8 Ways Anxiety Can Ruin Relationships & How to Stop It

August 21, 2021

It’s probably not a surprise to hear that anxiety can be a relationship killer. If you have anxiety yourself, you know how it takes over all aspects of your life – from work to love.

The old you is driven underground, while your anxiety takes over. Your anxieties aren’t fun, loving, or caring. They only focus on one thing – fear. With so much worry and fear, it’s hard to build a strong, healthy relationship.

Or maybe you feel the other way – that anxiety hasn’t come between you and your loved one. Your mental health issues are all work-related anyway, and you don’t bring your work home with you. But is this true? It might be worth considering the subtle ways anxiety has begun to shift the agenda of your relationship.

There is an elephant in the room between you and your partner.  Read on to find out how anxiety may be ruining your relationship, but also how you can pull through it, for a stronger one.

1. Anxiety Lowers Sex Drive

Unmade Bedroom Morning with sunlight totally empty

Depression and anxiety can make sexual intimacy almost impossible. Your body is so focused on other emotions (stress, fear, worry) that your sex drive comes last. For women, especially, higher anxiety levels are commonly accompanied by lower sex drive. 

Sexual connection, for most of us, plays a crucial role in maintaining a deep connection between partners. If you’ve found over the last few weeks or months, that you haven’t been in the mood, have you considered if it could be related to your mental health? 

If you struggle to show intimacy, can no longer reach a climax or are turned off by sex – consider how your anxiety may be a culprit.

2. You are No Longer Fun and Spontaneous

The official definition of anxiety is “Excessive anxiety and worry (apprehensive expectation), occurring more days than not for at least 6 months, about a number of events or activities (such as work or school performance).” This constant state of worry makes it hard to try new things and be spontaneous. 

Last-minute plans, changes in schedule, and off-the-cuff adventures are fraught with fear. What if the taxi is late? What if the restaurant isn’t good? What if everything goes wrong? These “what ifs” are crippling, and can make even the most spontaneous person frozen and afraid to try new things. 

While not all relationships thrive off new and exciting experiences, a sense of adventure does help keep the spark in long term relationships. Anxiety and mental health concerns may have put a damper on your sparkle.

3. It’s a Trust Killer

Social anxiety, in particular, can insert itself in between two people. Social anxiety is the “Marked fear or anxiety about one or more social situations in which the individual is exposed to possible scrutiny by others.” It’s the constant worry about how others see you, including how your partner sees you. 

It can also make you highly suspicious about others. For example, maybe you’ve developed a suspicion that your loved one is cheating on you. Or, do you feel like they are no longer attracted to you? Anxiety leads you down a rabbit hole of self-doubt, which turns even the most trusting relationship into a fear-based one.

4. Anxiety Disrupts Loving Connection

If you are constantly battling your inner worry, it’s hard to work on anything else. Don’t forget; anxiety tends to seep from one area of your life into others. This anxiety-creep means even if your stress was initially work-related, it would soon have an impact on your relationship.

How can you focus on your love for someone else, when you struggle to love yourself? Your partner is likely also exhausted, trying to make the situation better. Suddenly both of you might feel like they are no longer in a relationship with each other – but instead with the anxiety.

5. You are Frozen in Fear

New experiences can be terrifying. Change in the daily routine may turn into panic. It feels safe to stay where you are, make no sudden movements, and avoid change. This inability to move forward or seek change can limit forward progression with your partner.

Maybe it’s merely a frustration on their part that you stuck. Perhaps you are worried to make significant life changes with them (moving, marriage, etc.). Either way, this fear is holding you back from real relationship growth.

6. Emotional Turmoil is a Relationship Constant

Woman's Emotional Struggle Showing Emotions of Woman Angry and Upset

Anxiety tends to take a life on its own. When it rears its ugly head, it takes all the air out of the room and makes everything hard. Every day becomes a battle to make it to the end. There is no time for fun and casual conversation; it’s always about your worry, fear, and trauma. 

After a while, no matter how caring a partner you have, it can start to take a toll. Emotional turmoil is exhausting for both you and your ‘better-half.” It can stand between you and the future.

7. Anxiety Blurs the Lines Between Areas of Your Life

Normally, its simple to keep work-related stress and relationship-related stress in two separate boxes. Sure, a terrible day at work might spill into a debrief over the dinner table, but there are few long term issues.

If you struggle with anxiety, though, this might start to change. Constant stress from work (or any other area of your life) infiltrates all other relationships. You aren’t just worried at work; you are now worried all the time. It can upend whatever work-life balance you had initially worked out. 

It’s also tough on your partner. They can often become the sounding board (or punching bag), as your anxieties spread into every aspect of your life.

8. It is Hard to Accomplish Your Everyday Responsibilities

Anxiety can make you so frozen in fear, or internally focused; you may start to neglect your responsibilities. Suddenly you can’t look after your kids, keep the yard tidy, or remember to pay the bills on time. You are totally preoccupied with mental and emotional survival.

In the short term; your partner may have the capacity to take on your responsibilities. But, what happens over the long term? If there is a month or years-long imbalance in workload, will your relationship last? 

Are You in a Relationship with an Anxious Person?

A few tips on how to help, and make life easier for someone dealing with anxiety. It is not your responsibility to heal them, but you can make the process easier by educating yourself.

You can make slight adjustments to how you communicate, plan, and love to make their road back to their usual self much smoother.


How Do You Stop Anxiety from Destroying a Relationship?

If you are reeling from the effects of anxiety on your relationship, remember, anxiety is entirely treatable. Treatment plans vary from person to person but may include medications, therapy, or a combination of the two. Making lifestyle changes can also play a crucial role in reducing your mental health issues, and reversing the effects on a relationship.

First, if you struggle to cope with mental health issues like anxiety and depression, don’t be afraid to speak with your physician. Talk to people, friends, family, and counselors. 

The more you open up, you’ll be surprised to find out that many people can not only empathize with you but relate through personal experience. Your family doctor can also point you towards valuable resources, including affordable and certified counselors.

Second, with the assistance of your counselor or therapist, you might consider making a few lifestyle changes. Maybe it means taking one night off a week to treat yourself or asking a family member to babysit while you and a partner get a long-awaited date night. 

It also might mean eating better, exercising, taking up meditation or yoga, or quitting your job. These decisions may only be minuscule adjustments or big-powerful shifts.

Third, if you haven’t already, open up to your partner about where your head’s at. Often, anxiety starts to change your relationship long before you realize it’s anxiety. For example, you may have become more withdrawn, angry, or short with your partner over the last few months.

It’s essential to open up the conversation with the one you love, to talk about how anxiety has been affecting you. Do not be afraid to ask them for help and support as you heal.

A Few Final Thoughts on Healing From Anxiety (and Improving Your Relationship)

Yes, anxiety can affect a relationship, but it doesn’t have to ruin it. Don’t forget – anxiety is treatable. 

  1. Speaking with professionals, including your physicians and a certified therapist are important steps towards getting back to your usual self. 
  2. You can also implement a few lifestyle changes to help reduce trigger points. 
  3. A final suggestion? Speak your inner truth to the one you love. Even the simple act of sharing your anxiety can help alleviate the burden between you. 
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