Relationship Anxiety and the Million Dollar Question

BreakFreelogo_templateIt’s the question that wakes you up on the middle of the night. It’s the question that gnaws at your gut and makes your stomach drop with roller-coaster fear. It’s the question that Googled you to many sites and articles that confirmed your biggest fear, and ultimately led you here, to my virtual doorstep. It’s the question: Is my anxiety/doubt a evidence that my truth is that I’m with the wrong partner or does it mean something else?

The culture says: Doubt means don’t. It’s as simple as that. The culture, by which I mean mainstream films, articles, blogs, and the ephemeral message that travels through the ether of the collective unconscious, says that if you’re feeling anxious about your relationship – anxious that you don’t love your partner enough or don’t have that magic spark or aren’t attracted or… – it’s clearly and obviously because you’re with the wrong person. When you search for reassurance you usually find that your anxiety is amplified tenfold. When you dare to talk to people you trust, risk to share the innermost fears that are lurking in your mind, they, too, are mouthpieces for the mainstream and do little to reassure you. Nobody wants to come right out and say, “If you’re having so much doubt maybe you should leave,” but sometimes they do. And then you go home and cry.

You cry because you don’t want to leave your loving, healthy partner. You cry because you don’t want to leave the one person with whom you feel safe and secure. You don’t want to leave that sparkly smile, the undercurrent of ease that keeps you afloat (even if it’s not always easy). Something keeps you in. Something prevents you from running. Can you trust that something? The anxious voices fed by the culture pipe up in loud chorus, as they have a lot to say about that: “You’re only staying because you feel safe! You’re only staying because you’re scared to be alone! You’re only staying because you’re scared to hurt him/her!”

The culture says doubt means don’t, but those who are steeped in the world of intimate relationship say something entirely different. Those of us – clergy, therapists, seasoned couples who view marriage as a crucible – who walk these slippery and tricky terrains every day, who dive into the deep waters where the unconscious stories and fears live, know that when anxiety shows up in a loving, solid relationship it’s an invitation to grow.  And we know how tricky and convincing anxiety can be. We know that it can throw every roadblock in the book at you to try to convince you to leave. We know that fear is one of the sneakiest opponents of the mind we will ever encounter, and that love and fear live in the same chamber of the heart (grief lives there, too). We know that nearly everything you’ve ever learning about love, romance, attraction, and sex is based on false fantasy and faulty information that, when followed, lead to unstable relationships.

We know that if you want to have a loving, stable relationship, you have to fight for it. You have to learn how to work with your thoughts and feelings effectively. You have to learn how to show up for yourself in a solid, loving way, perhaps for the first time in your life. You have to be committed to deconstructing the fantasies you’ve absorbed over a lifetime of living in a culture that upholds the romantic ideal as the pinnacle of love. You have to steep yourself in accurate information, swim in a sea of loving voices who will support you as you struggle to stay afloat, and learn effective practices that will not only help you break free from relationship anxiety and intrusive thoughts, but will help you navigate through the rest of your life with grace and confidence.

This is what those of us who walk in the world of two psyches colliding know well. And this is what I’m thrilled to share with you through my new course, Break Free From Relationship Anxiety. The course is now available. Your freedom and clarity await.

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P.S: If you’re wondering about the difference between Break Free From Relationship Anxiety and Open Your Heart (the next round starts on October 24th), please click here.

54 comments to Relationship Anxiety and the Million-Dollar Question

  • Awesome!! Summarises it all so beautifully. I’ll be sharing this with our blog followers!

  • Brooke

    Thank you for this post Sheryl, your words always comfort me! I also just wanted to say to anyone who is going through relationship anxiety to keep fighting! I suffered with terrible anxiety for 5 months, last summer. I fought through it and a year later I am still with my same partner and feel closer to him than ever. You CAN get through this too. I still get bouts of anxiety every now and then, but not nearly as bad. I just hope to encourage everyone who’s going through this to keep fighting and follow Sheryl’s advice. Notice the anxiety, but don’t be afraid of it, don’t google, don’t argue with it. Just listen, say a prayer, keep busy, cry if you feel like it, and reassure yourself that it will pass. And I encourage you to spend time with your partner. Do things together, keep them close! I just wanted to say that you can get through this, don’t give up, it will get better. And thank you again Sheryl, your articles have helped me in so many ways, I am truly grateful.

