Am I Connected Enough to My Partner?

img_5422The connection question is one of the most common spikes that darts across the screen of my clients and readers’ consciousness when they’re struggling with relationship anxiety. Do we connect enough? Do we talk enough? What if I feel bored sometimes? Is there a meeting of the minds? Do we have enough chemistry? What is chemistry? What, oh what, is this elusive thing called connection that everyone keeps talking about and how do I know if we have enough of it?

In the throes of their relationship anxiety, they become tangled in the cobwebs of thought that want to analyze and mince apart the question of connection until it lays like a heap of shredded paper in their center of their mind. Alongside, “Do I love my partner enough?”, the connection question is a heavyweight in the world of the ego, that part of us that desperately attempts to find unequivocal answers to fundamentally unanswerable questions.

Once again, our culture fails miserably in its dissemination of its definition of connection. In fact, nowhere does the culture actually define connection at all; rather, through images and messages transmitted via the media we piece together a ratty definition of connection that says something like the following:

You must know immediately when you’ve met “the One.”

You must feel irrepressible sexual desire even years into the relationship.

You must engage in long, scintillating conversations that extend late into the night (preferably over a candlelit dinner or in front of the fire).

Here’s my definition: Connection is a sense of home and safety. It’s the person you long to be with when the world feels like it’s crumbling. It’s your safe base and your safe haven, the person to whom you have healthfully and securely attached even when your ego wants to pull you away and tell you otherwise. Of course, when anxiety is at the helm, it’s difficult to feel attached or secure anywhere and with anyone, but we’re talking about the baseline place beyond fear, the place beyond anxiety.

Another sign of healthy connection is having a foundation of friendship: you like each other, you enjoy each other’s company, and you “do life” well together. Basically, you make a good team, and at the core you both have the sense that the other has your back. This doesn’t mean that you like everything about your partner nor does it mean that you agree on every aspect of life. But when there’s a healthy, secure connection, you can ride through these differences and find your way back to your place of home together. Home is a word that often arises when I ask someone about their connection with their partner.

You can see that having scintillating conversation or mind-blowing sex have nothing to do with connection according to my definition! And obviously true connection has very little to do with physical or mental attraction (as the culture defines these attractions), or having all of the same interests, or having a thousand things to talk about. In this vast sea of the billions of people who inhabit this planet, it’s a miracle to find someone with whom you like enough and feel safe enough to attach securely. My clients often ask, “What if I’m with my partner because I’m attached?” to which I respond, “That’s a great reason to stay with your partner!”

And I can hear the anxious choir singing…

… But what if we have nothing to talk about?

… But what if we don’t have enough passion?

… But what if there’s someone else with whom I would feel more connected?

Again, this is the ego looking for the guarantee that your relationship will last, that you’re not making a mistake, that you will live out your days together and not have to suffer through a divorce. It’s understandable that you want to avoid pain; who, in their right mind, wouldn’t want to investigate all possibilities to make sure they’re making a smart choice from the start? But the bottom line is that we can’t avoid pain. It’s part of being human, and it’s certainly part of any intimate, longterm relationship. The stuff that makes a relationship last isn’t what the culture tells you it is. It’s feeling safe enough with your partner so that you can walk through the highs and lows of life together and face the dark and shadowy regions of your psyche and heart that will emerge by virtue of standing face-to-face and heart-to-heart with an intimate other. At the core are trust and safety. The next layer is friendship. If you have those qualities with your partner, you are blessed indeed.

As “heartchakra” on the Break Free From Relationship Anxiety course wisely wrote in response to the intelligence spike:

I came across this quote recently in an article that helped me with this issue of “is my partner smart enough”:

“Because most of our lives are not spent discussing the finer points of Proust, or the best way to fix the 2-party system, or the science behind String Theory… our time is usually spent talking about fixing up the house, raising our daughter, planning our next vacation, figuring out what we’re going to have for dinner, etc.”
 
I realized from this article that being with a man who is as cerebral and over-thinking as I am would be positively exhausting. (and when I am feeling connected to myself and rooted in love rather than fear, I kinda like being the smarter one). ?
 
