There are so many ways the ego tries to dismantle real love, and it’s favorite is to perseverate on a single question until it tires itself out, then jump to the next story. I’ve dissected many of these questions on this blog and in my courses, approaching each in the same way: name it as an intrusive thought, douse it with truth water, then ask: What is this thought protecting me from feeling? The current thought-story that seems to be making the rounds of the collective unconscious, meaning I’m hearing it through all of my channels – from my clients, my readers, and my course members – is the title of this blog: What if I’m only with my partner because she or he makes me feel safe?
Let’s dissect this intrusive thought and douse it with some truth water. The statement implies that feeling safe is a poor reason to commit to someone. First off, since when is feeling safe something to sneeze at? Asked another way: How many people in this world do you truly feel safe with? If you feel safe with your partner, it’s a rare blessing that is likely a result of many factors:
- You like him.
- You trust her.
- For the most part, and especially when anxiety isn’t clouding your vision, you enjoy being in her presence. Keep in mind that when you spend enough time with anyone, especially when you’re highly sensitive, you’re going to feel irritated at times (sometimes a lot of the time).
- She makes you feel loved.
- You feel supported.
- You feel loved.
- You feel seen.
- You can be yourself.
Anxious mind alert: As you read through the above list, your ego is going to want to poke holes and challenge every statement. Do I REALLY feel loved? Does my partner REALLY get me? Do I even LIKE him? It’s essential to name the ego’s tactics every time it makes an appearance, then see if you can ask the questions again and allow the answers to rise up from your deepest self. You can also dismantle this particular ego tactic by using its logic against itself as you recognize that if you’re stuck on the question of “Am I only with my partner because I feel safe?” the answer is implicit in the question. In other words, you wouldn’t be asking the question in the first place if you didn’t feel safe! In the duel between ego and truth, truth takes the lead.
Once we’ve established that there are only a handful of people in the world with whom you feel safe and that safety is a gift, we can walk a bit deeper into the world of attachment theory, which posits that without safety, you have nothing. Safety is the foundation. Trust is non-negotiable. Expert couples therapists state that it’s not love that provides the container inside which a relationship flourishes but trust. And without safety there is no trust.
Just like a child who is securely attached to his mother feels safe enough to venture out into the world, when we’re securely attached to our partners we, as adults, also feel safe enough to take risks in the world. We feel safe to explore new areas of ourselves – a career change, a business idea, having a child – because we know that our partner is there to catch us if we fall. The umbilical cord that once attached you to your mother is now attached to your partner, and the beauty of this metaphorical cord is that it stretches as wide as the world. In short, a safe relationship allows you to fly. So again, feeling safe is nothing to rashly dismiss or use as a reason to walk away. In fact, according the attachment theorists, it’s the very reason to stay. How backward our culture has it!
Ego will always argue, especially when it’s supported by the cultural wave that says: “Run! You don’t really love him! You’re just staying because you love the way he loves you.”
To which I respond: It’s a good place to start. You’re with someone who treats you well. You’ve found someone you trust and with whom you feel safe. And if you’ve been on my blog or courses for a while you’ve come across the question that pierces through most of the ego’s thought-stories – Is my partner someone with whom I can learn about love? – and answered yes.
It’s a good place to start. You start on a platform of safety, shared values, and friendship. Then you spend the next many years learning how to give and receive love, diving into the intricacies of the weave that composes the fabric of your relationship, unraveling the knots that were tied from past pain, softening into each other’s fold, and wrapping each other up in the blanket of your relationship which began with safety, grew with curiosity, and arrived, finally, at love.
So thanks for this article.
I ask my myself this often but can answer everything you just said.
I like my partner
I never get tired of him. Actually it hurts more to think I’d never see him again.
I feel loved but also give him love
Add on From My last post.
I miss him when he isn’t around
I’m attracted to him. Like he could look alobby and I still find him attractive.
Sheryl I don’t wanna leave.. my ego and anxiety just keeps getting the best of me. I’m marrying the most amazing man I wanna fight for him.
There’s no reason to leave, Nat. It’s simply time to unveil the next layer of your inner work.
Beautiful post thanks Sheryl. Safety and trust and kindness are often so overlooked in our culture in favour of more ‘exciting’ attributes, but these things make life a pleasure.
I loved this post so much! In the throes of my anxiety, I TRULY did not know if I loved him or even wanted to be with him, but when I look back now, it was so obvious that the fear and amount of pain was as deep as my love for J. Of course I get doubts here and there, mostly about regular relationship ebbs ans flows but nowhere NEAR how bad I was last year. Love this post Sheryl, thank you!
It’s so good to hear from you, Nicole, and I’m glad you’re doing well.
Love this post. I have wondered the same question and didn’t know how to answer it before joining your course and reading your blog. It’s OKAY to be with someone because you feel safe; it’sa requirement of a good relationship, even! I struggled with feeling dependent on someone (I’ve been in a place of needing a significant other before) and I didn’t want to go there again. I am realizing the difference between healthy dependence between two whole people versus dependence on someone because you are lacking within yourself.
Sometimes I do feel a bit dependent – I am still working on growing my Self and sometimes I find myself lacking in self love or self care. It feels great to have someone to catch me when I fall or hold me when I cry while I stumble and learn and grow within myself. I feel like I can be myself without holding anything back with my partner and i can finally touch the hurt places within me because I feel I have a safe space to do so. I’ll be able to provide my partner a safe place to explore what he needs when he needs it, as well.
Today we looked at rings and last week I moved in to his house. Without this blog and the Break Free course, I’d surely have thrown the most amazing relationship with a wonderful, wholesome, caring partner away.
There’s a lot of confusion in the culture around co-dependency versus healthy dependency. I suggest reading “Attached” and “Hold Me Tight” to clear up the confusion!
Thank you Sheryl. As always, you’re a lifeline. My situation may be different from many – I’m 45, in my first romantic relationship (in fact, my first significant intentional relationship with any male. Like you/Dr. Love said last week, longing has always = fear for me, so I distanced), in between careers, caring for my aging parents, plus experiencing a total faith paradigm overhaul. To say I’m navigating uncharted territory is an understatement, and the anxiety around the unknowns is intense some days.
Add to that that half of our 2.5yr relationship has been long-distance with the anticipation of me moving the 17hr flight away from family & friends to be together; that I’ve never had (and always expected) that a-HA(!) moment of “knowing” he’s the man for me; and that I’ve had anxiety since the first date, and I hope you can get an idea how much I value your voice (and the voices of many commenters) giving us all a strategy against the fears and to NOT.GIVE.UP! Especially on the days where it feels hard and “dangerous” and un-Disney-like.
Question: not having the luxury of time in each other’s presence, would that skew perspective along with the anxiety? I’m with my man because I knew from day 1 that he was very different (he’s a treasure!), but I often find myself questioning whether I love/like him (enough), if we have that spark, if he “gets” me, if we’re compatible… Shouldn’t I have the answers to that by now?
Only one spark the day he got the courage up to hold my hand. No butterflies. Yet, he is the one for me. I met him at 40 and married him at 42. Now at 44 I still feel blessed that he chose me and I allowed myself to stay in the relationship. Many times while we were dating, I had to convince myself to stay. The first year of marriage had its ups and downs, but the second year was better. Sheryl’s class taught me that Disney does not exist.
I like your post and really happy for you.
Your Story rang a bell for me. I had a relationship at 20-22 years old but nothing then till I met my lovely at aged 44.I never felt about longing like that but that definitely rings a bell for me as does the anxiety. I think myself its partially but why would anyone want to be with me crossed with I can’t belie no one wants to be with me what a paradox!
