I Love You Go Away

Among the many misconceptions that people have about love – that it’s only a feeling, that the feeling of being “in love” should exist from day one, that attraction is static and based on external attributes  – the faulty belief that often gets swept under the rug more than any other is that love is ambivalent. What does this mean? It means that:

  • Love includes doubt
  • Love includes indifference
  • Love includes boredom
  • Love includes numbness
  • Love includes irritation
  • Love includes the need for space
  • Love includes doubt
  • Love includes – dare I use such a strong word – hate

We live in a culture that thrives off of definitive answers, which essentially means that we squeeze life into dualism: you can either feel happy or sad (but never both at the same time). You can either feel attracted or not attracted, but certainly not both within the span of an hour. You can either feel certain or doubtful, but not vacillate between these two poles in the same relationship.

But this is not how the human heart works. Our hearts are nuanced and textured, mysterious and subtle. And our emotions are as fleeting as clouds moving across the sky: we can feel happy one moment and sad the next and that’s okay. We can feel attracted and not attracted almost simultaneously. And nowhere do we see this more clearly and painfully than in the realm of romantic love. Why? Because nowhere do we risk our hearts so completely and make ourselves more vulnerable to the possibility of being hurt. And nowhere does the template of old hurts project themselves more directly than onto our partners.

Coaching clients sometimes say to me, “I’ve never been hurt by love. I had a great childhood and I can’t remember any painful experiences with my parents. They were very loving.” To which I respond, “Even with the most loving parents in the world, there’s still pain. And even if you weren’t directly hurt by your parents, it’s not possible to grow through childhood, adolescence, and into adulthood without being hurt by love. We’re hurt by friends, siblings, first lovers, and teachers, to name a few.” Where we love, we risk. And where we risk, we get hurt. Most of this hurt isn’t intentional, but because we’re human and, thus, imperfect in the art of loving, we invariably hurt and are hurt by others.

We can be hurt in a variety of ways. Sometimes the hurt is in the form of enmeshment: a parent or early relationship where the boundaries between self and other are too loose and the fear of being steamrolled or losing yourself emerges. Sometimes the hurt is in the form of abandonment: an early relationship where you felt rejected or were literally abandoned. And most people experience some form of both.

Thus the following dualities arise: I love you, go away. Come close, but not too close. Wait don’t go. Come back. This is love’s ambivalence. This is how the fear of losing yourself and loving another appears in intimate relationships.

Love’s ambivalence applies not only to romantic love but to all forms of love: with parents, friends, neighbors, children. This principle recently came up with a client when she was talking about her young child:

“I love him so much but sometimes I just want him to go away,” she shared.

“Of course you do! You need space. You get irritated. You love him but you don’t always like him. This is all completely normal.”

Some part of us knows that this is normal in other relationships where we have an implicit understanding that it’s okay to span the spectrum of feelings. We know that we don’t always like our kids. We know that our parents can irritate us. When a clients asks me, “Is it normal that I feel irritated with my partner?” I respond, “If you spent every day with your best friend, would you feel irritated?” We can acknowledge the ambivalence in other relationships without questioning the core bond of love.

But when it comes to romantic love, everything changes. Inundated by our popular culture that jams the fantasy version of love down our throats and psyches, we believe that our love for our partners should be unblemished by ambivalence. We then make decisions – often irreversible ones – based on this faulty mindset.

The paradox is that the more we learn about love, the less ambivalent it becomes. It’s not that we stop feeling irritated or bored or disconnected; it’s that we recognize these experiences as normal byproducts of being in close emotional relationship with another human being and we stop giving them so much power. We also learn to decipher the messages inside the various manifestations of ambivalence, which means that when irritation arrives, for example, we can ask, “What is it that I’m needing?” When we learn the basic Love Laws and Loving Actions that underscore a romantic relationship, we can move toward all of our emotional responses in a way that opens our heart and creates more connection with ourselves and our partners. With the connection intact, the offshoots of ambivalence begin to lose their power.

These Laws and Actions can be learned. You don’t have to live your life behind the wall of fear and anxiety that causes your heart to shut down and your perception to be altered. When the seeds of ambivalence take root – when we don’t know how to work with the boredom, irritation, and even hatred that show up in intimate relationships – they fester into unsightly weeds and alter our perceptions. Fear is extraordinary in its power to change perceptions, and as all forms of ambivalence are cousins of fear, we must ultimately learn to work with the fear effectively so that we can open our hearts and eyes to real love and real attraction. What is learned can be unlearned and replaced with truth. This is the path of opening your heart.

If you would like to learn to work effectively with the powerful effects of ambivalent love, please join me for my next round of Open Your Heart: A 30-day program to feel more love and attraction for your partner. It begins on March 10, 2018, and I look forward to seeing you there.

