The Initiation of Relationship Anxiety

IMG_2612We’re tested in many ways in this life. At each transition, each tenuous juncture where the familiar lifestyle, identity, thought processes or feelings fall away, we’re offered an opportunity to face our small mind – our ego, programmed, fear-based self – and learn ways to bring compassion and curiosity to our inner world. In indigenous cultures, the male adolescent members are often initiated into manhood by venturing into the forest and facing their physical and mental fears in solitude. Women are tested through the initiation of pregnancy, childbirth, and new motherhood. Marriages are tested when the build-up of unmet needs, fears or expectations – realistic or otherwise – reach a breaking point.

But it seems that the most common way that the modern mind is tested is through the onslaught of anxiety and panic. We can cruise through our lives for years, comfortably stuffing anything comfortably into the shadow spaces of our souls, but eventually the soul reaches capacity and the anxiety spills up and out into consciousness. This is when people find me, and it’s most often around the excruciating initiation of relationship anxiety.

Relationship anxiety generally manifests in two ways, either of which can occur at any point in the relationship, from early on or years into marriage. The first brand of relationship anxiety occurs in a defining moment when the thought “Do I love my partner enough or at all” enter the person’s mind. Prior to this thought, the person describes their relationship as “wonderful, loving, everything I’ve ever wanted, amazing love between us, and pretty much perfect.” They often had a long honeymoon period and a very healthy relationship. The early stages of this type of relationship anxiety are characterized by the desperate need to “get back the feelings,” as the loss of the in-loveness feels like their heart has been cut out of their chest.

The second type of relationship anxiety occurs more gradually and may have even been present in the very early stages of the relationship. This type of anxiety is characterized by a pervasive feelings of doubt, lack of attraction, the sense that you’re really “just friends” and you’re only staying in the relationship because you’re too scared to be alone. This can be particularly disconcerting because, in a culture that exalts the in-love feelings as the sole indicator that you’re with the “right” partner, the lack of those feelings in the beginning stages can easily spell doubt and doom (until you learn better). I often receive emails from people asking me if my work and e-courses apply even if they had doubt from the beginning. The answer is obviously yes. Anxiety is anxiety; it doesn’t matter when or where it hits or even how it began. What matters is how you address it once it’s here.

In either case (and if your anxiety falls somewhere between these two examples this applies to you as well; the Wounded Self is perpetually attempting to convince you that you’re an exception : )), living with anxiety often plummets people into what is referred to “dark night of the soul.” This is when everything familiar falls away and you’re invited (or dragged) to let go aspects of yourself that aren’t serving you, die several deaths, and eventually emerge into a new, more compassionate, wiser version of yourself. You can resist the call. You can numb the pain. Or you can walk through the center of the fear-storm and surrender to the most transformational ride of your life. As Elizabeth Lesser writes about dark night of the soul in “Broken Open: How Difficult Times Can Help Us Grow” (and I strongly advise you NOT to read this book if you’re struggling with relationship anxiety):

Our lives ask us to die and to be reborn every time we confront change – change within ourselves and change in the world. When we descend all the way down to the bottom of a loss, and dwell patiently, with an open heart, in the darkness and pain, we can bring back up with us the sweetness of life and the exhilaration of inner growth. When there is nothing left to lose, we find the true self – the self that is whole, the self that is enough, the self that no longer looks to others for definition, or completion, or anything but companionship on the journey.

The key defining factor between those who “pass” the test of relationship anxiety and move on to experience real love and sustaining joy in their relationships and those that don’t is the deep desire to learn about and address the fear. There are those who remain committed to the belief that they wouldn’t be struggling so much with someone else, which is really another way of abdicating responsibility for their fear-based and wounded self. There are those who desperately want someone to fix it for them, some perfect therapist, psychic or healer who will give them the answers and left them out of their suffering. Again, this is another way that the person remains a victim to their fear and refuses the call to become a fear-warrior.

And then there are those who take on the challenge. There are hundreds of fear-warriors on my  e-course forum, women and men who are ready to attend to their inner world with complete responsibility and, in some cases, even a sense of adventure. Here’s a recent post from a Conscious Weddings E-Course member who is meeting the call (quoted with permission):

I was doing what my therapist told me not to do (good thing I never listen) and googling all sorts of crap ‘what is love’, ‘I dont love my fiance’ ‘falling out of love’ etc, and stumbled upon one of Sheryl’s blogs. I am, and always will be, grateful. I prayed the other night and thanked god for not granting me the wish ‘Please take it away’. What I got instead was the means to take it away myself, meaning that I’ll never be at sea again. I am my own saviour (with a little help from Sheryl) and that is the greatest gift I could receive. I saw a friend last night, a fellow ‘crazy loon’ as we call ourselves. She was amazed at the difference in me. I seemed calmer, in control, happier, more sure. Not sure of how much I love him, not sure that Im making the right choice, even. But sure that this is the loving choice. More sure that I know what love is. More sure that I have it within my power to change, and not be buffered by the winds of emotion. I’ve still got a looooong way to go, but I know that I can get there. I no longer dread my wedding day, or my honeymoon. I accept the challenge – bring it on!

This is what it takes: the recognition that you, and you alone, can attend to your suffering, be your own savior and the commitment to show up every day, several times a day, listening to what you’re telling yourself, tuning in to how it makes you feel, and making a choice to ride compassion into the truth of loving thoughts. My mother shares the story that when she was learning how to replace the constant running commentary of self-judgement with self-love she wore a little device around her wrist called a Motivator that would vibrate every five minutes as a reminder to tune inside to see what she was thinking and feeling. She did this for two years! I’m thinking about several of my clients who engaged in similar levels of commitment and devotion to their inner work, sometimes dialoguing every hour to attend to the fear-based thoughts, stand up to them, make room for them, and replace them with the truth. If this isn’t our modern day initiation process, I don’t know what is. It’s hard, yes. It’s supposed to be hard. That’s the definition of initiation.

Like all initiations, when we’re in the thick swamp of fear and anxiety we have many, many moments where we feel like we can’t go on. This is normal and the time to take a deep breath, sound the alarm to your circle of support (for many people on my e-course the forum is the only place they feel safe enough to talk about the depth of their anxiety surrounding their relationship and, as such, becomes their lifeline in the early stages), and then find the courage and strength to keep going. Often it’s knowing that others have made it through and are now happily committed to their partners that provides this courage and strength. When we’re enduring dark night of the soul, we need to know two things: that we’re not alone and that there will be a light once we emerge through the dark forest.

The wounded self will, of course, try everything in its power to convince you to leave. The entire function of the wounded self/ego/small mind is to avoid emotional risk at all cost and to protect you from the possibility of pain. There is nothing in our lives that creates more risk of emotional pain than intimate relationships with other human beings, and it’s for this reason that the wounded self makes such a valiant effort to convince you to run. Just when your fear-warrior makes the commitment to face this battle, you’ll often hear statements like, “You’re only staying because you’re too scared to be alone” or “You’re not leaving because you’re too scared to hurt him” or, if the wedding plans are in motion, “You’re staying because it’s too hard to disappoint too many people.” And if you Google about your thoughts (which I HIGHLY recommend you DO NOT), you’ll find plenty of support on the side of the wounded self. Our culture generally doesn’t understand relationship anxiety and adheres staunchly to the “doubt means don’t” philosophy.

