Is There a Better Match for Me?

IMG_2602Alongside the thoughts, “Maybe I’m just trying to convince myself to stay”,  “I don’t know if I love my partner enough”, and “Do we have a strong enough connection?“, the question of finding a “better match” is at the top of the relationship anxiety list of questions. The culture encourages the belief, of course, that there’s one person who is your perfect match, but the thought also plays directly into the mind of the anxious-sensitive-perfectionist psyche. After all, thinks the anxious-perfectionist mind who’s looking for a fail-proof person with whom to take the risk of committed relationship, if I’m going to marry or am already married, shouldn’t I wait for my perfect match? This thought can be particularly debilitating when you’re already married and you think, “Maybe if I had just waited a little longer…”

As always, there are many spokes to the wheel of an intrusive thought. When we perseverate on any particular thought, we must address it from the root to the tip. This requires a diligent process of turning inward and attending to anything that’s needing attention on our multiple levels of being: physical, emotional, cognitive, creative/soul. This process is more than I can explain in a single article (I explain it in depth in my Break Free From Relationship Anxiety E-Course), but the spoke that I can address here is the cognitive realm. For when we’re asking the question, “Is there a better match for me?” we’re usually pointing to a sub-question that asks, “Does my partner really get me?” And here we need to douse our minds with a good dose of truth-water.

I can hear the anxious mind piping up already: “Is that too much to ask for: a partner who understands me?” No, it’s not too much to ask, but what we must understand is that with every blessing in a relationship there is a challenge; with every easy quality there’s another counter-quality that is difficult. So you may be with a partner who doesn’t quite “get” you, but with this disconnect comes a blessing that you probably don’t focus on. Likewise, you may be with a partner who completely “gets” you, but this blessing generally comes with challenges.

In general (and we must always be cautious when it comes to generalizations, especially when we’re walking in the territory of the anxious mind who loves finding the holes in the argument so that it can prove that “I’m the exception” and that your anxiety is actually evidence that you’re with the wrong partner), the two general pairings that I see are the following:

 1. The Calm Pairing with Some Disconnect

In this paradigm, the couple enjoys a relatively calm relationship: few fights, good communication, basically peaceful environment. There’s a sweet friendship, but possibly not a lot of sexual chemistry. There’s a solid connection but not always in the deepest way. One person generally has less anxiety and is “the rock”, while the other veers more toward anxiety and emotional instability. The person with more anxiety can feel lonely in this model and wonder if his or her partner really “gets” him or her as the partner doesn’t seem to travel into the same places of depth, and sometimes darkness. Both partners may wonder at times if they’re “just friends.” This is the model that I most often see in my practice.

2. The Deeply Connected Pairing with Volatility

In this model, both partners are on the sensitive-anxious spectrum, which means they completely understand one another but often jut up against each other’s wounds. The positive side of this model is the deep connectivity and often natural sexual chemistry. The challenging side is that with the emotional energy so close to the surface, and both people leaning toward anxiety, volatility is often higher. The stereotype of this model is the Italian couple who have great sex and deep conversations but also can fly into a rage at one another. The passion runs high in all areas, which has its benefits but can also lead to feeling unsafe and a different kind of loneliness than in the first model.

Oh, what an anxiety-provoking post this may be! I can hear the hyper-vigilent minds clicking and calculating: which model are we? And what if we’re neither one? Or what if we’re the “worst” of both? Deep breath. And hold onto this reassurance lifeline: whatever your model, you will have blessings and challenges. You will have ways in which you meet each other and the relationship works, and ways in which you completely miss each other.

But here’s the bottom-line: whatever “type” of relationship you have, if you have a mindset of growth, you will grow toward each other. You will help each other fill in the weak links. This is the ultimate task of being in an intimate relationship: it’s designed to help us grow. It’s not supposed to be easy. It’s not supposed to be perfect. There’s no such thing as a “perfect match”; that only exists on some other realm, not on this human plane (and in the movies). We are here to heal. And one of our greatest vehicles for healing is intimate relationships. I’ll say it again:  it’s not supposed to be easy. The gaps – the places where we miss each other – illuminate our opportunities for growth. As Rumi said, “The cracks are where the light shines through.”

This healing toward each other depends on two things:

1. Both partners have a mindset of growth, which means that both partners are open to learning about themselves. This requires a certain degree of humility (opposite of arrogance) and the willingness to hear your partner when he or she reflects back your flaws that need attention. This reflection can be done in a loving way (as happens in the first model), but if it’s done in a volatile and blaming way (as often happens in the second model), hopefully the kernel of truth embedded in the cannonballs of blame can still be heard.

2. An awareness that love grows over time, and that it takes years, if not decades, to grow a healthy marriage garden. If you enter marriage with the expectation that you’re supposed to “have it all”, you will be sorely disappointed, and will be more apt to entertain the notion that there’s a “better match” for you. But if you understand that, over time, you will grow more toward each other, you will have the patience necessary to wade through the difficult years.

If you have these two basic mindsets, I believe that everyone ends up in pretty much the same place: The couples who bemoan the lack of strong connection or chemistry find their ways of opening and becoming more vulnerable with each other and, thus, growing the connection and chemistry, and the couples who have plenty of connection but struggle with volatility and reactivity learn to temper their feelings and communicate in a more loving way. If we stay with the inner work and relationship work, we’ll grow and intertwine in healthy ways, like the invisible roots and ultimately the uppermost branches of two trees who remain together, side-by-side, for a lifetime.