    • Thank you, Brooke. This is wonderful to hear. x

    • Elisabeth

      Brooke, thanks for your words. “Just listen, say a prayer, keep busy, cry if you feel like it, and reassure yourself that it will pass.” I definitely struggle with relationship anxiety and sometimes I even get nervous when I see my husband. It’s all so odd and weird and we are newly married. I think I’m going to go on a run in the Georgia rain this afternoon and let myself cry a bit to get it all out!

  • ScaredyWife

    So excited to start this course!! Sex has been a major hurtle in our new marriage (I guess almost new, we’re married 2 years next month). We’ve both had to adjust our expectations of what sex used to be (for me: a way of taking control, trying to “trick” men into love and acceptance of me, and anger at my over religious mom). I’m hoping that the issue of sex is addressed and can lend me some insight. Again, so looking forward to the course!!

  • Angela

    Hi Sheryl,
    Thank you for this blog, it hits home with me every thought and every symptom. I have done 2 courses which helped me immensley. As you know I have learnt alot. Knowledge is power. No better tool. Practising the thoughts making sure Im in the drivers seat has gotten easier for me over these 2 years. When fear rears its ugly head I am better prepared, it dosent scare me most of the time. I do still feel stuck like I cant breathe freely.. And it dosent worry me like before. I ignore it now. I love my life I wouldnt wanna be anywhere else but with my amazing husband. Which course would you recommend for me Sheryl?

    • Hello dear Angela: I encourage you to take the Break Free course. Even though you’re not in the thick of relationship anxiety, the course covers how to work with general anxiety as well, which is what you’re describing. It sounds like you’re ready for this deeper layer of work. Dive on in!

  • Kelsey

    Hi Sheryl,

    It seems as though you read my mind! This post really hits home for me. We have been married 8 months and I love my husband dearly. I found your site about a year ago and it was a god send. Everything you wrote was exactly what I was going through/thinking. Over the past month or so my anxiety had started kicking up again. I have tried journaling, positive self talk, and talking with my husband (who is an angel and listens very intently). I know that fear is in the drivers seat and I have a lot of learning ahead of me. I think I am going to sign up for your ecourse. I just wanted to say thank you for all that you do!

    • As I said to Angela, it sounds like you’re ready for the next layer of healing and deep inner work, which is what this course will offer. Let the learning continue!

  • H

    Hi sheryl,I just moved in with my boyfriend and I was, understandably a bit nervous and scared. My whole family helped me unpack with my boyfriend and it was going okay. But for some reason I had to sit down and have some time to breath because it was all too much! I think I was really overwhelmed and that is an emotion I don’t think I have ever had before. I started crying for no reason when my family left! And I couldn’t think of a reason why. I think I was sad because I was leaving my family home and now I’ve got to be an adult so I won’t have my family to lean on, I have to lean on myself now. Do you think this was a form of grief?

      • H

        Hi again Sheryl,

        Sorry to be a pain and comment again! But I have been doing really Good living with my boyfriend. I finally started to feel like I could tackle everything. And see all of this projection for what it is, which is fear. But I realised this morning I still have some work to do on grieving the single life. Now that I live with my boyfriend I really need to work on that. But I don’t really know how? I knew when I was single I used to go for the unavailable idiots. And for ages there was one guy stuck on my mind. I had a thought this morning, why did I do that? Why did I go for the unavailable ones? I wanted to understand it. I wanted to know why I did, I was just curious because that is something I still can’t seem to understand. But then all those thoughts and uncomfortable feelings when I used to have an interest for him and the Longing for that particular guy came back again. And I’m really annoyed! I don’t want those feelings to surface again, I want them to go away. I’m really peed off to be honest. Is this grief again? Trying to figure out why I did chase after him and wanted him for so long, because I don’t really understand why I did. And now I feel uncomfortable because I have all of these horrible feelings of anxiety again. I’m thinking that perhaps this is what I need to grieve as part of grieving the single life. I don’t like grieving. It’s not a nice feeling, it brings back all the old memories and it feels horrible. I really hate it. I’m not sure how to deal with this. Any advice?