Are you ready to learn and grow? Are you ready to rise to the immense challenge of learning effective ways of addressing your thoughts and meeting your fear with compassion? Are you ready to become a fear-warrior? If you’re here, it’s likely because you’ve received the calling. When you recognize that this calling is an invitation that will help you grow, you’ll see it as the blessing that it is and find the courage to dive in, sit in the darkness, and eventually emerge as a closer version of the person you’re meant to be.

107 comments to The Initiation of Relationship Anxiety

  • dontworrybehappy

    I can say that Sheryl’s e-course taught me what is real love and helped me to win against fear. My anxiety is less powerful. I don’t listen to it anymore. And I barely hear it now. I feel happier, close to my partner ! This is only thanks to this website. I am so thankful I found it. This is the tool you need to fight your anxiety. You will need to work but you will make it! Sheryl is a blessing!

  • chelsa

    Another amazing article Sheryl, I have to say that I am the first type of anxiety you have talked about an look forward to doing your course. Just by reading your diffrent blogs you have already opened my eyes up an helped me to learn what true love is an yes i have a long way to go but your site was the start i needed, an it truly is a blessing!

    • chelsa

      Sheryl, for the most part I feel calm an clear minded but then I still feel disconnected an not very loving towards my partner if that makes any sense, is that still part of the fear mind?

  • Colette

    After cancelling my wedding, I worked really, really hard to save my relationship.. and now we’ve booked our *new* wedding (it seems so surreal). If I hadn’t found this website, I am positive we would have broken up and lost our chance at the beautiful life that we are going to have together. In the thick of my anxiety, I just wanted to die. I wanted the pain to go away and for everything to be better, but it seemed impossible. Without the tools and insight from Sheryl and all of the members, I wouldn’t be re-planning my wedding now. I’m so lucky and thankful for finding this.

  • Erin

    Thank you, for everything 🙂

  • Barry

    Thank you Sheryl. I am really finding so much of value in your most recent posts. I am currently not with the person I love and hope to build a lasting authentic relationship and bond with. She has recently left a long but ultimately un-fulfilling marriage, and our connection was a catalyst in doing this. Right now we are both looking at, and working on our own fears and anxieties. For me it is both scary and exhilarating – knowing that whatever may lie ahead (or not) for the two of us, I am learning more and going deeper into understanding my true self. And what it is that I really want to manifest in my life and relationships, both romantic, as well as with my two children.

  • Kiyomi

    I love this post! I am only on my third lesson and I already see a dramatic change within myself! It was a HUGE thing for me to see the difference between love and infatuation. This has all been a blessing! I am just so much more relaxed and happier and fully committed to take care of my wounded self for the rest of my life- relationship anxiety or not. Thank you, Sheryl!

  • Ali

    Dear Sheryl,

    Your blog posts are incredibly thought-provoking – every time. In amongst your many excellent points today, the point that a Google search will back up anxiety needs to be shouted on every street corner. The Internet does tend to be the place nowadays that anxious people turn to for “advice” – in our silent fears, we turn to a machine, fearing expressing doubts to real people! – forgetting that it’s a collection of opinions of wounded souls; not necessarily truth at all.

    On Facebook, I was following a page called Positive Outlooks; until I began to see their pattern, and perhaps the wound of whoever the editor/author is. The page, with 1.5 million followers, is devoted to a theme of: walking away from people that disappoint you will set you free. How about if instead we slowed down our thinking, realised each of us in any relationship will have some negative behaviour at some time due to our own insecurities and not the other person, and gave a little space for imperfection?

    I am not in a relationship, have nothing to not walk away from right now (!), but your words help me reflect on perhaps why two previous exes have walked away from me, bewildering me utterly, because they were walking away from something loving and healthy and fun – and yet they walked. “There is nothing in our lives that creates more risk of emotional pain than intimate relationships with other human beings, and it’s for this reason that the wounded self makes such a valiant effort to convince you to run.”

    As Erin above says, “thank you, for everything”.

    Kindest regards from Switzerland,

  • Toni

    What an amazing and uplifting post. as always it came just when i needed it. I desperately want to join the e course and do the work. My relationship is hanging by a thread, it feels like we barely know each other and he’s loosing patience with me. I feel like all I ever focus on is me And my feelings and that makes me think I can’t love him if all I’m ever concerned about is my own worries about how much I love him or not. He is completely selfless and constantly is there for me even when i come home crying worrying about my lack of feelings day after day. We’re both running out of energy and it just seems so sad that we could have got to this point. I doubt everything and where I once saw a beautiful future for us I see a blurred far away vision. I keep holding on and moving forward in the hope we can overcome this but I wonder if I’m just staying because I’m scared to let go of everything we had. My guy tells me I’m in denial and just too scared to let go. He’s the best thing that ever happened to me and I know ill never find anyone quite like him, I don’t want anyone else but I’m scared we can’t come back from this and that I’m just exhausting us both.

    Sheryl when does your next e course start?
    Best wishes

    • Val

      Dear Toni,
      First of all, you will come back from this if you want to. I used to feel the exact same way. I would have constant thoughts running through my head like, “do I really love him?” “how do you know if you love someone?” “will I feel like this forever?” sound familiar? But the answer is no, you won’t feel like this forever. Sheryl’s e-course was a blessing, I still have work to do but I can’t even explain to you how much easier everything is now. I feel like myself again. Sheryl says that sometimes you need to fall out of love to really be able to know what love is. I think that is what my experience was like. I actually played one of Sheryl’s videos about love to my bf and now we both believe that love is a choice and that we will make the promise to each other to choose love every day. I don’t think you necessarily have to share every thought that pops through your head with your significant other, but I would share with him your progress so that he can see that you are working on yourself in a positive way. Please take the e-course, it will only help you, trust me…


    • Patricia

      Tony ,

      Sometimes i feel like what if im on denial and just too scared to let it go
      I refuse to let my anxiety mess with my relationship i been on this for 2 years
      And another thing tht triggers me is my lack of infatuation i had when
      I met my partner at first. Help!! Im new on this site and need a lot of support!

      • Brianna

        2 years?! OMG that’s horrible 🙁 how have you dealt with this?

        • Patricia

          I tried to not pay attention to it
          Also my fear of losing her used to kind of reassure my love for her
          Now i dnt want to avoid this i want to know where is coming from to get rid of it
          And find out the root of this.

  • Toni

    Sorry that was meant to say my gut not guy!

  • Nicky

    I’m sorry but I really do not understand this post.
    What if your relationship really isn’t any good for you? What if you have done “the work” and you know deep down it’s over? And it’s the only true and brave thing to do? What then?
    Not every relationship is meant to last. It is just as often braver to walk away and start again then stay in a relationship that does not serve you.