76 comments to Is There a Better Match for Me?

  • Laura

    Hi Sheryl, thank you for this post. It really resonates with me. My boyfriend and I would be the calm couple explained above and could meet every point you have detailed, especially the lack of sexual chemistry and feeling like ‘friends’. This is a key reason my anxiety started as I have never had a big sex drive and it has dimished over the last 15 months of our relationship. I worry about it every day but my anxiety prevents any major developments in that area as I am afraid my key fear will be realized, that we are just friends. Can you offer any advice to meet this issue and resolve it if at all possible?

  • Theboxer

    Hi Sheryl! This is the first time I leave a comment but I’ve been following your blog for a few months now. I finally decided to comment because this post in particular spoke to me. I belong in the first group, (the calm pairing with some disconnect) and the only problem that I have with my partner of 2 years is that I don’t ever want sex. We were friends before we got together, we still are best friends, we see each other as often as we can, we like cuddling, kissing, holding hands, talking about anything that comes to our mind, and we’re always there for each other.We’re planning a future together because we feel comfortable with each other and can’t imagine being with someone else. He is the best guy I could ask for, good-looking, caring, smart, makes me laugh, and treats me like a princess… but I’ve always felt like I love him, but am not “in love” with him. I’m sure you heard this many times. All this anxiety is caused by the fact that sex isn’t my priority, really. When I look at him I see a good partner and I think “he’s handsome”, but I never think “wow he’s so hot, I wanna have sex right now”. To be fair, I’ve never felt that way with anyone, so I’m starting to think it’s not a matter of attraction, and there’s something wrong with me. I feel guilty when we do have sex because I think I’d rather cuddle and kiss than make love, and in my head, this means that we’re just friends and I should leave him. I feel so guilty. You said we have to be willing to improve ourselves for the sake of the relationship and I am, I’d do anything to get over this issue and feel more connected to my wonderful, loving partner who deserves all the best. My question is, does it sound to you like this relationship is doomed because of my lack of sex drive, or do you think we have a chance? And if you think we can improve, where do we begin? My bf said he will give up sex forever if that’s what it takes to be with me, but I don’t think that’s the solution to our problem. Also, I read your article “sex begets sex” and I know the less I do it, the less I desire it, but I just can’t bring myself to even begin when all I feel is guilt. Please give me some advice, and sorry for the long-ish post.

    • H

      I am in this situation atm, I cannot believe I am not the only one! I am a bit similar to you. I have had always had trouble with intimacy but not with my boyfriend that much. But just recently I am really not interest in sex at all. I would rather cuddle and kiss like you said. And it’s only until I really think about that I panic, otherwise it wouldn’t have bothered me at all I would of just carried on very content. My boyfriend wanted sex the other day and I was not in the mood st all, I just couldn’t be bothered! And in the end I gave in, because I knew he wanted to and I thought like you ‘the more you do it the more you desire it’ but for the first time ever I just didn’t want to be touched I was cringing the whole time because I really was not in the mood at all. I feel so guilty for this!!!! So I totally understand what you mean when you feel guilty for it. You are not alone!!!

    • Candie

      I don’t think you sound like just friends at all. Cuddling and kissing is very intimate and not something we do with friends, ok we hug but not long cuddles 🙂

      Don’t punish yourself foe your lack of sex drive, it’s actually normal. If you want to change then do so, but have you ever considered your lack of desire might be to do with how you feel about yourself? I might be totally off the mark here but if I think back to all the moments of chemistry on my relationship the best moments was whwn I felt good about myself! Exercise, a makeover, a nice dress..basically o felt confident and sexy. You might feel a bit anxious at first as you have built fears, but allow the feelings and choose what you want regardless of your emotions. Emotions are forever changing, it’s out choices thar count.

      • Theboxer

        Thank you both for your answers! I definitely want to give this relationship another try, and since we’ll go on vacation for a week in a few days, I will try to bring some “passion” in the relationship even if that means that the first few times I will have to linda force myself… I didn’t like kissing in the beginning and now I do, so maybe I’ll grow to like this too. And yes probably it has a lot to do with the way I feel about myself… I’ve never been able to just accept myself the way I am, so that could be one of the reasons. I know I wanna be with him, but I just wish I didn’t have these niggling doubts ALL the time. I don’t go a day without asking myself “what if we are just friends? “

  • Kasey Colucci

    You always comfort my fraying nerves. I wish we could have an appointment with you just to understand each other better and “fertilize” our love garden. We get married in 6 weeks, and I can’t even tell you how much your e-course and blog entries have helped me. Thank you. Thank you for everything.

  • Viv

    It’s been a very humbling journey of unconditional love lately. Your articles have been so helpful for me to better understand why we humans do the things we do. Currently, I’m in the “just friends” place after experience a wonderful year of being in a loving relationship like what you explain in your first model. Whether or not he overcomes his anxiety during a time when it’s possible for us to get back together is yet to be written. In the meantime, I’ve been pleasantly surprised how natural it comes to us to nurture a budding friendship, despite not being in a relationship anymore. Much of that I owe to the multiple articles I’ve come across that talk about unconditional love and spiritual growth. It helps me stay grounded and learn to welcome the emotional pain as a friend that’s here to teach me something about myself. Thank you!