        • H

          I’m now realising that those feelings I had thinking of that other guy whilst still with my boyfriend were probably grief. The letting go of him and the wondering of what he was doing and if we would ever be together etc, but at the time I didn’t realise it was grief, I had never felt grief before. It scared the hell out of me and I pushed it away thinking I shouldn’t be feeling like this whilst in a relationship with someone else. I got that horrible feeling of dread this morning because I had those feelings bought back to me that I first felt when my anxiety started. The reason why I felt dread was because I didn’t realise that it was grief all along . I feel angry at him for doing this to me, why strong me along for so long and then drop me down when he couldn’t be bothered anymore? And then I found out he had a girlfriend when he tried getting me to dump my boyfriend and I was fuming! How dare he! I’m so angry now Sheryl

          • Emma

            Hi H,

            I just want to say that your situation mirrors mine!

            I’m a 23 year old girl and moved in with my boyfriend in July. It’s been really nice living together but on the sex front I’ve lost interest for some reason. Prefer to cuddle than to be intimate in a sexual way. This was never a problem in our 4 years together until now. I suspect low libido hormonally because I’ve always been a high sex drive female but lately my libido has completely flat-lined. Looking into Ayurvedic herbs like Ashwagandha to see if that may help. I think I read an old post where you mentioned that you were going through this too – correct me if I’m wrong!

            Anyway, just like you, I also get very very anxious when old feelings come back from another guy I was really into. I actually broke up with my boyfriend for a while to see what it would be like to pursue this other guy as an option. He was really unavailable too, he was off and on with another girl but I knew he cared about me a lot. To this day, whenever we speak (not very often) I get a surge of those old feelings for him. I sometimes have dreams about him and sometimes find myself longing and wondering how it would be if he and I were properly together. My anxiety goes through the roof when this happens though, I have extreme feelings of guilt, because I DO NOT want to be able to feel these feelings for someone who isn’t my boyfriend! I wish I could just turn them off and throw them away! I only want to love and be with my boyfriend, but this other person occupies a place in my heart and when we speak it re-ignites those feelings.

            This is why I have been very good at keeping our contact to a minimal, but everyone now and again I shoot him a message to see how he’s doing. I then regret speaking to him and feel super anxious thinking “why did you feel excited speaking to him” “were you too flirtatious?” “why are you having thoughts like ‘I miss him’ and visualizing scenarios of you two together?!” — all this gets me in an anxious hold and all I can feel is guilt. It’s particularly fresh at the moment because we caught up over text this weekend and I had those longing feelings and now feel terrible about it.

            My boyfriend knows on some level that he and I keep in touch – I’ve told him he has nothing to worry about and he says trusts me. Yet, every time we talk I get this guilty feeling and this “need to confess” to my boyfriend about the feelings that I felt. I used to get this guilt and need to confess when I was little, if I did something I perceived to be wrong I would be riddled with guilt and confess to my mom who was very strict and very severe (my boyfriend is not – he’s very understanding, trusting and compassionate).

            Still, I get the anxiety and guilt after the other guy and I speak or if the longing feelings surface. I too think part of this has to do with grieving, but not sure why the guilt is there… I do feel so badly about being able to feel things for someone else, things I wish could only be reserved for my boyfriend.

            Would really love Sheryl’s POV on this topic. If she could write a blog post about feelings for other people and/or guilt that would really be amazing. I know she’s written about Ex’s in the past, but this seems a bit different. I hope this message gets to you, H. xx

          • Colleen

            Read sheryl’s post ‘Engagement anxiety and the Ex’- I think you will really connect with it. Hope it helps!

  • R

    I read people saying, “He/She was everything I wanted in a partner.” Well, what do you do when your partner isn’t everything you want and perhaps very little of what you want? When my husband and I married we weren’t young but looking back I see how incredibly dysfunctional we were. I was wracked with anxiety and went through with the wedding which is now one of my saddest memories. I felt trapped and in trying to cope with such over-whelming problems I felt suicidal much of the time and even lashed out and became physically abusive at times. I have gotten myself into anger management classes and I’m working on me as best I can in therapy. I feel like I lost myself and became a monster. I’m only sharing all of this because I feel so alone and ashamed of all of it. Maybe someone else has gone through a similar thing. Maybe I AM the red-flag issue that means I should leave. If anyone has insights I’d love to hear…
    Thank you

    • I don’t think you’re the red flag; I think that you’re becoming more and more aware of your “flaws”, which really means places that need attention for the purpose of growth and healing. And you’re aware that he’s far from perfect as well. In addition to individual therapy, I recommend considering couples’ therapy as well, and specifically the EFT model, which you can learn more about here:

      http://www.iceeft.com

      • just me

        I could have also written this post. I suffered from doubts and anxiety during my wedding day. And that is why I am still doubting whether I should participate in this course or not. What do you think Sheryl?