My personal feeling after looking at older couples who have been together for 30+ years is that we would be wise to marry our emotional equal, not our intellectual equal, because life is not one big math test or spelling bee; it’s a journey of personal growth. And on that journey, especially for us HSPs, there are valleys and peaks, challenges and victories. We don’t need a partner who will be there to chronicle these moments for us alphabetically in a proprietary algorithm; we need a partner who will support us, laugh with us, celebrate wins with us and support us through the process. And I’ll bet all of your clients and readers are already with somebody who will do this (or does this) for them! I know I am.

What I know to be true without exception is this: There is no perfect partner. Where there is lack of conversation, there is stability in spades. Where there is an abundance of sexual sparks, there’s often an overload of volatility. You can go searching the land for your fairy-tale partner but you’ll never find that person because perfection doesn’t exist. We, as humans, are imperfect to the core. A perfect union is two imperfect people learning to tolerate each other’s quirks and idiosyncrasies and loving the places that synchronize easily. We meet at the heart, the place of home and safety, and then, over the course of many years, decades even, we strengthen our weak spots and temper the heat. This is the work and the blessing of a lifetime.

77 comments to Am I Connected Enough to My Partner?

  • Findingpeace28

    I totally needed this! Was spiked majorly by a breakup recently where the reasoning was lack of “connection.” This was my initial spike almost a year ago and I haven’t been too concerned with that word for months. Sometimes when I’m anxious, I have to rely on what I know instead of what I feel, because anxious feelings wrapped into an upcoming transition is not my guidepost. What I do know is that my fiancé and I work really well together, we’re there for each other through thick and thin, support each other, and care about each other’s well-being. He is my safe place, even if he doesn’t always know what to say, or fully “gets me,” he’s safe to be with and comforting. Connection, like love I believe, also grows in time. I’m also learning that whatever is “lacking” in my relationship is something lacking in me, and that missing piece needs to be filled by me. So hard! But I’m trying to have faith it’ll be so worth it.

  • I know you’ve been waiting for this post for a while! I’m glad it came at the right time, and it sounds like you’re gleaning the jewels you need from this work in order to grow.

  • Gen

    Hi Sheryl,

    What if you are a person who did not develop a secure attachment with your parents – you are anxiously attached – how can you be secure with your partner? And what if your partner is not securely attached?

    Thanks,

    Gen

    • You can absolutely develop secure attachment even if both of you are anxiously attached. Please read “Hold Me Tight” and “Love Sense” to learn more.

  • Marymolly

    Thanks for this blog. I found I was triggered by ‘are we friends?’ I got spiked by do I actually enjoy his company? I’ve been in anxiety so long not even sure. We have lifestyle and attitude differences. I think I sometimes focus so much on the differences that I can’t or won’t see the good.
    Today I was practicing feeling my feelings and thoughts. I was peeling layers and most times came down to fear of being abandoned and not feeling good enough.. Then I just loved myself for the fear, thoughts and projection. Amazing thing was I then felt so much love for bf, I just wanted to see him and kiss him, so I did. I then was spiked again, did exercise again and felt better.
    So I guess my lesson is to keep doing what was working.

  • Gen

    What if one is avoidably attached and another anxiously attached?

  • E

    Great read! Well put!

  • B

    Not going to lie, this spiked me! I realize I have to take responsibility for being spiked by this – but I also wonder of this can be grown? My partner is very different from me and so there’s a lot of miscommunication. He’s not so emotionally connected to himself and I sometimes get worried we don’t have the same values.

  • Angela

    Hi Sheryl,
    I have never felt more connected with anyone b4 other than my husband. I feel safe with him and I can be myself with him. I know I am in a healthy marriage, but sometimes i do feel the lack of sexual desire and I know its because im not feeling connected to myself. Great blog!

    • Being yourself and feeling like yourself with your partner is another key component of connection. Lack of sexual desire is SO common, and so complicated. The course is in the works :).

    • Hannah

      I also agree with this! I can be my total self and not have to worry my partner will judge me! Also, I have got a bit too comfortable and have put on a lot of weight, I know this isn’t good, but if your partner still loves you when you’ve put on weight and you felt that comfortable to not have to watch your weight whilst in the relationship, I think that shows how happy and safe you feel in the relationship!

  • Britt

    Amazing Sheryl,

    Thanks ?

  • Kirsten Schroeter

    Thank you!