  • Marlene

    Hi Sheryl,
    This post is so insightful. I am definitely the first description. However, our relationship has been volatile, too. This has stemmed from me feeling trapped, stuck and devastated that I don’t feel more physical attraction. I’m exhausted. I’ve wrestled with this for nine years. I just want it to “feel right.” I made a vow and I want to live up to it. I took the “open your heart” course. I’m just exhausted from feeling like I’m missing my true match.

  • beejay

    This brings such sweet relief I could cry. We are a mix of both couples, very calm, and also very volatile at times. I LOVE your analogy of trees roots growing together. My husband actually got me a beautiful card one time with that image, of two trees growing together and inside it says I love how we grow together. Your post reassured me that as long as we are committed to this growth, well be just fine.

    so many thanks.

  • Marlene

    I think there wouldn’t be a chronic questioning. I keep feeling trapped and that this isn’t right. I’ve had better moments. Its just exhausting.

  • WorkingOnMe

    Hi Sheryl, First, I have to tell you that I loved this blog post! I think it’s one of your best yet! So, my husband and I are definitely in category 1. I can’t help but wonder, even if we continue to improve our relationship, it would never be as “deeply connected or sexual” as it would be if I were with another sensitive. What if rather than relationship anxiety that I’m experiencing, what if it’s TRULY a basic “need” for me to be with another “sensitive” who gets me/is deeper connected and greater natural sexual chemistry together? I grew up with 2 sensitive parents who were exactly this way, and it’s what I envisioned/dreamed about/wanted for my own marriage as well. Yet, I was not self-aware and was still a child myself in my early 20’s, when I did get married, so I did not realize this need then, and in turn, did not chose another sensitive partner. I feel like I am really missing out on what my heart and soul wants within my intimate relationship. Even if our marriage improves to the point of “as good as it was in the beginning”, with better connection/chemistry, I still don’t know that it will be “enough for me” and what my heart truly desires deep inside. As even in the beginning, there was no “honeymoon” period for us, so even if we grow & improve the chemistry/connection, will it ever be enough for me? I don’t feel anxious over this, but I feel like my gut feeling says “no” it’s not what you need personally. I feel like even at it’s best, it won’t be enough, and that our differences are too great. Sometimes I feel like we are trying “too hard” to make this work & stick together no matter what, if neither of us is happy. It’s not the hardship or work that I mind, as I don’t expect any relationship to be easy. But rather, it’s the hardship without the rewards. The bad times without the good to balance them out. If we have more negative times/negative interactions than positive, then what do we do with that?

    • What I can tell you is this: no matter how deep the connection or how many needs are being met, the mind will always find a way to say “it’s not enough for me.” As I know your story very well, I can tell you that my sense is that there’s still inner work to do for both of you before you can say, “We’ve done everything and we’re still not happy.” Couples’ counseling alone, especially at your stage of marriage (second decade with two kids), requires at least a year-long commitment. You pose a great argument and I’m sure most people would encourage you to “follow your heart”, but I’m listening to a different story, the one that isn’t always expressed in words.

      • WorkingOnMe

        Thank you for this reply Sheryl, and for letting us know the minimal amount of time (of a year or more) that we NEED to dedicate to marriage counseling, as that is something important that many people do not realize (including us.) You are, as always, a positive inspiration during our “dark night of the soul” of our marriage.

        • And every marriage does, indeed, go through a dark night of the soul. It’s yet another area that people don’t commonly discuss so when it happens the first place the mind goes to is, “It must be time to leave.”

  • Marlene

    I was able to download the quiz but the results button doesn’t work.

  • Leah

    Hi Sheryl,
    I am wondering do you offer Skype counselling sessions to Ireland?

  • Georgina

    Dearest Sheryl, we’ve known each other for a while now. I feel so identified with the calm pairing. Just to think that I always refer to my husband as my “rock”. The new program has definitely struck a chord with me. I’m not sure the word to describe my feelings is anxiety. I feel I’ve moved past that and now I feel some calm mixed with some boredom and emptiness and at the same time, some days are great and I’m happy and grateful. You know, my relationship feelings are quite a rollercoaster! I also feel I’m the one who’s trying to be less of a perfectionist and I’m the one who’s got to work on issues, I don’t project things on my husband anymore. I have plenty to do on my own first (as proven with the program we did in august and september). I’m hesitant about whether now is the time to start this program. What do you think? Thanks!

  • Marlene

    I feel like “workingonme” could have spoken for me. I get it. I too wonder if it will ever be enough. We didn’t have a honeymoon period either. It’s hard to hold on, to believe the good will balance the pain someday. I’m really scared. I went through with marriage while I was still hurting over someone else. I’m afraid that this might never really be what I want. I’m thankful for your work Sheryl. I’m really getting rolled by a fear wave lately. I’m just scared it won’t work. I really don’t mean to be pessimistic, it’s just fear.

  • just me

    I am really interested about this course. We are with my husband in category 1. I have been draming about my first love since we got married and we were in category 2. It has made me wonder that I would be happier with that kind of type. I would like to improve my relationship with my great husband but I am really afraid that I will aleays compare my feelings and relationship to my first love and feel that something important is missing. I really don’t want that. Do you believe that this course could help me get over comparing my relationship with my husband and my first love? I really want to be present and grateful what I already have.

