How do I get over relationship anxiety
Afraid of a relationship? This is how you deal with panic of love
The relationship was just good, then everything goes too fast for him. We explain what goes on in people with relationship anxiety and how you (maybe) can still lead a happy partnership.
What is fear of attachment?
Fear of attachment is the fear of being attached, logically. People who have this fear shy away from forming close bonds. You live as an "eternal bachelor" or after a short time you flee from a seemingly happy relationship. There are many reasons for fear of attachment. Fear of attachment is more than just having a few doubts about a new attachment. If a person fails repeatedly to enter into a long-term partnership, although he wants to, there is probably more to it than that.
The deep fear of closeness can have various reasons. It can be due to negative experiences in the past, childhood trauma, or psychological problems. Instead of getting involved in a new relationship, it is perceived as threatening. The fear can even manifest itself through physical symptoms such as tension, anxiety, or panic attacks.
Affected people are often not aware that they suffer from fear of attachment. They move from one brief relationship to the next and think they just have to find the right one - then everything will be fine. And the current partner quickly becomes an ex-partner.
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Instead of working on their own fear and learning to allow closeness, people who fear commitment flee or sabotage their new love through unfounded arguments or unreliability. Other people, on the other hand, fail to open up and let go of the relationship. Despite the solid relationship, they behave aloof - and that out of pure self-protection.
Relationship anxiety can become a problem for both sexes. But the signs of fear of attachment are often different in men and women. Men tend to stay single or only enter into non-binding affairs. If the relationship becomes more serious, they flee, even if everything else is going well.
Women are more selective when it comes to choosing a partner, insist on a lot of freedom in the relationship, choose a long-distance relationship or an affair with an already married partner. You fall in love with people who are unreachable.
Why are people afraid of relationships and how does fear of attachment arise?
The fear of the relationship is also a fear of one's own feelings. If there is a great fear of closeness, the causes can often be found in early childhood. If a child is abused, abused or abandoned by the caregiver, this leaves deep traces. Instead of experiencing physical closeness and love as something beautiful, babies and children learn about the love of their parents as something dangerous. Then, in adulthood, people fear that their feelings will be hurt or that the loved one will abandon them.
Fear of attachment also manifests itself as fear of loss of freedom and restrictions. The causes can also be found in childhood. The psychologist and book author Stefanie Stahl sees one possible reason in the fact that the parents' love was linked to too many expectations.
Disobedience in childhood was followed by withdrawal of love so that the child would bow to the parents' expectations. On the other hand, it is also possible that those affected experienced a very sheltered childhood and had little freedom. In adulthood, those affected experience love for their partner as something threatening. You try with all your might never to be emotionally dependent on someone again.
Stefanie Stahl distinguishes three types of people with relationship anxiety in her book "Bonding Anxiety": the bricklayers, the princes and the hunters. The masons keep their partner at a distance with a wall, while the princes are forever looking for the right one. The hunters, on the other hand, quickly lose interest in a new partnership as soon as they have won it for themselves.
Mild forms of relationship anxiety can arise from previous relationships. If a person has been hurt or abandoned by the great love, this person can find it difficult for a long time to get involved in a new relationship.
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How is it that men are afraid of a relationship?
Many men have relationship fears - and are not even aware of this fear. You are looking for the right one or you will enjoy your freedom for a long time. The cause of the inability to lead long-term partnerships often lies in a broken mother-son relationship.
The psychologist Stefanie Stahl is of the opinion that more men than women are affected by fear of attachment. This can be due to social factors. Girls are raised more strongly than boys to have harmonious relationships. Boys, on the other hand, are more likely to be encouraged to suppress negative feelings.
It is possible that affected men experienced their own mother as distant or dismissive in childhood. As an adult, you want to avoid being hurt again by a woman in your life by not allowing your own feelings in the relationship and by keeping a certain distance.
However, relationship anxiety can also arise from experiences with dominant and ruling parents. As a child, those affected felt restricted and controlled; as an adult, they love their freedom a little too much for that. In addition, men tend to be less likely to question their behavioral patterns. So often they are not even aware that fears are a reason for the failing relationships.
Why are women afraid of relationships?
Women show relationship fears differently than men. They are extremely picky about their partner or are looking for relationships that have no future prospects. Most women have already copied the behavioral patterns of relationship anxiety from their mother and father when they were toddlers.
If girls experienced their mother as loving and independent, men can consider themselves lucky at the side of the adult woman. However, if the mother was dismissive in childhood or even abused her daughter, she learned very early to put her own needs aside.
Women then also show this unhealthy relationship style in their love relationships. They keep their distance, do not allow closeness or show no feelings. The partner never knows whether his partner still feels love for him or whether he will pack her bags again the next day. Other women feel unlucky and keep falling in love with unreachable partners. They have affairs with married men or fall in love with people on the other side of the world.
But childhood is not always to blame: bad experiences in previous relationships also make women cautious. Especially if they have experienced physical or emotional violence in a previous relationship.
How does a person with fear of attachment behave?
People with relationship anxiety can show this fear in different ways: They avoid emotional closeness or only have short-lived relationships. They fall in love quickly and flee shortly afterwards. Or they enter into a committed relationship that they never fully get involved with.
Those affected are stuck in a closeness-distance dilemma. Because most people long for closeness and a stable partnership. But in contrast to people with a healthy relationship style, people who are afraid of commitment can hardly stand being close.
You feel constricted, oppressed and even suffer from physical symptoms such as sweating, racing heart or panic attacks. In order to protect themselves, they then flee from the situation that leads to the uncomfortable feelings. Your fear of injury is greater than the desire for a stable partnership.
