Good News: Relationship Anxiety Is Normal

Good News: Relationship Anxiety Is Normal – Whether you’re in a long-term committed relationship or fresh off a swiping session on Tinder, relationship anxiety can — and likely will — pop up at some point.

Whether it stems from lack of trust, fear of abandonment, questioning your compatibility or worrying about non-reciprocated feelings, most people experience some form of unease about the future of their partnership. The real issue arises when natural worry evolves into debilitating stress or results in self-sabotage that negatively affects your relationship.

Accepting that some anxiety is completely normal is the first step to keeping it at a manageable level.

When you begin to feel it spiral out of control — and have ripple affects that begin to hurt your relationship and your own mental health — here’s what you need to know about identifying the source and getting it under control.

Signs Your Relationship Anxiety Has Reached an Unhealthy Level

“It is important to note that everyone has some relationship anxiety, and that’s to be expected,” reiterated Dr. Amanda Zayde, a clinical psychologist at the Montefiore Medical Center. “However, if you find yourself hypervigilant for clues that something is wrong, or if you experience frequent distress that impacts your daily life, please, take some time to address it. Everyone deserves to feel secure and connected in their relationships.”

Some clear signs that you’re toeing the line — or have sprinted beyond it — include “consistent emotional instability, impaired judgement, impaired impulse control, difficulty focusing and paying attention to daily tasks, feeling lovesick and sad, and a decrease in motivation, loneliness and fatigue,” says Dr. Danielle Forshee, a psychologist who specializes in relational and marital issues.

This ongoing state of mind is not only mentally exhausting and detrimental to your own wellbeing, but can ultimately lead to relationship disintegration.

“Relationship anxiety can cause people to engage in behaviors that end up pushing their partner away,” says Dr. Zayde. “For example, calling 20 times in a row, jumping to conclusions or becoming emotionally distant. It can also cause a tremendous amount of distress and distraction, as people spend hours trying to decode their partner’s behavior.”

Dr. Forshee adds, “They may obsess over their lover’s social media accounts, incessantly Google them or have their friends assist in doing some investigating. They may falsely accuse their new lover of things that they have no evidence for, or become overly clingy, all to satisfy the craving for attachment and euphoria.”

While these behaviors may result in a decrease in panic or anxiety for the moment via mini neurochemicals bursts, says Forshee, they’re only a short-term distraction. For long-term easement, you must do some deep, inner digging and then proactively work toward minimizing the anxiety. And this process starts with identifying the real reason behind why the anxiety is occurring in the first place.

Childhood: The Root Cause of Relationship Anxiety

“Oftentimes, relationship anxiety stems from attachment patterns that develop in early childhood,” says Zayde. “A child will develop a prototype of what to expect from others based upon their early caregiving experiences.”

She says that, depending on the accuracy and consistency of the caregiver’s response, a child will learn to either express or suppress his or her emotional and physical needs. This coping mechanism may work at the time, but it can morph into maladaptive behaviors when applied to adult, romantic relationships.

A common example of maladaptive behavior is what psychologists refer to as an enmeshed relationship, or a situation in which a parent is overly involved in a child’s life, as stated in Greenberg, Cicchetti and Cummings’ book, Attachment in the Preschool Years. This can lead to “reciprocally intrusive, controlling behavior,” and “much insecurity and distress on the part of both over real or threatened separation.”

On the flip side, for those who feel easily suffocated in a relationship, they may have had childhood experiences that caused them to become avoidant of relationships and bonding. For example, a child with an inattentive parent may learn to suppress their innate proclivity toward bonding in order to prevent heartache and feelings of rejection. As an adult, that child may have a difficult time committing to, or being vulnerable in, a relationship.

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Good News: Relationship Anxiety Is Normal

If this rings true to your experience, it may be worth digging deeper into attachment theory, which has greatly impacted the way modern psychologists and relationship experts think about relationships. You can even take a quiz to identify which type of attachment style you, and your partner, have.

Your Ex May Be to Blame for Your Anxiety

In addition to your childhood, past relationships can also play a role in the way you behave in relationships.