        • Doubts and anxiety can continue years into a relationship if you don’t do the deeper work. Even then, doubts will resurface from time to time as an indicator that something inside of you or in the relationship needs attention; not in a red-flag way but in the way that we’re all works-in-progress and we all need to learn how to attend to the places in and outside of ourselves that are asking for attention. This is what the new course addresses in depth.

          • just me

            Thank you again Sheryl. I am just scared that I am a “hopeless” case. Because I have suffered doubts and anxiety so many years and intrusive thoughts about my ex don’t stop even though I am not anxious anymore. But I decided to invest on our relationship and participate in this course.

  • Noelle

    I found this site back in June 2014 and it changed my life! Everything was fine in my relationship until we began talking about marriage and suddenly what I wanted from the beginning…I began to fear!!! “What If?” Was my mind’s favorite statement. What if he’s not the one? Do I feel ENOUGH love? I felt triggered by the smallest things and I got to a point where I felt NOTHING but anxiety…like I fell out of love overnight!!! I could barely look at him without wanting to cry…it was like something took over and I had zero control. That’s the point where I got help (and continued to read articles on this site to keep me afloat in the meantime)! Come to find out I had OCD thinking patterns not just in my romantic relationship, but other relationships and areas in my life. “ROCD” is the term. After a few months of very hard work, my love came back and I am MORE in love than ever….actually I wouldn’t even say that. I would say that my view of love is a lot more accurate and I enjoy the quieter moments where my heart isn’t overcome with that “in love” feeling. Redefining love goes a long way…so believe Sheryl when she says to put in the work. One thing I would challenge you to do is start surprising your partner with little gifts here and there and keep in mind the qualities that draw you to them. The work, combined with redefining your view on love goes a long way…I promise!!! HANG IN THERE!!! I almost didn’t believe the success stories to be honest…but they hold true because I made it even when I didn’t think it was possible. I thank the Lord for giving me the strength and surrounding me with the support system that I needed. I’ve never actually had any sessions with Sheryl but as a follower and someone who has put in the work with my own counselor, I can verify that her words are true. 🙂

    • Thank you for your beautifully supportive comment, Noelle. ROCD is addressed in depth in this course (although I do prefer the term “relationship anxiety”). Many blessings to you.

  • R

    Thank you Sheryl. xx

  • Sarah

    Dear Sheryl,

    This article is so poignant for me now. I found your site 4 months ago when my anxiety, which had building since the start of my relationship, reached it’s peak and I was on the verge of leaving an otherwise entirely positive and happy partnership. I am so incredibly thankful that I found your site when I did, for I do not believe we would have survived without it. Your words were such a soothing balm to my fear and doubts. Something always prevented me from leaving, I truly wanted to stay and could sense a rightness in the relationship, but the anxiety made me so doubtful that it could be the right choice, and so blinded to love that it was becoming unbearable. I worked through your Conscious Weddings course and spent hours journalling away using your techniques. At that time I was scared that I’d never improve and that I’d never be able to enjoy a relationship and yet now, only months later, I read this article nodding along in agreement, feeling secure in the reality of a meaningful relationship. Your notions of the true nature of love always resonate whenever doubts or fears occasionally still pop up, minimising and reassuring me so much that the days of spiralling doubt are now a thing of the past. What a gift you have given to me.

    Thank you so much for all you have done for me and my partner, I really can’t recommend your courses enough.

    Sarah

  • I had been experiencing some anger and then after I worked on it a little bit, and let myself be angry I went through this feeling that I love my husband so much that a fear of death came along, the fear of loosing him and never seeing him again. I had never felt this feeling with anyone except for when I was little when I used to cry about fearing my father one day dying, of course he is already passed on, but now I been going through this feeling with my husband.
    I notice that I go through faces of anger, numbness and no feelings at all, then this face where I wish we would had been together before so I could have love him longer before our love departs when we die. And other faces that I go through, but so far this is what I been going through.
    I do not know if this is me opening my heart to love, more and more, or if its what? is it me being emotionally dependent?

    Thank you and I would appreciate your comments Sheryl.

  • Iwanthappiness

    I am so excited to take both the Open Your Heart course and Break Free! I’m a huge fan of your work. After taking the Conscious Weddings course, my life improved more than I could ever explain. I’m so grateful for your work and your many words of wisdom.