I’m really really really struggling at the moment. I actually haven’t been on the blog for a while now, in the time that I haven’t been on here I have been in therapy, psychodynamic therapy to be exact. Me and my boyfriend argue so much, mainly because I am angry and critical towards him, over very petty reasons. But now he is starting to respond back quite harshly too, he often says I cannot say sorry to him anymore because I tend to say sorry but “never learn”. I am scared that this relationship will no longer last, because I worry that maybe he is manipulating me in some ways also because in arguments he will say things like I’m crying like a little girl or he won’t give me the space to take some time apart because he still wants to talk even though we are angry talking at the time. According to my therapist, I have internalised my Dad’s approach to dealing with my mother and family matters- as he can be an aggressive, critical parent. When I feel under the stress of it all- I begin doubting whether he was actually like that or not! It’s like even the simplest of things become stressful to remember because I doubt whether it was actually like that or that I’m not being truthful or something. I also just read an article on manipulative partners, where a more discrete form such as “gaslighting” where the partner may manipulate you through challenging your emotions or stopping you from feeling them entirely by saying: “cant we just have a good day”? I know I do this a lot of the time. I’m actually a very nice and caring person, I feel like I feel happier when I’m not with my partner. My uncle passed away the previous week and it’s been intense at home, I snapped at my bf and it led to him giving me a back and forth and when I said pls stop my uncle has passed too, he wouldn’t stop. So I broke up with him. I literally don’t know what to do? Please help. I’ve posted on here many times now and I feel so clueless it’s affecting my life so much. I don’t want to be this critical, judgmental person. But I also don’t feel 100% with my (ex)boyfriend anymore.
“Expert couples therapists state that it’s not love that provides the container inside which a relationship flourishes but trust.”
I love being reminded of this. I learned to ask “Do you trust him?” instead of “Do you love him?” and the answer is always a resounding YES. Despite the intrusive thoughts and incessant doubt, this is the one thing I’ve always known for sure. I trust him 100%, more than any man I’ve ever known. I am so blessed! Trust deserves so much more recognition and respect in our culture. It is the foundation!
You are blessed, indeed, and it’s wonderful that you know it.
It’s soooo interesting the point of ‘irritation’…I’ve read a lot about projection and how it really is a reflection on your internal world…a mirror shining on you…however because i come up with tangible examples of it being about ‘him’ that’s causing my annoyance, it becomes such a challenge to believe it is not! (My lists can be long….with examples…not just feelings!)
Then the irritation deepens to a different layer…more rooted…It goes into the realm of challenging ‘self trust’. Not knowing anymore…’Is this true irritation or strong projection?’
It can be difficult to decipher…the balance between trusting yourself (your feelings are real) V’s feelings are not real…it’s a projection…
The feelings are always real. The work is to learn to choose what meaning you assign to the feelings. So you can feel irritated and think, “I’m with the wrong person,” or you can feel irritated and think, “Well, of course I feel irritated. I’m a human being in relationship with another human being. That’s normal.”
Thank you. Diamond words for me to hold on to…and ultimately learn to work through again. False Evidence Appearing Real x
I’ve just now found your work and am digging in. How do you know if the irritation is something you can live with or not? (A deal breaker of not). My partner seems more negative in his view of the world – he’s quick to look at the lack. I’m more positive, always finding the opportunity as best I can. The negativity can be wearisome. I guess the “fear” is that it’s going to wear me down in years of a relationship.
I loved this article!! Thank you Sheryl!
I just cannot understand my dreams. Many times I dream about leaving and feeling relieved. And sometimes I dream about leaving and getting panic attack when I realize what a great man I have lost..
My therapist told me today that he believes that my free will is showing up in dreams. That in the deepest level I want to leave, because in dreams there are no moral or other rules. He truly believe that I am just forcing myself to stay, because I do not want to start all over again and be a single mother..
I have tried to be really honest with my feelings, but some part of me is keeping me in this relationship. I thought that there was red flags, but there is not. There is just lack of sexual attraction and some communication problems.
I pray that God will guide me..
I’m naturally an honest person, I don’t lie and I can’t lie because it eats at me until I just spurt it out so I’m always honest from the beginning.. the thoughts I have are “I don’t love him” and occasionally but not often I’ll have “don’t wanna be with him anymore” which I know that one in itself is a lie because i do want to be with him.. my thoughts are always worse when we are away from one another, the minute we are back in each others company I feel calm and the thoughts disappear. I live with him and his parents. And even though I have these thoughts. I don’t feel guilty about living here with them, I don’t necessarily feel guilty about being with him. This makes me think that my thoughts are just thoughts because if I knew deep down I didn’t love him, then I would feel guilty for living with them and being with him. We are currently going to be looking to buy a house together in the next few months and I don’t feel guilty or having second thoughts about that because this is what I want. I want to be with him, I want to build a home and a family with this man.. we had a little talk last night and he was saying that he loves me so much. The “so much” part spiked me a little bit because I tell him I love him, but I don’t say so much at the end of it. I told him that I’m obviously the distancer in the relationship. He knows all about my thoughts and he knows I have good days and bad days with my head. I told him that no matter what he is still the one I want to be with him.. the only thing I struggle with is still the whole love being a feeling part because that’s what I’ve always thought love was so I’m just having a little trouble telling myself that it isn’t a feeling.. my thoughts don’t stress me out as much lately either, I have them now and then but I just feel a little calmer with them, does that mean they’re true or I’m just learning that they’re just thoughts? I now know it’s normal to find other people attractive, it’s normal to not always want to be sexually active etc.. this man is my friend/best friend/ boyfriend. We have no red flags. We laugh all the time together. I can be completely myself around him, I haven’t gotta worry about what I say or do, it’s crazy how well we just get on, we know each other so well, is that what a connection is? We both share the same ideas, I occasionally buy him little gifts as a thank you for how supportive he has been, I’m always cuddly and kissy with him.. that’s why sometimes I do have the “do I just love him as a bestfriend” because we get on so well as friends but yet we are also cuddly and kissy as a relationship. Everyone who knows us says we are perfect for each other. I know that aswell, and I have been told that being friends with the person you’re with is a big thing aswell.. I worry because where my intrusive thought is always the same one “I don’t love him” I worry that it’s the truth because it’s been focusing on that same one for months, before that it was “am I gay? Am I in love” it’s always worse when I’m away from him but then the minute I’m with him it goes away.. as powerful as it is, I don’t want to lose him. I think I’m gonna try and name the intrusive thought and accept it and be like “okay Ben (whatever I decide to call it) yes okay I don’t love him but I’m choosing to stay with him” and if I do this, the more I do it I’m hoping it will make the thought less active? I’m also just confused with the fact that if love isn’t a feeling, then how do you know if you actually love someone? Please help I’m having a bad few days, prior to this I was doing okay for a few weeks and I knew I loved my partner, a while back we had a falling out and I was crying upstairs and it randomly came out my mouth “I love him so much, I’m scared he’s gonna leave me again” cause we did break up right at the beginning of our relationship.
Sometimes I can look at him and not really feel anything and then sometimes I can look at him and just smile and feel happy and warm.
Thank you Sheryl, another great piece. But what if the problem is the other way around? I know I love my partner and do feel safe with him but I’m not sure of his love for me. And this anxiety is killing me and the relationship. I don’t think he’ll leave me but I’m not sure he’s really into me 🙁
It’s normal to vacillate between the fear of losing ourselves and the fear of losing another, and at the core is the fear of loss.