    • Molly

      True enough, Nicky. Sometimes you just know something’s not right. But sometimes it’s not that simple. I think this post is aimed at helping the many of us who don’t know, who struggle with the question “is he right?” It’s for those who know on some levels “he’s perfect” yet still are plagued by these nagging, festering feelings that simply will not go away of maybe there’s someone better out there who I wouldn’t feel this way about, maybe he just doesn’t understand me, maybe we’re not meant to be together, if I really loved him I wouldn’t be plagued with these doubts…and on and on and on.

      I think Sheryl’s work targets a specific audience: one that had no voice or outlet prior to her blog/ecourse etc. There’s a lot of women (and men) out there (as evidenced by the comments in this blog) who are struggling with relationship anxiety – and that’s a very different thing than relationship compatibility. Sure, there’s obviously some overlap there, but if you’ve discovered you’re incompatible with your partner for whatever reason (morals, values, faith, finance, common interests, commitment, kids/family, etc.), then sure, the bravest and best thing you can do for yourself and your partner is walk away. But if all of these things are aligned but you’re still afraid that he’s not “right”, that’s a pretty sure sign of relationship anxiety and the bravest thing you can do for yourself is to figure it out.

    • Kristin

      I’ve been on both sides of this. If you really take the time to assess, I’m convinced you’ll know which is true for you in the relationship. I found Sheryl’s blog when I was engaged last year, and after working through everything, I discovered that there were big differences in values and faith (red flag issues) in my previous relationship. It just took this kind of analysis of my thoughts and feelings for me to come to terms with them. I do think there were times in the past when I simply let my feelings guide, and I assumed the “doubt means don’t” mentality. I probably missed out on some good relationships, though I don’t really believe in regrets.
      I’ve done the same analysis on myself and my current relationship (after an intense honeymoon period) and there is a big difference. I’m not free from anxiety, but it isn’t ruling my decisions. I’ve found the courage to challenge my negative thoughts, when they come up. Ignoring isn’t the answer. There’s no way but through, right?

      • KD

        Kristin – I share a very similar experience, and I just want to echo what you’ve written here. I am positive – though not certain (ha! what is certainty?!) – that the truth does make iteself known. Meaning, if a relationship is truly not serving you, it will become clearer. Having been on both sides of this as well, I have found this to be the case. Unfortunately, I received my clarity about my previous relationship BEFORE really taking ownership of some of my own false beliefs, unrealistic expectations and misconceptions about lasting relationships. But, I guess it’s never too late to embark on this journey to self-discovery. 🙂

        • Kristin

          Agreed. It’s never too late. And certainty doesn’t really exist in my world, so I’m with you there. Sometimes that’s part of what I love about my personality, though. I value openmindedness very highly. 🙂
          I was with my ex for three years without a whole lot of anxiety, though I’m pretty convinced the nature of that relationship and the personality of my partner helped me kind of put my anxiety in a bit of a dormant state. He was a bit distant…not super affectionate…and, though committed to our relationship, he made it clear for three years that he wasn’t ready to get married yet. The relationship was good, but I was ignoring some clear value differences from a he’s-a-good-influence-on-me perspective…really, we had differences in financial and religious values, and it took getting engaged for me to be true to myself. In that sense, I’m thankful. At the time, though, all I knew was that I was absolutely drowning in my own head, and that I needed time to think.
          Ridiculously, three months later, I met my now-husband. I had never felt about anyone else how I felt about him, and yet, two months in, I spiraled a bit. Tons of journaling, FREQUENT visits to this site, and some wisdom from the past are the sole reasons I’ve managed to get where I am today. I still have some fear and anxiety, but they don’t incapacitate me…because I feel like I’ve been able to address it all from what I feel is a very honest, yet compassionate perspective (many thanks to Sheryl).

          • KD

            Wow – the similarities between our stories are uncanny. However, something I struggle with is staying open-minded and compassionate. If nothing else, this journey is teaching me to drop some of my previously held beliefs and lose the critiques I have of myself and others. It’s definitely a process, but one well worth it. Yes, many thanks to Sheryl! And, thanks for sharing your story, Kristin.

          • MMM

            But even with the red flag issues there is some grey area. For instance you may be very spiritual and your significant other is not. Does that mean you should leave? Even if your anxiety is telling you to do so? No. I think each individual person has a threshold, or should have, of things they are/are not willing to concede on. My fiancé is great at saving money. Myself? Not so much. I have my flaws and she willingly accepts them and vice versa. My anxious mind literally gives me a million reasons to run. I mindfully listen to the noise and try not to judge it. It is a thought. I had a therapist who disagreed with me in regards to thoughts. She felt they were truth and it used to make me so upset. But countless studies and blogs tell you a thought is a thought. The problem is in our anxious mind. It says why are you thinking this and if I thought it, it must be true. Then it goes down the rabbit hole searching for an answer. An answer which does not exist.

            To use another Alice in Wonderland analogy, of course it’s easy to say “after awhile I knew my last relationship ‘wasn’t right’ and my current is” like seeing things through the looking glass. If I look hard enough., I can find faults in my fiancé and she can with me. I think the fact that we all search for answers an advice shows that we care about these people and want things to work.

          • Kristin

            I definitely see your point, MMM. And I agree. Every situation is different.

        • Kristin

          I’m openminded and I’ve always been compassionate with others…but I’ve also always been extremely hard on myself. I’m also a people-pleaser (though not quite so much anymore 😉 ), indecisive, and quick to believe that I’m in the wrong. The last one can be good because it makes me pretty introspective and I don’t easily lay blame on others, but it can also make me feel terrible when I shouldn’t.
          I’m not big on certainty in general, but my whole life, I’ve expected an unwavering certainty in the man I decided to marry, because that’s what the women closest to me shared as their experience. The thing is, I did have the “feeling”…many times, and even very early on. I just questioned the crap out of it (which I’ve decided is perfectly responsible and normal). Weird now my brain didn’t change just because I decided to get married, huh?

          • KD

            Hey MMM – totally agree with you. I will say one of the biggest differences between my ex and my current partner is willingness. Willingness to work with me, willingness to open himself up to me. Respect for me and my choices. Respect for himself. So, despite the fact that we have some differences in opinion, or differences in things like spirituality, my partner and I are willing to come together and willing to work on our relationship. Lots of willing going on here!

            So, you’re absolutely right, it’s not always so black and white. Sounds like you have a pretty great partner!

          • Kristin

            Well said, KD. Loving and respecting with no intent to change…I think that’s the difference.

      • chelsea

        Little late in the game here lol but I have similarities with both you ladies, having been in a relationship before an assessing it an understanding it’s better it ended do to red flags. An now being caught up in false mixed beliefs trying to figure out what’s real. Being in a relationship now with a great guy an trying to fight this battle, it’s nice to have other people out there 🙂

    • Sarah

      That is a good question. I think something else that Sheryl says that was key for me was differentiating red flag issues from fear (abuse, neglect, vs. anxiety, fear, doubt). If there’s a clear red flag, a relationship might need to be dropped, but if there is anxiety and “what ifs” and “I should feel______” theres a risk of leaving a great relationship for nothing…only to wind up in a similar situation further down the road. For me a huge thing I would question was, “WHAT IF I don’t love him?” or “What if ten years down the road we’re not compatible anymore?” not “I don’t think I love him,” or some such thing. The fear had nothing to do with my partner, but a lot to do with my own insecurities and fear of being hurt. It wasn’t something that would just go away on it’s own. That’s where tons of what Sheryl says is helpful. She definitely speaks to a certain audience, and temperament (as Molly pointed out), but a very necessary one for those of use that find ourselves in a great relationship with a likeminded person, but then are suddenly plagued but anxiety and fear!

