventually B and I started talking and hanging out again, but I still refused to talk to or engage with A. Low and behold, there are now mutual feelings between B and I (it has been a year and a month since A and I last talked. I have not dated or had serious feelings for anyone till recently with B). B and I are not officially dating. B and A are still really close friends. I am terrified to get super close to B because I don’t want him to leave and hurt me like A did. I feel like having feelings for B is wrong since he is still so close to A, and I tend to push him away because I’m so scared of losing him too. This anxiety is starting to effect our friendship and I’m not sure what to do.

  15. Chris on November 17, 2018 at 4:56 pm

    My anxiety attacks up am afraid my wife going to leave me it seat off when I couldn’t get it up then she say thing now am afraid she leave me I want to doc she said I have anxiety I never had it thing go through my head I get cheast pains short breath she said she wont but I still get that feeling

    • Alicia H. Clark, PsyD on January 4, 2019 at 3:51 pm

      Hi Chris,

      Thanks for taking the time to comment.

      Sounds like the symptoms you’re describing are anxiety (racing thoughts, chest pains, shortness of breath, and guilt) but I would recommend you see a doctor to make sure. Chest pains and shortness of breath could by symptoms of other health conditions, and erectile dysfunction is easily treated through medication. Anxiety and sex seldom work well together, so my advice is to take control of your anxiety and do something with it (by getting yourself checked, making sure you are ok, and possibly getting some ED help).

      Wishing you all the best,

  16. Nia on November 19, 2018 at 12:12 pm

    Hi. I had a long history with my boyfriend, we are together for more than one and a half year now. The first half of our journey was rough, for me… He used to continuously hide things from me, seeing girls he met from tinder, flirting with some of his girlfriends. Being caught several times lying, feeling guilty, he said he has changed himself now and wanted to be faithful only to me. It is true, we truly have great times together, we always have, and I never seen him doing anything “bad” anymore. But well, yes, he still hide some small things, but only to avoid arguments, because he know how insecure I can get over small things. Worst part of me now is that I get bad anxiety, like a panic attack where I feel suffocated whenever there is a triggering situation similar to past events of him having the chance of “secretly” seeing other girls. These trust issues is really bothering me, like “is it that he is really getting better at hiding his things” or “is it only in my mind and I’m destroying our relationship”. He was my only closest friend, the one I tell everything to. I don’t know if I can tell him this because it will hurt him, it makes me feel better to be able to write here though. Thank you Dr. Alicia.

  17. Sophie on November 27, 2018 at 11:36 pm

    Hi! I’m in a perfectly healthy six month long relationship with an amazing girl. She has her issues but so do I, and together we make a great pair. A few months into our relationship, around the time we had our first kiss, I started having debilitating anxiety about the relationship. Sometimes I’m fine, but sometimes even thinking about her sends me into a panic. She’s so wonderful and I really want to make this work, but my anxiety is so bad I can hardly function sometimes. Do you have any advice for getting over these feelings? I’m suffering horribly with it, and I was hospitalized after the anxiety mixed with med changes sent me into a downward spiral.

    • Alicia H. Clark, PsyD on November 29, 2018 at 7:00 pm

      Hi Sophie,

      Thanks for taking the time to comment. I don’t have any easy answers about how to get over your debilitating anxiety other than to ask yourself what is driving your anxious feelings. Are you afraid of losing your relationship – that she will reject you, or that you will reject her? Getting at the bottom of what you are frightened of is the only way to know what to do about your anxiety.

      Hang in there, stay curious, and keep asking the right questions. Also make sure to talk to her about your feelings too.

      All my best to you,

  18. JT on December 8, 2018 at 3:16 am

    Hoping you still read this. I broke up with an ex after almost a year because I felt I didn’t love her. It drove me crazy until I eventually gave up. I didn’t feel romantic love, but It was so hard to leave her. I did it for her sake
    7 months later we tried to have casual sex. I honestly didnt miss her that much, but I was still holding resentment towards her for something she did. Seeing her again gave me a flood of emotions. We argued about our past wrongs, and somehow it felt great to actually communicate. Somehow forgiving eachother made me feel close. I felt her love for me for the first time, as before I thought she was just an infatuated girl and that love was always temporary. Weeks later we decided to try to work it out. I have been thinking about this obsessively for several weeks of nonstop anxiety and depression. Still, I have my doubts about the future of the relationship. I still question if I love her or not. Sometimes I feel like I am falling for her, and sometimes I don’t feel like we have a connection. I would consider lust, but honestly I wasn’t that into her even when we first dated. But now, I am suddenly much more attracted to her. I tell her compliments and try to make her happy just to see if I am breaking out of wall. I had a really bad relationship years ago, and I still hold resentment towards it, and I want that to be the reason I feel unsure. I overanalyze everything constantly, even the feeling us males get of lack of interest after sex makes me anxious that maybe it isn’t love. But man, I care about this girl so much it literally makes me sick. I don’t understand my feelings. Why would I get so deeply depressed this month if I didn’t love her? I have so much fear of hurting her if this doesn’t work out. I saw a psychologist and but only one appointment so far. I just dont get it.