77 comments to I Love You Go Away

  • H

    Sheryl I don’t think I have Relationship anxiety anymore. I used to. But it seems to have shifted. It feels like I have already broken up with my partner. I genuinely don’t think I love him anymore. I feel like I want to leave, except I don’t want to hurt him. I wonder if this sounds fixable? We have been together 6 years and I loved him so much. I’m not sure why it changed.

  • Anetij

    How do you approach the fact that you have never been fully open? Where do you start? I feel that I am terrified of being open because if I do open up, I will feel no love, and the hope of building love and happy marriage will be gone.

  • Natz

    Sheryl, looks like the video intro for OYH isn’t working. FYI! Thank you another important and timely article 🙂

  • agnes-pea

    I love you, Sheryl! You’ve helped me so much and changed the direction of my life in the most brilliant way. Thank you. This is a great post. I can’t believe how much energy I used to give to my irritation and ambivalence. Now it’s pretty much a non-issue. It comes and then it goes.

    • Fay

      I feel the same way! A year ago I was frantically google searching and so choked up with anxiety/depression sometimes I could hardly eat. Now, after reading the blogs and really diving into all inner work (even when I don’t feel like it) I’ve felt the weights continue to get lighter and lighter over time. Emotions can just be emotions. Thoughts can just be thoughts. The relief is so great!

  • Anxiouslyengaged

    Hi Sheryl,
    Loving this article !!! I was wondering, do you speak about criticism and nit picking. I feel like I remember reading something about this in your work, and that you struggled with this at one point. I know that when I feel annoyed with my partner or irritated I have a bad habit of saying it out loud to my husband.

    I Know that I also have this bad habit with myself.. it is the reason why I am such a high achiever but I know it is not healthy for my relationship and makes my husband not feel loved. I recently read an article that said that nit picking means underlying disdain ….. my fear!!!! So am I like this because I really don’t love him?

    I need to get deeper but I think a lot of my criticisms is my anxiety and me trying to control and stems a lot from my relationship with my mom but sometimes it’s hard for me not to believe my hook/thought that tells me that if I loved my husband more, I wouldn’t be so critical.

    Thanks for reminding me of what love is!!!

  • InLove

    Hey there Sheryl! I joined your course and it has been the best help to me! I’m starting to get a better hang of myself and look inward into my own faults and why I feel the way I do, as it my responsibility and it’s not my partner’s. I still have many hooks that my anxiety wanders to and my latest one is that because we are in a long distance relationship, this anxiety is simply because we are drifting apart. And seeing other long distance relationships break up over such matters spikes my anxiety. I would love some advice!

    • I’ve seen many long-distance relationships survive beautifully over the years. It’s not the distance that’s the issue but how well you can manage your intrusive thoughts and, of course, always working together to maintain closeness with each other. That’s true whether or not you’re long distance!

  • CB

    As always, I love this article! I am working my way through the conscious weddings e-course and am feeling a lot better! Today, my fiance and I had a meeting with our pastor. A new fear popped up during the meeting, “maybe my fiance is too quiet.” Now I can’t get that out of my head! I will continue to work 🙂

  • Anne Marie

    Sheryl,

    Can you explain what you exactly you mean by an enmeshed relationship with a mother? I’m wondering if this applies to me. I am my mom’s only daughter (of 5 children), and she is very involved in my life. Sometimes, I feel a responsibility to provide her with female companionship, as our family is mostly male and she doesn’t have friends she sees regularly. I’m 24, and I still live at home, so she constantly asks what I’m doing, when I’ll be home, and almost makes me feel guilty sometimes for seeing my boyfriend a couple of nights a week instead of being home. I’m at a point in my life where I need some independence, and I feel sort of suffocated by this?

    My fiancé was accepted to grad school in another state, and I broke the news to her that I’ll be moving with him (of course – we’re getting married in a year). She did not take it well. She seems really afraid of me moving away, and often tells me that she’d had a hard time making it without me (being surrounded by men all the time). She wants all of her children to live locally, but I explained to her that specialized degrees often require people to move. She seems fixated on this idea that I’m not going to be near her.

    I almost feel personal responsibility for her happiness, and I am absorbing her fears of me moving away even though I did not have them myself before. I felt pretty excited about spending some time in another city and beginning a life with my fiance/soon-to-be husband.

    Is this an example of an enmeshed relationship? Is my feeling guilt for not making her happy a sign of that?

    • Anne Marie

      Also, I should add that my oldest brother moved 12 hours away about 7 years ago. When I asked him if she reacted this way with him, he said that she didn’t.

  • R

    I was hurt really badly in a relationship several years ago – experienced massive betrayal – and I feel like I’ve lost the ability to actually love anyone anymore, like that part of me just doesn’t work now. I meet people who I like initially, but I can’t seem to fall in love. I’m very happy alone now, maybe too happy, and that plus the fact that I don’t form real feelings for anyone just makes me disinclined to pursue any relationships. I don’t know whether I’m broken or just not meeting the right people!