“If you are experiencing the type of relationship anxiety where you fear being cheated on, or have lack of trust in your new admirer, this may result from previous relationship experiences that have been encoded in your brain. Our brain never forgets,” said Forshee. “Basically, your brain circuitry has become used to associating certain traits, smells, sounds and feelings with a previous lover and relationship experiences. Your brain has laid down a powerful pattern from previously learned experiences, and your brain retains traces of that circuitry, even after you’ve fallen for someone new.”

Finally, when you enter a new relationship, your body produces large amounts of powerful chemicals such as oxytocin, dopamine, cortisol and vasopressin. When combined, these “love chemicals,” facilitate bonding and commitment. While they make us feel highly passionate, they can also make us emotionally unstable, angsty and downright obsessed with new partners. When we’re around our partners — especially when hugging, kissing or having sex — this hormone production goes into overdrive.

“When we are away from our new love, are fearing rejection, or have been rejected, it can make it feel like we’re going through addiction withdrawal,” explained Forshee, which can result in unhealthy obsession and anxiety.

How to Overcome Relationship Anxiety

Pinpointing the root causes of your relationship anxiety is perhaps the easy part. While overcoming your anxiety may be slow-going and difficult, it can be done if you’re deliberately mindful, fully dedicated to improvement and are kind to yourself as you navigate the path ahead.

“Take some time to better understand how your early experiences have shaped your attachment style, and stay aware of ways in which you might be repeating early experiences with your current partner,” advises Zayde. “Pay attention to how often you are jumping to conclusions, and whether or not you have sufficient evidence to support your fears; oftentimes, our fears are based on past experiences, not our current relationship.”

When stressful thoughts begin to take hold, follow these expert suggestions for staying in control and helping ease anxiety:

  • Exercise. To help curb anxiety in the moment, Forshee recommends hitting the gym. Numerous studies have demonstrated that exercising increases serotonin production and release. Isolating yourself and becoming physically stagnant are the two worst things you can do, so get moving.
  • Positive self-talk. “Engage in positive-self talk rather than negative self-talk, and have a friend help remind you of better times and what the positive things are in your life now,” says Forshee. “This act assists in increasing serotonin production in the anterior cingulate cortex, a part of your brain right behind the frontal areas responsible for attention, judgement and impulse control.”
  • Take a step back. Forshee stresses the importance of not acting on your emotional impulses when feeling anxious. She says your brain won’t allow you to make good decisions in the heat of the moment, and you’ll most likely regret your actions shortly thereafter.
  • Find ways to relax. “If you are unable to elicit help from your support system or cannot get yourself moving, engaging in a relaxation technique such as diaphragmatic breathing may be beneficial. This will help in physiological de-escalation so you can think clearer and feel less worked up,” Forshee notes.
  • Get help. “Finally, if you find that your relationship anxiety has taken over in a manner where you feel it is out of your control — or has wreaked havoc in your life — seeking professional counseling is likely to be beneficial.”

Overcoming relationship anxiety ultimately boils down to having control over your emotions and your mental process. There’s a direct correlation between your health — and the success of your relationships — and the depth of understanding you have about yourself, your behaviors and your feelings. Take steps to identify sources of anxiety and re-route the spiral it incites today, and you may just be able to map out a new pattern for your brain to follow next time around

Learning How to Cope With Relationship Anxiety

Learning How to Cope With Relationship Anxiety – Relationship anxiety refers to feelings of doubt, insecurity, nonstop worry, and a need for constant reassurance that sometimes occurs during a relationship. Such anxiety may have roots in early childhood attachments and is often a sign of an insecure attachment style.

Picture this: it’s the start of what could be a perfect relationship. The conversation is fantastic, communication is loud and clear both ways, and everything seems set for a happily ever after—except for one or two doubts you can’t seem to shake off.

‘What do they even see in me?’, ‘Will they get bored?’ ‘How long until this one falls apart?’ In some cases, these questions linger on even after ‘I love yous’ have been exchanged in the relationship.

If you’ve ever found yourself asking these questions, there is a chance that you may be familiar with relationship anxiety.

When a person starts to feel anxious about life with a current or prospective partner, it’s an understandable worry—this is a big part of their lives. However, in certain cases, this worry becomes so crippling, it can prevent the relationship from flourishing, or even taking off, to begin with.

We’ll be examining the causes of relationship anxiety, what to look out for, and the appropriate ways to navigate this feeling.