    • Alicia H. Clark, PsyD on January 4, 2019 at 2:35 pm

      Hi JT,

      Thanks for your comments. Sounds like you are asking all the right questions about your feelings, and doing your best to understand your relationship anxiety. Translating feelings isn’t always easy, and it sounds like in spite of your concerns, you are feeling a stronger sense of connection and love for her as your relationship evolves. It also sounds like you are struggling to differentiate between sexual attraction and love, and have understandable concerns about your feelings.

      Love is a complicated, and deep, emotion that evolves within a relationship and draws on so many of our early relationship experiences. You mentioned some of this in your comment, and I would recommend you continue to grow your inner understanding. I hope you will stick with the process of meeting with a psychologist so that your understanding will deepen. You may also find my book helpful on harnessing anxiety. The ebook will go on sale January 7 for $7.99 at Amazon. You can click here to get your copy.


      In the meantime, you may also find my free ebook on naming emotions a help. You can click here to get your copy. on this link to. . I think it’s great that you are seeing a psychologist to help you deepen your understanding of your emotions.


      Wishing you all the best,


      • Ankita on August 12, 2020 at 7:16 am

        My depression my anxiety my panic attacks everything depends on him.. my problm is i m deeply emotionally mentally physically attracted to my bf, and whenever he doesn’t talk to me or ignores me i get panic attacks anxiety and
        totally unable to breathe, i feel so uncomfortable lyk i can’t function!! What should i do, bcoz i think tablet also cant work bcoz his behavior is the actual reason for my health? . Kindly suggest ?

  19. AP on December 8, 2018 at 1:27 pm


    My husband and I have been together for over 10 years. Unfortunately 3 years into our relationship my husband collapsed in the middle of the night, I found him and had to seek medical help – thankfully he is ok.

    This situation has seriously affected our relationship as I am constantly worrying that when it will happen again (it has happened several times per year for last 6 years). We are under a cardio specialist who assures us that everything is ok and no major faults with his heart. We still have an inconclusive reason as to what triggers these episodes. It can happen if my husband drinks alcohol, has an upset tummy, becomes stressed about something etc.

    With us having no real diagnosis, it has been hard for me not to worry and I suffer with anxiety surrounding whether he is safe or not. We have since had a child (2 yr old) and now have another one on the way. I am full of anxiety and dont like leaving our child with him. Id never stay out anywhere over night and leave my husband to look after our baby ‘just in case something happens’.

    As you can imagine, it is quite suffocating to feel like this and what should be the most joyful times of our lives is filled with unwanted anxiety.

    It effects us socially as I dont like him to drink alcohol, if he does then I dont sleep as I lie awake in case I have to deal with him collapsing. These episodes happen a few times a year without warning.

    How can I get over this? It makes me feel so unhappy in life yet logic tells me I have everything to be happy about…..married in a loving relationship with a beautiful family around me.

    Thanks in advance for any advice and tips.

    • Alicia H. Clark, PsyD on January 4, 2019 at 2:50 pm

      Hi Andrea,

      Congratulations on your pregnancy, and thanks for your comment.

      What a scary situation you described with your husband. I can certainly understand your anxiety about not knowing what might happen with his health, and if I read your comment accurately, what is the matter to start with.

      When it comes to health anxiety, I am a big fan of getting medical answers. I find that health anxiety is seldom irrational, and the best salves for it are answers. I know you mention you are under the care of a cardiologist, but I don’t like that you don’t have a diagnosis and yet your husband’s recurring episodes are severe enough that he couldn’t care for himself or your child.

      My best advice would be seek a second cardiac opinion. I’m not sure what you mean by, “no major faults with his heart,” for example. I am not a cardiologist, or even a medical doctor, but I do know there are other more lengthy tests that can be run (like heart monitors that record activity and can be worn for weeks at a time). At minimum, a cardiologist should be able to tell you what the episodes are, and how to manage them.

      Being young and growing a family, I think getting answers will help you and he feel more control over the situation moving ahead.

      You may also find Chapter 17, Facing Crisis, in my book, Hack Your Anxiety, helpful. In it, I describe several health anxiety situations and walk through how I have helped my patients tap into and use their anxiety constructively. You can get your copy here:


      Wishing you and your husband all the best,


  20. Mayank on January 1, 2019 at 7:17 am

    I had a friend whom I loved she also but due to some he leaves now we can meet and talk but all the time I feel what he is doing we will meet tomorrow , now I have a problem of head ache , no sleep , fast heart beat , repeated thought s can listen romantic songs , sad songs
    are always playing in in my mind what should I do ???

    • Alicia H. Clark, PsyD on January 4, 2019 at 3:16 pm

      Thanks for taking the time to comment, and hoping the cause of your anxiety continues to clarify itself. Wishing you all the best.

  21. Claire on January 18, 2019 at 7:31 am

    Relationship causes anxiety when there is overpressure or loads of fight or misunderstanding between two people.i just read the article found it very informative thanks for the guide.