I think aswell because he’s a very loving person, always tells me “I love you so much” or he will just be like “I just love you” and I’m there inside like “how do you know you love me so easily and yet I’m her struggling to even know what love is” 🙁 I say it back and sometimes it feels like I’m forcing it and lying which makes me feel terrible but then there’s times when we are laughing together and I say it so easily and know I mean it
This is brilliant and speaks right to my heart 🙂
I have often pondered on this very question (due to the numerous blogs on the world wide web) whether or not I am “settling” because my partner makes me feel safe; but how very true that this is a good place to start. I also agree with the statement that “We feel safe to explore new areas of ourselves – a career change, a business idea, having a child – because we know that our partner is there to catch us if we fall” as I never had a secure childhood either and through this website and my own personal therapy, I have realised that my partner is the security I have never had and I have never been this secure in my whole life; more than likely society would tell me this is so-called codependency, but whatever, I am going to carry on learning about love with my wonderful partner.
Beautiful, custard, and thank you for sharing here. What you’re describing is NOT co-dependency but is healthy adult dependency. I recommend reading “Attached” to clear up the co-dependency myth.
I felt safe with my husband from the first day I saw him, thats when i felt, ok i feel i can trust this guy. I have never felt this genuine trust that i do with my husband. We all are affraid its normal and ok to feel that way, we are super sensivitive people, we test the water carefully, which i find sensible but at the same time, risking love is what we all want in our lives. Wherever the future takes you is something to look forward to and not to fear of. I treat the anxiety beast as my friend, he is inside of me for reasons of learning and growing about myself day by day.
Thank you for your beautiful and touching words. ?
Thank you, Angela.
Its nice to hear some positive thoughts, ???
thanks Sheryl for all your enlightning posts. I couldn’t handle being lonely anymore so I married. Now i feel like a fraud. My husband has serious problems with attention and stress – that I subcumb to his every cry of stress.. he is getting a medical examination at the moment, after six years of marriage I told him to go and see a doctor about it. It’s been a long time I know.. I have this extreme tolerance of suffering, which stems from my childhood. I find myself being more and more lost in the relationship, not having a sense of self any longer. I give way to him all of the time to make him less stressed and my needs gets pushed further and further down. He has admitted himself that he can barely take care of himself and no one else. I’ve been searching for answers every where, like why I am the way I am, and how did I end up like this – the only answer that looks truly real is that I’m a relationship addict. Sheryl does your programme still apply to me?
I would suggest this course, patience, which I’ll be opening for registration next week:
My partner and I are looking to buy a house together this year and I want this more than anything with him, the thought of us having our own place and not living with one another’s parents makes me so excited and I feel all happy and giddy and I literally feel like I cannot wait
I know that I am going to sound ungrateful here, but I feel so let down by this site sometimes. People (including myself) pour their hearts out here – you can hear the desperation in their comments – yet they are just left. Even more hurtfully, the person below may be responded to instead. I know logically, Sheryl, that you can’t respond to everyone personally, but I do sometimes wonder how you choose? A part of me concludes that this means you can’t be trusted (though I know what to call that part). I’ve made so much progress with relationship anxiety, mostly from you simply telling us ‘that’s normal’. More than anything, I needed the permission to relax and enjoy my partner. But I feel so disillusioned. The thoughts come in (though they are so blurred and abstract, not a clear voice) and I ask what I’m feeling. Constantly I am met with nothing. Absolutely nothing. Blank. I only ever seem to feel flickers of emotion, which are extinguished as soon as I bring attention to them. The only emotion that fills me up is anger. I’m struggling with everything but my relationship with my partner lately and I don’t know where to go for guidance on that. Week on week I post about how this feeling of being deeply ‘bad’ is with me all of the time. I try to explore my numbness and lack of empathy or anything that touches me deeply but there is nothing there. I’m so frustrated. There is nothing there. I’m trying so hard – exploring my dreams with Robert Johnson’s Inner Work; my sexual relationship with The Intimate Couple; The Untethered Soul. I read all the time, your site included. The methods just don’t seem to apply to me, truly. I feel like an android. I’m pained by my relationship with my parents – never feeling like our time together is rich enough and that they will die soon. I carry this feeling of badness everywhere I go. I am at the end of my tether.
Agnes: I understand that you’re suffering and that you’re needing more support, but this blog is a free site where I offer articles and sometimes offer a few words of advice or direction. It’s not a support forum and it’s not a therapy site. If you’re needing more support, I suggest you take advantage of the Break Free From Relationship Anxiety e-course forum, which is closely moderated by a licensed therapist, and of which I believe you’re already a member. I also always urge my readers and course members to seek weekly or bi-weekly support from an experienced and compassionate therapist. We’re not meant to do this deep work alone, and it sounds like you would benefit enormously from more consistent and local guidance.
Sheryl, I’m really sorry for sounding so rude. I just felt so desperate and I don’t trust anyone’s advice but yours. I have had so much therapy but have never found anyone like you. I know that you can’t be a personal therapist to all of us. I really want to have access to the forum but I didn’t recieve instructions on how to do so after the initial 3 weeks. I emailed your assistant about it the other day, but I understand she will be very busy also.
I truly apolgise. I hope you know I have enormous respect for you.
Thank you, Agnes. My assistant is out of the office on Mondays and Tuesdays. Please write to her again and she will help you gain access on Wednesday.
Hi Sheryl, what if trust is the problem? I don’t mean that my boyfriend is untrustworthy – logically I don’t think he is. But trust is something I struggle with (and have always struggled with) – my obsessive thoughts are around how he feels about other women, or not feeling safe during sex, or worrying he might be hiding something from me. When we first moved in together I worried that he was just doing it to be on the property ladder and not because he loved me. Now I realise that wasn’t true and he really does love me, so I know this is probably all in my head.
If you know that your partner is fundamentally trustworthy then you need to focus on your own trust issues that are likely stemming from past relationships where your trust was broken. This can be a very strong projection because your heart-that-has-been-hurt will tell you that the problem is your boyfriend and will look for evidence to support that theory, but if deep down you know that the source of the problem resides inside of you then you need to discipline your mind to keep the focus where it belongs and do your own healing work.
I will try to keep it short. I have been together with my partner almost 5 y soon. maybe like 5-6 months in to our relationship i did something and im not proud of it, it prob all came from my own insecurities.
I truly was so in love with my partner and i know he was also in the beginning, so 5-6 months is to i thought we are in good good place i felt so much love and we just had a really good thing going on. So one day i just felt i have to log in into his facebook and read his private messages. ( I still feel bad about and i know its a massive trust issue) So what came out was that he was telling to his best friend that he wants to break up with me, that he feels its just too much for him and so on. I was heartbroken, i really couldn’t even imagine that he was feeling like that. So of course it came out that i logged in to his fb we had a talk we didn’t know what to do. We kinda had a week break, then we were back together and then 1 more week of break and then we just kinda lived together,we didint know at that time what we are so we kinda just went day by day. And maybe months later or something he told me that breaking up with mw would be his biggest mistake in the world. So we kinda get over it and went day by day , and day by day we were getting better,stronger, loving. After all that me logging into his fb and a break and so on we really only got better. And i still knew that his my person !
Maybe that time for him was his anxiety about us,i dont know. And of course we truly are happy ,we have loving relationship,he has never given me any reason not to trust him, he is a really loving caring and loyal partner ! and i know i am that for him also.
But i just can’t shake the feeling is that the red flag trust issue ?
I get one thing i cant be mad or anything that 5 months into new relationship he start questioning and doubting.
And one more thing is that i truly believe that even 4 years later i still have that heartbreak inside of me and maybe know when he proposed year a ago all that came out, bc i feel like im just so scared that if im gonna be happy again about him our us and if im being to confident that it can just change with in a second,that maybe he thinks one day that he doesnt want be with me anymore or something else.