    • You’re not broken but your heart was broken, which means that you erected walls around it to try to keep you safe from experiencing that level of pain again. The healing path is to fully grieve, which mean excavating the beliefs that formed after the breakup as a way to protect you from the pain as well as allowing the pure grief to move through you. It can be a long process but it’s a very doable one, especially with the right support.

  • LE

    I’m just saying, sometimes you DO need to break up. I think I have some relationship anxiety but I think I was also so afraid of backing down that I stayed in an unhappy relationship. Being in a relationship isn’t always better than not being in one. It’s not fair to hold that as the goal to achieve and have people make themselves martyrs. Even if you are “broken” and that’s what’s causing you to feel this way, rather than the other person, why should people have to force themselves into something they aren’t ready for? Why can’t people focus on themselves while being alone, too? I broke up with my boyfriend and now I am soooo much happier and working on myself. I don’t think it’s right to tell people staying is the only answer or else they’re “running away from their challenges”. Maybe they’re just making the right decision.

    • It sounds like you’re misunderstanding the core message in my work. My work isn’t about convincing people to stay in an unloving relationship. Rather, it’s about teaching people about the power that fear can wield to the point of convincing people to walk away from real love. There’s certainly nothing wrong with being alone, and there aren’t any “right” or “wrong” decisions when it comes to staying or leaving relationships.

    • K

      I have to say it’s very difficult to understand relationship anxiety when you are not the anxious kind. The difference is that we are prone to overthinking and self sabotage, thus prematurely terminating what could be a beautiful relationship. It’s about learning to cope with the anxiety within us so that we can love see straight and give/receive love without running away from it.

      • To LE

        I have read through most of these posts + comments and i can completely see what you’re seeing. As an outsider. It does sometimes seem as if Sheryl is coaxing people to stay in their relationship.

        But as K wrote above, recognizing relationship anxiety and how it rears it’s ugly head is the root of Sheryl’s work and success with relationships.

        4-5 years ago I was reading all these posts while i was in a relationship that was NOT good for me. And it’s true, I did my best to use the tools i learned to attempt to salvage said relationship. In that case, the best plan was to separate. Which we did. SHeryl can’t really assist in determining that without being in her course or a client. Eventually that happens as a matter of lack of love in some context or another.

        Now I am with literally the most amazing gem of a man (over 2 years). But I still have occasional relationship anxiety. Walking away would be such a mistake (for ME). This is the help Sheryl is providing. Not to convince people to stay, but to abate fears, recognize their source, battle them, and let LOVE be the victor. Not fear. Relationship dissolution will not always solve the problem.

        (sheryl pls don’t approve the comment above that used my picture, i’ve repeated the comment here)

        • Well said and thank you. The essence of my work is about learning to discern between fear and truth. It’s the million-dollar question, and when people make decisions based on fear they often walk away from very loving, healthy relationships only to find themselves in the same boat with their next partner. Fear can be tricky and convincing, and nowhere is it more convincing than in the realm of intimate relationships.

  • Gen

    Hi Sheryl,
    I’m growing inpatient in trying to find love or another partner. Do you have any wise words for me or to just keep the faith?

    Gen

  • E

    Hi Sheryl, I actually am having harder with my ambivalence in my relationship with my daughter. She is almost 5 months old. I sometimes get waves of intensely strong feelings of love towards her, followed by waves of fear that something bad will happen to her (I lost a pregnancy before in a traumatic way) or anxiety about losing myself of self. Right now, the latter anxieties are more prevelent. Sometimes it feels like my love for her is all-consuming and I am afraid my sense of self will be sacrificed. I suppose I need to use the same techniques I used to cope with romantic relationship anxiety- taking a deep breathe and grounding myself. Yet I feel much more guilt about needing space from my daughter. Any tips for dealing with this kind of anxiety? Am I terrible person for feeling this way?

  • Gen

    I just had a thought. Maybe my inability to “find” or “connect” with someone is linked with my inability to “find” or “connect” with myself. Maybe I need to continue to tend to myself, keep unreeling the layer of self and then I may find someone.

  • NNN

    Pls take the thumbnail image off

  • YN

    Hi Sheryl, (sorry its a little long)
    I have been with someone for about 8 months, and its a very serious relationship. In the beginning I thought he was the most right man. To be honest, he is amazing. I can’t bring about another man who has all the values and qualities he does, but every since he went on a work trip for almost 3 weeks, things have been straying. He is back now, but I don’t feel all that I felt when he was here.
    I was very much attracted to his essence, but now it’s bothering me. I don’t give him as much importance or attention, when I know he is giving his heart out to me and there’s no one like him that I would find. My family likes him a lot too.
    Please help me.
    Will your 30 day course help for something like this?
    It’s bothering me a lot. He is an amazing man, and I want to make him the most important person in my life.

  • Mom

    I’ve experienced this lately with my young daughter. I love her to pieces, would die for her – she’s learned to crawl (everywhere) and is too young to understand a no (almost a year). I never yell or nag at her but I’m often thinking: please be quiet or Will you just leave me for 5 seconds?