  • Kelley

    Wow! I needed to see this article today more than ever– I have felt a lack of connection to my partner lately and it has spiked my anxiety to the core. It has really been affecting my life for the worst lately. I have been trying to give myself pep-talks because deep down I know how much I love my partner, and they seem to help tremendously. I have an going to continue to work really hard at not letting my fears and ego get to me, because I know that is what causes my anxiety episodes. This article came at the perfect time and I thank you for it.

  • Mswonderful

    Beautiful .. thank you

  • Kara

    Hi Cheryl I need help so I have been with this guy for two years he is amazing! I have had bouts of relationship anxiety and I feel like I don’t love him at all hair is the problem I feel like I was happier single he’s asking me to do things that would ultimately make my life better and I spike anytime the word marriage is mentioned. My ex , who treated me so bad was my world. I would do any and everything to prove my love and it was not enough. With my bf , he sees so much in me that I don’t see in my self. He encourages me to be better, loves me and my flaws. He purchased a home for me and my mom to be together! For some reason , I try and find faults in him, I nit pick fights/arguments with him and I don’t know why. I have tried to break up with him because I feel like I’m hurting him and he refuses. He said that he wants to work with me because he feels it’s fear whereas, I feel maybe we are not meant to be (even though we are the perfect couple) I need help. Any suggestions on your courses? Is this relationship anxiety???

  • Anne

    Sheryl, I can’t thank you enough for delivering these gems of wisdom and guidance. Your timing couldn’t be better. I am in the middle of your “Break Free” course and my boyfriend proposed a couple weeks ago. He’s the kindest man I’ve ever known and he handles my quirks and insecurities so well. Despite his good heartedneas, our mutual friends, and the fact that he’s a wonderful balance of all the qualities I’ve ever desired in a partner (smart but not pretentious, spiritual yet open minded, and adventurous but grounded), I’ve been consumed with anxiety about saying yes. What if that guy I briefly dated and had an amazing connection/chemistry with comes crawling back? What if there’s someone more outgoing and “exciting” out there for me? Do I even love him? Why didnt I have a falling in love or honeymoon period? Why do I have almost no desire to have sex? It doesn’t help that the wedding industry, media and our society have specific ideas for how one should feel once they’re engaged. And I can’t possibly share my concerns with friends. One mention of a gut feeling and faces drop. I may not have it figured out yet, but I do know, thanks to you, that I am an HSP and I need to be patient with myself and my fears. It’s comforting to know I’m not alone — and most likely not making the wrong choice.

  • LightAtTheEnd

    It’s a bit ironic, that in our attempt to avoid the pain of a divorce, and trying to gain certainty of a happy ‘forever’ partnership…we somehow bring a lot of sadness and anxiety in trying to work it all out. The process brings pain.

    I’m not someone looking for perfect. But I do question if I’m truly with my ‘perfectly imperfect’ match…I know that’s my ego essentially attaching to the same thing though. Is he my Mr Right. I appear to be addicted to Fantasies of what would it be like with different people??? Would I be happier with someone different?

    Whilst I try to work all this Relationship Anxiety out, I seem to sideline the very man right next to me. Available, ready and with his arms stretched out to hold me…

    Makes me sad to think my head, my fantasies are the very cause of my own pain!

  • worrier96

    That is exactly how i define connection too!

    My prolem is this:

    I used to feel that connection so strongly, it was amazing. It was wonderful and i was so happy. But when that first ever ‘what if i don’t love him?’ thought entered my mind and the anxiety begun, it’s as if it dropped out of my body completley. I’ve worked through a lot of my anxiety and thoughts, and i rarely feel anxious anymore but yet i still feel detached and disconnected. It makes me sad because I used to feel so attatched and so connected and wonderful, I would give anything to get that back. What steps can I take towards connection, Sheryl?

    • From what I understand about your inner work, you’re already taking these steps, but tell me what kinds of daily practices you’re engaging in: Do you journal? Meditate? Practice yoga or ecstatic dance? It sounds like you’re making your partner responsible for your “detachment and disconnection” and believe that those flat feelings in you are because of your relationship, yes? It’s your responsibility and yours alone to re-kindle your inner fire. Once you’re burning brightly from the inside out, you will feel open to your partner again.

      • worrier96

        I think i’m going to print this and put it on my mirror…this makes so much sense. Thank you Sheryl. You’re right, I’m not connected to myself at all really, and if i really think about it, it’s not just my partner i’m feeling disconnected from!