  • just me

    I am really worried and shamed how much I have compared these two relationships and been dissatisfied. My husband is great and most loving and caring person who I know. My ex was really mean to me and not so stable and he is also married with kids now. I am not willing to do anything with him but I want to get finally ovet this issue.

  • just me

    My constant dreams about my ex have made me wonder and terrified that I had made a mistake. I feel so lost. I would appreciate any kind of help.

  • just me

    I am also interested about how rocd can affect dreams. I have seen dream where we have divotced and I have been realifed and happy. It has made me terrified and guilty. I do not want to leave my family, but I wonder of it is the right thing to do. I would like to believe that there is still hope for us. My husbans is a great spouse and has always been very supportive, but we do not have that strong chemisty, which makes me sad and cause fear.

  • Say yes

    Great post! I actually think inspite of all the ways in which so many of your posts on relationship anxiety relate to me. Sheryl, that my fiancé and I are more the second type. At first he was the rock not because that’s his personality (though he is remarkably kind and considerate) but bc he was just really sure that I was the one for him- a certainty he hadn’t had about other relationships or aspects of life. This gave my cautious heart a place to rest in but I was still always dealing with doubts. In time my worsening anxiety started to really affect him and make him feel insecure about his ability to make me happy. We postponed our wedding bc of this and are now struggling and our wounds are definitely rubbing up against each other. But one thing that has always struck me is that unlike so many others with relationship anxiety I never had the “just friends” feeling. My worry was that it was all too fast and passionate and that there wasn’t enough of a real friendship yet or that I didn’t just love him for him enough. I’m almost suspicious of the chemistry when I feel like the relationship itself is so painfully uncertain.

    • You see how the anxious mind will tear apart any and all configurations of relationship! The work is to unhook from the story and address the core needs/feeling/thoughts underneath. That’s what the new course will teach you.

  • CAJ

    My husband and I are definitely in Camp 2. We are both highly anxious and sensitive, and our fears make us close/passionate but also drive us apart.

  • Lauren

    This post could not have come at a better time. My question, though, is is it normal for relationships (not engaged, not married) to go through dark nights of the soul? My boyfriend and I are currently separated by 600 miles and have been for the entire 15 months of our relationship. Aside from the first three months, our whole relationship has been a “dark night.” We fit in to the first type of relationship.

  • LF

    I definitely suffered from relationship anxiety in my last relationship. And while I recognized in me the doubt, anxiety, etc. that doesn’t necessarily mean I’m in the wrong relationship (and was more a signal of my old wounds), red flags definitely started to crop up after we got engaged. I ended up breaking off the engagement after I caught him lying to me one too many times. It’s been going on 2 years since we broke up, and reading things like this still makes me sad because I know he and I could have had a great relationship and marriage if he’d been willing to grow. We tried counseling, but in the end he just wasn’t willing to look at himself. I know he has wounds from the past that he is in complete denial about. I know if he could have opened up about them, and also tried to see things from my perspective, we would have made it work. I still think about him a lot. I’ve been dating on and off for the past year or so, but I’m so afraid to enter a new relationship because now on top of my own relationship anxiety, I’m afraid of finding another man who will treat me like my ex did. All of these lessons on how to handle relationship anxiety seem focused on people who have found a healthy relationship. I can’t even do that. My pattern has always been to attract passive-aggressive, emotionally shut-down, unavailable men. I am beginning to fear that I will never find a good partner…

    • Yes, lying is a red-flag, but even moreso was his unwillingness to learn and grow. I hear your pain about not finding a healthy partner, but if you stay with your own work and keep trying, you will find love.

  • Josh

    I was wondering if you can explain the difference, if there is a difference between relationship anxiety and ROCD. I’m not sure if i am suffering from one of these issues. I have been in a relationship for many years with a great woman. She is beautiful and special in many ways, but i have had many doubts over the years that she is not the one. I have not been in many serious relationships before and she is the only woman i have really loved. I sometimes just don’t feel the way i think i am supposed to and have read that ROCD or anxiety can affect feelings but it’s hard for me to trust that it is just that. How does one know if it is anxiety or ROCD and not just the fact that it doesn’t feel right. My girlfriend suggested we try couples counseling, some of your online courses and/or possibly help for ROCD but the problem is that i don’t usually feel like putting in the work because i don’t know if i believe it is the issue..maybe we just aren’t right for each other: I don’t know how to go to couples therapy and take these courses if i don’t know that i want to be together. I already see a therapist but not sure she understands ROCD and has not done any CBT with me. Was wondering what your philosophy is on CBT? Think i would prefer one of your online courses, but not sure which one is best? And if you think it’s enough or if CBT is necessary too? These doubts, whether they are real or just anxiety, has caused me to break up with my girlfriend many times. Even though i’ve come back i’m not always sure if it’s out of guilt or not. I feel i want to end things for good but afraid of hurting her and will feel guilty i haven’t tried. Any advice please?

    • Relationship anxiety and ROCD are the same thing. I prefer the term “relationship anxiety” because ROCD implies that there is something “disordered” about you, and there’s nothing at all disordered about allowing fear to be in the driver’s seat and being hyper-vigilent about something going wrong. It’s a human response to an inherently risky situation, and highly sensitive people are more attuned to the risk element than the average person.