I know i trust him, even maybe sometimes my anxiety wants to make me feel that i dont. But i just think im just more about scared. I felt i gave him so so much love and find out that time he didnt feel the same just broke me 🙁
Is that red flag trust issue ? I know i trust my partner, i really do. But i know that my own insecurity gets on the way. Every guy i have been with (i have never had a long term relationship ) i have been cheated on or they just have ended everything with me.
Even if i know i trust him,some part of me feels like i don’t :/
It only takes being cheated on once in any relationship at any point in your life to develop a trust issue. Having fears around trust isn’t a red flag.
So its not a res flag issue what i have about that situation what happened with us 4 y ago ?
Thank you so much Sheryl !
Even after 4 y , i know i love my partner and from early start i knew i found my person, and I couldn’t wait for the propsal.
Is it still possible that i still have this fear in me what can block my heart and my love for my partner ? I can’t blame my partner that 4 y ago he felt like h didn’t want to be with me.
I sometimes feel that im too scared to be present and enjoy us bc my heart feels like i need protection from getting hurt?
Thank you for your post. It spoke to me since I never felt safe as a child growing up. I also never felt 100% secure and safe with any boyfriend in the past except for the one I’m with now (except for one man who I ultimately left when he committed to me). My issue is that I think I continued dating him (we’ve been together now 6 1/2 years) because I thought logically and not with my gut and I wanted a nice, loving guy. However, I never felt a real attraction towards him and never felt “in love”. I’ve been struggling for the whole 6 /12 years but I can’t bring myself to leave because I’m afraid of losing someone really positive and good in my life. I’m now 48 years old and I feel like my choices are limited. Id safety really enough? I love him as a person but when I see others “in love,” I feel like a fraud. I also wonder if I’m doing him a wrong. Argh!!!!
The fact that you never felt safe growing up and never felt safe with past boyfriends indicates that the fear lives inside of you and is likely preventing you from growing your relationship to the next level. Yes, safety is enough to start, and from there we have to work through our fear so that we can let someone into the innermost layers of our hearts. We cannot feel in love with fear standing guard. Have you considered my Break Free course?
I have a hard time with having a partner understand this whole anxiety thing. You also have a subject that is about them and that is very hard to tell your partner you are doubting your love. I know there must be other people who have had to have this Happen. You have to address it very lightly for fear they would leave you over what you admit to them.
My husband has never understood this subject. He was raised where is parents gave him tough love and told him to grow a pair when he had issues. He is there for me and understands me about any other issue in my life aside from this one. Due to him not really coddling me like I am used to and instead giving me tough love I have withdrawn from him as I felt I couldn’t go to him about this subject. I have been dealing with this for 7 years so he is also sooo over it. He tells me his way of being here for me is by sticking by me and not leaving. This is not easy on him and I know he wishes this was not in my life. He also doesn’t think talking about my fears and doubts and worries helps this problem and he only thinks it waters them more. For years I went to everyone else about this subject and seeked reassurance etc and did not go to him. Now I’m left with this wall up and this resentment because he will never understand and I know I can’t make him. I feel safe with him but being I don’t have safety around this issue it creates more distance and a feeling of not being safe when I struggle with this issue. How do I break this wall down? He tells me I need to grow up which I know is his way of saying grow my inner self. I wish I could grow my inner self so then this issue was not here and then I wouldn’t even have a need to want to talk about it. I feel I hide my anxieties and worries cause I know he can’t handle it and doesn’t know how to fix it. What is your advice when a partner doesn’t really understand and just can’t find a way to be there for you about it? Is this a bad sign I don’t have security with him over this issue? Please help
Agnes, I feel the same way. I understand Sheryl can’t respond to every comment but I feel like I should just give up with commenting as I don’t really get a response at all, plus I feel quite lost too so all this anxiety is just building up and up and up. If it’s not about my boyfriend it’s about my health, or profound anxiety over how much love he has to offer me. Perhaps my comments are too lengthy, and so it can seem tiring to read! But I wish I’d get some insight onto what I comment sometimes.
Growinglove: Yes, I do tend to respond to shorter comments as I simply don’t have the time to read through the longer posts. And I also tend to respond to comments that have a clear and direct question that isn’t answered in any of my other posts. I have hundreds of posts on this site, all of which are free, and while everyone thinks that their situation is unique, it rarely is! In other words, if you take the time to read through my site you will find answers to many of your questions. The rest of the work must done by you and only you, and involves learning and practicing the tools that I teach on my site and, in more depth, in my courses.
What if my question is “I stay because of security?”
What kind of security?
thank you for all your posts, your huge pearls of wisdom! I love reading them and reminding myself daily about the true meaning of love, softening into my anxiety and being friendly with my ego that’s kicking and screaming like a little child :-)) You probably get that a lot, but have you ever considered publishing all your posts in a book? I would love to have them all together in a book which I could just keep at my bedside table and read through every day, like a peaceful Bible of Love 🙂
Lots of love, Gabi
Thank you, Gabi. Yes, I’m in the process of discussing a book idea with several people. It’s in the works! Thank you for your support.;).
I am DELIGHTED to read this! 😀
That’s amazing news! Can’t wait! xx
I went through a huge massive relationship anxiety which started full on in spring 2013. I had been with Adam (my then boyfriend, today husband, yay!! Thank you Sheryl ! for 10 years then and I knew we were either going to get engaged and married and start a family, or we were going to go separate ways. He was very sure, grounded. I was all over the place, ready to run away! The fear and anxiety were so strong! I couldn’t shake the obsessive thoughts about my ex off, and I thought I didn’t love Adam enough, that I still loved my ex (who I haven’t seen in over a decade…), that Adam just wasn’t THE ONE!! I moved out from our flat and stayed at a friend’s place for a month, just to gain some perspective. Adam gave me the space and waited.
Long story short….I moved back in, still feeling very unsure about the whole thing, but somehow I felt even worse just being away from him.
But what am I trying to say….Adam is not at all into this whole fear thing. He is not interested in me explaining to him what was happening to me when I moved out. He just wants a clear yes or no, are we together or are we not sort of approach. And I absolutely get that. I had many moments when I thought :I need to explain all this to him, he needs to know what is happening for me, what am I going through, he needs to GET THAT! He needs to see how hard I am working!”
But you know what? I came to understand that he actually doesn’t. He doesn’t need to be the person I go to and talk to about my fear of commitment, the anxiety, the intrusive thoughts, even tho he is the one who is directly affected by all this.
My need to explain was coming from this hurt child inside me, who was crying and saying “He needs to know how hard this is for me, he needs to see how hard I am working and doing this inner work for him, for me, for us! ” cry cry cry, fit fit fit. No. He doesn’t need to understand that. I don’t need to explain it to him. He doesn’t need to be the one who listens to me talk about the fear and anxiety. I need to be the one who listens to me , not Adam.
And today I understand that he is not interested in hearing me talk about the fear behind my actions (when I moved out and doubted our future together). It is painful for him to revisit that time in our lives and he doesn’t want to go back. He is happy with where we are today. And that’s absolutely fine.
Please try to be soft and kind with your husband too. We have all these expectations we put on our partners (He should listen, He should be there for me, He should be the one who I talk to about fear etc…..Is that true that he should be the one doing that? …… I don’t think so…) And it doesn’t mean that he doesn’t care and that he doesn’t love you and that he isn’t an amazing beautiful supportive loving husband to you….
I hope that this is at least a little bit helpful….
All the best
Thank you so much for this response, Gabi. As I can’t respond to every comment I’m always filled with gratitude when those who have braved this journey come back to share their experience with others. It’s a real gift.