  22. Jerry on January 30, 2019 at 5:04 pm

    I recently broke up from a 4 plus year relationship with the girl of my dreams, I’ve always had anxiety and I’ve mostly always been able to deal with it. I never ever told her about my anxiety until after it was over. I wish I could get her to understand how anxiety works so that she would forgive me for acting so needy and insecure

  23. Geo on March 29, 2019 at 5:01 am

    Relationship for 8 years. My bf tried a lot, so eventually I said yes!That time I was in my best confident yrs, seeing friends and new ppl, going out. As time passed I started to see less new people, I had trouble with being myself more cos he didn’t really enjoyed going out for social interaction. Started to do more of the things he likes, like going clubbing and support him with his Dj career. Had lots of fights, his family tried to make him break-up with me. Even though I was getting deeply hurt by seeing how he would listen to them more than his feelings, I couldn’t leave him because I was pissed about the time invested and he was all that I was left with. Now I’m starting to see the needs I have from a man since I started seeing a therapist because of my panic attacks.
    We are making sex 2 times a month for 2 years now; he doesn’t initiate but he mostly never initiated sex if I look back.Started to ask to communicate more and I started to tell him about my needs now. He shuts down every time I get to talk about my needs. I get very anxious if I start thinking how he never asks me about what I want. I feel like he’s not happy with the relationship anymore too but I don’t know if it’s because he needs other things or he is pissed off that I’m ” waking up”.

    • Alicia H. Clark, PsyD on May 6, 2019 at 5:01 pm

      Thanks for taking the time to comment, and for reaching out. I’m so glad to hear you are working on yourself and seeing a therapist. It sounds like you are working to understand the causes of your anxiety and practice delineating your needs. Good for you.

      I love your metaphor of waking up. I don’t know if you’ve read my book, HACK YOUR ANXIETY, but waking up is a metaphor I use throughout and ties to a personal story of mine that was life changing. If you haven’t had a chance to check it out, here is a link where you can find out more. I have two chapters dedicated to relationships and understand from readers it has been a huge help to them, often as an adjunct to therapy.


      Feel free to check it out, or also browse my relationship blog for other useful strategies and resources.
      Keep up the great work,


  24. Sophia on April 13, 2019 at 6:50 pm

    I came out of a 9 year toxic and emotionally abusive marriage. Now I am with a wonderful and understanding man however certain things trigger my anxiety in this relationship to the point where I feel frustrated with my own feelings. For example I need a lot of attention and quality time in a relationship and when he is busy it starts to bother me even though I know very well I shouldn’t be upset over this. We see each other twice a week and he lives very close but why do I have this quality time anxiety. I keep myself busy with family, friends and other things but those anxious feelings are in the back of my head once I am triggered.

    • Alicia H. Clark, PsyD on May 6, 2019 at 4:53 pm

      Thanks for your comment, Sophia.

      9 years is a loooong time to be in a relationship, and I’m guessing many of the concerns you are feeling now may be attempts to heal from it. You raise a good point about being triggered, and how to tease apart legitimate current concerns from the “ghosts” from previous relationships. Quality time seems to be one of those grey areas for you. I would start by asking yourself if the quality time you have with your partner is actually the quality time you’re seeking. What’s working, and what’s missing? That might give you a starting place to evaluate things a bit more objectively.

      I also dedicate an entire chapter to dating and relationships in my book, HACK YOUR ANXIETY, that is available at retailers in the US and Canada, and soon will be available on audio. Here is the link to the book page.


      Feel free to check it out, or also browse my relationship blog for other useful strategies and resources.

      The most important thing is not to turn your back on your anxiety, and work to hear your worries rather than dismiss them. An abusive relationship erodes a sense of self confidence, and rebuilding a trust in your feelings could be a valuable tool in healing.

      Thanks again for reaching out, and wishing you all the best,

  25. Julie Lopez on May 4, 2019 at 4:26 am

    Hi! First thank you so much for addressing this topic, I personally really needed it. I am very in love with my boyfriend but I’ve had a super rough past consisting of being cheated on and just being dropped out of the blue. I’ve always had bad anxiety but going through these things have worsened it by a lot. In my relationship now I find myself often feeling confused about if it’s what I should be doing right now since I don’t feel like I’ve completely healed from my past. (but do we ever heal completely?) MY anxiety makes me doubt everything and makes me feel like I need reassurance from my boyfriend at all times that he actuallt wants to be with me. It’s starting to drive me crazy.

    • Alicia H. Clark, PsyD on May 6, 2019 at 4:43 pm

      Thanks for taking the time to comment.

      I’m sorry to hear you are still feeling so anxious, and feeling insecurity that feels so much like it’s just you and your anxiety. It’s hard to know sometimes what’s causing our anxiety, and whether it’s something mostly current or something twinged by our past. It can be helpful to dig into your anxiety a bit further to get a bit more clarity. A few questions you might consider asking: what am I worried about exactly? What has given me the idea that I should be worried? Has anything happened, or are there things I’ve noticed that have me feeling uncomfortable? What are the situations specifically when I feel like I need reassurance from my partner?

      I have found self-doubt to seldom be a productive path – the much braver path is listening to our doubts and doing our best to make sense of theme and use them for solutions. While anxiety can be unhealthy and sometimes seem to come out of nowhere, it is seldom random. I hope you might continue to find more clarity in your feelings, not less. A healthy relationship should always make us feel more sure of ourselves, not less so.