  • Tam

    You know Sheryl, I just wanted to let you that I hopefully reached the end of my long battle with relationship anxiety, I know understand what true love is and you know what? It’s SO much nicer than the Hollywood version. All thanks to you! I also wanted to let you know that I am from Lebanon in the Middle East just for you to see how far your lessons are going:)

  • Sharan

    This article came at a good time… Just when i was losing hope (in myself), this has given me the inspiration to carry on learning about myself and to continue with the e-course. What have i got to lose right? Thanks Sheryl!

  • katy

    “i am a fear warrior” 🙂
    after experiencing relationship anxiety a couple of months into my relationship with a fantastic ‘available’ guy i too googled relationship anxiety and thank Sheryl wholeheartedly, having spent the year of my engagement following her work and lessons through the e-course i am now married and while my marriage transition is still in the early days i know that i love my husband and have made the right descision despite fear telling me so many times to run……. im in it for the ride as i said ” im a fear warrior “

  • Brianna

    “There is nothing in our lives that creates more risk of emotional pain than intimate relationships with other human beings, and it’s for this reason that the wounded self makes such a valiant effort to convince you to run.” I agree with this quote. My anxiety started because I thought of us ever breaking up and then the other questions soon followed and I didn’t understandn why I was thinking them. My anxiety comes and goes, I still feel a bit empty, but my moods have been lifted a bit. My boyfriend is now having anxiety and thinking the same exact things I thought! I will not let anxiety and fear take him from me!

  • happilyeverafter

    I just wanted to say thank you so much Sheryl for your inspirational blogs, they’ve really helped me in overcoming my fears and opening my eyes to reality. Before I had SUCH a bad perception of what true love was and happiness, but your blogs have greatly helped me become more knowledgeable in that topic and is the reason I am still with my boyfriend after suffering relationship anxiety. I will forever be grateful!

    I will admit, i still do have those days where it comes back and sometimes its hard to apply the techniques I’ve learned because I’m feeling so low, but overall I would say I feel better then ever!

    I do have a quick question though,
    I believe that changing part of your diet can help stabilize your anxiety to a more calmer state, for example not drinking caffeine, not eating junk food and just eating a more healthy diet in general.
    For a while I cut out caffeine, but I recently got a new job where I work early mornings so its hard for me to feel awake!
    I started drinking coffee again and I am a little worried it will set off my anxiety even more.

    Do you have any suggestions? Would it be okay to continue drinking one coffee a day in the morning?
    I was thinking even if it does set off my anxiety, It could be a good way for me to face the fears and feelings its gives me instead of running away from the feelings.

    Not drinking coffee may actually be a way that im running from the anxiety without even realizing it?

    I would appreciate any answers from anyone 🙂

    P.s I suffer from both versions of relationship anxiety, they transitioned into each other as well as hOCD!

  • I’m very new to your site/newsletters, but think you are dealing with a very important area of human experience, especially at a time when, as my daughter puts it, so many young people are going into marriage with the view that ‘if it doesn’t work, I’ll leave.’
    Of course not every relationship is meant to last, but if you never do the work, no relationship will last and you will simply repeat behaviours and experiences.
    I have been with my partner for 23 years, though we only married 5 years ago. As he functions in a manner best understood in the context of ‘high-functioning Autism/Asperger’s’, we face some challenges that many people would not understand or relate to – this is not necessarily to say greater, just different and therefore more isolating. There have been times of real struggle. They arrive without warning, but, if we stay with them, we do get through.
    The anxieties, the wounded self, reappear as life shifts and creates new dynamics to challenge our perceptions and beliefs. I’m not sure this ever ceases – isn’t life always to some extent about growth and learning? There are dark nights of the soul, but I try always to ask myself ‘What is the learning here? What is the opportunity for me to grow and change?’
    I honestly believe that the only truly ‘negative experience’ is when we fail to use the hand life deals us to move forward within ourselves.

    • “I’m not sure this ever ceases – isn’t life always to some extent about growth and learning? There are dark nights of the soul, but I try always to ask myself ‘What is the learning here? What is the opportunity for me to grow and change?’
      I honestly believe that the only truly ‘negative experience’ is when we fail to use the hand life deals us to move forward within ourselves.”

      I completely agree, Gina. Thank you for your supportive comment.

  • Nina

    Happilyeverafter, I never drink coffee and still have anxieties. Maybe it’s sometimes a question of character and will. Some easily quit on themselves and others, thinking the other side is guilty. And then they change the person but the same behavioral pattern in them comes along and then what? They figure out nothing has changed.

  • happilyeverafter

    Nina that makes a lot of sense, i agree with you. I do know that caffeine is stimulate for anxeity, but it also depends on the person. So i completely quit coffee cold turkey a couple months ago, and was doing fine without it. Then i started drinking decaf cause i love the taste of coffee, but now since i work a lot of early mornings i need something to wake me up and coffee seems to do the trick. Im just worried it will trigger all the anxiety back that i worked so hard to overcome!

  • KristyLexi

    Where can I get one of those vibration braclets that your mom had?!?! What an excellent idea!

  • Nina

    Does fear of losing and thinking you’re unworthy of your partner’s love belong to relationship anxiety?

    happilyeverafter, could you try with cappuccino?

  • Rachel

    I am so grateful for your work Sheryl – I have been married for nearly 3 years and after completing your course I can honestly say I found it life changing – In the early days of my relationship with my wonderful husband, I suffered intense, crippling anxiety. Intrusive thoughts plagued me ‘I don’t feel enough love for my husband’ ‘I have major doubts about whether this is the man for me’ ‘What will others think of him?’ ‘I don’t feel the ‘electricity’ that I’ve felt in previous relationships’
    Thankfully in my desperation I came across Sheryl’s work. As I completed each lesson I felt that it was written for me. I will always be grateful for this. I now feel nothing but gratitude for being married to such a wonderful, caring, loving and thoughtful man. We are expecting our first baby in October. I am currently working through ‘birthing a new mother course’ as guess what?? I’m experiencing overwhelming anxiety and panic about becoming a mother for the first time. Thank you Sheryl – your work is so helpful.

    • Patricia

      That is one of my main intrusive thoughts i do not
      Feel that electricity i felt in past relationships
      I can feel it from time to time and is annoying because
      I try to look at my feelings for her and
      I can’t really think well. I compare my relationship to other relationships
      I question sooo much i feel horrible and feel lile im going crazy
      Everytime i look at my partner i feel horrible and pity
      🙁 i dont want to hurt my partner SHE means the world to me i guess! :'(

  • Angela

    Hi Sheryl,
    Like many people on this incredible site who share the same thoughts and curiosities brought us here to you Sheryl 🙂 your our Angel who guides us every step of the way. Your mother must be proud. Thank you for continuous support. Life is testing especially when your feeling anxiety but it’s our choice to feel better.