Yes, what Gabi said. I do NOT share all the noise in my head with my husband. He doesn’t need to know that sometimes I want to drive a pencil through his forehead (though he can probably tell ;-)). He doesn’t need to hear all the unfair, righteous clutter that’s mine to own and clear away. He doesn’t need me to chuck my smelly, heaping piles of crap his direction. This is why we pray and meditate and write and read Sheryl’s words and exercise (yes, we must exorcise our demons but they’re much quieter if we take them for nice walks or to Zumba) and talk to our therapists, if we’re fortunate enough. And gratitude. Feel it hard the next time your partner does something amazing–like indulges the movie you want or accompanies you to see your parents without asking. So small but so epic. That moment, that spark of recognition when you see how he is there for you? That’s love, flowing like a river of marshmallow cream.
Thank you for responding. Can I ask a few questions:
How did you handle when you were in a projection or feeling like your partner was the problem and not letting them pick up on it? My husband can sense the shut down or can sense when I am pushing him away. Last night he said I feel like you don’t like me. I don’t see how everyone else on here is able to conceal it and not let their partner pick up on it. Since I have been dealing with this for so many years it’s like I have almost convinced myself he is the problem etc. I feel like you can only chip away at something for so long before something has to give.
It’s also hard because when I got engaged this brought out a lot of insecurities and a scared inner child inside and this makes me not think I can handle a lot of things in life. My mind I think wants to blame him as he is the one who brought me to this place in my life and initiated leaving the nest of living with my parents. I guess to compare what your saying I have this scared child inside who wants to tell him I’m scared to handle life and have another baby and get off my medicine and lean on myself. But I guess your point is that I don’t need to talk to him about that scared child and instead talk to her myself?
Does anybody else find that they doubt whether they’re even anxious? My levels of anxiety are enough to bring me back to this work and seek reassurance, but they are not overwhelming physical symptoms as I feel they should be. My “ego” – though I am so fuaed with it right now it feels like the absolute truth – takes this as evidence that I don’t really care, “If I cared I’d be more upset by these thoughts” or “A decent person would kill themselves”. I’m trying to catch them and label them as Fear but the chatter is like a thick fog today.
I think I’ve seen Sheryl say that Anxiety doesn’t always have the same symptoms and is generally defined as a head space, not always physical symptoms or pain. I just don’t trust myself to believe that though.
In response to CT you, Sheryl, wrote: “It only takes being cheated on once in any relationship at any point in your life to develop a trust issue.” Do you have any advice on how I (and my partner and I together) can work through my trust issues? He cheated on me years ago and I do believe him when he says it will never happen again. Unfortunately, I still feel scared sometimes to be hurt like that by him again. I know I have to work on my insecurities, but what can he do and what can the two of us do together? I no longer want to feel the urge to ask him for reassurance – I know that no one can know what happens in life.
Healing from an affair is one the most challenging issues to heal from in a relationship, and I think it’s best addressed through couples therapy. The model that I highly recommend is EFT, created by Sue Johnson thirty years ago. You can learn more and found a locally trained therapist here:
Thank you! I hope – and I believe – we can get past this, with all my heart. It has been a few years since I found out, and for the most part I don’t think about it. However, I do feel that we should talk to a therapist, since I suffer from relationship anxiety which partly must stem from my trust issues since the infidelity. It hurts to have something like this come between us – I know he did not want to hurt me, that he acted from a place of pain (his mother was ill and he felt like nothing mattered) but it is hard to not take it personally. I feel like you can’t trust anyone, as anyone can hurt you even if it’s not their intent. My hope is that with some help, I can learn to trust both him and myself again.
It is actually very interesting f that you brought up trust, because that’s something I believe my ego has been attacking recently. Is this normal? As an example, my boyfriend and I (going on almost a year!) are both creatives. While we both enjoy these, he’s more of a mucisian and I’m more of an artist. Recently he’s gotten in to art as well! On the one hand, which I wish was the only hand, I am SO happy he found another thing he enjoys, and is GREAT at. He’s very talented. On he other hand, art is something that has always been there for me. It’s the only thing I feel like I’m good at, and until now it’s just been my thing. He may very well surpass my skill level pretty quickly. Art is also ENTIRELY based off emotion for me. If I love someone, I paint for them, but that’s usually the only reason I paint for anyone other than myself, other than very occasional commissions. He has been showing all of his coworkers and they have been asking for paintings from him. Boom, shot to the ego. One of these requests was from a single girl his age, very pretty. BOOM, instant anxiety. The weirdest part is that I DO trust him, I know him. He’s a GOOD guy. So why does my mind even go there, and why is it such a big deal? For me, I guess I just assume the way he paints is the same as me, or that I’m not REALLY good enough for him, despite how many times he’s told me otherwise. Do I REALLY trust him? I can’t exactly understand why I’d be so scared if I did, right?
Jade, this is so interesting to me as this is our dynamic too – he is a musician and I am an artist. I could feel the sense of loss in your comment; the feeling that your thing is no longer yours. The sense that he’s encroached on your turf (none of this being any of his fault of course). Sheryl has often talked about two great fears people have around relationships, which are loss of another and loss of oneself. It is interesting that both those fears are present here. I trust my partner as much as I could trust anybody, yet I still fear his interactions with other women. I suppose for me, personally, I have an old, familiar belief that I am not enough, or that relationships just don’t last. It may help you to figure out what beliefs are at work for you in this situation as well.
Yesterday was my 7 month wedding anniversary. How have the past 7 months been? An absolute BLAST. I love and appreciate my husband more & more. This all being said, mainstream culture probably wouldn’t guess that I struggled with extreme relationship anxiety for the year of my engagement. Like, hard to eat & work type of anxiety. I read this blog furiously, pouring over every entry and trying to find every reason to support why I should go through with the marriage, even though I was unquestionably nervous & stressed about it. Then, I stepped back, and I realized that I was trying to find scientific data that proved I should marry my partner. How crazy is that?? I wanted hard evidence to support what I knew I wanted deep down. That’s what today’s media will do to you. I was 23 when I got married. I married someone with a very different background than mine. That is not what today’s click-bait tells you to do. And you know what? It is amazing. He is amazing. Our story is amazing. I found the courage, somehow, to follow my heart rather than conventional “wisdom.” Look, one of the things I learned during the year I was tied up in knots over my upcoming nuptials was that no one can guarantee you a happy ending. You have to build your own, with your partner, brick by brick. Every day, still, can bring both darkness and light. You have to learn to live in both. Thank you, Sheryl, for having the courage to spread your tremendously important and counter-cultural message that doubt does not mean don’t.
Beautiful! Thank you for coming back to share.
V, thank you so much for sharing this here. I just turned 24 so as being a 23 year old during the onset of my vicious anxiety, your post made me feel warm and reassured. A serious relationship/marriage in your 20’s in the mainstream media is almost frowned upon, and often shamed by those, of course, who haven’t yet been lucky enough to find their other half. I struggle with this a lot and it’s a common source of my anxiety; what I should or shouldn’t be doing based on my age in this society. I’m so encouraged by your story, strength and love to you and your husband. <3
I brought the course on relationship anxiety but it doesnt have anything on about gut feelings. I spoke to my homeopath about this and he said little other than, gut is not intuition, gut is instinct, survival and protection. Heart is feeling and emotion and guidance there comes from love and our higher selves and intuition comes from our third eye in the form of an instant realisation or a picture. What are your thoughts on this regarding relationship anxiety and gut instincts?
Asking this question purely because my heart opened in January and i got to truly experience what you mean when you say “when the fear falls away” absolute bliss. It was then i found out my perfect boyfriend was going to propose to me and the yes came from my heart, like it wasnt even a choice i made it was obvious. A few weeks before the proposal my heart closed and my gut flared up “Don’t get married” i said yes anyway because i wanted too but being in the line of work you are, how do you view gut feelings/instincts?
The entire course is on the truth about gut! I encourage you to go through it again as it’s meant to be worked through 3-4 times, then start to practice the tools that I teach there.