  • Josh

    I also want to know if anxiety alone can make one feel like they don’t want to be in a relationship? i often feel i would be happier if i were In a different relationship. I don’t feel what i think i should feel, but i don’t have much relationship experience to know exactly what that is. I just have the feeling it isn’t right and have wanted to break up for many years, but afraid of hurting her. My therapist has told me i am often obsessive, as i go back and forth between wanting to stay and wanting to leave. I know shw is great on paper, but i don’t always feel my heart is there. Can this really be helped by your work or CBT? Or do i need to explore outside of this relationship to know for sure? I don’t want to be manipulated by CBT if I don’t know anxiety is the reason, but i don’t want the guilt of not trying. Please help!

    • Yes anxiety can make you feel like you don’t want to be in a relationship. Anxiety is code for FEAR, and fear will distort your thoughts, feelings, and perceptions so that you will walk away from the risk of love. It’s what my entire course is based on.

  • Laurelle

    Sheryl, thank you for your wise words. I love your comment about how every easy quality has a more challenging counter-quality. This is so true. I’ve also felt that every person’s greatest strengths have the potential to be their greatest weaknesses, and with relationships, the things that draw us together are so often also the things that hold the potential to drive us apart. I often forget to focus on the positive – the easy quality that drew my husband and I together. Focusing on gratitude, as you say in your courses and blog posts time and time again, is really key! Thank you again for your insight and wisdom – your posts have truly been a blessing in my journey.

  • Stef

    Hi sheryl,

    Firstly just want to say that this website has been such a saving grace over the past few months!
    I have had bad relationship anxiety for about 2-3 years. I have learnt to manage it well over the past few months but a few weeks ago it triggered and came back to the surface again and it’s getting a little harder to handle.. I’m assuming this can happen from time to time.

    I have been with my partner who is also a women for almost 4 years. A big spike of mine that triggers anxiety is that ‘I must not trutly be a lesbian and I must want to be with a man now’
    I’ve never identified as a full lesbian and considered myself bisexual but never really used the labels for myself, I kind of just went with the flow and always had said that I am with someone for the person they are and not their gender.

    My anxiety first started in the way of me fearing that my partner would leave me or she would find someone else better than me… Then after a few near break ups somehow it transformed into me fearing I didn’t want this relationship anymore.. And I didn’t love her and I wasn’t being my true self by being with a women. The thoughts just took over and the anxiety of this type crippled me for months and months!
    One of my biggest thoughts is that I was only with a women because I was influenced and because I liked the attention. She is my first serious relationship and at the time we got together I had a few gay friends. Now however I’m not friends with a lot of the same people and have other friends from work and school and there is very few lesbians in these circles.
    I fear that I was only influenced to date my partner and now I must be being influenced in the other direction and can’t figure out which person is the real me which can become very frustrating.. I try to look at it as just another thought because I want nothing more than to really feel love with my partner again my anxiety just gets in the way and I can’t figure out what I’m fearing underneath it all..

    I wonder if anyone else is going through something similar?


    • This is a common story, Stef, on many levels, and especially points to your lack of self-trust, which is one of the core spokes of the relationship anxiety wheel. Relationship anxiety can certainty surface and re-surface at any time, and needs attention at the roots in order to break free from it. I suggest you join the new course when it is released, especially since Clara’s MP3 interview in the course mirrors your own story on many levels (including identifying as bisexual but choosing to marry a woman).

      • Stef

        Thank you sheryl,

        I am definitely thinking about joining the course when it comes out! It sounds like it would be very helpful!
        I believe you are right in saying I have a lack of self trust as I’ve had many issues with making decisions for a lot of my life for any decisions big or small! I always feel like I might miss out on other possibilities whatever the choices may be!

        I look forward to more blogs and the course being released! 😉

        Stef xxx

  • Melissa

    I was really hoping you can help me. I truly believe that my boyfriend is suffering from extreme relationship anxiety or ROCD. We have been together for many years, but he has been struggling for much of the time not feeling certain about us/me. He says he has had doubts for a long time and doesn’t know if it feels right. He has not any much relationship experience before me so perhaps he just doesn’t know what love should feel like? He has even questioned if he loved me before. Says he goes back and forth between wanting to be together and seeing a future with me to wanting to break up because he doesn’t feel what he thinks he should feel. He has initiated many breaks with me in the past couple years, saying that he needs some time alone to see how he feels, but he always comes back, saying he missed me, and sometimes claims he can’t even remember why he left?! Recently i told him that i wanted to have more of a commitment if we were going to continue living together and he ended things with me completely, which really shocked me, as we have been spending a lot of time together lately and i was feeling good about us. I feel strongly that this is relationship anxiety/ROCD (not sure how to be certain?), but i’m not sure if it’s my place to bring this to his attention? I did once mention ROCD in the past and he felt he was being manipulated and maybe did not appreciate me telling him he had a mental disorder (appreciate that you call it anxiety instead). I don’t want to make him feel that way, but i’m so afraid of losing him due to this and do want him to get help for himself as well. I would love for him to take some of your courses or possibly even work individually with you if possible, but i don’t know how to bring this to attention without having him feel manipulated or hurt. I’ve been reading your articles for many years and have even taken one of your courses myself a year ago, but i was wondering if you have any suggestions for my situation that may help him/us at this time? I really appreciate your time! Thanks you so much!

    • I suggest you send him to my new course page and ask that he read through it, watch the video, and take the free assessment. I imagine he’ll see himself all over it and may be inspired to take the course.

