Relationship Anxiety: What are my butterflies telling me?

Learn about the different ways relationship anxiety manifests itself and how you can tell the difference between butterflies of love or butterflies of anxiety.

Have you ever been so in love that you experience a flutter of butterflies in your stomach? Yes, this could be a sign of being in love, but often these butterflies may actually indicate anxiety.  

Many of us experience relationship anxiety at the beginning of a relationship. However, sometimes, this anxiety can seep through at later stages. This is of course normal and to be expected. But, if this emotional state impedes growth in our relationships or affects other areas of functioning, it may be problematic. 

Simply put, relationship anxiety extends to constantly worrying about or questioning yourself, your partner, and the relationship. It may take the form of overthinking, insecurity, doubt, a need for validation, withdrawal, and sometimes, a loss of identity. 

11 Signs of relationship anxiety

  1. Wondering if your partner cares for you
  2. Doubting your partner’s feelings for you
  3. Worrying if your partner wants to leave you
  4. Expecting something to go wrong
  5. Questioning your compatibility for each other
  6. Avoiding relationship milestones
  7. Comparing your relationship to others 
  8. Searching for reasons to terminate the relationship
  9. Reading into your partner’s words and actions 
  10. Sabotaging the relationship 
  11. Clinginess 

There are a few speculations about the causes for romantic anxiety. The most prominent ones include former relationship experiences, low self-esteem, and type of attachment style.

Learning How to Cope With Relationship Anxiety

Addressing romantic anxiety requires time and effort. Literature suggests the following practices: maintaining your identity, practising mindfulness, implementing self-soothing methods, focusing on effective and honest communication, and talking to a therapist. Specifically, it is recommended to engage in activities that manifests and boosts self-confidence, which may help in controlling impulses in searching for validation, building a stronger sense of self, and decreasing anxiety. 

In addition, a therapist can help you to build effective communication skills so as to articulate your concerns to your partner more honestly and openly, as well as, examining core beliefs so as to uncover the underlying factors to your anxiety. Lastly, inform yourself on what makes a healthy relationship by reading current literature, and explore what type of relationship you truly want.

If you’re struggling with relationship anxiety, remember that you’re not alone and there are ways to cope. Contact us if you need more support.

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