    I’m feeling so guilty. Is this normal?

  • marija

    I read your emails for blog posts regularly. Your are an amazing therapist who has helped me learn what self love is and what love is.
    I look forward to your emails. I agree also reading a few of the books you recommended.

  • Carla

    Hi Sheryl, I’m hoping to be able to sign up for OYH and your Trust Yourself session in April. Thank you for the work you do. It’s helped me immensely.

  • Elle

    Hi Sheryl,

    I’ve met a great man who I love and he loves and adores me. It is fresh 3.5 months old and we are happy and he has so man of the qualities i look for in a serious partner. However, I suffer with anxiety and depression and see a therapist regularly. I have this fear and intrusive thought that he isn’t for me long term. I feel distressed and guilty as I don’t know if it is my intuition or my relationship ocd. This happened in my last relationship and it drove me nuts. I just want to enjoy this relationship and not project into the future, but I can’t help be obsessed with the idea he isn’t for me! It’s confusing!

  • M

    Hi Sheryl

    Your posts always come at perfect timing. I just want to ask you though. Last couple of weeks this has been playing in my head and making me anxious. People say when you don’t like your partner you still love them. But when I don’t like him I can’t see how you can love them which makes me more anxious if that makes sense? Cos when I don’t like him I don’t feel like I love him. Then I obsess over those thoughts like maybe I don’t love him, like him or even like him as a friend. It’s very odd I know… 🙁

  • Angela

    Oh my god Sheryl,
    I have never cried so much by anyone before. I am allowing myself NOT to hold back my tears. I feel an immense sense of freedom. My heart 💓 is opening with pouring love.. just about being human. Not questioning anything.. just accepting Reality. Not what our culture has taught us. Every word is so breath taking and overwhemingly refreshing. I enjoy crying more than before. So beautiful, I feel so liberated. The other night i made love to my husband with such desire and hunger, and i am so excited to say its my first time in 5 years. Thank you soooo much 🤗🤗🤗🌷❤️. To all the bloggers who still feel stuck, dont give up, its a process.. stay on track, its so worth it until gels all together and it will no matter how long.

  • mary

    Dear Sheryl,

    Reading this article has helped me to accept my feelings. I have been in various relationships but i have realized that i do not know how to love…I Have been with my partner since 5 years and sometimes i get terryfied that i do not feel anything for him. I still lack self love and acceptace even though i am doing daily affirmations. Earlier in a post you wrote about connecting with our own aliveness and self-love, and that it doesnt have anything to do with the partner..can you say more about it ? and how can work on this aspect?

    Thank you

    Mary

    • Hi Mary: Connecting to our own aliveness and self-love is at the core of all of my courses (Open Your Heart, Trust Yourself, and Break Free From Relationship Anxiety). The more we learn to connect to ourselves in the deepest and most loving way, the more access we’ll have to our open heart, which will then naturally pour over into our partner (and all of our relationships).

  • growinglove

    It’s been such a long time since I’ve visited the Conscious Transitions. Life has gone slightly downhill and I’ve realised exactly what I’ve been missing. I’ve stopped doing the course but hope I can resume – it’s hard to find the strength or motivation sometimes. Sheryl- you speak so much truth. God bless.

  • LA

    Sheryl,
    Thank you for your voice on this topic! I ‘feel’ like I haven’t been in love with my husband for years. Part of me wants to make it work and have those feelings of love and desire again….it feels like failure to give up but we’ve separated twice, this time now over a year. The other huge issue is I have had those feelings (desire, love) for a long time friend for years who shows all the signs of emotional unavailability. He and I have a sort of dance relationship — he comes close, seems interested and then pulls back. We have indeed been involved with each other for way too long, if you can call it involved. I pushed for some kind of progression and his fight/flight response kicked in so we haven’t been in touch much at all for 6 months. A large part of me wants to wait and give him time as he’s dealt with a lot of loss and betrayal but it hurts to stay close to him with little to no participation on his part. I don’t want to be one more person who abandons him, it’s just so hard to stay close yet not. I realize that I have relationship anxiety of my own and am taking time to value this quiet, alone time to take a look at myself. I’m just so tired of feeling stuck, struggling each day while putting on my best face for my children and the world around me.

  • figuringitout

    To H’s comment, i too am experiencing this feeling and it’s worse than pure panic because it doesn’t feel like RA but instead, a sinking feeling that says this is over- literally feels like it’s over in my body- hurts all over, pit in my stomach and an intense sense of hopelessness that it’s RA and i can work through this. I also still have a lot of panic and anxiety too but it seesaws with this other feeling – what i don’t have is any loving feelings or faith this can work, even momentarily which only fuel the belief it’s not RA.

  • Rhiana

    Sheryl,
    I think you touch on an essential concept when introducing dualism, and not just in relationships, but in everything we experience. Our relationships to others, to time, to place, etc, and especially to ourselves.