  • I do have to add to my previous comment, that I do fear loosing him, and I was reading this article of your mom which is :
    Are You In Love, Or Are You Emotionally Dependent?(http://www.mindbodygreen.com/0-14987/are-you-in-love-or-are-you-emotionally-dependent.html)

    I also went through this face that because of my fear of loosing him I wish I could had been with him before which makes me really jealous of his ex girlfriend, we dated before when we were younger and we were very immature, and he went back with her after me and that wounded me making me feel he never loved me, but now I know it was the 2 of us that didnt make it work and we were not ready for a good relationship. He didnt have a good relationship with her either but I have felt a lot of jealousy of not being with him before and jealous of him being with her. I do not feel possessive of him in fact I dont mind if he has girl friends or if he talks to other people if he does not call me all the time, I want him to be himself and we are both adults and we respect each other so I trust him and I know he does too.
    So I wonder if I am coming from love or neediness. I do have a lot of fear of loosing him and I wish and still wanted to had been with him before but I underdtand we were not ready, however this provokes in me this jealousy, fear of loosing him because I wish I would had been able to be with him to love him longer. I also admit that I do want to be the person he loves the most.
    I told my husband and he says that its normal, we all want to know and like to know and hear that our partner loves us the most.
    What do you think about this sheryl, does that mean I do not love him? and I am just emotionally dependent? When I feel like this it scares me that maybe it means I have to leave or we dont work out together.

  • Jkm

    I had been experiencing alot of thoughts since 1 month after dating my partner. I am bit blinded why I keep having hot and cold towards her. I keep asking myself whether I’m not feeling anything when my partner is hurt, when I think about her leaving and the relationship going to end. I keep blaming myself for having being hard as a rock always angry towards her. I think that I am leading her on and that I don’t really love her. I think I have fear on commitment, being vulnerable and letting go of my single life. I’ve been reading alot and I still feel smothered or the feeling that I don’t want to talk to my partner. Sometimes it just feels unauthentic and I really dont know whether it’s true or not.

  • Stef

    Hi sheryl,

    I am currently thinking hard a out doing your relationship anxiety course.. I just have to wait until I save enough money for it!

    In the mean time I go up and down with my anxiety like I have for the past few years with my kind and amazing partner.
    In the past few days a big spike for me was the idea of soul mates. Not in the stereotypical way of ‘there is a soulmate for everyone’ or ‘she’s the one for me’ type of way but instead in regards to the idea of soul mates and life partners.

    I once read an article that spiked my anxiety badly and also read a quote from Elizabeth Gilbert from eat pray love. Both of these talked about the idea that there are soul mates for people and life partners for people. The difference being that a soul mate is someone who comes to your life to awaken your soul and bring up things in you that you didn’t know existed and so on and once you learn the lesson you need to learn usually separation between soul mates occurs..And a life partner is someone who you can live life comfortably with and have a stable and caring relationship with..
    This spiked me so much because as you say in a lot of your blogs that anxiety comes up to get our attention so that we can deal with something we need to deal with that’s within us.. I believe that my currently partner has come into my life to bring up lots of things I haven’t dealt with.. In a way she saw me before I even saw myself for who I really was and has taught me so much.. So in this case it’s as though she is my ‘soul mate’ in the way the article I read explains.. Which might mean that once I learn what I need to learn that separation between us might occur..
    I want us so badly to be life partners but am afraid like the article says that sometimes the realtionship between soul mates can’t go on because of all the trauma and drama that comes with learning the lessons you need to learn while your with that person so it becomes to hard and being with a life partner instead is more flowing (for lack of a better word) and works comfortably and lovingly for a long time. Almost like the idea that it’s just easier.. Which I know is naive to think..

    I wondered if you could shed any light on this spike? Or maybe you’ve written about it before and I haven’t seen it?

    Thank you for this website and hopefully I can start your course soon! 🙂 x

    • Dee

      I know EXACTLY how you ladies feel. I’ve seen a few intuitive readers, astrologers and tarot card readers, mainly because I myself have a desire to practice these arts. I’m a “natural” I’ve been told. All the people I consulted seemed to imply that my current partner was not “the one” that my “soulmate” has not entered my life yet. This invoked in me a paranoia that in staying in my relationship I am interfering with the divine plan for my life and going against the flow, against the universe pretty much…

      There are two things to keep in mind that I am trying really hard to focus on, one is a quote I came across from a gentlemen on this site I believe his name is Ryan,

      “Choosing kind and true people to be in your life is NEVER WRONG”

      So whether soulmate, life partner, or none of the above, if this person is a kind loving soul, just make it a point to state to yourself that you are grateful for every second you spend with this person regardless if you are feeling love, fear, anxiety, infatuation, if it’s forever, not forever….