      I walk through a great deal of this in my book, HACK YOUR ANXIETY, that is available online at Amazon, and other retailers. Here is the link to the book page


      Feel free to check it out, or browse my website for more resources.

      Wishing you all the best,

  26. Kyle Fredriks on May 16, 2019 at 11:22 am

    Hey so just came across this article. I have someone currently in my life who I truly believe will be the last. However I fear my past is causing way to much anxiety. From she can do way better to Ik going to screw this up. Its been a real struggle. Is it because Im so damaged from my past relations?

    • Alicia H. Clark, PsyD on May 17, 2019 at 10:58 am

      Hi Kyle,

      Thanks for your question. Staying focussed on what are the probabilities, rather than all the possibilities, is key to managing your anxiety when it comes to resetting your expectations and learning to trust. Your past is real, and situations that feel similar to ones that were painful in the past, will signal anxiety to get your attention. Sorting through what to do with it will help you keep control. I discuss this in some significant depth in my book, HACK YOUR ANXIETY, available at major US and Canadian retailers. Here is a link to find out more.


      Wishing you all the best,


    • Sally on June 18, 2019 at 9:59 am

      Hi, my partner has anxiety, and for last few months we have been in long distance relationship which has been just destroying the relationship. We keep on arguing, it now got to the point that he can’t talk to me without an anxiety attack. We do love each other and we are trying to work this out, but I’m not sure if this is healthy for neither of us. Would you have any advice? Thank you in advance.

      • Alicia H. Clark, PsyD on July 23, 2019 at 7:30 pm

        Anxiety can be exacerbated by distance, and navigating a long-distance relationship can be particularly hard. Keep your communication strong, and check out this article for more help.


        Thanks for reaching out,

    • Sarah on July 8, 2019 at 4:46 am

      Hi, finding this article has been such a relief. I’ve been in a loving, happy relationship for the past 5 years. The man I’m with is kind, caring and we are best friends. I love him a lot and so much look forward to seeing him everyday. He would make an amazing husband and dad. Looking back, I always suffered from anxiety but never realised it or labelled it, however, since getting into the relationship I’ve started to suffer from anxiety to the point that it’s impacting on my quality of life and can’t help but feel that perhaps I’m somehow in the wrong relationship. I obsess over the thought of it perhaps being the wrong relationship and the thought of hurting him absolutely breaks my heart and fills me with guilt. I just want to not feel this way and enjoy my life with him. I feel like the way that I feel is holding me back from sometimes enjoying the most exciting and happy moments of my life. The times when I don’t feel like this I am so happy with him and I want to feel like this all the time, but the looming doubt seems to ruin it for me. He is my first boyfriend as I avoided relationships for years, I always had the fear that I was not picking the right person. Little things like finding someone else attractive fills me with guilt and I fall into this spiral of doubting whether my relationship is ok. I’ve opened up to him about how I felt and my anxiety about whether this relationship was right for me and he was extremely understanding and caring and assured me it has not scared him off. But I can’t help but feel that me telling him about my anxiety regarding our relationship has to be damaging. When I do tell him a weight is lifted off me and my mind is quiet for a while. I’m not sure if it’s time to seek professional help on this. I feel I won’t be able to fully enjoy things like buying a house and in the future perhaps marriage and kids because this anxiety will tarnish everything. I’ve never spoken to a professional as I am fearful that they will tell me that I need to break up with him. I love him so much and any advice or words of wisdom I can get from you would be very welcome.

      • Alicia H. Clark, PsyD on July 23, 2019 at 9:57 pm

        Hi Sarah,
        Thanks for taking the time to comment and tell a bit about your story. Your experience describes how hard it can be to tease apart what is meant by your anxiety, and to so fear the worst. While I understand your fears about getting professional help, a seasoned therapist would be able to help you tease apart all your anxieties – not just the ones about the relationship not being the right one, but also the fears about losing the relationship. Anxiety can be confusing, and understanding its message can be tough. We aren’t born with a codebook for translating our feelings. We are born with the sensitive emotional reflex of anxiety to protect ourselves and the things we care about most. Your relationship anxiety is trying to help you, and rather than being something to fear and avoid, it can be something to embrace. Whether it’s with a professional, or with the help of your partner, I hope you will continue to turn into your anxiety and work to decipher its messages.

  27. Kelly on May 31, 2019 at 10:31 am

    I know this is over a year old but I feel the EXACT same way. It came out of nowhere and is debilitating. I can’t think about my boyfriend or enjoy anything we do because this horrible anxious feeling has taken over. I have really, really bad OCD and a therapist told me this is a form of it. It’s relationship ocd and I know that because I KNOW these are not my real feelings. I can’t even explain it but I hope it goes away.