Recently I have been feeling that what if I am only staying because I don’t want to hurt many husband and by leaving I am just admitting my marriage is all a lie? So I am just staying so no one else sees I failed.
Beautiful! Yes yes yes.
I know I’ve left previous comments and they’ve been really long which is probably why I haven’t had a response so thought I’d shorten it.. for a year I’ve been batting with the same thought over and over “I don’t love him” and because I’ve always thought love was a feeling (a part of me still does think this) when that thought enters my head I feel like I’m starting to believe it because in that moment I can’t feel the love. What if I’m only staying with him because I want to and not because I love him? I don’t think I’ve probably ever been in love but I do know that he is the only person I’ve thought about a future with, and despite all the thoughts I still want my future with him.. I had a calm week the other week and I felt like I started to have a break through cause I felt like I accepted you won’t feel love all the time and it’s okay to find other people attractive and it’s okay to not always want to be sexually active.. my thought is always worse when I’m not with him. The minute I’m with him it all disappears and I feel fine and I’m happy and laughing with him. I really really don’t want to lose him and be without him but I also don’t want to hurt him by staying if I truly don’t love him? Leaving him is th last thing I want though, I want my life with him and a home and a family 🙁 I jus don’t know what love is if it isn’t a feeling and how to make myself detach from what I think love is supposed to be to what it actually is
Before he goes to work in the mornings he always kisses me goodbye and I’m always Half asleep kissing him back and telling him I love him before he leaves, this morning he didn’t kiss me goodbye as he said he didn’t wanna wake me and I woke up with the thought in my head straight away and I was saying “it’s true that I don’t love him” and I just wanted to cry. I know we are perfect for one another, he is my friend/bestfriend and boyfriend all wrapped in one, we are completely ourselves together and I don’t wanna lose him ever. I’m just so scared. We are looking to buy a house together this year and the thought of that makes me smile and i feel all excited and cannot wait as living with his parents is starting to be a little tough
The response I’ve given you before is the same I’ll give you now: If you can’t afford the Break Free course or Trust Yourself, read through my site in its entirety and start practicing all of the tools that you learn here. You’re suffering from an intrusive thought that says, “I don’t love him” so you need to start practicing the steps for breaking free from intrusive thoughts, which you can find by googling “conscious transitions + intrusive thoughts”.
And now sat here writing this I don’t know what part of me is not true, th intrusive thoughts not being true or me being happy and calm around my boyfriend and the thoughts disappearing not being true: I always kiss and cuddle him and that’s not pretend, I do all that because that’s what I want – sorry I know it’s ended up long again but I would really appreciate a response or anyone’s opinion and help
Did you see my response above?
I’ve read through quite a few of your blogs not all of them yet, and with each blog I’ve written down what stands out to me. I’m just confused by how do I know if this is intrusive thoughts or the truth.. the thought of leaving him scares me more. I’d rather put up with the thoughts and feel this way than not have him but I need to be fair to him aswell. I do think “if you are scared about losing him / leaving him then you must love him” but then it just comes back to me not “feeling” love
Also earlier when he got in from work I was happy to see him and we cuddled and I felt safe and warm and happy but then when he said “I love you” my head was just like “well I don’t love you” it frustrates me because there’s a part of me that knows/believes that isn’t true. I don’t think I would of put up with dealing with all these thoughts and that for over a year if somewhere inside of me didn’t love him? I’m a bad liar and I feel guilty at the smallest of things but I don’t feel guilty being with him because this is what I want, I want to be with him
Based on what you’ve learned here, how would you respond to your own comment with your wise and loving self?
Oh I don’t know, I’ve never been asked this before but I’ll give it ago.. I’d say that deep down I love this man, I would rather feel this way and suffer than not be with him, laying here now with him sat by my feet I don’t want to have to imagine not being with him. When we are like this together I’m calm, as soon as we are in one another’s presence it’s like there’s a big click and bam the thoughts go away or they just seem to not bother me as much. I think I ask myself the questions if wether I love him or not and I answer myself with a no because in that moment I’m trying to feel feelings. & then moments when we are just sat here talking to one another and I just feel content and happy and warm and that feeling is what I need to hold onto. He hurt me about a year ago when we split and I think maybe I haven’t fully allowed myself to feel love again properly since then but then I’ve said before I was worried incase I accepted the break up.. I’ve never met someone before who I’ve wanted to spend my life with and all my time with, all other guys I’ve met in the past have all left and walked away from me (those that I’ve been attracted to) and this man I’m with now is so loving and caring and I’ve never had that, I know that this could be forever so maybe a part of me is worried incase he walks away again in the future. I’m not sure.. do you think me speaking to a therapist would help?
I recommend therapy to anyone struggling with anxiety of any kind. You need to learn how to work with your thoughts and attend to the underlying feelings with compassion. This video may also help. It’s geared toward engaged women but the technique applies to anyone struggling with fear:
Thank you I will give that a watch in the morning.. just one more quick question.. why is it that as soon as I start to feel okay in myself and comfortable and know that I love my partner, I then get a thought like “why are you pretending to feel okay when deep down you don’t know if you love him” it’s like as soon as I begin to feel comfortable and happy it gets burdened and I feel bad for feeling happy, telling me that I shouldn’t be laughing and smiling and kissing him cause I’ve been thinking I don’t love him
The reason that thought comes in when you start to feel okay is because you’re opening. I often wonder if I even know what I mean by ‘open-hearted’ but I’ve come to understand that it feels soft, vulnerable, loving, kind, gentle, willing. Whereas being closed is numb, disconnected, untouched, unaffected – the ‘negative’ stuff that makes us feel separate from other people and perhaps ourselves. Being open is vulnerable. The Ego’s job (the ego is the conscious mind – the thoughts we ‘hear’) is to protect us from the pain of life. Thus, you open and the ego steps in: “why are you pretending to feel okay when deep down you’d know if you love him”. Often, I have to tell myself ‘this is an intrusive thought’ even when I feel very reluctant and disbelieving. Sometimes, I’m so tired from my mind I can only muster saying ‘fear’. Even when it feels wrong, I keep my faith in this work by doing this exercise in the hope that I will crack open and see/feel clearly again. Sometimes it is blind faith until we thaw out again. In all your comments, I can hear that you are hooking into all of your fear-thoughts. Keep working, it will start to stick. It’s really hard to de-fuse from the fear-based mind.
It may help you to practice developing a witness Self through yoga/meditation/mindfulness. This will teach you to create a separation between you (your pure awareness, your soul) and your mind so that you can learn to just watch the chatter. I recommend the app Headspace which gives you 10 days of 10 minute meditations free before you can choose to sign up for more. You literally just have to sit there, relax and practice shifting your awareness while a man’s voice talks you through it all.
It’s great that you’re so engaged with the site, but I personally have to watch myself to make sure I’m not using it for reassurance-seeking (which you will see me doing above…). Watch out for that. You are still only at the very beginning of this venture and you still have so much to learn. Best wishes xx
Agnes, your response brought many smiles to my soul. Time and again I find that those who are suffering the most and post a lot on my main site end up being the ones for whom this work sinks in deeply. I’m seeing this with you. Keep going, keep reading, keep practicing , keep naming fear as it arises, keep shifting out of your head and into your heart and you will experience more and more open-heartedness. And I love your description of open-heartedness, by the way. You couldn’t write that if it wasn’t stemming from your body-wisdom (as opposed to just your head-knowledge), which means that you’re absorbing this work more deeply than you think.