  • Happilyeverafter

    Does anyone else experience a low sex drive because of relationship anxiety or anxiety itself? If so, is it normal? And how do we overcome it and bring our sex drives back up again?

    • chelsa

      I have read that when being anxious just in general i can give you a low sex drive plus when your in an anxious state an feel disconnected i can see why you would feel that way,for me its oppisite though i’ve had a highsex drive an when I have that time with my prtner afterwards he had noticed that I am much more relaxed an calmer an not as anxious, so maybe its diffrent for each person. Hope that has helped 🙂

    • Brianna

      I have a very low sex drive as well so I think it is normal. It sucks haha, but it’s normal.

  • Val

    I have never had a high sex drive per say, I think I am pretty average in that department. However, I think that when we are in a state that Sheryl calls “projection” we don’t want to have sex with our partner or even be close to them for that matter. However, if you feel yourself experiencing that I think the best thing you can do is not give in to the projection and do something to break that cycle. Sheryl says that even when you don’t feel like it sit next to your partner, hold his hand, kiss him, and it will help you to break that cycle. I think the same goes for sex. I have found that it works for me and afterwards I feel closer to him and it helps to remind me of all the things I do love about him. It helps me feel “normal” again in my relationship.

  • happilyeverafter

    I couldn’t agree more with what you said “Sheryl says that even when you don’t feel like it sit next to your partner, hold his hand, kiss him, and it will help you to break that cycle. I think the same goes for sex”
    That makes perfect sense. I applied this technique with kissing, cuddling, being with him etc. But for some reason never thought of applying it to sex as well. I will try this out and see how it goes. You’re right i need to break the cycle. My fear always makes me feel like i don’t want anything to do with sex, and it ends up feeling like a chore!

  • Nicky

    Thanks Molly and Sarah for your thoughtful replies. I get it now. My previous relationship was an extremely unusual situation in where my ex would bully and belittle me for not being spiritual enough. ie not doing yoga or meditation or going to 3 different therapy modalities. He constantly criticised me for not being the same as him. I twisted myself in knots with over-analysis, spent a fortune on therapists when in actual fact it was the relationship that was not right. So it took me much longer than it should have to work out we were no good together as opposed to me being damaged. Oh the anguish and despair! I was scared to leave and start over however it was the best thing I have ever done. So ironically, my situation is the exact opposite of this post!
    Now, I am single and finally have peace and happiness. I look at my own stuff but in a gentle way and I have never been happier.

  • Jess

    Hi Sheryl,
    Wonderful post. You have been such a great help to me over the past year. It’s so strange because even though I have never come into physical contact with you… I feel I know you. I can feel your care and passion for helping people through your blog and work. Thank you for sharing the truth in a world that seems all most submerged in lies.

    Thanks, Jess x

  • Angela

    It’s so true when people say you have to be in my shoes to really know how I feel and Sheryl definitely knows how we feel because she has experienced relationship anxiety as well. I’m so grateful to find my way here because I know so many people feel exactly the same way as me. I always thought it was just me and I felt so alone. Not anymore I don’t. I just hope people who feel alone will find Sheryl in this life time.
    Your an amazing woman you truly areXO

  • Thank you, Jess and Angela. It’s truly a privilege to do this work and I’m grateful every day that I have the opportunity to guide others from fear to love.

  • Chelsea

    I have a question, ive had quite a few bad days an have been hoping for a good day of being calm no anxious thoughts an just relaxed an when I finally get one its like your so use to your anxious/fear state that being relaxed doesnt even seem like its normal anymore. Has anyone else had the problem an does it make sense?

  • kathryn

    Bravo, Sheryl! These posts always come at just the right time. I can tell by the long line of comments that I’m not the only one who enjoyed reading this. It struck a little nerve. The beast (anxiety/fear) has never 100% gone away, albeit a thousand times better. As the relationships goes through shifts and phases so do my thoughts, so it’s always relieving to read these. Thanks for being consistent! -K

  • S.

    Hi Sheryl,

    Thank you for your posts and blogs. I wanted to share a small breakthrough that I had today.

    I was asking myself if my engagement was the right decision for me, and I came up with “no”, but I followed it up by asking “Why?”. This triggered a response from somewhere inside that said “Because I’m scared”. This has allowed me to recognize that fear has been in the driving seat during my engagement.

    I know I have more work to accomplish, and understand that my anxiety will come up from time to time, but I now know that I have the tools to do the work.

    • Yes, the first response if often “no” when you ask if it’s the right choice but when you can recognize that you’re responding from fear you can dig deeper into what’s actually happening. This is the work!

  • David


    I found your articles on the Huffington Post site, which subsequently brought me here. Your writing describes what I am going through scarily, but comfortingly, accurately. Almost out of nowhere, I woke up one morning with a voice in my head telling me to leave my partner, who is another man. Slowly, that thought told hold and became louder and more consuming, until I broke down about a week or so later and, while extremely upset, told him about it. He has been nothing but supportive and loving throughout, but I really, really want to face my fears and become the fear warrior that you and your other readers talk about. I’d love to know more about how your courses could help me.

    Thank you for offering a light in the storm and comfort to so many people.

    David x

  • Christine Donnery

    Hi, I have just come across your site. I need some advice. I have been in a relationship with a wonderful, loving, caring sensitive man. 3 months in he finished the relationship he said he was not feeling “it”. When I asked him what that meant he said he didn’t know. He said he is not in love with me and so he has decided to walk away. I am devastated and cannot understand what has happened. We were so happy together and after finding your blog, I realise he is just scared. Please can you give me some advice as what to do? I have emailed him your blog so he could read for himself and hopefully identify with things on here. He says he has never met a more loving beautiful caring woman as me and he doesn’t know what to do with the love I give him. He has run away. I am so upset. Please any advice would really help.


    • I’m so sorry that you’re in pain, Christine. It clearly sounds like your partner is suffering from relationship anxiety and all you can do is offer him this information and then attend to your own pain by wrapping yourself in the cushion of your own warm embrace. You’ll need to walk through your grief, which is never easy, and trust that you’ll find your way back to love.

  • JEA

    Thank you for this post Cheryl. I’ve read it a couple times to remind myself to dive in and see this bumpy period as an invitation, opportunity, and a positive, rather than a hopeless cycle of fear and pain. Thank you for your words of wisdom and your reminder that we alone hold the key.

  • Sam

    Hi Sheryl,

    Your work has been very encouraging to me. I have been married now for a little over a month and feel like the transition has gone quite well in reality. But in my mind I still have anxiety, concern, uneasyness, apprehension? My partner is great and we are compatable in all of the major areas and she is a very caring and supportive person. I think in a lot of ways I am trying to find faults with her because I am still having fear and anxiety of the committment that we made.

    Now that we are married I thought that the anxiety and doubts would start to go away. But they still seem to exsist and it seems to me that I am still scared about…Did I make the right decision? Was this the best thing for me to do? These thoughts are very scary for me because I want to work on the relationship and work on developing more intimacy but my fears and anxieities still persist and cause me to have doubts which I don’t want to have because I am now married and in a committed healthy relationship. But still feeling uneasy, nervous, on edge, irritable and sometimes unpleasant to be around. Is it common for people to still have doubts while the are newly married? If so, how long does this last? Is there a transition phase?