    • Alicia H. Clark, PsyD on July 23, 2019 at 9:38 pm

      Hi Kelly,
      I’m glad you have had the help of a therapist to understand and frame the anxiety you are feeling in your relationship. OCD Is a common manifestation of anxiety, and can be debilitating. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is an especially effective treatment for OCD, and I hope you will continue to work with your therapist to cultivate better tools to combat the obsessive thoughts when they take over.
      Wishing you all the best,

  28. Amya on June 2, 2019 at 11:58 pm

    Hi I’m 17 years old and I been with my boyfriend for 7 months and I love him alot and really scared to lose him and I been getting so bad anxiety and like it scares me bc idk if it’s anxiety or if i am losing feelings but I do tend to over think alot and my anxiety kicks in and makes me want Me to like break up with him and leave him but I don’t want to I love him and idk what to do

  29. Tia on June 16, 2019 at 11:44 pm

    My husband and I got married 2 1/2 years ago. It’s been HELL since the second we said I DO. It seemed to me that he instantly thought getting married was a huge mistake. I have fought for his attention, connections, time ear…. etc to never get it. My anxiety is so bad I can’t breathe when he or his kids are home. We bought a home right before getting married and this has never felt like home. Today for the first time I noticed something, he and his kids left for the day and my kids came over with the grandkids for dinner. For the first time in weeks I could breathe freely. What is my anxiety telling me ? I don’t want to leave all we’ve built together but I CAN’T live like this anymore. We don’t talk about anything at all. He never wants to spend any time with me and when we do we don’t have nothing to say to eachother. He had nothing when we got together but a bag of clothes. No car, home, or kids. With me he now has custody of his 14 year old daughter and his 20 year old son lives here home car and money in his pocket. I am on meds now for anxiety and depression. This isn’t who I want to be. Help. If I leave will I be walking away from the equity in the house? He says he’ll make sure I get nothing? That it’s all his. I believe I am entitled to half.?

    • Alicia H. Clark, PsyD on July 23, 2019 at 7:26 pm

      Gosh, what an ordeal you are suffering. I hope you are getting support around what your options and rights are, and are taking good care of yourself. It may help to reach out for professional support if you aren’t feeling strong enough to do what you need to do.

      Hang in there,

  30. Yesenia Espana on June 20, 2019 at 12:55 am

    I’m thankful to have come across your article. I’ve been trying to understand what happens to me when I get close to a romantic interest. I have childhood trauma, and trauma from a 7 year relationship that ended badly and destroyed me. Since then I’ve been diagnosed with several mental health illnesses. They were triggered when I began to date a man and I got too close. What happens now is that once I start feeling connected and cared for by a man, I suddenly feel a burning sensation in my chest. I have the urge to run and avoid the man who triggered this sensation so I can end the pain. But this means I don’t allow the relationship to develop. The pain in my chest is distressing. Do you know what is happening to me? Should I continue exploring the relationship despite the pain, or run?

    • Alicia H. Clark, PsyD on July 23, 2019 at 7:34 pm

      Hi Yesenia,

      What you are experiencing is intense and I can understand how confusing it can be. I think your best approach is to keep focusing on what’s in front of you, rather than your memories of the past. This can be particularly hard to tease apart when you have a trauma history, and you may want to consider seeking some professional help. In the meantime, keep doing your best to understand and translate your anxiety to know where you may be reasonably concerned.

      Wishing you all the best,

  31. Jane B on June 24, 2019 at 1:09 pm

    Thank you so much for your post. I’m currently going through relationship anxiety at the moment and your post was so well written and straightforward. There is so much junk on the internet on this topic, so thank you for providing a credible source!

    • Alicia H. Clark, PsyD on July 23, 2019 at 7:34 pm

      Thanks for your kind feedback, Jane. So glad to hear the post was helpful.

  32. Jag on July 16, 2019 at 6:03 pm

    Hi I never post on these blogs but i have been dealing with alot of anxiety in my relationship wich i felt i have brought on my self I had never been in a relationship and had many previouse issues with anger and my family never being able to show emotions very well but been with my partner for 5 years now and feel as a result of my past she will never feel I have changed enough and we constantly argue I’m a family person she isnt as much we argue alot about conflicting morals we have with in us however love each other so much its causing loads of anxiety need help on what to do

    • Alicia H. Clark, PsyD on July 23, 2019 at 9:21 pm

      Thanks Jag for posting your story. It sounds like you and your girlfriend are struggling with a variety of conflicts that are tough to understand and express to each other constructively, despite how much you love each other. My best advice is to keep talking things out: express your feelings as clearly as you can, and then listen carefully to her feelings. Conflict is to be expected in any relationship, and with mutual understanding and respect, you can forge compromises and solutions that work for you. God luck to you both.

  33. Noname Please on July 31, 2019 at 2:29 pm

    Just starting some professional help. Married 31 years. Spouse has cirrhosis of liver, MELD score at 11. Alcohol is out of picture for past 10 years. Anxiety growing daily, panic attacks and deep depression has set in now. Spouse is oblivious to it at times due to nature of disease. Sitting on fence wondering if it would be better if it ends or if transplant happens. So much “work” either way. Yes, it is burden. It is a weight. It is what it is. Can’t imagine life without spouse, hate looking at the potential struggle to come only to lose in the end. Very hard to see any positive outcome because of the deep doom and gloom mentality. This hole will be hard to get out of for sure. I didn’t dig it, but because of someone else’s actions, (addiction/disease) I fell into it and am now stuck with guilt, sorrow, sadness and hopelessness.

