A new relationship should come with excitement, passion, and butterflies in your stomach, that unrealistic feeling of floating above all your worries and being armed with the power to conquer every last obstacle in your way.
However, when you start feeling like you want to throw up the butterflies and have an inexplicable sinking feeling in the pit of your stomach, something is amiss. A slight feeling of anxiety, uncertainty, and fear at the beginning of a new relationship is normal. After all, you don’t know where things are going to end up and you can’t control the outcome.
This is a typical feeling when going through the new experiences in life – a new relationship, a career change, a relocation to a different city or part of the world, an unexpected pregnancy, a business deal – basically anything that requires you to make a move outside your comfort zone.
Let’s get that out of the way. If that’s the type of anxiety you’re feeling in a new relationship, it’s okay. It will pass once you start to familiarize yourself with the changes and the new situation.
What type of anxiety is a cause for concern?
Are you experiencing any of the following when about to enter into a new relationship or already in a new relationship?
1. Heart palpitations
2. Irrational fear of loss
3. Unexplained sense of desperation
4. You can’t figure out why someone would like/love you
5. Unable to sleep
6. Negative thoughts about the end of the relationship
7. You’re needy and clingy
8. You practice the pull-push strategy with your partner – you want to be with your partner one minute but you’re pushing them away the next by creating conflict
9. You’re becoming controlling and possessive
10. You’re too sensitive about everything
None of these things makes you a bad person or someone no one should be in a relationship with. It just means you’ve been able to identify what these feelings are and once you know the what, you need to answer why and how to solve it in order to move forward and become the best version of yourself.
What would make you feel anxiety in a new relationship?
• If you’ve been single for a while, getting into a new relationship can cause some level of anxiety as you feel like you’ve been out of the dating scene for so long, you’re not sure what applies anymore.
• If you’re clinging to the memories of that guy who hurt you and it took you forever to put your broken heart back together, you’re eventually going to start projecting that onto a new relationship and you'll become anxious.
• You have low self-esteem issues. You don’t believe you’re good enough to be in a relationship with anyone so you hide parts of yourself. Eventually, fear of discovery will start raising your anxiety levels.
• Stereotyping an entire gender in a negative light based on what you’ve read, your friend’s experiences or what you’ve seen in a movie. Irrespective of all that, everybody is still an individual and you should approach a new relationship with that knowledge and get to know the person for whom they are. When you expect something to happen based on a stereotype, you become anxious and question everything when it’s not going as “usual”.
• Projecting your feelings from the negative family relationships in the past while growing up.
• You’re a commitment-phobe, whether a self-aware or a subconscious one. As a result, you pick through everything, trying to find fault, what’s wrong and why this person you don’t really know yet isn’t right for you.
• You allow negative people who reinforce stereotypes and negative experiences to imply that the outcome of your new relationship wouldn’t be any different. There’s a difference between people contributing friendly comments and people actively seeking you remain as miserable and unhappy as they are. Misery loves company.
If you don’t get a hold of these things, they will erode the trust, connection and communication in a relationship and drive a wedge between you and your partner. A patient partner who cares may try to wade through to figure out what’s wrong, but in a new relationship, there’s likelihood your partner will run away instead.
In any case, this is your problem to solve. You can talk to your partner about it but you shouldn’t place the burden of solving it on the shoulders of a new partner. This is unrealistic and will damage the relationship.
What can you do about new relationship anxiety?
Seriously. All those “what if” questions can’t change anything, now or in the later stages of the relationship. Let go of your need to control the outcome of the situation and just relax and live in the moment, for that moment.
You may need to reassess your expectations
If you’ve already drafted out the entire life plan of your relationship half way through the first date, your feelings of anxiety will heighten with every passing day if what’s happening isn’t matching the timeline in your head.
This seems so simple but be physically active with sports, gym, etc. Exercise is fantastic for reducing anxiety levels and helping you cope with the symptoms of anxiety while working on eliminating them mentally and emotionally.
Don’t neglect yourself and your life
Just because you’re in a new relationship doesn’t mean you should focus all of your time, energy and dedication to it. You will stifle your partner and you’ll begin to feel bad when he or she doesn’t react with the same level of vigor. How do you know you’re doing this? Refer to reasons 5 – 10 above.
Recognize that everything isn’t always about you
If your partner is displaying unusual behavior like withdrawal, for instance, it doesn’t mean they’re losing interest, dating someone else, cheating on you, or something along those lines. There could be many other reasons why they appear to be withdrawing (family issues, work issues or health issues). Have an honest, calm and rational conversation with your partner about things.
Listen to your feelings
If you start having any of the familiar feelings of anxiety, take a deep breath and step back – write, paint, go to the gym or take a walk. You may not be able to control the feelings but you can control your reaction to the feelings.
Be the driver of your life and reactions. Do not do crazy things like running after your partner, posting passive aggressive updates on social media, blowing up his phone with messages or sending off a 10-page cryptic laden email only you can decipher.
Use your improved and conscious awareness of the possible reasons you’re feeling anxiety in a new relationship in your favor. Be patient and learn how to manage your feelings. They will help you build a stronger and lasting relationship. And if this one doesn’t work out, it’s okay. That’s life. You'll feel better and more self-empowered to handle the next relationship.