      I try to state this to myself before going to bed. I think it’s easy to give up our own agency to fate, the stars or God… I think the real need is more grounding …

      Hope this helps 🙂

  • Newlymarried

    Oh Stef yes!!!! I been going through that Spike of soul mates and it caused me too sooo much anxiety!!! Because my husband and I have a great relationship and I know he has come to help me grow and lwafn about love!!!! We dont have drama mainly just my fears, we are very very very similar although he is positive and I am more negative!!
    I just eant ys to be together and the thought of the soul mates does spike me a lot!!! Soul mates and The karma thought…. Someone just told me a few days ago that according to our astrology charts we were a pure passion relationship in a scale from 1 to 10 which meant we were purr passion because 8 was passion and 10 was pure love!!!
    That reslly scared me and made me then get a lot of anxiety and the thoughts that then we maybe didnt love each other, we were just a passion relationship.
    Anything you can help us please sheryl???

    • Stef

      That’s definitely something that would spike me also.. My therapist says that the brain can only focus on a few things at a time so while I’ve always been a spiritual person.. Things like this wouldn’t have come up for me earlier in my relationship because I wasn’t focused on it and now I am. I guess we need to change our focus which is easy to say but hard to do!
      It’s sort of the same as going to see a physics and she’s telling you that your partner and you aren’t meant to be together and she can see other things in your future.. This happened to me and caused great anxiety but again I try not to focus on it but it’s hard at times.

    • Maria

      People have very different definitions of soul mates. Some think you “should” be with your “soul mate”, some think you’re not supposed to be with them, some think a soul mate is anyone who forces you to grow and so on and so on.

      And think of all the seemingly perfect celebrity couples who are now divorced. Tom Cruise and Kate Holmes, Orlanado Bloom and Miranda Kerr, Jennifer Garner and Ben Affleck… I could go on and on, this has been the summer of celebrity break ups after all.

      I think I remember reading in “The Wisdom of Menopause” by Dr. Christiane Northrup that a “psychic” had told her she and her husband (who she was gaga about) were meant to be together…and they are now divorced! If I remember correctly the good doctor wrote that had she known what she knows today she would have chosen a man with whom she had quite a different dynamic. Checking out the portion of that book that concerns her marriage could potentially be quite soothing for you. Another good book could be “The Eden Project” by James Hollis, and “Passionate Marriage” by David Schnarch.

      And, spiritually speaking, we’re all ultimately One (but paradoxically, we’re also separate). You, your husband, the trees, the mountains… So you’re already married to your soul mate. 🙂

  • LABride

    Hi Sheryl, thank you so much for everything you do!

    Yesterday I read this article, and if I had read it before I found your e-course, it would have sent me into a full blown panic attack. In this article, the therapist literally says that if you doubt, don’t -___-

    Furthermore, she misrepresents information! She conducted a survey of divorced women and found that 30% of them had serious doubts before marriage. This really annoys me from a statistical perspective, because what about happily married women? How many of them had serious doubts before marriage? If she presented that information, I think there would a much better view of the truth.

    Anyways, it’s these kind of things that bombard us every day in our lives, making the doubt grow mutate into something even worse than what it was before. So thank you for being the light in an otherwise social media dark age 🙂

    • Thank you for your comment, LABride. There is, indeed, so much misinformation out there about love that leads people down a dismal and dead-end road. I did edit out the article link as I try to make this site as spike-free as possible and sometimes it’s just too hard to resist the urge to click despite the warning!