A person with attachment anxiety may exhibit one or more of these behaviors:
- Affected people do not or only rarely enter into a close relationship and prefer to live as single, have affairs, have open relationships or hunt for one-night stands.
- Relationship anxiety people are very picky and only want to have a relationship with a perfect partner.
- You choose unreachable partners, such as married men, long-distance relationships or workaholics.
- After a harmonious initial phase, they quickly lose interest in the new love.
- People with fear of attachment often end relationships after a short time and for no apparent reason, only to start the next relationship a short time later.
- In a committed relationship, they never fully open up. They avoid closeness, do not allow feelings, do not affirm their love and maintain a certain distance even after a long partnership.
- Some people still insist on separate apartments for years and are afraid of giving up their independence and freedom.
- If they feel threatened by the emotional closeness, people with fear of attachment could react coldly and dismissively to evidence of love.
- If the fear gets out of hand, they start an argument for no reason or sabotage the relationship in order to escape from the negative feelings. The fear is greater than the desire for a relationship.
- The other partner never knows where he is with a partner who is afraid of attachment. People with fear of commitment rarely commit themselves and do not want to make plans for the future.
If one or more of these behavior patterns occur again and again, the relationship anxiety could doom not only this, but also the next relationship to failure. However, only a trained psychotherapist can determine whether you or your partner really suffer from attachment anxiety.
Is it normal to be afraid of a relationship?
Doubt before starting a new relationship does not mean that you or your partner are unable to relate. To some extent, the fear of a new relationship is normal. Especially if you had bad experiences in your last relationship.
If you or your partner simply cannot overcome the fear of closeness and if the distance behavior repeatedly leads to tension and problems, fear of attachment is a possible reason for the behavior. So if your relationships fail over and over again, see the possible cause not only in the behavior of your partner, but also analyze your own behavioral patterns. Most of those affected are not even aware of their fear of commitment.
How do I overcome the fear of closeness?
The first step in overcoming relationship anxiety is to recognize it. In the next step, you can then analyze your own behavior and take concrete steps to overcome the fear of closeness and strong bonds. Therapy can help with coming to terms with it.
You can take these steps to overcome attachment anxiety:
- Find out what exactly you are afraid of: Is it the fear of being abandoned? The fear of losing your freedom? Afraid of emotional hurt from partner? Or the fear of emotional dependence?
- Analyze your feelings: Why are you afraid of certain situations? Is this fear a realistic fear?
- Pay attention to your own needs: What do you want in a partnership? How can you implement these wishes in your partnership?
- Talk to your partner: You can express your feelings, fears and needs in an open conversation with your partner. This not only helps your partner to understand your and his behavior better, it also gives your partner the chance to convey security to you.
- Do therapy: During therapy you can work through trauma from childhood and dissolve fears. With the help of a trained therapist, you will recognize the relationship-damaging behavior.
If the love for your partner is strong, it is worth fighting for it and breaking old behavior patterns.
My partner is afraid of commitment - what can I do?
If it is your partner who suddenly no longer allows closeness after many beautiful moments at the beginning, you are in a difficult situation. However, if you recognize his fear of commitment, you can take action yourself: Make sure that your partner feels safe.
This is easier said than done, because often the partners of people with relationship anxiety are very insecure. You never know whether the partner still loves you and whether the relationship will last. Any positive experience is overshadowed by doubts in the relationship. The insecurity then leads to the fact that partners of people with fear of attachment question their own worth or cling to their partner out of fear of loss. But that's the biggest mistake you can make with someone who is relationally anxious.
Instead, it gives him security without restricting him. Accept your partner for who they are. Confess your love to him without waiting for an answer. At the same time, give him the freedom to spend his free time without you. In this way, you show your partner that closeness does not have to mean restriction at the same time.
If the situation is difficult for you to endure, seek open conversation without reproaching your partner. However, your partner must also take action himself to overcome his fear of attachment. In this step, therapy can help to process the fears.
How do you overcome fear of attachment?
In addition to realizing that you or your partner suffers from attachment anxiety, therapy can help to overcome it. With therapy, those affected can find out the cause of their fears, analyze their relationship-damaging behavioral patterns and learn to deal with the fears more constructively.
Together with a therapist, those affected can then develop alternative strategies that can be used instead of the escape from the relationship or the distance behavior. However, it is not easy to come to terms with old childhood traumas and fears.
Ask your partner for patience, but be open to them on the other hand. Perhaps you have the courage to let your partner participate in your emotional life for the first time so that your partner can understand you better.
Fear of attachment - when is a separation advisable?
If you suffer from fear of attachment, analyze your separation thoughts well. You have to distinguish whether you are taking the step of separation out of fear or because the relationship is no longer working. On the other hand, if you are the partner of someone affected, pay attention to your own needs.
As a relational person, you should first consider what might have triggered the separation thoughts. Perhaps you are afraid of not being good enough for your partner or you suddenly feel constrained by a request from your partner?
Talk to your therapist about the thoughts or seek open conversation with your partner. Do not make your partner insecure with their separation plans, but rather speak openly about your fears and needs.
If you are in a relationship with someone who is relational anxiety, the relationship can sometimes be like a roller coaster ride of emotions. You don't know whether your partner still loves you or will leave you in the next moment.
If you do not take the step of separation lightly: If your partner tries to overcome the fear of attachment and break old behavior patterns, your relationship has a chance. Be patient and have open conversations. However, if your partner is not aware of any guilt and he or she does not want to work on the distant relationship, a breakup can be the better way for you.
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