  34. Marci on August 20, 2019 at 4:10 pm

    Hi, I’ve been remarried for 6 years and I feel the utmost anxiety/sick to my stomach feeling every time we have an argument. My 20 year old son from my previous marriage lives with us. We have been through some rough times with my husband, he has threatened before with kicking us out. We ( both my son and I) feel that sometimes we are walking on egg shells so we don’t upset him with anything. He will never apologize for any wrongdoing he does. When he gets mad he yells. I tell him there’s no need to raise your voice but it gets worse. When we are doing good, it is really good. But I feel that he has no problem pointing out my faults but if I do he will only get mad. I really try to keep things calm and good around here because I don’t want any tension. Also, I always have to ask if my sons girlfriend can come over. I feel we have no say in anything and my son doesn’t even invite his friends over in fear of how my husband will act.

  35. Brooke on August 28, 2019 at 8:52 pm

    Hello! I just have a question for you because I’ve been in a relationship for a year now. It took me awhile to really fall in love but now that I am I keep having anxiety about his looks. I worry because I have anxiety about his hairline (he’s definitely going bald and is only 26)I would hate to end things because of a petty physical thing like that but it’s a worry that keeps coming up and I can’t make it go away. I’m not sure if this is how I’m going to be in every relationship because I have anxiety and I’m a perfectionist or if this is a sign I need to be with someone else.

  36. Kate on September 25, 2019 at 12:11 am

    Because of how poorly my past relationships have ended I am always anxious and fearful the one I am in now will end the same. The man I am with now is amazing and I know he will never do the things others have done, but I still worry. I feel like I constantly have to be reminded that he will not do those things. I am not sure what to do to make my anxiety go away.

  37. Bernie on October 24, 2019 at 5:51 pm

    Hi Alicia, thanks for the post. I have felt anxious around guys since my teens. Have been sexually abused as a child, kept boys at arms length.

    Now 56 had one long-term relationship with an older married man, who died age 59 I was 32. Now I recognize he fitted the fantasy I had in my head of a perfect relationship, no needs etc and I felt loved, sage and secure.

    Since his death high anxiety, ambivalence and fear with emotionally available men, none of this with emotionally unavailable ones! .

    Had number of years in therapy, never found way to manage anxiety, thought of a relationship makes me panic. I’ve been told I have Ambivalent attachment, unsure if that’s Anxious preoccupied or Fearful Avoidant as in online tests or books on attachment I relate to Avoidant ? with aspects of Anxious!
    I equate love to loss, as each time another failed relationship occurs I hurt and in the process I hurt another.
    Is there any hope for me having a good relationship as right now my head says no more and my heart is pained.


  38. Shawn on January 13, 2020 at 8:21 pm

    Last year I dated this girl named Emily and it was going really well and we were both happy. Then she said Im really sorry but I can’t date you anymore it’s not you it’s me I’m really so sorry. 8 months later I still like her and we go to the same school and a couple days ago around January 6, 2020 she texted me on Instagram and said hey, I was wondering if you wanted to talk about everything that happened last year. I said yeah sure. After school on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday we talked and she said some stuff and on Friday it seemed that we were both happy we hugged and kisses a little. At that time we were a little together. We texted on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. It went well. Today on Monday she said she had one more thing to talk about and she said it’s kind of bad. She said the reason she couldn’t date anymore last year is because of relationship anxiety. She said she still likes me and everything over the weekend we both said I love you. She said she still likes me and everything but i still love her and I think she still loves me too even thought she didn’t say it. She also said that she’d rather have me in her life if she didn’t have relationship anxiety. Silence came and a couple minutes passed and I said politely, wouldn’t you rather have less anxiety and be with me than not have me and have more anxiety? Because she has 1 friend that she barely has anxiety with. She said when she’s with me and we’re hugging and happy which was most of the time last year and this year. I don’t know. This made me more heartbroken this year then last year and I love her and I can tell that she loves me as much but I guess she can’t deal with the anxiety anymore and she asks if we can still be friends. And I said yes. But what doesn’t make sense is that it seemed like she chose probably more anxiety without me over less anxiety with me because I make her laugh everyday and I could tell that she was generally happy this year (and last year). I don’t really know what to do. I suppose I’ll text her tomorrow sometime before the end of school and type some stuff on my phone and tell her in person while reading it to her. But I’ll keep a respectful distance so it doesn’t make her sad but a close enough distance because I still care about her. I will pray that her anxiety somehow goes away and hope that she surrounds herself with positive energy and not negative energy around her many siblings. Last year her relationship anxiety caused us to break up and the same thing happened this year. I hope that her anxiety slowly goes away because I honestly I can’t live without her. But I don’t know how her anxiety is going to slowly decrease since she only has me and her 1 friend now since now I suppose I’m her friend. It would seem like if I was there after school comforting her and hugging her watching a movie that she wanted to watch it would have been less anxiety but I’ll have to see what happens. But I have a feeling that her anxiety isn’t going to decrease if I’m not around her surrounding her with positive energy. But I hope that it turns around for the better.