  • bumblebee

    I always feel disconnected everytime my partner call me stupid, sometimes when I make mistake in math he would insult me for being stupid, he said I should go back to the primary school, and I one day I changed my name on his phone without his permission with my lovely wife, he was angry and he said that I’m not even that charming… I was wondering what part of me who attracted to him.. maybe I should love myself more

    • Your partner calling you stupid and insulting you is NOT okay at all. In your case, your feelings of discontent and anxiety are pointing you to a real red flag that needs immediate attention.

  • Futureself

    Just beautiful. Thank you Sheryl.

  • Kate

    This came at perfect timing!

    Recently been struggling with me being on more of a spiritual path and I think that’s one day going to make me leave him because I’m changing all the time and I’m so different. He however supports all of this and encourages it even offers to read some books with me and get into it together and I still see this as it can’t work. My mum walked out on my dad and I think it’s something that’s not talked about. There is plenty of articles on ” my dad had an affair and now I don’t trust men” but what about if it was your mum? And you think ending the relationship is better than breaking his heart later on because she did that to your dad and you don’t believe in anything different? And when you think about changing your beliefs “I don’t want this” comes up.

    • Laura

      Kate, I too suffer from similar thoughts as my mum had an affair and walked out on my dad and my sisters. Although this was ten years ago and I was eighteen at the time, I still get those worries and concerns. If you would like to talk further let me know. I’m not a professional but perhaps it might help to chat to someone who has had similar experiences?

  • Always grateful for how tuned in you are to this message of love, security, and healthy relationships that you are guided to share. Your work has inspired me to to really see my fears and love deeply. It has also given an entirely new dimension to my clients and for that we are able to go deeper. Shortly after taking your course I started working with 3 clients who benefit from understanding about relationship anxiety. I also am feeling safer, more open and connected in my relationship. We plan on living together early next year! Thank you!

  • Sonakshi

    Hey there..I am back on this blog after many months..and I must say..this article is just what I needed..really..the word “connection” was causing havoc in my mind..I was going to have a talk with my bf about this today..that I am not feeling connected enough to him because he’s busy with work..though he takes out at least an hour for me each day..but now I realize..even though I’ll still talk to him about it..there’s also a lot of work I need to do with myself and my inner self..thank you so much Sheryl..you opened my eyes..again!!You are my goddess..

    • I’m so glad it came at the right time, Sonakshi, and that you can turn your attention inward to look for the source of the disconnection.

      • Sonakshi

        Thank you so much for being this amazing source of strength and enlightment for us Sheryl:)I indeed will work on myself..my bf deserves that effort..our love deserves that effort..and I feel everyone’s relationship here deserves it..

  • Sheryl thank you for the wisdom. May I say that as I choose to open myself up to the consistent choice (sometimes every hour of every day) to let go of my fantasies about what my relationship should be and what my partner should be doing, freedom to enjoy him for all he is shows up. And I find more compassion and caring for who he is as a human being. Men are raised to be tough; night in shining armor types. This is unrealistic. In order to be free and live in this moment we have to consistently check in and say; “breathe sweetie, look at all the good around you, choose life. You will be okay. It’s not the end of the world”. How would we soothe a frightened child? This is how we can learn to soothe our fears of abandonment. This is a constant checking inside one’s self for direction on how to BE. It is difficult at first to live in the moment by using self talk, and self soothing to calm the relationship fears, but it gets easier. And it will produce Peace and a much happier time together and apart. Most of our mindsets come from trying to get the love we missed out on due to having wounded parents. We can learn to be the loving parent to our own selves thus freeing our relationship from such fantasies and expectations.

  • alison

    Love love love everything about this post, this quote especially: “At the core are trust and safety. The next layer is friendship. If you have those qualities with your partner, you are blessed indeed.”

    It’s nice to be reminded of those basic things when I’m having an “off” day/week and I feel plagued by the greener grass syndrome. Guess I’m pretty blessed after all 🙂

  • Kathy

    I feel like I’ve been waiting for a post like this. I struggled heavily with the “connection” question very early in my relationship and several times I have been tempted to leave. I’m learning now that not every moment is a predictor for future behavior nor is it necessarily indicative of either of our unconscious wishes (i.e. just because we’re not talking into the wee hours of the morning doesn’t mean that there’s something fundamental missing from our relationship and we’re secretly not meant to be together). Forging connections has always been difficult for me, I personally am a very introverted person and I have trouble opening up to anyone, including my sisters with whom I consider myself to be very close to. So when I am feeling like my boyfriend and I are losing or have lost sight of each other I am training myself to first look inward and see if I’m off kilter in some way before I start nit-picking at all the things missing from my relationship.