Causes of Relationship Anxiety
When worries start to creep in and become a familiar feature of a budding or current relationship, you might be dealing with relationship anxiety. Let’s take a look at some common causes.

An Anxious Attachment Style
When you find that you are constantly questioning the security of your relationship or the depth of feelings your partner has for you, this can sometimes be traced back to the relationship you shared with your parents or other caregivers when growing up.

In cases where their parents or guardians consistently show a child love and affection, this can form a secure attachment style to these relationships.

However, where the child is shown love and care on some occasions, but cruelty and abandonment on others, they may form an anxious attachment with the people they love and trust.

This can cause the child to cling to these beloved figures for attention. The child may also require the constant assurance of their love—traits that may appear in later years within romantic relationships.

People with anxious attachment styles often question their worth and are typically on guard, watching for the first signs that their partners may be losing interest in them. In addition, this attachment places them in a state of worry over losing their significant others.1

Negative Past Experiences
Imagine a scenario where you get stung by a bee. Hearing a buzzing anytime after that may produce a certain amount of fear that causes you to be wary of getting stung again. The same can sometimes occur with relationships.

If a person has experienced a relationship where their self-worth, value, attractiveness, etc., was called into question, this can trigger anxiety that partnering with another person will produce the same effects.

If this happens, a previously hurt person may remain on edge, constantly questioning the stability of the relationship and the feelings involved in it.

Low Self-Esteem
Living with a poor estimation of your self-worth and value can strongly affect your quality of life.2

In cases where a person struggles with low self-esteem, this can raise constant doubt about the authenticity of a partner’s feelings for them or whether they are deserving of their partner’s love. It may also encourage assumptions of unfaithfulness and other questions that can put the future of the relationship in jeopardy.

Poor Communication
In some cases, experiencing worry about your partner’s affection or the future of your relationship may be tied to the fact that honest conversations about shared feelings, the state of the relationship, or plans together are lacking with your partner.

Failing to speak on these matters can leave a vacuum in the relationship, encouraging feelings of anxiety.

Signs of Relationship Anxiety
Here are some signs that anxiety may be manifesting itself in your relationship:

Wondering if your partner truly has feelings for you
Looking for constant reassurance from your partner
Aiming to please your significant other at any cost, sometimes to your detriment
Acting controlling towards your partner’s movements or interactions
Consistently wanting to be around your partner and being clingy in most situations
Holding doubts about romantic compatibility
Over-analyzing simple words and actions for signs of trouble
Constantly feeling like your partner intends to call off the relationship
Spending more time worrying about the relationship than enjoying it

In other cases, relationship anxiety may take the form of deliberately sabotaging things with your partner. This can be seen where slight issues are blown out of proportion or where traps are laid for your partner to test fidelity.

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Learning How to Cope With Relationship Anxiety

It may also appear in instances where you purposely stay aloof and guarded with your partner, all to steel yourself against hurt and pre-empt difficulties.

Effects of Relationship Anxiety
Before placing a magnifying glass on the way you act within your relationship, it’s important to note that not every demonstration of worry is a sign of relationship anxiety.

In fact, taking stock of what is working, changes in communication, and feelings shared within the relationship is healthy and encouraged. However, when the energy you expend in keeping tabs on your partner and their attitude within the relationship constantly leaves you feeling on edge, that could be problematic.

Constantly worrying about the relationship can also affect the quality of love and intimacy you enjoy. In some cases, experiencing persistent feelings of anxiety within the relationship can produce the most feared result—an end to the union.

If you realize that you frequently experience relationship anxiety, this can negatively affect your well-being and the chances of experiencing a future with your partner.

However, you should know that there are steps you can take to improve the quality of your life and your relationship to avoid the harmful effects of anxiety.

Ways to Overcome Relationship Anxiety
Fortunately, if you’re having relationship anxiety, there are ways to help cope with—or even stop—those feelings. Here are a few options to consider.

Communicate Your Feelings
To get ahead of anxiety, it’s important to have honest conversations with your partner about your worries, expectations, or dreams for the future.

Share doubts you may have and talk through challenges. This will always beat making up scenarios where only the worst outcomes are imagined.

By speaking clearly with your partner, uncertainties that can encourage anxiety are avoided, leaving room for a healthy appreciation of the relationship.