  • just me

    It is quite hard to trust myself because my feelings are such rollercoaster. Sometimes I believe that we could make this work but sometimes I am convinced that it is time to leave. Here is some signs and disturbing dreams which I had also in my previous relationship which we also chategory 1 anf they never worked out. It makes me wonder that how it could be different this time. I love and respect my husband and he is much better match than my two previous boyfriends. But I miss sometimes my first love and that chemistry. I do not want to give up because we have child together.

  • Magda

    Hi Sheryl!
    Im definitely in category one. But in the beginning of our relationship sex was really great! Now I never want to habe sex anymore but force myself every week. I don’t want it to be like that. Also in therapy I’ve learned Im NOT suppose to address every thought from its root to tip as this only fuels my OCD cycle. Im trying very hard to dismiss thoughts so this really for me anxious. My biggest concern is that I don’t feel that it is my thoughts creating this mess bit rather my gutfeeling telling me it’s wrong to be with him, that I should rather choose to be alone the rest of my life than stay in my relationship. I don’t feel like “just friends” but the gutfeeling tells me I must get out. I keep checking how I feel – maybe hundreds of times a day – like how I feel towards the thought of getting married, having kids, moving to a house, hanging out with his friends more etc etc etc – and I do alot of reassurence seeking from friends and family (which Im trying in therapy to lessen). I really want sexual chemistry with my bf (he has it with me but I not with him) – and the posts here made from already married couples spikes me bc it says to me this can go on for years and years. I’ve been crying almost every day for 14 months now – and right now aswell. Im depending on calming medicine and antidepressants to get by whitout doing something really wrong – for how long will this go on? My family are really supportive but they are starting to loose their nerve. I have Done your counsious married course – my therapist forbids me to go onto the forum or any forums/Google etc but I can’t seem to stop myself for I crave reassurence. What do I do Im in so much pain and its torture.

    • Let me be clear about my approach to intrusive thoughts: I do NOT recommended exploring the thought itself as doing so will only fan the thought-fire. The thought is a flare sent from the inner self indicating that you need to turn your attention inward to learn how to sit with what lives underneath the thought, which is usually some form of grief, uncertainty, fear, or vulnerability. Your constant checking is an addiction. Your crying is probably coming from pain about the intrusive thought cycle (mental addiction) as opposed to connecting with the deeper wells of raw grief that live underneath the addiction. I teach how to do this IN DEPTH in the new course, which I highly recommend to you.

  • Angela

    Hi sheryl, clever and real models. My husband has felt the chemistry for me from day one. Where as for me i knew he was special and different to other guys and it was a wonderful feeling. But anxiety struck very early in our relationship so I didnt feel the chemistry. They have been 2 hard years but rewarding road I can now say I have grown and learnt alot about love i never knew i could feel and learn how to truly love someone. Witjout you Sheryl i would still be stuck in anxiety and believe its lies. As a couple we do connect we rarely argue we think about each others feelings before it turns into an argument. There is respect, passion, honesty but most importantly “GROWTH”. without it there is no moving forward.xx

    • just me

      I am interested how you made your love grow. I have felt more chemistry in my previous relationship and it causes lot of fear and intrusive thoughts. Even though my husband treat me much better than any man before and show me uncondional love. But I feel that I am a horrible person, because I am doupting all the time and feeling that maybe I would be happier with someone else. I would like to get over these doupts, but I am almost giving up..

  • just me

    Is here anyone else who is suffering from disturbing dream while suffering from rocd?

  • Angela

    Hi just me, the answer to your question is.. Well for. Me it was patience, and just take each day as it comes.. Accepting my anxieties. It was a hell of a challenge but if you look at the positives in your relationships. And ignore the negative intrusive thoughts and let it ride and not give it full attention. Then you keep growing. Time. Dedication, are the keys. It gets easier rather. Than harder. I do get the intrusive thoughts only rarely now. Because with practice you become wiser and that’s how I’ve grown towards my partner. I better understand myself. I feel more ground and comfortable with who I am. I feel at peace. It starts with you

  • For me and my husband I think we have a great relationship, we are very very similar, so similar that sometimes I get scared that it is not good? But he is very understand, we have the same ego things we have to work on and we both do, the reason we were not together in the past was because our ego was always in the way, but now we are mature and we want to make this work…
    Sometimes I get the feeling that he is a little more mature than I am because of how he responds to my anger when I am upset, scared or whatever, but over all he is amazing…
    I would think that, thinking that being so similar in our personalities is a good thing but then I think to myself ” what if then because we are so similar we have nothing to learn from each other or grow and we endup leaving?…
    But then I remind myself that thinking that we are too similar is something to worry about is a way for my ego to prevent me from loving him and a way to create this illusion that says if I can prevent all this from happening then I can prevent myself from being hurt, which is fear and control.
    Another thing I am sooo learning is so many things in myself like my ego, my fears, and the most and hardest one, learning about love, so I guess that I can say that I am growing and so is he, in so very many ways…. i just always want to be with him….
    thanks for all your work sheryl… God Bless