  39. Wasteoflife on March 15, 2020 at 7:13 am

    My COWORKER shes gorgeous as all hell has a boyfriend I do nothing but respect her boundaries I’m tryna better my life, be less toxic, and keep to myself but why does she make it hard to work with her, everyone bugs me about her like I’m supposed to do somthing but I’m in such a fucked period in my life i cant stand dragging others down around me, in dont deserve her time, attention or to even be in her life but I wouldn’t mind a simple normal work enviroment where high tension isntthrough the roof and we arnt having issues for no god damn reason the situation is so god damn confusing I sense her anxiety on top of mine and I fucking hate it!!! Its tearing me apart cause i dont know what I’ve done and it’s making me want to quit my job in Hope’s of being comfortable in life again over absolutely fucking nothing and not only to kick me while I’m down shes always throwing low blows and cold attitude towards me and all I can do is reciprocate it SOMEBODY HELP this is fuxking childish stupid retarted, depressing, energy draining, I fucking cant this shit feeling I dont even fuxking no her why is this happening

  40. Teresa Carey on April 2, 2020 at 9:11 pm

    My name is teresa I have never had anxiety in my life until 2018. my anxiety has gotten so bad that i think its affecting my health my body shows signs of blood clot through symptoms but when they look for it they dont find it I have been in about 3 abusive relationship I am in one currently but he is trying to be better but now that he trying to better i get anxiety attacks when he talks to me a certain way or even when we argue. I know it may be sad to say but I am scared of him. I see a psychologist now again like once every ear when i can afford it but i dont think she takes me serious just ask me to take my meds and drink lots of water I really want to stop being afraid of him I need my life back i have always been a healthy person but now anxiety and stress has taken over me so much that it affecting my health I am a single mother an I want to live to see her grow into brilliant woman

    • Alicia H. Clark, PsyD on April 26, 2020 at 10:58 pm

      Hi Teresa,
      So sorry you are feeling so much anxiety and it is wreaking so much havoc in your life, and that you aren’t feeling more support from your therapist. I would suggest you talk directly to your therapist about your concerns, or look for another professional who better understands what you are going through, or with whom you feel more comfortable. You may also consider a community resource for the abuse you are experiencing. There are numerous low cost or free support, including this national hotline, https://www.thehotline.org/resources/, where you can access resources and support. I hope your partner is doing better, but this is a very difficult time being in quarantine, and it he may not be able to keep his promises. The important thing to remember, no matter how hard it is, is that you are not responsible for his behavior. My hunch is that your anxiety is trying to signal valuable information, and protect you. Not ruin your life.
      Wishing you clarity and courage,

  41. Shannon B on April 12, 2020 at 5:21 pm

    I am in a relationship where we have had quite a few ups and downs. we have taken numerous breaks to help him deal with things. he was in several bad relationships before we got together and had put up a very big wall and was very scared to fall in love again. we are back together and trying to overcome everything. somewhere along the way of helping him find himself and cope with his past relationships I lost my sense of self worth and value. now I feel like I am broken and I don’t know how to Pick myself up. I have developed a very low self-esteem and don’t feel like I’m enough . I’m still very much in love with him and he has made huge changes in our relationship and doesn’t want to let me go and is willing to do whatever it takes to make us work and to be there for me to help me get back to where I need to be. we are trying to work through things there were several issues where he was dishonest and we have discussed everything and have decided to make a fresh start. I am just having trouble getting over the past and it has given me severe anxiety I don’t know how to deal with anxiety I’ve never had it what do I do??? Help!!!!

    • Alicia H. Clark, PsyD on April 26, 2020 at 10:45 pm

      Hi Shannon,
      Gosh, it sounds like you have been paying a dear price to keep this relationship together, and I understand how grueling it can feel – especially with the toll it has taken on your sense of self. It sounds like your anxiety is telling you important, though painful, information about your relationship despite your partner’s promises. While I can’t know the details from your description, the anxiety you’re feeling sounds like it’s trying to protect you from being hurt, again. A fresh start is a great concept, but without knowing how things will be (and are) different, it is simply a decision to hope for something better. Patterns unfortunately tend to repeat themselves, even if we so wish they didn’t. I would suggest letting your anxiety get some real breathing room, listen to what it is trying to tell you – even if it’s hard to hear, and bravely consider what is right for you and your future. You deserve to be happy, and to be in a relationship where you feel valued, good enough, and loved for who you are.
      All the best to you,

  42. ~V~ on April 14, 2020 at 3:52 pm

    My husband has a pornography addiction which I have endured for 32 years. But as of a year ago anxiety set in.
    Now it it is so bad that I have twitches. The twitches get worse when I see him.
    He doesn’t think he has a problem. And thinks that I am over reacting. I believe this has been building up
    over the years. Sometimes I worry that I will have a heart attack.

    • Alicia H. Clark, PsyD on April 26, 2020 at 10:23 pm

      Your anxiety is trying to tell you how uncomfortable you are, and how betrayed you feel. Try to listen to anxiety’s message and bravely stand your ground. Addictions are powerful, and you both may need help to sort this out. In the meantime, be gentle with yourself and keep working to translate your anxiety into words, and ultimately into solutions.
      All my best,

  43. V on May 3, 2020 at 10:29 pm

    I always feel very uneasy and not assured about a particular girl friend on my boyfriend. They have never dated before but they used to like each other. I’ve talked about this many times with my boyfriend but he still doesn’t want to cut contacts with her. What should i do?

