Relationship Tensions in Anxiety
Anxiety within relationships is common for a number of reasons but anxiety itself also has a big effect on relationships. I’m taking a brief look at relationship issues and anxiety from both these perspectives.
I guess it doesn’t take much to imagine the number of ways anxiety is generated from within a relationship. Tensions can exist over the nature of the relationship itself or any number of issues ranging from finances, children, relationship breakdown, illness or death in the family, caregiving or moving house and these are just a few of the things that come immediately to mind.
If we consider the effect anxiety can have on relationships, tensions can develop because of the amount of associated avoidance behavior. Very anxious people tend to have quite a limited sphere of activities that they feel comfortable with. It means the things a couple might normally do such as going on vacation, going shopping, meeting up with friends or visiting new places are often shelved. This means the person who isn’t experiencing anxiety symptoms can lose out in a big way.
The problem with anxiety is that it can ebb and flow. It isn’t uncommon to find that a vacation is planned and a hefty deposit paid only for the person to cancel at the last minute. Similarly, plans with friends can be cancelled almost at the doorstep. The effect of such behavior, even for a partner who is sympathetic, can be incredibly frustrating. This, and the strain on relationships from a person who constantly seeks reassurance and support can be enough to end a relationship altogether.
People who live with extreme levels of anxiety aren’t always blind to the effect they have on others. In fact they may well fear being abandoned by a partner and so compensate by trying to avoid conflict. The other side of the coin is the person who gets angry because of their fears and beliefs despite the fact there is no evidence to support them. This causes their partner to become upset and possibly angry and again puts a strain on the relationship.
Most people have a limit to the extent they are able to feel sympathy. Anxiety crises can bring out the best in us, but if the situation never resolves and the crisis repeats and repeats it becomes very wearing. For the sufferer the behavior of others who become less tolerant or unsympathetic serves to reinforce a sense of abandonment and lack of understanding. Yet, for family, friends or loved ones who have tried to help the problem for them can be just as acute. Everything they have tried to do seems to have failed. The reassurances they give seem to mean nothing and so they in turn begin to feel powerless and rejected.
In my next post I’ll be looking at ways we can address relationship problems in anxiety.