  • LAwoman

    Hi Sheryl,
    Your articles have impeccable timing. I find that each time I’m having difficulty working through my anxiety, your articles always soothe and ease my mind. I couldn’t help myself and clicked on the link provided by NewlyMarried. She said it was written by your mother. She explained the difference between real love and dependecy. While reading this it spiked me of course. That never fails…I am almost always spiked by something these days haha. While she listed some aspects of what dependency is I did notice some similarities in my own relationship and some things I didn’t find similar. Basically only some aspects applied to me. My partner and I have been together for over 5 years. We met at 18. I can recall at the beginning I had major trust issues and felt uncomfortable when he would go out and didn’t call me when I expected him to. I was jealous and suspicious. It was like I was waiting for him to do something that would betray my trust. The majority of our relationship was long distance and during the times we were apart it would make me really sad at times. Whenever we were reunited, it was pure bliss between us. Sometimes I remember getting really emotional when I’d have random thoughts of losing him. I’d share that with him and he’d just reassure me that all was ok and not to worry. Over time I learned to trust him and I didn’t really worry about him betraying me ever again. If he went out I didn’t get jealous and if he didn’t call me all the time that was ok. Things seemed calm. There was room to breathe and I can say I whole heartedly trust him. I was still bummed when we were unable to see each other, but it didn’t always feel like the world was coming to an end. Of course our relationship was not always easy. I feel that since we met each other at young ages we made a lot of mistakes along the way. We have gotten into a few big fights, yelled at one another, called each other names, pushed each others buttons, argued constantly, miscommunicated. A couple years ago I betrayed his trust and I hurt him deeply. That almost cost me our relationship. That was a wake up call for me and I decided to seek therapy in an effort to work through my own issues so I could become the best person I can be. He decided to forgive me. But it took an extremely long time to forgive myself. I carried around so much guilt and judgement towards myself. I think I still carry a little bit of that today. But my partner reassures me all is ok with him. A part of me was definitely traumatized by the loss I almost suffered and I went through a long stage of keeping my actions and feelings in check. I was afriad of making the same mistakes again. So much so I put myself through so much mental torment. Whenever I was experiencing anxious thoughts and feelings I was constantly seeking reassurance from trusted friends and my partner as well. While sharing my anxieties with my partner, it was feeling like I had to “come clean” even though I didn’t actually do anything wrong. In doing so, that perpetuated a lot of anxiety within our relationship. I was taking a lot of things at face value, and my partner did as well. There were huge misunderstandings and confusion between us. He freaked out multiple times over my “confessions.” So at times I was afraid of what he might think about something. Now I’m not so afriad of his opinions as I have come to understand my anxiety better and how to work through it. While seeing a therapist I have realized how my strained relationships with my parents affect me, how I’ve been a sensitive individual since childhood, and that I do have abandonment fears. Do I feel like I’ve been dependent on my partner? Yes. But I also realize that our relationship is deeply rooted in connection. Regardless of our flaws, we have managed to work through our issues together. We have also supported each other during very tough times. We have shared our souls with one another. Our innermost fears and desires. Our relationship has endured for a long time. Which amazes me considering how young we are. I have experienced 95% of the relationship anxiety you so wonderfully describe in your articles. I’ve had many fears and intrusive thoughts about my relationship. If I’m only with him because of dependency or the fear of being alone. If we’re right for each other. If I even really loved him from the beginning. If young love can survive. If we’re compatible enough or attracted enough. I could go on all day. But I tell myself that there’s a reason I stay that is bigger than dependecy or fear. I tell myself to listen to that. And not to the intrusive thoughts. Even when I’m in the depths of anxiety, I hold onto the happy moments I do share with my partner. I hold onto our mutual bond and familiarity. I hold onto the comfort I feel when he holds me and tells me not to be scared and that my thoughts are just that–thoughts. I realize we love each other through it all…underneath all the layers that make us up as individuals. That includes the ugly that lurks beneath as well. To love someone is to love the whole person. Not just their good or easy qualities. To love in its entirety. Loving someone during the happy times is wasy, it’s when the magic stops and real life hits you is when the real work begins. I have to hold on and believe. Sorry for writing a book on here haha, I was so compelled to share and I would appreciate your feedback. Thanks for all you do. Your work has been fundamental in me redefining what love means to me.

  • Thank you Maria and Stef for your comments, it helped me a little.
    It seems like right now I am spinning into a wheel of anxiety over all.
    I am like a sponge, but soon I will get better, it happens.
    God Bless you all.

  • Dee

    Hi Sheryl,
    I was wondering if you are familiar with the work of Gay and Katie Hendricks on healing codependency in relationships? If so I was wondering if you can share some brief insights on that. I am currently saving to take your new course, very excited about it! Thanks for all you do 🙂

  • Tiredoffeelingthisway

    I have been struggling with relationship anxiety throughout my year long relationship. Initially it was around external issues that we have worked through. However even now I sometimes wonder if I really love my partner and if we have the sort of life that I want. I tell him I love him and most of the time I feel calmer around him but the doubt still persists. Also my partner has a drinking problem, he is working on it but sometimes I wonder if its worth my time and energy when I have so many doubts, some of which are in my head and some which are very real and legitimate. We also have a big age difference which doesn’t impact our relationship except sometimes I wonder if he would be willing to move if I decide to go to grad school, etc…

  • Dana

    Hi,
    Does anyone take medication for their anxiety?