    I went through a very difficult period of anxiety for my engagement about 7 months and now I still seem to be going through it. Sometimes I wonder if this will ever end. It has literally caused me to question my decision to my loving wife which I don’t want to because she is amazing. Can you offer any advice?

    I really just wish that I could back to my life before engagement. I seemed to enjoy a lot more activities before engagment and things seemed to be a lot easier.

  • Alice

    I’m almost dying because of my anxiety! I have an “almost perfect” fiance- loving, caring, religoius, money-saving, responsible, hardworking, with the same family goals etc… the only problem is he is not at the same “intelectual level” as I am. I graduated from law university and he is studying at technical university. But he can’t express him very well (he makes language mistakes, even though he has made a terrific progress lately, his language is stiil not that perfect) and he has some problems with the “common knowledge” such as capitals of the countries, politics, foreign languages etc… I know it’s more important to have somebody who is going to love you and treat you well than an intelectual jerk but I have always “dreamed of” a husband who would have a great carrier etc… I fear that I might feel better than him and disrespect him in future… Is it just anxiety? Am I trying to find a stupid reason to run away? Or is it a red flag?? HELP ME PLEASEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!!

    • This is a very common area of anxiety, Alice, and it shows up all the time on my e-course forum. The issue to explore is that we define intelligence in a very narrow way in this culture. Is your guy emotionally or technically intelligent? Does he see the big picture? Does he have an intuitive sense of how things work and fit together? Intelligence isn’t just being a good speller or verbally fluid – although that’s what we’re taught and is celebrated in school. Intelligence is far more vast than that. So, yes, this is anxiety and is probably caused by our cultural misunderstanding of intelligence, and any other fears you may have about relationships could easily attach themselves to this issue.

      • Alice

        Thank you for a rapid reply!!!:)
        Well, yes he is emotionally intelligent(being able to listen to the feelings and understanding “women point of view”)and he is really good technically (when there is something he is interested into he would learn about it with joy). So yes, he has knowledge.
        The point is I need to “teach” him some basis (such as what does “al dente” mean) and correct his language sometimes and that drives me crazy. I know this is because he was born in a small village and he went to average high school but sometimes I feel as a teacher, not as a partner… Will it decrease in time (he lerans fast) or will I get frustrated?
        I am definitely an anxious person and right now I feel one minute “I am gonna quit, I want somebody I wouldn’t have to correct”, the other “OMG, he is almost perfetct, I won’t find anybody like him”…

        • My guess is that as you learn more about how your anxiety manifests and you learn to focus on what he brings to the table as opposed to what he doesn’t bring, this focus on what you’re perceiving as lack of intelligence will decrease.

  • Angela

    Hi Sam,
    I read your post and I can totally relate to what you said. I feel exactly the same about my partner.He is the most beautiful guy I have ever met but this anxiety feels so overwhelming that I just wanna stop living. I would rather die than leave my soon fiancé to be. In our minds it dosent make sense why we feel we want to run for the fields. But Sheryl makes a lot of sense that I just keep going. I believe and trust every word she says. These feelings are a challenge. Friends and family comment on how happy I look but they don’t know how much I’m struggling with this anxiety. It’s so hard. But as they hard work pays off. I wish you better days to come.

    • Patricia

      Angela that’s one word i been saying today allll dayy long “if i have to leave my partner. ill rather die
      Soo then i start questioning what if im just attached ? Is sooo complex

  • Ashley Nord

    This article is so beyond an answer to a prayer. PLEASE Sheryl where and how do I sign up for your e-course? Which course are all these people raving about?

  • Angela

    Patricia, like Sheryl has said anxiety wants you to run and we are far too intelligent to listen. We will choose love every time. I have had 9 months of 24/7 anxiety. But this week I’ve been free from this bluff it’s the best feeling when u feel yourself and in control of ur thoughts and feelings and this is when I know I will beat this bullshit and so will every single person on here will to including you Patricia.

    • Brianna

      That’s great to hear Angela! I have been dealing with this for 6 months and it is painful! I was doing good for two weeks, but it started up again. Are you feeling that love again? Or is it lik you know what you know now and that’s all there is to if?

  • chelsea

    Hi Sheryl, so the anxiety can be present from the very beginning of a relationship? My bf told me he loved me very quickly an I cared a lot about him an said it to soon wondering if it was to soon. Time had passed (a few months) an things were great amazing I had an still have an amazing time with my bf an enjoy every min with him but out of no where the question hit ” what if I really don’t love him”. Just wondering on some insight thanks Sheryl 🙂

  • Angela

    Hi Brianna( nice name) thanks I just wish this anxiety dosent come and go.. It just disappears and never returns but this the way it is.. It is painful but my partner is worth the pain that’s the way I see it. I’m not bailing out I’m never giving up my journey of love I will reach the other side with a huge sigh of relief. We can do it we are fear warriors.

    • Brianna

      Thank you! You mean the love disappears and never returns? Like I said I was doing good, but now I’m back to square one. Not as much anxiety as the beginning, but very empty. I hate how the emptiness makes me question and I don’t feel anything and get emotionless. My boyfriend is everything to me even though at times I can’t feel it. I got so worked up over the thought of us ever breaking up that it’s come to this. I don’t understand why it’s gotten to this point and why this happened. The one time I was genuinely happy. I feel like sometimes my relationship is the heavy load on me, but it’s not its this anxiety! And I just want it to go away so bad! I had good days, but I’m so scared they won’t return. Nothing provides relief anymore. It’s so painful.

  • Angela

    Brianna, I believe you love your boyfriend as you have mentioned. It’s the anxiety that makes you doubt your love for him. Sheryl’s ecourse is my bible, I listen to the lessons frequently as Sheryl says keep doing the exercises and your thoughts will be calm and clear. I hope you have better days ahead.

    • Brianna

      Thank you Angela, makes me happy when people say that. I just wish and hope that I could see things the way they were again. It makes me so sad that I can’t and that this anxiety and emptiness has taken over the best thing to ever happen to me.

  • Rebecca Clarke

    What if before you had depression and anxiety you felt alright but then since then you’ve had lots of doubts. I keep fretting over having enough common interests? How many do you need? I keep telling myself that if we had enough in common, we’d be able to talk non stop so when we’re quiet, I panic and aren’t comfortable in the silence. Most relationships I know have less in common than we do. Your help would be much appreciated.

  • Jenny

    I am just rereading this blog today, i find alot of the time I feel like I need to think things through and then I will be okay, I need to analyze my marriage, my relationship and then I will be okay.

    Most the time i am busy and stressed with other daily life that I dont have time to do that but its like my anxiety is there until I can do it, and to know everything is okay and that my relationship is okay, i still love him etc.

    I know this sounds so weird but I am just wondering is this a typical anxiety thing feeling compelled to analyze things to get relief.