  • Hopeful

    Thank you for your posts Angela. I am in a similar situation. My fiancé said he knew from the moment he met me that I was ‘the one’. It took me a little longer but I knew I wanted to be with him. About 2 weeks into the relationship I had a massive panic attack and was scared I was going to have to leave as I didn’t feel attracted to him anymore. I believe it was from issues from a previous relationship. I really do want to be with him, he is a beautiful man but my anxiety has reared its ugly head again and filled me with doubts. My attraction comes in waves which really annoys me but I am feeling better after reading your posts and it has given me some hope! Thank you. Im glad things are going well for you too 🙂

  • Newly married

    Hi Sheryl
    I read your message about lies being a red flag and it made me really anxious ….
    When you said that lies are a red flag, does that mean that white lies are a red flag for the relationship? My relationship is great, I dont know if my husband has lied, maybe about somethings that he might be ashamed of from his past, I have not done anything really really bad in my past, is just things that happdned in my previous relationships that I dont want to share, I am too perfectionist, I do not know, I know I have said some lies about my past, does that mean our relationship is red flagged? Or that if he has said a lie or ever says a lie ever our relation is to be re considered?
    I know sometes I have lied when he has asked if there is something wrong and I say no am fine when in reality am not fine, i am scared or fearful or a thought enter my mind that I dont want to share. AndI know he has done the same because I csn tell.
    I know that the reason I do this is because when I grew up my father was one of those people who would be very very easily disappointed and thats why I dont want to say the truth sometimes becsuse I dont wsnt to desapoint my husband, but at the same time I dont feel good sbout it…my husband is amazing with me, kimd, loving, understanding, thd best thing that I could ask for in a man, we have the same goals and views.
    I am scared, what is that mean our relationship has red flags, you always talk aboutred flags in relationships, and the reason I am scared is because, ” what if this means I should leave? …. I also feel very guilty.

  • Newly married

    I must clarify that I do try to be honest and i know he does too, he told me about a girl who he did not feel good about talking to at work because she was being like givibg him a weird vibe… I also know he respects me because he has shown that to be and gives me that place… And so do I…. The only thing that spiked my anxiety is that I sm hormonal and I do admit I have said a few lies about my past and also I do lie sometimes because is hard for me to express when I sm upset, angry or sad or worried about something, so I say I sm fine, when I am not!!!!
    I know he has done that too, he has said he is fine, when sometimes he is worried or sad or emotional, so we are working on being honest about or negative feelings, I do not know if he has lied about his past, maybe he has, but I know for sure he has ommited or not said things sbout his past that he feel ashamed but little by little he talks snout them, he just says he doesn’t like to talk about certain things…
    I know we both want the best for this relationship because we have learn alot and mature in a lot of ways. It just reslly spiked my anxiety when I read lies are a red flag, and I got scared that “what if that meant I should leave? I dont wsnt to leave and I think thats what spiked me, but I got scared and felt insecured to be hurt again…. I wonder if its my WS trying to protrct me snd thats why I got anxious?

    • The type of lying that you’re describing, while not ideal, is NOT a red flag. When I say lying is a red flag I mean compulsive and pathological lying where there are hundreds if not thousands of lies in the relationship, and the person often doesn’t even know that they’re lying. Let me also say there that even red-flag issues can be healed if both people are willing to put in the work.

  • Newlymarried

    I wanted to clarify again, we do work our relation based on truat and respect snd honesty, is only those two issues that I have in regards to that… There is nothing is, we are amazing together. And I am working on love snd letting go of so many things, snd so is he… We want this to work at its beat… We are both committed to that.

  • Newlymarried

    So would you not consider pathological when I have lied sbout my past? In the relationship because I sm ashamed of some things?

    • Pathological liars typically don’t ask “am I a pathological liar”? ;). So no, you’re not describing pathology at all. What you’re describing is a normal, healthy human relationship with some bumps and growing edges that need attention.

  • Newlymarried

    Oh thank you Sheryl for your always kind answers!!! God bless

  • Sophie

    Hi Sheryl!

    I reach out to your posts frequently since my first panic attack in March 2015, and they have been soothing and reassuring in the most gentle of ways. Thank you for the work that you do. I struggle a lot with insecurities which stem from my childhood. My mother was emotionally and verbally abusive for 23 years of my life, I was fat, ugly, stupid, worthless… not good enough… ever. I met my first serious boyfriend of almost 2 years, who has changed my life completely. He is supportive, loving, kind, funny and all the qualities I look for in a partner. I started panicking 10 months into our relationship, I worried that i don’t really love him, and that he’s not the one for me when there were NO reasons for me to feel this way. The fact that I started to worry about not loving him made me anxious and it spiraled out of control. I tried to dig deep, and make connections as to what it is in me that is making me feel this way. I came to the conclusion that because of my insecure attachment in my childhood, I have a difficult time with relationships. I now worry that I will always feel anxious and that I will always worry. I want to feel confident in my decision, but I always think, but is he good enough? Do I love him, so on and so forth. I just want to know that there is hope to working past my insecurities and living in the here and now, enjoying the company of my boyfriend, whom I hope to spend my life with in the future. Do you think that its possible for me to love someone while having such serious insecurities and anxieties? I once read somewhere that people who don’t love themselves struggle with relationships and maintaining them. This horrifies me, as I do not want to loose something so amazing.

    Thank you for your work, Sheryl.


    • Most people struggle with intimate relationships, Sophie, regardless of their upbringing. And, yes, certainly moreso when you come from abuse. Is there hope? Without a doubt! I strongly encourage you to take my new course, Break Free From Relationship Anxiety, as it will give you all of the tools you need to help you ease into a loving relationship.