    I guess in the end you take the good with the bad the best anyone can do is hope that they are with someone who is willing to do the same with them, and I do think that I am. Excellent post, you are seriously a balm for the soul.

    • Yes, what you’re describing is the work of conscious awareness and healing: “So when I am feeling like my boyfriend and I are losing or have lost sight of each other I am training myself to first look inward and see if I’m off kilter in some way before I start nit-picking at all the things missing from my relationship.” That’s it!

  • Katie

    Just want to say that I have been reading the posts on your website here for months now and before I found it, I thought there was something wrong with me or that my relationship was ending. I had no idea what was going on. Thank you for everything you are doing and making me feel a little less crazy!

  • Lailah

    Similar to the dichotomy of feeling disconnected from one’s partner pointing to disconnection from oneself — recently I was feeling “disconnected” from my husband. My chief complaint of disconnection was feeling not seen / listened to. (In some ways, literally – my husband vocally dislikes eye contact and he spends a lot of time on his smartphone. My scathing and self-righteous judgement: “How un-evolved!”) A few days ago we had a conversation prompted by something I showed him from Sheryl’s work. It turns out he had been approaching a certain aspect of our relationship completely differently than me – and his approach was incredibly loyal and loving. I’d had no idea. Plus, he was fully aware of my approach (which did not honor our relationship) and had completely accepted it, even though he didn’t like it. It turns out, I was the one not seeing HIM and not having listened to the little clues he’d shared over the years. As my deeply witnessing husband is showing me, seeing and listening don’t necessarily involve eyes and ears, such as in our culture’s snapshots of picture-perfect dinner conversation or therapy-style deep listening. Next time I feel un-seen by my partner I’ll ask if perhaps I am the one who’s not doing the seeing and the listening. Is there any evolving I can do? 😉

    • I love this, Lailah, especially “such as in our culture’s snapshots of picture-perfect dinner conversation or therapy-style deep listening.” What a limited view of connection we have, and perhaps even more limited the more immersed you are in the psychological world. Blessings to you. x

  • Loxa

    Hi Sheryl, thank you for this post.

    For me, the spike in anxiety comes from the idea of my boyfriend is my home and safe place, and that I would long to be with him when times are tough. I am in a new relationship – only 4 months so far – and we are both in our 40’s and used to being single. We both have deep friendships with others to whom we turn when we have difficulties in life. I am hoping that we could grow a sense of safety and common language between us so that we can be refuge for one another. His long term friendships with both men and women show me that he has the capacity for closeness. At this point, however, it is hard for me to imagine having with him the kind of comfort that “home” implies. I feel so envious when people say things like: my partner is my best friend, or that he/she is their most favorite person. I hope to feel that close to a partner one day.

    To try to build trust and grow as a person, In addition to working on acceptance of myself and him, I am constantly pushing myself to take risks and share more of my thoughts and feelings with him. Sometimes that goes well and sometimes his responses seem to just add fuel to the fires of anxiety. He often says, in response to my sharing feelings of vulnerability: “we’re just trying things out now, seeing how it goes. I’m trying with you and you’re trying with me. We have love and we’re just seeing if we will work.” This is totally reasonable and true (and he is not at all commitment shy), and yet is difficult because it keeps me in evaluation mode. I know all relationships are experimental works in progress at any stage, but foregrounding our relationship in these let’s-see-how-it-goes terms makes it hard for me to let go of the constant evaluative (intrusive) thoughts.

    I struggle with anxiety and panic in many areas of life, not just relationships, so it can sometimes seem as though my whole being is aflame. My impulse in those times is to isolate and work through things on my own. I took your Trust Yourself course and had a chance to speak to you about how disastrous it has been for me in to talk to people I’m close to about my struggles with anxiety. I have a lot of fear as a result of those painful experiences. My boyfriend is a kind person who is in touch with his feelings and perceptive of mine. He does sometimes make fun of me when I’m anxious and say things that make me feel like I can’t ask for his help in getting through the fear. I’m trying to share with him ways to communicate more effectively with me when I’m struggling, but he’s not always so responsive to my input. I’m also calling on myself to recognize that his responses don’t come from a lack of compassion, but are rather a combination of what he’s learned from his parents and other formative relationships in his life, and his instinct to protect himself from difficult feelings.