Thank you for your reply Agnes, means a lot. I just worry that I’m lying to myself and that I’m only with him because I want to be and not because I love him, but then I’ve been dealing with these thoughts for over a year and I’ve had plenty of times when my mind has been clear and I’ve felt calm, warm, happy and content and love. I’m assuming that if it was true I didn’t love him then I wouldn’t have any of those open moments. Thank you again and I will keep trying because to me, leaving isn’t an option.
Thank you, ladies. Your responses really touched me. It means a lot to be encouraged and told I’m doing it right. Katie, you are sort of lying to yourself, because at the moment you are so fused with the part of you that sees through the muddy lenses of fear (I have to remind myself ‘fear’ doesn’t just feel like being frightened, it’s anything that emotionally closes you off to a person). So it does feel like a lie of sorts, yes, because it presents a different story to the ego – one that loves your partner and wants to stay in this relationship. Remember this is a choice. I know this first-hand, if you are searching for the ‘right’ love-feelings and the ‘right’ thoughts, you’re numbing yourself to them. Thoughts and feelings are kind of like flowing water, but when we try to control them we are interrupting the flow and damming that river. Just so you know, I’m not better than I was when I found Sheryl because the thoughts have vanished and I never feel angry or frustrated or disappointed in my boyfriend; I’ve just become remarkably more relaxed about the stuff that darts across my mind.
Also, remind yourself of this: http://conscious-transitions.com/i-feel-like-im-lying-when-i-say-i-love-you/
Finally, being with someone because you want to be is a great reason to be with them. There is no test to measure love. We cherish it when it washes over us and when it doesn’t, we work towards it as best as we can. In time, you will learn to become more comfortable with this ebb and flow.
Again, spot-on and beautiful, Agnes. How does it feel to be offering wisdom to others? It can be a very effective way to access our own inner wisdom and loving guidance.
It gives me a little more faith that I’m on the right track. Thanks, Sheryl. 🙂
Can anyone offer any insight around relationship insecurity and anxiety? How do they differentiate? How do they go hand in hand? I am currently stuck on these obsessive thoughts that my boyfriend will never change, he will never want to progress in our relationship, etc. We have been together for 2 years and have had issues that we have addressed and talked about. Some of them I can’t get over even after voicing them and that is where my insecurity comes from. However, how does anxiety play into this?
Is it fear or is it my reality? I have never been this far into a relationship and find myself very confused and lost. My sister is moving out of my house as she purchased her own home. I am very stressed about how I’m going to do it on my own and although my BF and I haven’t talked about possibly moving in, I somewhat resent him for not offering. He currently doesn’t have a job and helps care for his parents but am I being selfish for wanting more in our relationship, knowing where he is? How do I talk to him without making him feel like a bad person?
Knowing how safe I feel with my boyfriend is the only thing getting me through this morning so far. I woke up today very anxious, nauseous, overwhelmed; The two of us are leaving tonight to fly out of the country for a week-long vacation. You’d think I’d feel excited and happy! And part of me does, but my anxiety is also taking the wheel. We are going to a third world country, and while I’m looking forward to experiencing the culture and new adventures, I fear the culture at the same time and the unknown. However, he has been there many times and we know a few locals, so being with him makes me feel safe. My anxious mind is saying to me:
“What if you get into a fight while you’re down there?” (we don’t really fight ever)
“What if you get annoyed with spending so much time with him?” (I never have)
“What if you want to leave when you get home?”
I know these fears are most likely me projecting onto him and my real fears are him getting annoyed with me, etc. Once I recognize my projections, what is the next step? Do I invite them in and let them pass through? I want to get through this anxiety so I can relax and have fun on my vacation, I don’t want to get through this flight and this week being medicated. I know my fears and my reality, but I’m having such a hard time not letting them collide. Any advice would be greatly appreciated!
Alyssa – can you see your ego trying to grasp onto control here? What if you do get into a fight? Couples fight, it’s okay. You’re both adults and you can handle that maturely. What if you get annoyed spending so much time with him? You might and that’s okay as well. Most people need their space and everyone has their own threshold before they say “right, love, I’m going to go spend some time on my own for a while if that’s okay 🙂 “. You’re allowed to feel irritated and you’re allowed to ask for space. What if you want to leave when you get home? Staying in or leaving your relationship is a choice and with a less anxious perspective, this question would be far less present and loud in your mind. When these thoughts pop up, you need to label them as fear/intrusive/projection and curiously ask yourself what is needed? What are you feeling right now? What’s off-kilter? Intrusive Thoughts point to needs. I like to think of it like a toddler tugging on your skirt for attention. The anxious thought is that tug. From your comment, it sounds like you’re going through some things right now that are very understandably making you apprehensive! The trip itself and the close proximity. If you are introverted like many of us here, the idea of a holiday with someone, ANYONE, else is both negative and positive in lots of ways. It’s alright 🙂
So wise, Agnes. Thank you for supporting others here.
I genuinely enjoy it, Sheryl 🙂 and it helps me draw from my own wise Self. It’s interesting how easy it is to recall what I’ve learned when I’m wanting to help others, yet how blank I feel when trying to help myself.
Hi Agnes, you seem to know a lot and be able to bring clarity to a lot of people here, maybe you can help me as well.
My main ‘what if’ question in my mind is and has been in other relationships:
What if you’d rather be single?
Leaving this relationship terrifies me and I don’t think I want to but this question is literally torturing me.
Is this still relationship anxiety or something else in your opinion?
Thanks in advance
Firstly, I want to say thanks. I have been reading your blog for a few months and I truly feel like it has been such a blessing to me.
Secondly, is it normal for the ego to latch onto new thoughts and projections as you work through some of them, or is it because I not doing a thorough enough job working through the root causes of the original projections? My thoughts have morphed from “Is he the right person for me?” to “What if he cheats on me? What if he doesn’t really love me?” You have a lot of posts about “What if I don’t really love him?” but not as many that I can find on the reverse. I have no real reason to think that he doesn’t love me and a million to believe that he does. Am I just not working through my insecurities correctly and that is why the particular thought has changed but underlying anxiety has not?
Anxiety story-hops all the time until the root causes are addressed. “What if I don’t love him” is the flip-side of
“What if he doesn’t love me” and they’re both connected to the story of “enough-ness” – am I enough or is he enough – which points to core worthiness. Here’s more on story-hopping:
Thank you so much Sheryl!
In that post you have a link to a mind body green article, http://www.mindbodygreen.com/0-11639/5-life-changing-ways-to-start-your-day.html , which has another link to an effective journaling technique, but it appears the link is no longer there. Do you have anything else around effective journaling?
I teach it in all of my courses, especially Break Free and Trust Yourself. The least expensive course that I teach it in is available through MindBodyGreen:
This discussion reminds me of that amazing scene in “Fiddler on the Roof,” when Tevye and Golde, whose marriage was arranged, ponder the question of love for the first time in their 25 years together. Facing pogroms and changing mores around marriage, Tevye asks his wife, “Golde, do you love me?” She’s trying to get dinner on and he’s in the way; the last thing she wants is to have this conversation. But he insists and, finally, she sings, “For 25 years I’ve lived with him, fought with him, starved with him. For 25 years my bed is his, if that’s not love what is?”
The vulnerability in this moment, the beauty of it, the awareness that love is birthed in the daily-ness of work, children, meals, heartbreak and celebration by two people who met on their wedding day—this cracks my heart open.
You can watch this scene here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h_y9F5St4j0
Yesterday I had a wonderful day. Almost free from anxiety and just totally comfortable spending time and loving my fiancé. Today fear and doubts run rampant again. I feel so aggravated by this.
Once I begin feeling good and enjoying everything in my life again, it is as if the enemy swipes it away again.