  • Maranda

    Thank you for this article, Sheryl. I think this is what started my anxiety about my boyfriend. It’s so exhausting. I’ve spent nearly a year and now it just feels hopeless. And I’m constantly annoyed with my boyfriend. It’s like overwhelming and not a little here and there. It’s constant. What would that mean?

  • ScaredyWife

    I felt very comforted by this post until I read my triggering thought at the moment. “Both partners have a mindset of growth…” This is where I could feel my heart beating extra fast. My husband has grown tremendously since I’ve known him and our relationship has definitely grown as well. He’s currently in therapy but is about to stop going temporarily due to him trying to grow his business he started a year and a half ago. This business and his mindset around it has been damaging to his self esteem, and he knows that he has an unhealthy relationship with it, but doesn’t quite know how to change his mindset. It makes me scared that maybe he won’t grow from this, because of how deep his depression seems to be and how much this business consumes his life. I have to remember though that his relationship with money is a long and complicated one, so it might take years for him to grow and heal from that. I also have to remember that just because he may not grow as fast as I would like, that it doesn’t mean that he isn’t open to growing. He’s already shown me that in the past, and I have to have faith that he will continue to grow even if he is in a rut right now.

  • Jay


    As always thank you for your comforting words. I have taken your online course in the past and appreciate all you have taught me. Unfortunately, my distance relationship has ended and we are taking time to ourselves. However, my anxiety of her with another man is plaguing me viciously and preventing me from maintaining friendly contact. Any help to accept whatever / whomever she may meet would be ever so helpful!

  • Theboxer

    Can somebody explain what they mean when they say “attraction” or “chemistry”? I’ve always had a hard time understanding those words, and all my anxiety comes from my convinction that I should feel more chemistry, more attraction, when the truth is, I don’t even know what I am looking for. Sometimes I feel like something is missing from our relationship, other times I think I’m just going after a feeling that doesn’t really exist and meanwhile I’m not enjoying the good things I have.

  • Theboxer

    Thank you Sheryl! I wish I could do your Open your Heart program but right now I can’t afford it, just like I can’t afford to go to therapy… Anyway I read those two older articles and they helped me understand better, thank you. Like I said I’ve always struggled with intimacy and I just can’t bring myself to desire being intimate with anyone, so I don’t think it’s my partner, it’s probably me. But the doubt is always there, screaming in my head things like “if you truly loved him, you’d actually want to make love”. It’s so painful right now… but I’m slowly reading all your articles and feeling a bit better now

  • Stef

    Hi sheryl,

    I keep finding myself on your page reading through blogs and I can tell my anxiety has flared up more than usual in the past few weeks.

    Relating to this blog about feeling as though there might be someone else out there that might be a better match for me and also going back to how you mention in many blogs about fear coming out as intrusive thoughts and doubts… My latest thought and anxiety trigger is that when I first knew I wanted to be in a relationship with my parter.. I think back and remember wanting to be with her but I can’t remember thinking about ‘forever’. I think I really wanted us to be together but I didn’t properly think about being with her forever and only thought about it as a sort of short term ‘forever’, if that makes any sense.
    After the honeymoon phase i believe, like you say, that we learn a real way to love another person through action and not feeling.. However my intrusive thoughts lead me to think about the honeymoon phase ending and me just not knowing if I can learn and grow into this real love with her ‘forever’ as I said before.. Espically if I’m constantly feeling as though I’m not sure if I can do this forever without trying other relationships and so on..
    I guess the fear revolves around making the wrong decision for the rest of my life..

  • Stef

    I guess what I’m asking is how can I know if she is the right person to learn and grow into the real love that you talk about in your blogs..
    And if this type of love is real than technically could it be done with other people not just that one person I’m with.. That always seems to scare me..

  • Chelsea

    I have been better as of late but I still have anxiety flare ups. I have a pattern of always needing to be in a relationship. I’d say I’m a bit codependent yet I’m also independent while in a relationship. Super confusing. I’m not a clingy partner, but I like a balance. I have had trouble accepting my boyfriend’s past, and the fact that he thinks I’m so perfect. I also make all the decisions and he is very ok with this. We rushed into things and he said he loved me very quickly. Like on our second date. It made me panic as I did not feel the same. I feel my feelings are starting to really grow but upon talking to a friend, she says you just know. She knew with her boyfriend. I don’t have to feel the same, I’m probably just there because I’m codependent, I don’t really love him yet, he moved too fast. I think I’m never pleased and a perfectionist. I also see a lot of very positive traits in my boyfriend I haven’t seen in anybody I’ve dated in my adult life. She thinks it is crazy that I go from wanting to break up to feeling devoted. I guess things feel difficult somewhat but I’m thinking would most people break up? Or is this just real love? I don’t know what love looks like. I probably didnt love him as quick as he loved me but I think my feelings have indeed deepened. There is nothing really wrong with my relationship. I have a nagging unhappy feeling though it stems from being tired, not seeing him enough now that we both are working, and just overall thinking too much! I have to wonder if my friend is right. She says don’t settle, but I also think no relationship is perfect and there arent really any rules to relationships. For what its worth, my relationship with my boyfriend is generally healthy. He was my first boyfriend years ago. She says the nostalgia could have worn off. Idk what to think but a big part of me really wants my relationship to work no matter if it has some issues or not?

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