    Its funny I wrote in my journal for the first time in a while the other night and it came to me that this anxiety does sometimes feel real and half of my stress is in trying to make it less of a reality which only feeds it even more because i feel so guilty for having it but that is where it gets its power from my own guily and worry.

    my views on love and relationships will always be somewhat distorted because of my upbringing but thats part of who I am, it is real but it doesnt make it my truth. My truth feels knowing and honest, my fear feels rough, panicked and confused even desperate in the sense that i feel i need to sit down and think about things to be okay.

    I thought to myself when was anything honest and loving but also equally anxious and desperate and that is what makes this feeling unparralled to any other in its force because it wipes me out with its sheer resistance to what I know is truly loving in my life.

    I have a very dsyfuntional family but i am choosing to carry that with me into my own life now. I am anxious in this relationship but like you say I know I would be probably very unhappy as well as anxious in another.

    Relationships are hard, espicially when you find it hard to love yourself and instead of worrying about my relationship with my husband I am really going to start focusing on me and my own pain, Thanks.

  • Angela

    Hi Sheryl,
    I am feeling better I found myself. When anxious I do feel lost moody and exhausted. I’m not at the finish line but I know and feel that day will come soon when I do conquer my fears and embrace life’s challenges with joy and pride. Thanks to you Sheryl.. I just can’t thank u enough even when I’m caught in the hurricane of fear.. It’s such a good feeling when I’m breathing and my mind isn’t racing.

  • Stephanie

    I am SO grateful for thie website and all of the insights shared by both Sheryl and the other members of this online community. I had originally stumbled on the Conscious Transitions site after one of my anxiety-ridden Google binges and am truly glad that I did!

    The feelings of anxiety and uncertainty that many of you have expressed are a mirror image of my own experience: I’ve been with an amazing man for almost 10 months, and I know in my heart that he and I are right for one another on many levels. He’s kind, playful, funny, warm, genuinely loves and accepts me, and I love and accept him. He is aware of my relationship anxiety but does not know the ugly details about how it manifests itself…the fact that I even feel a shred of doubt or disconnection from him is a source of shame, hurt and confusion for me.

    When my boyfriend and I first started dating, my anxiety was through the roof, but through a lot of hard work in therapy, I was able to push through the fear and enjoy some genuinely connected, blissful and anxiety-free months. For some reason, however, the anxiety has returned like a tidal wave, leaving me feeling nervous and uncertain about our future together (the old “doubt means don’t” mind games!)

    Some of my recent anxiety stems from not being able to spend as much quality time as I would like (he’s been traveling for work but is always very good about keep in touch). But I also think my anxiety is linked to the fact that my parents have a very dysfunctional marriage…although they are still together, they spend almost NO time in each other’s company (and it didn’t always used to be that way). For me, the idea of marriage is associated with an almost certain devolution-people start out happy and in love, then everything goes to hell. People either leave, or they stay and are unhappy. I know on an intellectual level that this isn’t true: I have many friends who are in loving marriages, but on an emotional level I don’t believe this outcome applies to me. Only people who are “together” and “whole” get a happy ending, right? Wrong-at least that’s what I hope!

    Anyway, in spite of the sometimes crippling fear I feel, one thing is clear: I am VERY committed to fighting through my fears, and the Conscious Transitions community is a big part of helping me stay focused and engaged. I look forward to the day when I can stand before family and friends, commit to the man I love and shape a positive future together. THANK YOU to all of you for continuing to share your stories: it’s easy to feel like I’m the only one who is experiencing relationship anxiety, but clearly that is not the case. I take a lot of comfort in knowing that I am not alone…keep up the work, fellow fear-warriors!

  • MEG

    Hi Sheryl,

    Just curious if you hear of people who have come out of their anxiety (for the most part) and have fell back into it again. I first became anxious last May and have done well to steadily wot towards my anxiety throughout the year (with definite ups and downs of course). I’ve been married for two months now and have had brilliantly happy moments with my husband where I thought that I kicked fear out of the drivers seat for good, and just recently it’s come back in full swing. Panicky, doubtful, etc. any thoughts?

    • Absolutely. This is a very common experience with anxiety and just means that there’s more to learn! You may want to consider the Open Your Heart program. It’s been extremely positive and beneficial to people, especially in the early months of marriage so that you can put healthy habits into place.

  • Ashley

    Hi Sheryl,

    This post has given me hope. I am still dealing with my anxiety but I am learning that it is more about fear than my “gut.” When I read it for the first time, I broke down crying with a sense of relief. I felt like I had a name and understanding for what I have been experiencing. I read it to my partner and he said, “I knew all along that you had fears, and it’s okay…it’s not about me.” I love him! 😉

    I agree that once I decided to face my wounded self, my wounded self started to pick apart each aspect of this post. The biggest reoccurring thought that is now popping in my head is that when I met my current partner, is that I “forced” myself into the relationship. I know that before I met him I was an anxious person and over-thinker/analyzer. We were friends for about a year and then I chose to pursue the relationship. Throughout the relationship I pick out little differences and obsess over them. I know I have a false beliefs about what “real” love is(that I will work through), but the common question I keep coming back to is…”Can I be healthy in this relationship even though it started out with me looking to him to make me feel better/fulfilled?” I tend to lose myself in relationships and he encourages me to keep my identity and he is able to keep his. Whenever I feel like I am losing me, I want to run away. I have this belief that I can only be a whole person when I am single and that I cannot become whole when I am in a relationship.

    It is helpful to mention that I have been able to be 100% honest with him that past few weeks and he has been unbelievably supportive and keeps reminding me that I will get through this. He is so honest, loving, supportive, funny, and smart.
    I want to sign up for the e course, but that persistent/pervasive/nagging question is making me think it isn’t right for me. Thanks.

  • Janet

    Dear Sheryl,
    I identify strongly with the post and am rather desperate to overcome my relationship anxiety. I am in the early stages of a relationship with a great guy. We met during a period ofmy life when I was actively working on my own happiness after a painful break up (that was only as significant as it was because it was the culmination of what I considered the failure of a very serious, long term relationship the year before, and because of certain negative behaviors and thought processes I do during intimate and committed relationships). I have never had such a loving partner and someone with whom I can connect on so many levels, but my mind and body feel mired in an attempt to not get too close or get hurt again. I found myself very recently trying everything I could to push him away after a period of great closeness we shared, and I constantly have negative thoughts and doubtful thoughts about someone for whom I care so much. I am just so afraid of the intimacy and of not having my needs met (past relationships and my own behavior of wanting to be perfect and do everything I can to make the other person happy), and losing my own sense of self (which, for record, I don’t feel I have a very good sense of onthe first place).

    I don’t want to continue the cycle of breaking up, especially with someone who I think is very worth while and who has said he will be patient and here for me as long as I need to deal with the anxiety I am experiencing. I am tired of not living my life to the fullest and instead living like the worst possible thing is going to happen (ex. that it won’t work out between us because I am going to freak and ruin it all). I want to get back to a place where I feel free with him and myself so I can be the best version of myself and be happy.

    I have struggled with some version of anxiety and/or depression for much of my life and I don’t want it to keep me hostage anymore. I want a life that is meaningful to me, which includes having a healthy relationship with my partner, and a family. But, with my recurrent behavior and thoughts, I feel that will never be possible. We both did just return to graduate school, so there is a transitional element there. I also know I was careful in how our relationship started and overly mindful of my behaviour because of my awareness of my relationship anxiety.