  • Dana

    I have been fighting this anxiety and depression for 7 years. I literally woke up one morning after moving into our first place we bought together and felt completely not myself, crazy anxiety, pacing, freaking out, crying, couldn’t eat, just wanted to sleep so I wouldn’t think, missed two weeks of work…. And all I could think of was, do I love him? I don’t know? Do I? Don’t I? And on and on and on. I felt so scared, and didn’t want it to be true. Everything around me felt weird and not right. I didn’t want to talk to anyone or see anyone or do anything. This lasted for about 2 weeks and then I went to a phyciatrst and was diagnosed with anxiety and depression. To this day I have had boubts of this on and off, sometimes free of it for several months at a time, but it always comes back. The past year straight I have been feeling like this , with maybe a few hours everyday feeling myself with the doubts not really there. Night time is usually better for me.
    I have a therapist as well and have attended several group therapies… I am also on medication…

    Doesn’t this day something if I have been fighting this for 7 years?
    We are married now, sold and bought another house. I have attended college, gone on vacations, weddings, birthdays and so on throughout all of this.
    Having to live with this has not been fun, but knowing that I have had many moments of feeling happy is what gets me through this and keep on fighting.

    I just hope one day I will feel better again…. I feel like my life is on hold, I’m scared to have children cause I’m scared that I shouldn’t with him, or is it the anxiety?
    Sorry for the long rant, but I just needed to vent. And my husband knows about all of this and he hasn’t left me yet! He is very understanding. I feel bad for him though. I want him to have a happy life and I feel he isn’t getting that with me.

    • “Doesn’t this say something if I have been fighting this for 7 years?” What it says is that you haven’t received the proper help. If you’re ready to break free from this struggle, take the course. It will address everything you’ve been battling.

  • Victoria

    Hi Sheryl,
    I really need help on this situation that I have, I have just started to have anxiety over seeing my boyfriend we have been together nearly a year with a couple of short breaks in between, I have been very poorly with an illness that has lead to anxiety and it is crippling me. Now what I’m feeling is that I’m scared to see my boyfriend or even talk to him on the phone, I get anxiety attacks and hot flushes when I think of him coming to see me or calling me. I really don’t know what I’m scared off he’s never hit me or hurt me he has had a couple of episodes where he needed time and space to get his life right but he is trying to do that now and he still wants me in his life. And I still want him in my life, but I’m scared and I don’t know what all. I have tried to talk to him and explain to him that I am anxious over certain things, i’m scared he’s not going to be able to cope with my anxiety I’m scared that he will leave me because of my anxiety so I just pushed him away because this anxiety is unbearable, I’ve tried not talking to him but I think about him every day and that hurts I’ve tried talking to him but then I get anxious I feel like this is a Catch-22 situation and its driving me crazy I love him so much.
    If you could give me any advice at all please please help I don’t want to lose him and he doesn’t want to lose me but I feel this is going to happen.

    All my love Victoria

  • Dana

    Sheryl,

    From my last post, what do you think about what i have posted?
    Is it my marriage that I am
    Not happy with or is it the anxiety and depression?
    I know it’s been 7 years, and I jab had many months of not having these thoughts and feelings. I married him in between these doubts.

    Any feedback would be much appreciated. I don’t have crazy anxiety at the moment. I am working and taking a medical terminology course, but I wake up everyday with these same feelings and thoughts that still make me feel worried and uncomfortable with a little bit of anxiety.

  • Dana

    And do you mean”break free from this struggle” where my doubting will stop, or make me realize I’m not turkey happy and I should leave my marriage?

  • Dana

    Turkey was a typo. Lol.

  • Dana

    Sheryl,
    What is the course all about? And how would it help me?
    I am just curious as I have attended many group therapies for anxiety and depression, and none have really seemed to help whatsoever, other than taking the deep breathing technique from them.

    I am just really tired of all of this. I want to wake up happy or even just calm and relaxed and not have to worry about this from the minute I wake up till the evening when I do start to feel a little bit calmer.