What you need to know:
- The dictionary defines anxiety as “a feeling of worry, nervousness, or unease about an imminent event or something with an uncertain outcome.”
- The key concepts here are the feelings related to uncertainties that may or may not be backed by facts.
Consider this scenario: Mercy is in a committed relationship with her childhood friend. She believes that she is fortunate because all the girls in their neighbourhood fancied him. The fact that he chose her over his other admirers gives her a great deal of satisfaction.
However, as they begin to plan their wedding, she begins to become anxious about how free her boyfriend is with her girlfriends, who are in the planning committee — she and her husband grew up with most of them.
She grows more anxious at the thought of raising the issue with him for fear of appearing to be insecure or petty or ruining their wedding plans.
In the end, she does nothing. Her anxiety soon starts to manifest in constant headaches, particularly during the committee meetings, irritability, fatigue, and insomnia.
These changes begin to have a toll on the relationship and she can hardly perform the tasks delegated to her.
Mercy is suffering from relationship anxiety.
What is anxiety?
The dictionary defines anxiety as “a feeling of worry, nervousness, or unease about an imminent event or something with an uncertain outcome.”
The key concepts here are the feelings related to uncertainties that may or may not be backed by facts.
Why relationship anxiety? This form of anxiety is justifiably labelled because of the all-encompassing nature of relationships and the heavy emotional investment that people make in them.
Further, this investment is not just for that moment, but a culmination of all the dreams and fantasies that we build from the day we discover the opposite sex.
And just like the excitement of love is difficult to hide, so is the anxiety generated when love is threatened.
How to deal with it
Too much anxiety is dangerous, as the case in our example shows.
It has mental, psychological, as well as physical repercussions that can stand in the way of a happy relationship.
Couples should, therefore, learn skills that can help to reduce anxiety in their relationship. These include:
Identifying the cause: A key source includes loss of trust, which creates anxiety about the future of the relationship.
Another is worry about our role in the relationship, again based on many individual reasons.
Sometimes, anxiety is amorphous, without any discernible cause and taking no specific direction, yet it still weighs down people and hurts relationships.
Whatever the sources, real or perceived, it is important to zero in on the cause so that we can address it and, therefore, reduce anxiety.
Improve communication: Mercy, in our case study, did not know how to communicate her concerns in a way that her boyfriend would understand.
By being unable to do so, she created more anxiety in herself and destabilised the very relationship she was trying to protect.
Act: When you feel that you have figured out the problem, then do something about it. Mercy, in our illustration, failed to act even when she began to experience internal and external responses to her anxiety, causing her to sink deeper.
A level of anxiety is expected in a relationship, so you should not be too concerned every time you feel that anxious tag in your heart. However, if it becomes a constant companion, do not ignore the red light.