    The key to all of our unhappiness and suffering is based in dualistic thinking. This is right, that is wrong…this is good, that is bad… I like this, I don’t want that… This is pretty, that is ugly… I feel fat, I should be skinnier… and on and on and on.

    When anxiouslyengaged brings up nit-picking in the above comment, I read your 2011 post on nagging that you shared. I agree with you that women have a tendency to nag and nit-pick, and I think it is encoded in us because of how we have been objectified by society and how we internalize all the dualities held over us to be a certain way. We then live in that fear of not being good enough, pretty enough, skinny enough, smart enough, and so on. It is our then operates as our projected notion that there is a way things ought to be. My spouse should do this… my partner doesnt do this enough… why doesn’t she put it back where it belongs…. exhausting ways we cling to notions of fixed reality.

    This is the dualism from which we suffer when we continue to see ourselves as separate. When we can begin to understand ourselves as interrelated (not emeshed) but as constantly changing beings, in alignment with our constantly changing world and moment-by-moment existence, we can work to reside in a non-judgmental please of acceptance of what is.

    When I want to pick on someone’s else behavior, it is because I see my self as separate by thinking there is a better/right/more efficient/more caring way that person could do what they are doing. That is subscribing to a dualistic mindset. When I simply choose to see that person is not other than me, that they are doing the best they can in any moment, I can be in a a place of acceptance and not separation.

    That is not to say that we don’t have needs that ought to be spoken of, and that we don’t deserve to be heard, but I think it’s about looking at where we are operating from…. isolation or connectedness? dualities that cause separation or a sense of relatedness to all that is? fear or love?

    just some buddhist thought to add to the mix
    with deep bows,
    Rhiana

    • Anxiouslyengaged

      Rhiana, appreciate your perspective and insights. I couldn’t agree more. I know that my nagging and nit picking has 100% been passed down from my mom, and from her dad. With this work I have realized this nit picking and nagging is really just anxiety that is being projected outward- you should be this way not that way because this is right and that is wrong… and there is no grey area it’s just one or the other… when I slow down I can see this clearly and see how I just have to accept what is, without any of the judgement.

      Sheryl, that article was a gem! Thank you!!

    • Laura

      Hi Rhiana! And thank you Sheryl for this timely post! The line that resonated with me, “When the seeds of ambivalence take root – when we don’t know how to work with the boredom, irritation, and even hatred that show up in intimate relationships – they fester into unsightly weeds and alter our perceptions” is so spot on for me right now. I’m in a place where I feel like I’m constantly nit-picking my husband for not doing enough around the house and while I have so many wonderful moments where I have clarity and can see him for the loving, kind husband that he is, I seem to hyper-focus in on the areas where he is lacking and I compare him in my head to my friends’ husband who do more for them around the house and help out with domestic things that I really wish my husband would do for me. I know it’s not fair to compare because he has a longer work day than their husbands, but I feel frustrated that I am in the role of taking care of him more than he takes care of me. Granted, I am extremely independent and efficient at getting things done, so I take most of the burdens upon myself (sometimes out of necessity due to the fact that I’m home from work hours earlier than he is and because this is only his second year living away from home on his own- we own a house for almost two years now). My frustration is my dual- thinking: I have a loving, sweet, innocent husband who is extremely loyal and wonderful, and then the flip side- he must not love me as much as some men love their wive’s because he relies on me more than he takes care of me. It’s hard to articulate this without sounding selfish or making my husband feel bad about himself, so it usually comes across as a typical wife nagging her long-suffering husband. I wish I could make this feeling go away because it seems like this is my stuck spot that always pops up – feeling like I should be taken care of more in my marriage coupled with the feeling that I am in this marriage alone at times left to fend for myself. Is this just fear talking or a red flag that my husband is selfish and cares more about his own needs than mine? I’m not sure what to think sometimes and often blame myself for being too sensitive or for expecting too much. I love my husband very much so this very notion makes me feel very bad, yet it is coming from an honest place, so I can’t dismiss it.

  • Lauren

    Sheryl

    I cried after a couple of months of meeting my current partner (been together 7 months now) as I was so in love and thought finally, I have found the man I want to be with (after the ending of a five year relationship with ‘the one’ and two years of self destructive dating behaviour). About three months in I started panicking, do I really love him, is it just infatuation etc etc. Since then it has been a constant merry go round of insecurity, self doubt, and negative thinking about him.

    I keep grappling with the question – do I just not love him or is this relationship anxiety? I have had relationship anxiety in the past with boyfriend of 5 years and came to be at a place where I felt healed, happy and in love after extensive counselling and meds which I am still on. However the next relationship I felt what I thought was anxiety again but it was truly a gut feeling and he was a narcissist. How do I know which situation I’m in now? I just feel…flat, not heightened anxiety anymore but just defeated.