    I realize this is an epic post, but I’ve never left one before. Any help/feedback/suggestions would be greatly welcomed. Thank you for the post- it at least makes me feel like I am not alone in this process.

  • Shawna Bowman

    Dear Sheryl,

    I fall into the first category 100% and have all of the same problems as the previous post from Janet. I care about my partner more than anything. We have been together a year and the first six months was amazing until I started filling myself with doubt and fear and have been pushing him away with my anxiety since. He is still there for me everyday and understands and listens to my anxiety, believing that this is because this is the first real relationship that I have actually wanted to stay in through this difficult time (I have broken up with two other serious partners just to escape dealing with problems) but I do not want to give up on him because I see a future of happiness, void of anxiety. This is my problem that I have to resolve within myself if we will ever be as happy as we were again. I feel like this course will be good for me. There will be little sparks of time with him that are without anxiety and that is what keeps me going. I know I can make this work and seeing your blog makes it seem possible!

  • deevo

    I face relationship anxiety from the second I wake up to the minute I go to bed. At work, at home…everywhere. I have been in two serious relationships, in which relationship anxiety nearly broke up my first one. When the familiar, nearly identical, miserable feelings returned a couple of weeks ago into my magical, beautiful current relationship…it made me sick. Not again, I thought in my head. Why can’t you let me be happy, I sat and yelled internally at myself. In the years my partner and I have been together, I have been the happiest woman I could be. I didn’t think it was possible to be happier with someone. He was my dream. Is my dream. But my thoughts and feelings seem cloudy now. I’m barely eating, sleeping, and what feels like living sometimes. At every sight of him, I sit there tearing apart my brain…why are you feeling this? You must not love him. Just last week we were home for thanksgiving and I fell asleep, anxiety free, in his arms…and now I’m falling asleep, waking up with nothing but miserable doubts. We live together. I used to wake up every morning and feel like the luckiest woman on earth…and the sad thing is, I still wake up feeling that way…but now instead I find myself questioning it. I have a great time with him…he makes me smile and laugh, but rather than be able to enjoy it…I find myself analyzing, over and over, my every feeling and thought. While being a young, newly out of college and newly a homeowner…coming up with the money for the course is an issue right now, but for Christmas…I will be enrolling because my partner is worth every ounce of pain I’m going through. I refuse to let this ruin the best thing that has ever happened to me. Anyone share similar experiences?

    • You’re in the right place, and if you continue to read through the comments on my blog you’ll quickly find your story echoed many times. You’re far from alone and the course would benefit you enormously.

    • bella

      Hi there, I am in a similar situation. I have been with my boyfriend for just over a year and he is again, the kindest, most gentle and loving man I have ever met. When I first met him he wasn’t my typical type of guy but i was just drawn to him and decided that I should give it a chance. what followed was 7 amazing months where like you i was the happiest girl in the world, then suddenly I just got this thought in my head of ‘i dont love him anymore’. I honestly cant tell you where or why i thought it but i just did and then it gradually got worse and I would sit and pull apart every detail of our relationship.
      I have a lot of insecurities and I have had 2 previous relationships where , if i think about it, anxiety did play a big part in the break-up of these previous relationships although they also were ended due to my then partners infidelity.
      I really want it to work with my partner and I will sit and wish that it works out for us but at the same time its like my mind is telling me its not right because its not ‘perfect’. I dont know about you but I had this image of what my perfect man would be like and its almost as if because my boyfriend isn’t ‘perfect’ in my head , I need to run. I know that the perfect man doesnt exist as in, I have built this image in my head in order to protect myself from any possible failure or fear relating to having something special.
      I also went through alot of change around the same time as my anxiety started-i moved into my boyfriends home, i changed my career to something completely different and I also had some family issues regarding my parents relationship and my siblings having issues. I wonder if maybe youve had alot of change in your life?
      The funny thing is , is that I know its myself doing this and that if i conquer it i will be happy because if i lose my boyfriend then i know deep down that i will regret it and in a years time or so when something similar happens with a new partner i will kick myself at the thought of losing him. I know its fear that is doing this and my low self-esteem but its hard to tackle it. Like you, i dont want to lose him but i am fighting myself and to be honest i actually think that if t hadnt been my relationship i had taken it out on it would be something else. I think this fear is an issue i have had for a long time but its only surfacing its ugly head now.
      I hope this helps and I would be ver interested in hearing how you are doing.

      Kindest Regards,
      Bella xx

  • Leah

    Hi Sheryl,

    My questions come in the form of ‘is he feeling more than me?’ ‘Is he experiencing some higher form of happiness?’
    I can be with my boyfriend and feel nothing – it’s a complete normality like I’m hanging out with a best friend. But I don’t feel ‘love’, I don’t think. He is genuinely perfect but my anxiety kicks in BECAUSE of that perfection, saying “there has to be some deeper need for him, other than his personality traits or interests and values that match your own”. He even said this to me, but said ‘I find that comfort in being safe with you – it’s not overwhelming but I just look at your face and feel so settled with you.’
    Normally this is a lovely thing to hear, however, the only reason I question is because my past ‘like’ for someone wasn’t infatuation at all – but a deep deep care and feeling of ‘sacrifice’, a true emotional warmth for my best friend whom I could spend all my time with and genuinely missed, in the most caring way. I wanted the best for him. But it wasn’t a relationship – I am beginning to understand that I wasildly infatuated and destructed by the idea of a relationship, rather than the reality that I had been rejected. This only made ly feelings stronger!

    So I guess my question is, how do people feel day to day in their relationships, outside of anxiety? Is it just a comfort of normality, or is there something I’m missing? Any opinions would be much appreciated. My boyfriend listens to all these doubts and reassures me that I know all the answers, but just haven’t realised what is good in the relationship yet. I guess I just wonder if anyone else is in a similar position!

    Thank you all x

  • Katie

    Hello Leah,

    I can relate to your comment as I too often face the same doubts. I am in my first stable, long-term relationship of my life, and I often find myself trying to “talk myself out my loving feelings for him” so to speak. It is very off putting at times when I realize how “normal” and possibly “boring” we are as a couple- we just make sense, and it sometimes scares the you-know-what out of me! Our relationship began as a friendship that developed into a deeper connection. What I’ve found, from reading Sheryl’s blogs for awhile now, is that the constant doubting and worrying going on inside me is a way I try to protect myself from the possibility of losing my fiance or being rejected again (I went through many painful breakups before meeting him). In the past, I dated men who were all unavailable (emotionally), so now that I have a man who’s completely available to me, it scares me in a big way (almost like there’s no “escape” route). In my heart, I knew that none of my past relationship partners were well-suited for me, and that is why I never really got the urge to “run away” from them- the fear of rejection was essentially eliminated because none of them truly desired a long-term relationship anyway. I don’t know if this makes any sense to you, but it was a big thing for me to take a deeper look at myself to see what my real fears are. Hopefully this helps you feel better about your situation. At the very least, know that many people (most definitely myself included!) suffer from worry and doubt just like what you’re feeling 🙂

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