Is anyone else experiencing this? A good day followed by another bad one
This is very common, Brooke. It’s what Katie commented a similar thing further up. It may help you to read Gay Hendricks’ book ‘The Big Leap’ and learn about the Upper Limit Problem. Many people seem to experience a bout of feeling really good, to only come crashing down as anxiety takes hold again in a big way. This can point to a variety of false beliefs including: “I’m not worthy of happiness”, “Happiness isn’t safe”, “If I feel really good, something awful will happen”, “Happiness isn’t sustainable” etc etc. Whenever I feel ‘dangerously good’ (as I have often called it), one of the first fear-thoughts to pop up is a daydream about getting a call that one of my parents had died. Almost as if, “Something bad is bound to happen if I take my eye off my fears”. Understanding this may help you to expand your capacity for feeling okay.
Ooops, ignore the “It’s what…”. I’d started to type something else.
This doesn’t go with the topic of this post too much but I really have a question. I’ve been suffering from anxiety about my relationship since October. It’s been on and off. Some times worse than others. The usual “is this what I want” “do I love him enough” “I’m I convincing myself to stay” type questions. Before it started my parents told me they were selling my childhood home and moving 3 hours away. At first it was said that I could have the home, but then my dad changes his mind because he says I wouldn’t be happy there(which he’s probably right). Then in January my mother was diagnosed with lung cancer. It’s treatable and she’s doing well. The next thing that happened is my parents got an early offer on their house this past week. I’m really struggling with what It all and I’m pretty sure it’s projecting onto my relationship x10. My question here is do you considered my parents moving and selling their home and the realization that one day my parents won’t be here any more some kind of transition? I’ve been trying yoga and going to therapy as much as I can afford and it does lighten the load a little but im still struggling. Thanks for the posts of hope.
I’m a young 23 year old, not married, but with an amazing partner who gives me 100 percent security, trust, stability, commitment, and desire to help me through my relationship anxiety. He has even taken all the nit picks I say about him and just tries to help me through it himself. One thing that worries me is that I keep having thoughts that if my partner was just a bit more “normal” (e.g. more career oriented, didn’t play videogames, dressed better, didn’t have very different family life and upbringing) that I would have it easier. I guess my question is, should I be concerned about me being so anxiety ridden about his passions and differences in opinions? Are these red flags?
My partner in the past has been caught talking to Women online. He has never physically cheated on me and he seemed to have changed as when I moved out he turned up at my parents having a breakdown sobbing his heart out because I had actually left. Anytime he did something stupid I never left so I think this time he realised it was serious and since then he seems to be fine. We fight a lot about the mistakes he’s made like talking to women, but somehow, I still feel safe with him and love him. The thought of never seeing him again breaks me. His best friend died just after we got back together and I believe going through that has also brought us closer. I try and believe that he just had not grown up yet when he did these things and me leaving made him finally grow up and realise he couldn’t act the way he had. Do u think we stand a chance and that we can make it? We have talked about children etc and it’s been a while since the “break up” where he grew up but I don’t want to bring children into a relationship that I get anxious over.
Like I’m not sure whether because there’s been red flags in the past that we stand no chance 🙁
Red flags can be healed as long as both partners are willing to commit to the healing process.
Thank you so much for replying! It’s really what I needed to hear. Since I wrote the comment I’ve been feeling a limitless better but I do go through times where I’m completely fine then back to being extremely anxious so thank you for that
Hello Joanna. Sorry, I am not ignoring you, I have only just seen your comment now. Please feel free to email me directly at [email protected]
And please, don’t think I am some sort of specialist and that I have it all sorted! I still have moments and days when I pick my husband apart and feel annoyed by the way he chews and coughs!
Please email me your questions again if you like!
Thank you xxx Gabi
This post addresses one my fears but also brings up another fear — am I just staying with my partner because staying is safe & predictable versus leaving which would throw my world upside down and be extremely unpredictable? Am I thinking of marrying him because he is a good option and I would regret not, or because I’m scared of the unknowns that would come up if I were to leave him? Am I staying out of fear of the unknowns of leaving or staying because I actually love him? My mind tries everything to convince me I don’t love him even though logistically he is a perfect match for me!
I would appreciate your feedback! Your voice is always reassuring…
These are all stories, Anxious, designed to try to convince you to leave so that you don’t have to take the risk of loving. As you read through my site it will make more sense.
sheryl, do you have any advice to people in long distance relationships with relationship anxiety?
I am so, so thankful I found this site. I’ve been practicing all the techniques and it has helped TREMENDOUSLY over the past month. But, sometimes, it’s things people say that will trigger intrusive thoughts and shake the progress I’ve made. Currently, I’m with a handsome and wonderfully kind-hearted man who makes me feel safe and supported. My mother remarried years ago but sometimes tells me that she feels like she “settled” with the “safe” option by choosing my stepdad. This frightens me because my boyfriend is very similar to my stepdad. They’re both good, committed and loving men. I am scared of looking at my marriage in the future and feeling like I settled. Even though she loves my stepdad and is grateful for him, she is always telling me that I’m young (I’m 26) and should live my life to the fullest. This makes me worry that I’m just settling for my man just because he’s good/kind/respectful/loving to me. I’m so scared of feeling like my mom.
I have been experiencing rocd for about a year now and currently I’m feeling very anxious majority of the time just without the intrusive thoughts, and when I’m feeling anxious I automatically think it’s to do with my partner. Is this normal?
Normal and textbook relationship anxiety :).
My boyfriend and I recently broke up because we had these underlying thoughts about “is this it” “I don’t know if I see a future” etc. and rather than work things out, we decided to part ways and I am torn. After reading these, I know it’s beacuse of my relationship anxiety. But now I am at the cross road of grieving and having a hard time deciphering between do I miss him or the idea of him? It’s been about 3 weeks but after reading all of these articles, I want to reach out and talk with him, but know we need this time. I just want to make sure that what I feel is real and not just the process of going through a break-up… beacuse I am quickly coming to the conclusion how great he was and how much I love him, and maybe there is a future for us… only just realized it a little too late.
Yes, I can totally relate to this. Does anyone have any insight on this as well?? Would love to hear others thoughts!
What if don’t know if I can trust him 100%? He is a good person, but few times in the past he didn’t behave like I expected him to. For example, few years ago he went to meet his friends when I had some sort of breakdown (he apologized and said he didn’t realize that it was so bad). I’m afraid that if trust him 100% he will disappoint me. Actually, I know that, maybe because I have high expectations. How trust is different from expecting someone to behave perfectly? You also mentioned feeling safe to take risks and experiment. I have very low self esteem, my partner is a down to earth person and expects me to make decision on facts and have a plan. I feel like a child without a plan and many his comments make me feel worse of myself. To the point I’m afraid that I will fail near him. He is a supportive person but I don’t know what I want to do in my life. I don’t have a plan, I don’t have idea which I am sure of. I feel like I’m not good enough. This feeling combined with ROCD is really bad. Do you have any suggestions?
Wonderful blog post! I’ve spent the last few days reading a lot of the stuff available on this website and can’t help wishing I’d found this many years ago. I’ve always felt my anxiety about relationships could be as much about parts of my psyche in need of healing and wholeness but have never found the help or enriching information I needed. Sadly my marriage failed 3 years ago (my relationship anxiety played a part for sure) and I was recently in a relationship which I ended, probably due to my own anxiety largely, but telling myself “I’m not ready” although this person is very special. Everything I’m reading on these blogs, the comments, and the materials is 100% what I’ve been going through for so many years. It’s such a relief, but tinged with pain right now. I have ordered the book Wisdom of Anxiety, and really look forward to reading this.
I’m so glad you found your way here, Jon, and I’ve come to see that we find the tools and information we need when we’re ready to receive them. You might want to consider the Break Free From Relationship Anxiety course so that you’re ready to tackle the anxiety when it comes up in the next relationship.