    Im saving to do your new course and previous one so just seeking an answer to calm my mind in the interim

    • M

      Lauren I have been in your exact same shoes, but for the last 9 years. I’ve been dating someone, now my fiance, for four and a half years. We getting married end of next month. I also use to think that the past relationship anxiety was due to intution and that they were sign’s those guys aren’t right for me.
      To cut a long story short, when I met my fiance I had butterflies then a month in they disappeared and my anxiety got so bad I couldn’t even function, and this was also due to him showing sudden interest in me and the thought of commitment and knowing I will get relationship anxiety with him freaked me out. Anyway, the anxiety numbed my feelings for him but deep in my heart I knew he was the ideal partner, lover, friend, future husband and father, everthing I have ever wanted in a man. I pushed the “feelings” aside and I chose to love as I knew I deserved him and a man like him who treats me so well deserved all that he gives me back. It hasn’t been an easy ride believe me. I am also on medication but it will never take what we have away, it will just help us cope but we are still going to get anxiety even on them time to time. I have months when I adore him and count my blessings then suddenly I have a month or two where I over anaylse everthing and it makes me anxious and numb which then makes me even more anxious. It will happen with everyone you meet and remember the honey moon phase will go away with anyone you meet so you will always get this. You just have to know deep down what man is right for you and make a choice and face the anxiety. In time it gets better. I’ve hit a dip now and feel totally irrational with my thoughts as you see the one I wrote yesterday. But then I have to keep reminding myself, it’s not real. Also stress of the wedding and “forever” have also spiked my anxiety. So I know it is also stress related. But I hate these dips, I don’t wish anxiety on my worst enemy. But you will be ok…xxx

      • Lauren

        Thanks M! Its hard when the anxiety goes from a ‘spike’ to just general ‘feelings’ and ‘thoughts’ of not liking your partner, not trusting, thinking they don’t like you or that you’re wrong for each other. I feel almost like its easier for me to understand and be sure when I feel acutely anxious (i.e. cant eat/sleep etc). But when it becomes just that persistent thought in the back of your mind, that’s the hardest for me. The moments such as when they say they “i love you” and you go to respond but that part of you flairs up and says “do you love him though”. I make a choice everyday to be with him and get to enjoy some beautiful moments. I have to because the alternative is leaving and I don’t want to do that.

    • C

      Im sorry if thats rude to ask,but did both you experienced RA already woth your last partners ? Did you already had wound Sheryls work back then and decided to leave?
      Im very sorry if im crossing any linea here… and of course I don’t have to hive me any answers if you don’t want
      The only reason i asked was bc it made me anxious and it spiked my anxiety 🙁

      • Lauren

        Hi C,

        With my first partner – I had RA – did the work with a therapist in person and used Sheryls work to supplement that. I decided to stay and got to a place in my relationship that I can only describe as pure contentment, happiness and an ability to ride the waves of a relationship. Our relationship then ended two and a half years later for other reasons (funnily enough I suspect he too struggled with depression and RA but wasn’t ready to do the work it took).

        My next relationship was a lot more complex. I turned to Sheryls work in the beginning but this was a truly ‘red flag’ relationship which i CHOSE to walk way from when it became too much (I received confirmation that everything he had led me to believe was a lie).

        It is an incredibly hard process and I too have been spiked by this post from M’s comments about ‘knowing deep in my heart’.

        I guess, if I could give you any advice having been through it before and been healed and now starting the learning process again with a new partner – is hang in there. I hung in there with the first relationship and did the work and it was all so worth it, not just for my relationship but for my life. I hung in with the second one (for a little while) but knew when the lies were all unveiled that was the end of the road for me.

        • M

          Hi Lauren and C.

          Firstly to C- I only found Sheryls work 4 years ago when I met my current partner. I couldn’t understand why I kept having this with every partner and I knew I didn’t want to leave this man due to him being such a rare find, so I did all the googling until I was blessed to find Sheryl’s work. I haven’t done the course but reading her blogs and articles and everyone elses comments have pushed me through this. You will see moments when you don’t feel anxious you think to yourself, why the hell was I anxious?? And even if you don’t like your partner when you are not in an anxious state then you deal with it instead of getting anxiety of why you don’t like your partner.

          Secondly to Lauren – Please don’t let me saying “knowing deep in my heart” spike your anxiety. Remember I said I couldn’t feel, I was numb! So what I mean by that is that when I met my fiance I was 31 and he was everything I wanted in a man and I would be an absolute idiot to walk away. So it became a choice as I knew what I deserved and by making this choice I’ve chosen to give him all that he gives me back, even in my moments of anxiety.

          And to both C and Lauren. Even the guys I had “butterflies” over I would get anxious over. In the end they were all assholes anyway. I got to a stage where I thought I would never be able to commit due to me getting anxious with every man I met BUT I knew what I wanted in a man and when he came my way I faced my fears. Believe me I have my wobblies but the more you with the person the more you get use to the wobblies and the less they come. Sometimes I will hit a big downer, like 3-4 times a year and I know I will get them for the rest of my life even through treatment. I have generalised anxiety disorder and OCD that is why I am on medication. My phsychiatrist explained to me it’s a form of OCD and that’s part of the over thinking and obsessing part. So my doctor said I have to face my fears. So I am facing my fears! Just remember in times of anxiety it feels real but it’s not. It’s like having flu and forgetting what it was like to feel without having the flu due to you feeling so terrible and you think it will never go away!

