There are many external and internal factors in life that can cause anxiety, but one professional believes we may be overlooking what exactly is causing it in today’s world and how we can treat and prevent it.
Dr. Margaret Paul, a clinical psychologist with 50 years of experience, points her finger at romantic relationships as being the main source of people’s anxiety in the modern era.
“Romantic relationships are a major source of anxiety in our culture,” Dr. Paul told Medical Daily. “I have found that if people have one or more fears about being alone, they will usually seek out romantic relationships to escape their fear of aloneness.”
These fears can be generated from numerous sources, such as abusive childhoods, social anxieties, and fears of failure. The cause is not important; all that matters is that people seek out romantic relationships to make themselves feel better.
However, while these relationships may provide temporary relief, according to Dr. Paul it exacerbates their feelings of inadequacies—which result in further anxiety-inducing behaviours like jealousy, obsessing over the relationship, and low self-esteem.
“The more someone clings to a romantic partner in an attempt to feel better, the more anxious they become when they are not with that person,” she said. “As a result, they often become increasingly needy and demanding, which puts a lot of stress on the relationship.”
If you’re having relationship anxiety, you’re probably experiencing the following signs:
- A fear of being alone
- Obsessing over the relationship
- Insecurity about your partner’s feelings for you
- Constant worry about whether or not your partner loves you
- Jealousy of other couples
- Anxiety when separated from your partner
This is not to say that romantic relationships are all bad; on the contrary, Dr. Paul believes they can be extremely beneficial when approached correctly, but must first deal with your anxiety before you bring it into a relationship. “To make sure our needs are met in any relationship, we need to begin by looking within ourselves for what makes us feel good about ourselves,” she said. “When we focus on this, then our true needs (and those of another person) will meet.”
A healthy way to do this is through practising “self-parenting” skills which work similar to parenting skills, except instead of directing their focus towards children, they direct it inward. It works by accepting your feelings and thoughts without judgment or criticism, and then providing yourself with the love, understanding, and compassion you would offer to a child.
“This helps us to connect with our inner child, who is always longing for our acceptance and approval,” said Dr. Paul. “When we can give this to ourselves, it feels good and we no longer need to look for it outside of ourselves in a romantic partner.”
If you are struggling with anxiety in your relationship, or any other type of anxiety for that matter, it is best to seek professional help. A therapist can assist you in diagnosing the cause of your anxiety and provide you with the tools necessary to overcome it.
In conclusion, while romantic relationships can be a major source of anxiety, they don’t have to be. By working on yourself first and addressing the root of your anxiety, you can bring a healthy and happy relationship into your life.
What are your thoughts? Let us know in the comments below!