  44. Swanna on June 17, 2020 at 7:46 am

    I dont know what to do. I dont want to leave my bf but he is causing me allot of anxiety I forgive and try to out things together now just last night he triggered my worst trauma and now I’m just so worn out and depressed. My brother tells me to leave him but even leaving him only its thought is enough to cause me great dea of pain. I’m pretending to be fine this time I really feel depressed.

    • Alicia H. Clark, PsyD on June 18, 2020 at 5:56 pm

      Hi Swanna,

      Understanding what anxiety is trying to tell you, and determining what to do with it, are some of the toughest challenges of dealing with anxiety. The good news is that when we get it wrong, anxiety tends to let us know and try to get our attention. Stay with it, and keep thinking through what you need to do to heal. Also remember there is no shame in asking for help, and seeking counseling from an objective professional can help you sort through things. Your doctor can recommend someone if you don’t know where to start.

      Wishing you all the best,

    • Anthony Snodgrass on July 12, 2020 at 4:47 pm

      So I’ve started a new job within the last couple weeks and my son is getting into that toddler faze and we also just got a new puppy. My wife has been stressing out since she is still working from home part time and when she comes to me multiple times a week to tell me how stressed she is, I try to come up with solutions for her or try to offer her to go take a break away from the house but she doesn’t take my suggestions and then eventually has a break down. It’s been like this for the last 3 weeks and that’s as long as I’ve had this new job. I don’t know what to do and at this point she’s starting to cause me a lot of anxiety with the fact that she won’t find a way to calm down.

  45. Amy on July 22, 2020 at 6:39 pm

    I am also very unsure of what to do about my current relationship. I have no doubt that the man I am with thinks the world of me, but I am concerned that his personal lifestyle and what he needs out of a relationship just doesn’t fit with mine. I never feel like we see each other enough (we mostly see each other about once a week, occasionally twice), but he is a lot more content with how often we see each other. His work hours make things a bit difficult, but whenever he does has a free moment he doesn’t offer to spend time together, I am always the one making plans with him. Also, when he does finally have some time, he would have already made plans with friends (often to go drinking). The time spent when we are together is great, he is loving and never bails on plans that we do make, but it doesn’t feel like our relationship can ever progress when we are seeing so little of each other. The anxiety increases when I make the decision to wait for him to come to me about plans. Days will go by and I won’t hear anything, only fueling my anxiety which then manifests into anger and hurt. This then often turns into me having a go at him about it and making a fool of myself. His response is often positive and he says he will change. He makes an effort for a couple of weeks then things just go back to how they were. It makes me feel anxious and doubt myself. In my mind I think “well if he really wanted to see me he would ask, so he must just not really care to see me” which makes me more anxious and upset (I’ve told him this is how I feel, and he listens and respects that, but nothing changes). I know in my mind what I am worth, but I cannot tune out my anxiety which tells me otherwise. Leaving him for this seems extreme, but I’m not sure what else I can do to be happy. Do I just need to change my expectations? But then I feel like my relationship will not meet what I need. – Help! (for context I am 22 years and he is 23, I’m actually currently doing my masters degree in psychology)

  46. Alex on July 25, 2020 at 6:26 am

    Hey. Had a 4 year relationship with my girlfriend. We have so much in common, get along very well and love each other, and she says I treat her very well and listen to her, but she has had anxiety for a long time.

    She’s generally been an anxious person since I met her, but she says she gets too anxious with our relationship and around me or talking to me specifically, so we have separated. She hopes we’ll be together again but even messaging me causes her too much anxiety and she just doesn’t know why. She’s tried to address it, started some counselling, but she just gets very powerful anxiety with me and neither of us knows why.

    It’s been very frustrating, as I’ve tried to help in every way I can. She was always very quietly annoyed when we had problems and the problem was that she’d get intensely annoyed at something I said, even if it was nothing wrong, but saw it as offensive and didn’t know why, but would take things the wrong way.

    I just don’t know what to do really, except encourage her to get counselling, see her GP, medication, whatever is needed.

  47. Emma butler on August 1, 2020 at 12:08 pm

    Hey! My anxiety has gotten so bad that my boyfriend and I aren’t right for each other even tho we are super compatible and I love him to the ends of the earth. My anxiety cause me to freak out and close out how attractive he is to me and make scenarios in my head that aren’t there. They make me think Taking a break or breaking up will make things better and I’m sure they won’t. I don’t know how to calm it or to be able to fully love him without that in the way

  48. Jasmine on March 13, 2021 at 12:58 am

    My bf broke up with me because he was depressed for 5 months. I was so hurt and heartbroken because I did nothing to cause this he just left. When he called and ask to get back together I rushed back into the relationship not thinking clearly. My anxiety has been through the roof because thoughts of not loving him anymore is getting the best of me. We have been back together two and a half months and it’s like the anxiety is getting worse. Today I don’t love him tomorrow I will. He is a sweet person but the fact that he hurt me is taking a toll on me and I can’t even function in my life anymore. I don’t want to break up but I feel it’ll ease my anxiety is there anyway I can work on my anxiety and still work on my relationship because I don’t want to end it.