          So what I am saying is that when you meet someone who puts you first, loves you, loves your crazy, you can talk to, share same life views and values and you can rely on them, thats when you face your fears and fight for it and what you deserve. To be honest if this makes you feel better, I didn’t listen to my heart or head…I just did…and I just did because before my relationship anxiety he would have been the man I would have chosen if he came my way then…! So just forget the part where I said “knowing deep in my heart”! Before I developed relationship anxiety and didn’t even like the person I remember I could just go with the flow and be like “whatever”, what happens happens but not get anxious about it to the point I couldn’t funcion. I just went with the flow. The man I am marrying is everything i’ve ever wanted before relationship anxiety.

          When he asked me to marry him we were on holiday and I was so calm and had no anxiety so when he asked me to marry him I was so happy and felt so blessed. I always look back at those days when I feel anxious to remember that is what normal feelings are…this anxiety isn’t normal feelings, it’s evil. So in my calm states I just enjoy and go with the flow and count my blessings and take life each day as it comes. When I am anxious I want to run just like you girls and I forget what I felt like when I didn’t have anxiety. In time it does get better the longer you are with your partner and Sheryl’s work has pushed me through this as well as this article.
          https://ocdla.com/rocd-relationship-ocd-myth-of-the-one-3665
          Just like people have fears of flying, spiders and OCD about cleaning for example, ours is relationships. What I’ve started to do which helps is the moment I get a thought I just say to myself “it’s just another wobble, it will pass” and I force my thoughts to switch off!

          Sorry if I spiked your anxiety. So much spikes my anxiety too even now looking at when I said “knowing deep in my heart” hahahaha. Go for what you know you deserve, that’s when you take the leap and face your fears!!!

          • Lauren

            Thank you M! You’re comment ‘I didn’t listen to my heart or head…I just did’ is perfect. I will hold on to that little statement as one of my coping thoughts. ‘Just doing is something I have control over and make a choice about everyday so thank you.

          • C

            Like seriously,thank you guys so much for sharing your stories!! It did calm my spike down a lot.
            I guess why its been so scary for me its bc its the firat time ever I experience anxiety like that. I still remember that day when it hit, the anxiety shook me to my core. It was so confusing and scary experience.
            I have been woth my man for almost 6 y. We got engaged on our 3,5 y anniversary and the anxiety kicked in 3 weeks after the proposal.
            Before the anxiety i never had any kind of doubt about ua or him or our relationship. Thats why its was so scary for me when it first hit.
            I always had that “knowing” that he is my person and i knew i wanted to marry him.
            I know that we have no red flags.
            He is the most loving and caring and kindest person i have ever met. I have never had anyone like that in my life. And i know that my RA has hurt him also so much, and there are timea where i feeel so much guilt about it. But he has been there for me all this time. Holding me,hugging me and telling me that we can get through this. I know i love this person so mich and never wanna loose him or outr relationship:(

          • M

            Lauren and C…we will get over this!!! And C-have you ever considered going on anxiety medication? Anxiety is a disease just like other diseases. Meds can’t take it away but it will help you cope, it’s like being diabetic, meds help you control it but won’t cure the problem if that kind of makes sense? If your partner loves you and can cope with your anxiety then he is a keeper. This day and age it is so hard to find a perfect partner and when you do…hold on to it. We will have our dips, sometimes small and sometimes huge but you have pushed through it this far so keep pushing. What I also do, is when I don’t feel anxious and I’m able to appreciate my partner and count my blessings, thats when I put pictures up of us on Instagram so when I do hit a state of anxiety I look at those pictures I have put up and it helps you realise it is just a dip. Sometimes I can be fine for 3 months and sometimes I have anxiety from 1 month to 3 months…it’s aweful but in the end, we fight through it and it and it makes us stronger. xxx

          • M

            Also an important part of that article I told you girls to read, there is a part there on how to cope and treat it which also helps me hugely.
            “Mindfulness training is used to help the client develop more awareness and acceptance of the obsessive thoughts and feelings they experience related to ROCD, rather than resisting them and thus perpetuating the cycle.” So let the thoughts come, don’t fight them otherwise our anxiety will spiral and we seek for more reassurance which can make it worse.

            “Finally, Exposure and Response Prevention (ERP) is introduced to gently and gradually expose a client to situations that engender relationship anxiety, whether it be saying “I love you” without checking for truth, or eliminating reassurance seeking from conversations with family and friends.”

            My doctor also told me to stay away from romantic movies, books and comparing my relationship to other friends. Don’t speak to friends who don’t have anxiety or relationship anxiety because automatically they will tell you to walk away from the best thing that has ever happened to you.