    These are my struggles on the path towards that oatmeal love you talk about Sheryl. I want that so much more than scintillating conversation or sexual fireworks. I want peace. I know that all I can really do it keep connecting to that well of self. Are there any other suggestions you have for an anxious oatmeal-seeker in this particular stage of feeling though the possibilities of a new relationship? Many many thanks.

  • Silver

    Digging around for the past couple of months and observing the things that is happening within the relationship. I don’t know how everything works in a relationship but I am learning. My anxiety always spikes when commitment or marriage is being talked about, I’m confused, don’t feel like settling down right now. I keep living in what the society or everyone thinks about me. don’t know who am I, what do I want in my life. I’m at a place where I’m constantly looking for attention or appreciation from other people. But I have a problem building close relationship with my family and to my partner. I don’t want to admit that I’m weak, that I am wrong, I don’t even rely to my partner like we are not in a relationship, I control the time that I spend with her, keep doing things like silent treatments whenever I make a mistake instead of apologizing and lowering my pride. I said to her that I fear of dropping the relationship at somepoint and keep questioning the relationship every hour everyday. I always try to leave the relationship even hurting my partner. I always think also that love suppose to be easy and you should fall head over heels to the one you love. I think that I love the idea of my partner not her because I turn hot and cold against her and learning how to love waiting for someone else that I really want to be with. I’m also frustrated at my partner knowing that something inside me needs attention or something that I’m not used at, or something that I’m avoiding. I used to run away from conflict and all the hard work. But yesterday I stumbled something about Narcissistic personality which ignited my anxiety and made me lose hope in changing and helping myself.

  • bumblebee

    Thanks Sheryl for the answer, I’ve set the boundaries and he apologized to me

  • Newly Married

    Hi Sheryl do you think that you can cultivate a sense of connection and safety with your partner over time too? just like you can do that with love?

  • Newly Married

    If you never had that sense of safety and trust, can you develop that?
    Its not based on whats happening now but whats happened in the past? I spoke with you about that, can you still work with that to develop safety attachment?
    We have a wonderful feeling of friendship, cores values and we work great as a team, i just get very scared but i think its my wounded self keeping him at arms length, but then i wonder if we can develop that too and work through it together through the years?
    I do trust my husband would never do anything to hurt me, maybe its just my attachment style that attaches to the story its not really our relationship?
    Thank you

    • Yes you can absolutely create that and work through the past experiences that are causing you to have difficulty trusting and attaching. But it requires work!

      • Newly Married

        Thank you so much!!! Yes thats the work right? healing and growing it doesnt matter where I go I would find that because part of it its recognizing that its not him anymore and I would be anxious everywhere and I would feel like this no matter where I go too in one way or another.
        Thank you so much 🙂

  • Britt

    To all my fellow anxious friends here on this site. I’m so grateful I never abandoned my partner or my relationship. This song means the world to us both. Please listen to it https://youtu.be/qjsQsmZ23VM

    • Britt

      There’s nothing more that I would have that I could need
      Cause having this means that I’ve got it all
      When I was taking turns and you were wrong for me
      You chose to understand and let it go

      And ohhh
      You’ve turned this black heart made it into gold
      So I wanna let you know that

      My love and my touch, up above is made with the warmth of my,
      My love and my touch, up above is made with the warmth of my love
      Looovve

      Control is such an open-ended word for me
      Something that I used to think I owned
      I’m standing here with none, I’m feeling so complete
      You helped me understand to let it go

      And ohhh
      You’ve turned this black heart made it into gold
      So I wanna let you know that

      My love and my touch, up above is made with the warmth of my,

  • MDH

    Sheryl,

    I’ve been scouring your blog almost daily since I discovered it a couple months ago. It’s been a lifesaver for me…you’ve shown me that I am not alone. After a decade of frustration with relationships, each following a very similar pattern (as I describe below), I now have some hope that I am not beyond help.