Enjoy the Present
When you catch your mind starting to wonder about the fate of your relationship in years to come, it is always advisable to nip that in the bud and enjoy the present moment.

Considering whether or not your partner will even be in your life in five years, or if they’ll still find you desirable in months to come, only takes away from cherishing your current joy. Instead, it saddles you with worry over future events that may not even occur.

To manage your anxieties, treasure your current reality, and savor the happiness of being with a person you have chosen and who has also chosen to be with you at the moment.

Confront Your Anxiety
It may sound counterproductive to embrace your anxieties while attempting to get over them, but this is one of the most effective ways to get your emotions under control.

Are you anxious because of a past failed relationship? Perhaps you worry about not being good enough for love because you struggle with how you view yourself.

Questioning the reasons for your anxiety in relationships can help you recognize these issues and tackle them clearly.

Attend Therapy
In certain situations, getting professional help to manage your anxiety may be the best option for getting it under control.

Through therapy, you can receive the proper guidance to change negative and dysfunctional thoughts about yourself, your self-worth, and your attitude towards your partner.

Therapy can also teach appropriate methods to manage your anxiety to prevent lasting damage to the relationship.

A Word From Verywell
When you care very deeply about something, it’s understandable to worry about it from time to time—relationships are no different.

However, while concerns about your partner and their feelings towards you are valid, this can quickly become unhealthy and injurious to your personal health. This is especially seen where you constantly obsess about who your partner is speaking with, whether the relationship will stand the test of time, and other signs of relationship anxiety.

Thankfully, there are ways to get anxiety in a relationship under control, and one of the most potent forms is simply communicating worries, challenges, hopes, etc., truthfully with your partner.

You may also bravely face the reasons you experience relationship fears. However, if additional help is required to get things under control, therapy can help change negative thinking and ideas of self-worth.

Is Your Relationship Making You Anxious? An Expert Breaks Down Why—And Shows You How To Fix It

Is Your Relationship Making You Anxious? An Expert Breaks Down Why—And Shows You How To Fix It – In long-term relationships, anxiety is more likely to pop up because of a personal experience. “If [one] person is facing their own insecurities and facing self-esteem issues, they [might] project that on their partner,” Sommerfeldt says. Take abandonment issues, for example. One partner might have dealt with absent parents growing up, which has manifested into a fear that their partner will break up with them. Oftentimes, how you treat your partner stems from the example set by loved ones during childhood, says Sommerfeldt. Attachment styles are formed during youth and teach you what to expect from those who love you. If your example of love and how you deserve to be loved is insecure during childhood, then how you expect to be loved as an adult will typically mirror that. When you’re anxious in romance, it’s usually because you didn’t receive stable or consistent affection growing up which manifested into worry that the people who claim to love you will withdraw their affection. What does relationship anxiety look like, exactly? It can manifest in a number of ways. Find the most common below: 1. Overthinking Ahhh—the famous “O” word. Do you find yourself thinking about the worst-case scenario all the time? Wondering things like, “Does my partner love me as much as I do?” is a clear sign of overthinking and looking way too much into your partner’s words and body language. Overthinking the security of your relationship can cause you to act out or even feel jealous of your partner’s relationships with other people. 2. Doubt

No matter how long you’ve been with your partner, anxiety can creep in at any point in the relationship. But don’t worry. Feeling unsure about your relationship is a totally normal thing (usually).

Everyone experiences anxiety during certain points in their dating lives, say experts. And how it impacts your relationship varies, too.

Sometimes, the anxiety is brief. For others, it comes in waves. And in other cases, it sticks around. Even if you find yourself in that last camp, it doesn’t necessarily mean a breakup is around the corner.

But, it is important to deal with it. Letting the anxiety fester can break down the relationship or even drive you to the point of sabotaging it, says Shelley Sommerfeldt, PhD, clinical psychologist and relationship coach.

Anxiety is often rooted in things that happened to you while you were growing up. “There are different ways in which [people] attach [to the people they love] in childhood, such as to [their] parental figures,” says Sommerfeldt. And though you’ve grown up, how you relate to and trust other people (i.e. romantic partners) is still shaped by those experiences.

If your household was an unstable one, for example, you might have grown up feeling unsure in your relationships, worried your partner will abandon, reject or hurt you, says Sommerfeldt.