            Rather speak it out to people that have the same problem as you and can push you through it. If it makes you feel any better, someone I know met her husband and she was unsure from the beginning and they were together for 5 years before she got married. She said she was bored, unsure, constantly questioning if she loves him. She doesn’t have anxiety so she was able to cope with the doubts. Remember because we are anxious our emotions are heightened and we can’t deal with doubt and she could because she wasn’t anxious. She tells me she is so glad she didn’t walk away because now she is so extremely happy and has been married for 10 years and has two kids. She says now she compares how lucky she is compared to her friends with their unreliable partners, she says she is not in love with him but it’s a stronger love, it’s a love that has grown and an immense care for him and he’s her best friend. She has chosen to love him. No matter who you are with the “in love” feeling will go away either way then it becomes a choice. She never felt in love from the start…she chose because she knew what was right for her, the type of husband she was looking for and future father.
            She told me in time…it gets better. You just have to trust in what you deserve!!! So if you didn’t have anxiety you would proabably be dealing with it just like her and look how far she has come!

            She said she couldn’t be happier!!!

          • Thank you for all of your wonderful support here, M. While medication can be extremely helpful for certain people for a specified time period, it’s not a long-term solution as it doesn’t address the root cause of the anxiety. The same is true with ERP therapy. Unless you’re working at the level of root cause, which is what my course teaches in depth, the anxiety will keep coming back in different forms.

          • M

            I completely agree Sheryl. I still have a lots of dips even on my medication so it definitely doesn’t solve the root cause!!! xxx

  • Brittany

    Hi – my anxiety has come back… again. I keep telling myself that it has come back because I have been anxious with other things in life, but I always think this is my body telling me the truth that I ignore most of the other times. On 9/2/17 I got tinnitus in my right ear. In the book “You Can Heal Your Life” by Louise Hay, she says it’s caused by not listening to your intuition. Our wedding is 9/1/18, is that a coincidence? I also haven’t been able to lose weight even though I have tried many many times and even worked with a nutritionist for over a year, I’ve been to different doctors and therapists. I feel sick to my stomach every time I start to think I’m supposed to leave him. It just makes all my anxiety so much worse. I feel like it’s my guy intuition telling me to leave but I can’t believe I love him and I want to marry him. The relationship anxiety has been off and on for 3 years now and we are getting married in 6 months. I’m terrified…

    • Brittany

      I meant to add about the weight loss part is if your intuition lives in your gut, maybe that is the reason I can’t lose weight. And that is why I always feel sick to my stomach whenever all of this anxiety about leaving him comes back up.

  • Astrid

    Thanks so much for the post.Much thanks again. Really Cool.

  • Brooke

    Sometimes my intrusive thoughts come into forms such as what if it isn’t romantic love that i have for him? Part of me knows it’s just my OCD brain doing it’s magic. And i feel as though we have a strong romantic bond, what tips do you have for accepting thoughts as they are and as they come?

  • Elin

    I just want to say such a massive thank you to you, Sheryl. Since finding your website and learning what is relationship anxiety and reading your blogs along with working on myself, self love, self kindness I am in such a better place. Thank you so much for your knowledge and for sharing these blog posts. I haven’t needed to look at this website for two months because I’ve been doing so well. But just when I was starting to have a little hiccup tonight, instead of jumping down the rabbit hole and letting Fear Mind take over I typed in your website and I already feel calmer and I know that there’s nothing wrong with my relationship just because I felt a little anxious about it for a minute. Thank you so so much.

  • B

    I have been with my boyfriend for nearly 7 years. Things started off rocky, but have been amazing for the passed 3-4 years as a result of communication and really learning to pick our battles ( we used to argue about everything). Recently he brought up marriage and suddenly I just felt nervous. I thought to myself well if I loved him as much as I thought, I wouldn’t be nervous to marry him. I also lost my grandmother recently ( a week after he brought up marriage). I know that I’m probably just anxious, but it’s been 4 months now and I just can’t shake the feeling that maybe there’s something deeper than just anxiety.

  • B

    And can the loss of a loved one cause such anxiety with regards to my relationship?

  • El

    I found myself drawn back to this article this morning after a difficult bout of anxiety with my partner last night. I felt the lines between self and other blur because he was unhappy with work and having a low day himself. I’ve always found it difficult to support my partner through depressed feelings without absorbing his mood and relating it to our relationship. I spent the evening seeking validation about the relationship, and he even pointed out that I may be projecting because nothing had happened in the relationship itself. After reading this article again, I see I may need to look deeper at how much my mother relied on me to resolve her depression growing up in order to understand how I can break this pattern in my own relationship.

    This is just one spoke of the anxiety wheel, but I just wanted to share with all the lovely people here and say thank you Sheryl for all of your insight and guidance. I’ve followed your blog for almost two years now and this is my first comment 🙂 The resources you provide here have helped me through many difficult moments and I am truly grateful.

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