Anxiety and Relationship Problems: Anger, Jealousy, Paranoia
Anxiety and relationship problems such as anger, jealousy, and paranoia frequently cohabitate. All relationships have difficulties now and then, but when anxiety is an unwelcome third wheel, problems can occur more frequently. Also, those problems can have a unique nature and way of intruding. Anxiety causes thoughts, emotions, and behaviors that hurt each person and the very nature and quality of the relationship. Relationship problems and anxiety can make sense when you recognize what’s happening, which means that you can use your knowledge to reduce those issues and repair your relationship.
Before we explore anxiety and relationship issues, it’s important to note that these troubles don’t occur because anyone is “bad” or behaving negatively on purpose but because both people are reacting to the anxiety that is dominating the relationship. With this in mind, let’s look at some ways these anxiety issues affect relationships and how to fix them.
Anxiety and Relationship Problems: Overthinking
Overthinking everything is one of the hallmarks of anxiety. Worries about the past, present, and future run through someone’s mind seemingly constantly, an effect known as rumination. Negative thoughts dominate how someone thinks, and ruminating over them makes them stronger.
Negative, anxious thoughts in relationships cause worries about the relationship, what-ifs, worst-case scenarios, and dread. These manifest as jealousy, anger, distrust, and paranoia. Challenges arise when people act on these thoughts.
Some examples of negative thoughts that contribute to anxiety and relationship problems:
- Fear of abandonment
- Beliefs that you’re not good enough for your partner because of anxiety
- Worry that your partner will find someone better
- Thoughts that you need your partner because you can’t do certain things on your own
- Thinking that you need to constantly check in with your partner
These anxious thoughts and others like them fuel anxiety and jealousy in relationships. Jealousy leads to trust issues, which can escalate to paranoia. Any of these thoughts and feelings can cause anger. All are barriers to a healthy, close relationship. Overthinking your worries and fears leads to another cause of problems: self-criticism.
Self-Criticism Contributes to Relationship Problems and Anxiety
Anxiety makes people critical of who they are, how they think, and what they do. Anxiety creates a critical inner voice that talks over everyone else. This inner critic makes someone with anxiety very hard on themselves, eroding self-esteem with its steady stream of harsh labels and negative thoughts.
This can make someone clingy, needing constant reassurance. If a partner isn’t present when needed, uncertainty, worry, suspicion, jealousy can set in. Where is the partner? What are they doing? Why aren’t they responding? Did they abandon the relationship?
Anxiety sabotages both people in the relationship by instilling self-doubt and making the anxious person turn against first themselves, then their partner. Trust issues lead to jealousy, anger and resentment. These thoughts, emotions, and beliefs lead to anxiety-driven behaviors.
Anxiety and Relationship Issues Cause Hurtful Behaviors
Distrust, jealousy, paranoia, and anger drive behaviors that increase relationship problems. Anxiety can lead to such things as:
- Constant calling and texting to check in
- Hovering to verify if someone is okay
- Continual criticism of each other
- Reacting in anger and exasperation
- Acting dependently
Some relationships are dominated by a certain theme. Anxiety and anger in relationships may be the biggest issue, with couples predominately experiencing jealousy, suspicion, and anger. Others may have a relationship that is colored by dependent, clingy behaviors. Others still have their own unique difficulties.
Whatever relationship problems are caused by anxiety, you and your partner can fix them.
Fixing Relationship Problems and Anxiety
Noticing and identifying anxiety-related issues is the first step in repairing your relationship. Learn to recognize when you’re overthinking and when feelings of suspicion, jealousy, self-doubt, or anger begin to creep in. These are normal human emotions. They become a problem when:
- You and your partner react to them rather than pausing to think and respond more rationally
- You don’t give yourselves a chance to calm down before talking through problems, which keeps stress and anxiety high and communication difficult
- You and your partner hold onto resentment, anxious beliefs, paranoia
Being fully present with your partner, mindfully pulling your thoughts away from the anxiety running through your mind and paying attention to your partner creates a much-needed shift and reconnection. When your partner does the same, you grow together.
Practice self-care and couple-care. When you each do things on your own to care for yourselves and induce calm, you’re more able to interact without intense anxiety intruding. Also, creating calming rituals that you can do as a couple encourages intimacy and feelings of love and belonging.
Fixing anxiety and relationship problems takes patience, time, and practice, but it’s well worth it. Together, you can build a caring relationship based on love, trust, and support instead of anger, jealousy, and paranoia.
Peterson, T. (2021, December 20). Anxiety and Relationship Problems: Anger, Jealousy, Paranoia, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2023, September 23 from https://www.healthyplace.com/anxiety-panic/relationships/anxiety-and-relationship-problems-anger-jealousy-paranoia