But childhood fears aren’t the only reason you might be feeling unsettled. Even in long-term romantic relationships, Sommerfeld explains, anxiety can stem from your personal life and then spill into your partnership. Take low self-esteem, for instance, or job insecurity, or fear of being first-time parents. Those emotions can have a ripple effect on your experiences with your partner.

Even though relationship anxiety looks different for everyone, that doesn’t mean there aren’t common factors that contribute to this feeling. Ahead, discover the root causes of relationship anxiety and how to cope with it.

What is relationship anxiety, anyway?

“It’s when someone experiences doubts, worries, and second-guesses their relationship or partner,” says Sommerfeldt. You might catch yourself stewing over whether your partner is still in love with you, whether they’ll find someone they love more than you, or insecure about whether they still find you attractive.

And even when your partner reassures you, you might still have a hard time believing them. Doubting your partner can ultimately lead to your sabotaging the relationship: You might pressure them to reassure you about their faithfulness, pick fights, or test them by, say, mentioning how attractive the server at dinner was, to see how they’ll react.

When and why does it happen?

At the start of a relationship, you might suffer from anxiety about whether you even want to commit to someone, whether you’re a good match, or wonder what your loved ones will think of them. This is all standard and healthy, says Sommerfeldt.

And throughout the relationship, regularly checking in with yourself about the person you’re partnered with is all good, too, she adds.

However, things get trickier “if anxiety [is] hindering the relationship or impacting [your] mental or emotional health, and impacting [your] partner. That’s when it gets problematic,” she adds. There’s more reason for concern when the anxiety leads to doubt and stress.

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Is Your Relationship Making You Anxious? An Expert Breaks Down Why—And Shows You How To Fix It

What does relationship anxiety look like, exactly?

It can manifest in a number of ways. Find the most common below:

1. Overthinking

Ahhh—the famous “O” word. Do you find yourself thinking about the worst-case scenario all the time? Wondering things like, “Does my partner love me as much as I do?” is a clear sign of overthinking and looking way too much into your partner’s words and body language. Overthinking the security of your relationship can cause you to act out or even feel jealous of your partner’s relationships with other people.

2. Doubt

Doubting is a classic symptom of anxiety and it can quickly put a strain on your relationship, says Sommerfeldt.

Doubt may lead to your checking up on your partner more than you have normally would have, snooping through their things, and distrusting them even when they haven’t given you a reason to do so. Once your partner catches on to your suspicion, they’ll likely grow resentful or frustrated at having to prove themselves again and again.

3. A Need For Validation

Anxiety comes about when someone “constantly needs their partner to validate their love,” says Sommerfeldt, and that’s a heavy burden to put on someone else. Constantly seeking reassurance from your partner is a sign of feeling insecure with yourself or with your partner.

4. Withdrawal

Not everyone is expressive about their anxiety, however. “People can shut down due to fear and that kills a relationship,” she says. Shutting down is not only unhealthy, but it gives mixed signals to your partner because not communicating your feelings forces them to draw conclusions on their own.

5. Worry

Anxiety often looks like worrying about the health of your relationship. That worry can grow into harmful stress as you imagine all the ways your relationship can fall apart, says Sommerfeldt, that keep you from being present.

6. Insecurity

In anxious relationships, one partner might project their insecurities onto their partner even if that insecurity isn’t a direct result of the relationship. So, if you think negatively about yourself, you’re likely to think your partner will too even if that’s not the case.

7. Loss Of Identity

“People lose their identity because they hang out [so often] with their significant other and they blend into one person,” says Sommerfeldt. “This usually happens in earlier stages of the relationship.” To keep your partner interested, you’ll mirror their thoughts and actions. And rather than maintaining your own self-worth, you’ll rely on them to bolster it for you.

Thing is, if you’re the type to feel anxious in a relationship, once you’ve melded with your partner, you’ll have a harder time pinpointing the anxiety. It’ll be harder to determine from which partner the anxiety is coming and how it started.

Losing yourself can cause stress and confusion in your relationship, says Sommerfeldt.

What is relationship anxiety?

What is relationship anxiety? – Relationship anxiety is when a person experiences persistent doubt, fear, or worry in a relationship. They may need constant reassurance or ignore their own needs and wishes to please a partner.

Doctors call this relationship anxiety, or relationship-based anxiety.