    My struggle, though, still lies in the “gut feelings.” As an example: over the past several months I’ve had a surprising connection with a coworker – a connection as you describe above, where I’ve felt “safe” with her. We laugh at everything, have loads of inside jokes, chat about life-stuff for hours, I feel like we work very well together, and…I like her. Anyway, I haven’t pursued anything beyond friendship because we’ve both gotten out of relationships within the past month. Maybe more so because as of last week I was hit with all sorts of contrary feelings regarding her: knot in the stomach, hot/cold chills, a strong desire to get away. This broke whatever connect I felt I had. At first, I could remember what our connection had been and that gave me hope. Now, though, those memories seem to be slipping and I cannot completely move past these…parts of me that seem to resist her. Sometimes I’ve made it past the anxiety but I’m still left with the solid knot in the stomach. That makes me wonder if this is one of those times when the gut is actually right.

    I have been going to therapy over the past several months for this very issue. My therapist has been using the Family Systems model which has been a huge help in minimizing the urgency to respond to strong emotions. However, I would greatly value any initial thoughts you may have.

  • Izzie

    Hi Cheryl,
    I’ve been reading your wonderfully reassuring, insightful posts for a few weeks now and they’ve helped immensely with my struggles with relationship anxiety. At times I worry that they shouldn’t apply to me because you talk a lot about marriage and engagement whereas I’ve only been with my boyfriend for 5 months, (who is a deeply passionate, loyal, loving man, I’ll add– and even writing that my brain is like “do you really believe that or are you saying that because it’s what you want to believe?” Typical!). After a long, emotionally abusive “relationship” with a guy in my late teens (I’m 22 now), I shut myself off from every form of romance and intimacy for three years until I met my current boyfriend, and I’ve been finding my transition from a long spell of self-isolation to getting into a healthy, serious relationship and suddenly spending every day with somebody who cares about me exceptionally difficult. Rationally, I know it’s in my best interests to stay with someone I really get on with, am attracted to, and loves me deeply as it is an opportunity for personal growth and healing, but something inside me keeps trying to come up with reasons to pull away from him and my experience of that is often very distressing. However, your blog is enlightening me to what is really going on inside and that I have a lot of inner work to do. My hope is that one day I’ll pull together enough money to try one of your courses, but for now (purely because I’m a student and my therapy is free), you inspired me to start counselling again so I can get help discovering the roots of my anxieties and begin work on strengthening the better parts of myself so I can enjoy and appreciate my first healthy relationship (without the fear that I’m going to wake up one morning wanting to leave!) I just wanted to share my story and thank you for the work you’re doing, it’s truly, truly appreciated. 🙂

    • The Break Free course would be great for you when you can afford it, and I’ll be offering a Gratitude Week discount starting next week. My early work was more focused on the engagement and wedding transition but it has evolved for several years to include all relationship anxiety, which can start at date one. You’re in the right place!

  • A

    I never had anxiety before getting married? Does that mean it’s caused by marrying the wrong person? Also, what if my husband doesn’t MAKE me happy?? ?

    • A

      Feeling more discouraged today. Hopefully someone can give me some positive feedback.

    • Anxiety can hit at any time: first date, two months in, engagement, after the wedding, 10 years into the marriage. The work is the same. And it’s not your husband’s job to MAKE you happy!

  • A

    I just don’t have the money for the course right now.

  • Britt

    Hi Sheryl,

    I’m posting a comment under this article, because it seems that the other one is protected. Do I need to pay to view it?

  • linda

    hi i was is you have an article on how to deal frustration that we cause our selves and we end up blaming our partner? in the moment ill be so frustrated thinking its their fault ec than after calming down realizing it wasnt anything big at all ! or it was my fault but in the moment i dont realize it! it eats me up inside knowing that i do that to my bf who is very loving and patient 🙁 if their is any article that could possibly guide me in the right direction on not putting the blame / happiness on him and realize that i am the one with the problem and i control my own happiness / anger
    thank you

  • linda

    wondering if you have *

  • Sharyn

    Hi Sheryl,
    I am an hsp but managing well atm. It is good when people accept what they are and work with it. Humans are complex as you say.I often ask myself now the question: Are you anxious? And then I know I am and automatically I feel a shift and then I know what to do: read your articles and bring my thoughts back to me. Thank you Sheryl. Sharyn.

  • Tatjana

    Beautiful post, Sheryl!