This article will explore the signs and causes of relationship anxiety, as well as some treatment and management options for couples.

What is it?

Relationship anxiety involves feelings of intense worry about a romantic or friendly relationship. Although health professionals are aware of this type of anxiety, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) does not include it.

Unlike other forms of anxiety, such as generalized anxiety disorder and panic disorder, doctors do not have specific guidelines to diagnose or treat relationship anxiety.

Relationship anxiety encompasses some features of social anxiety disorder. More specifically, both conditions can cause a person to experience significant discomfort about rejection.

Although many people may worry about acceptance and reciprocal feelings in a relationship, anxiety tends to develop when a person experiences excessive fear or worry.

For example, anxiety can lead a person to worry about the future of a relationship. People with relationship anxiety may end their relationships out of fear, or they may endure the relationship but with great anxiety.

The effects of this anxiety may hinder a person’s ability to function in the relationship.

Signs and symptoms

Researchers describe three common symptomsTrusted Source of relationship anxiety:

  • excessive reassurance-seeking
  • self-silencing
  • partner accommodation

The sections below will discuss each of these in more detail.

Excessive reassurance-seeking

Excessive reassurance-seeking is also common in social anxiety disorder and depression.

Some researchers suggest that excessive reassurance-seeking is related to interpersonal dependency. Interpersonal dependency refers to a person’s reliance on others for constant evaluation and acceptance.

People who exhibit excessive reassurance-seeking behavior may fear receiving a poor evaluation or not being accepted.


Self-silencing is another symptom shared across many mental health conditions. One study published in the Journal of Experimental and Social PsychologyTrusted Source showed that women who are sensitive to rejection may be likely to engage in self-silencing to please their partner.

People who self-silence may not express their tastes, opinions, or feelings to their partner — especially when these thoughts are different to those of their partner.

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What is relationship anxiety?

People tend to engage in self-silencing behavior to appear similar to those whose acceptance they seek, and in an attempt to prevent rejection.

Over time, a person may silence themselves and make sacrifices to preserve the relationship. However, this has the potential to lower relationship satisfaction.

Partner accommodation

Partner accommodation is a response from the other partner toward the anxious partner. This is a common effectTrusted Source observed in relationships where one or more people have obsessive-compulsive personality disorder.

Treatment and management

Some experts suggest couples therapy, such as couples-based psychoeducational sessions, to help treat and manage relationship anxiety.

In a study published in the journal Family ProcessTrusted Source, researchers tested the effectiveness of a single psychoeducational session. The session focused on addressing the patterns of behavior associated with relationship anxiety, including self-silencing, partner accommodation, and excessive reassurance-seeking.

The researchers found that after one session, partners with relationship anxiety had decreased levels of reassurance-seeking and self-silencing. The non-anxious partner also demonstrated lower levels of accommodation for the partner with anxiety.

Different typesTrusted Source of couples therapy include:

  • behavioral couples therapy
  • cognitive behavioral conjoint therapy
  • cognitive existential couples therapy
  • psychodynamic psychotherapy

Since relationship anxiety shares similar symptoms with other anxiety disorders, some doctors may suggest working only with the partner with anxiety.

Others might recommend treatments that are effective for anxiety disorder, including cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), acceptance and commitment therapy, and mindfulness.

Some studies have demonstrated a wide range of results following individual CBT. Researchers suggest that this response range may be associated with the level of hostility and criticism observed during some couple interactions before treatment.

Doctors may still ask the non-anxious partner to be part of the treatment plan. The role of the partner is typically co-therapist.

Some people may require medication. Drugs for anxiety include selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors and selective noradrenaline reuptake inhibitors.

Doctors do not yet have guidelines for treating relationship anxiety. Further investigations into this type of anxiety are necessary to better diagnose and treat it.


Relationship anxiety is a form of anxiety that health professionals may find challenging to diagnose and treat. However, many of the symptoms reported by people with relationship anxiety are common in other forms of anxiety.

Symptoms of relationship anxiety may include self-silencing and excessive reassurance-seeking. People with relationship anxiety may also crave acceptance from their partner and fear rejection. These symptoms can negatively impact the relationship over time.

Couples therapy and psychoeducation are different strategies that doctors may offer to people with relationship anxiety. In severe situations, some doctors may need to prescribe medication.