It happens in an instant: your partner comes to you for a kiss or sends a flirty text and your body tightens and recoils. Your habitual, culturally-conditioned mind interprets your physical response as “truth”: “This is my body’s way of telling me that something is wrong in our relationship. I’ve been told my entire life to trust my body, that my body doesn’t lie, so if this was the right relationship surely I wouldn’t have this negative physical response. Everyone tells me to ‘trust my gut’ and here it is. My gut is clearly telling me that this must be wrong. And now my panic button has been hit and I feel like I can’t breathe.”
If we understood how fear works, we would be able to offer another interpretation, which might sound something like this: “My body is registering fear right now. From what I know about fear, the best antidote is to move toward, not away. So if I’m irritated with my partner and I interpret the irritation as evidence that I’m with the wrong person, I will create more distance between us, which will only add fuel to my fear-mind that wants to prove that this is wrong. But if I quickly douse this fear with truth and instead move toward my partner, the fear will dissipate. Oh, right, I can feel it now. I can my body relaxing. I remember that I do deeply love this person and I love being close to him/her. Phew!” Deep exhale.
It’s these micro-moments that determine what happens next and next and next, and it does happen in the flash of an eye. If we respond to the recoiling in the first way, we will entrench the belief that our body’s response is evidence that we’re in the wrong relationship. This interpretation will, of course, send up warning flares to your already terrified self and cause more walls to jut up around your heart. When we’ve longed to be seen and loved our entire loves and someone is standing in front of us offering just that, our body, which is the messenger of the unconscious, doesn’t know what to do with it. Meeting fear with fear will only solidify the beliefs that are causing you to contract and protect against love.
There are many dangerous lines when it comes to navigating through the fear-fields that arise in love. There’s “you should just know” and “don’t settle” and “if you’re not immediately physically attracted then it’s not the right person”. But perhaps the most damaging is “trust your gut.”
Every time I hear “trust your gut” or “your body never lies”, I cringe. Even well-meaning and more spiritually evolved people like yoga and meditation teachers will often say these lines, and a part of me wants to stand up and shout, “Woah! Hold on a minute! Yes, your body never lies. That’s true. But our interpretation of what our body is telling us changes everything! Your body is likely registering fear but that doesn’t mean that it’s time to bolt!” How different our relationships would be if we understood the inner workings of fear! How many loving relationships end because we fall prey to the cultural injunction of “trust your gut” without understanding that it’s our interpretation of this injunction that is faulty.
Clients often will say to me something like, “I’m a highly sensitive and intuitive person and my gut has served me well my entire life. I’ve been able to trust myself around so many situations, why is this different?” To which I respond, “Love has its own rules, and nowhere does fear show up more than in the realm of love, which means that nothing in your life presents the same level of risk. You can leave a job if it doesn’t work out. You can move to a different city. But with love, you’re handing your heart to someone with the implicit understanding that it can get hurt. Loving is the biggest risk we take as humans.”
These small but essential pieces of truth are what I teach in Open Your Heart: A 30-day course to feel more love and attraction for your partner. It’s the roadmap of fear and love that you never received, and I’m delighted to lead another group of passionate learners and Love-Warriors through these essential Love Laws and Loving Actions that, when implemented, change the entire landscape of your capacity to love and be loved. The program begins on March 10, 2018, this is the last week to sign up, and spots are filling fast. I look forward to meeting you there.
interesting. One of my favourite, go-to books in Richo’s When Love Meets Fear, but he has a very confusing paragraph (p170) where he says, and I quote, “Use your body as an echo chamber, taking cues from it. The body never lies.”
Exactly: the body never lies. Where we go awry is in how we interpret the body’s communications, just like with dreams.
I think a good analogy is when you are walking along and you see an object on the ground and your mind thinks “SNAKE!” so your body goes into fight or flight response. Then you gather your rational mind and look more closely and it turns out (9/10 times) to be a stick. Your body had the right reaction to the thought “snake” but the thought was based on faulty evidence. I can’t tell you how many times I have seen a stick on the ground and thought “snake!” And ironically, the one time I did really see a snake, there was no thought-body response that I could identify- just the body response to stop. I didn’t need a thought to tell me the wriggling thing on the ground was a snake!
Dear Sheryl, what about cases where you had that “distance” feeling from the very beginning, and no infatuation stage. If your body reacts from very early on – no specific tingles with first kiss, and feeling of distance, rigidity and inner tightness
Completely normal and common. I would say at least 65% of those who suffer from relationship anxiety didn’t have an infatuation stage. It’s exactly what this course addresses.
Is there any updated information on feeling numbness and dullness from the beginning, as well as gut intuition telling you to leave?
I struggle with rocd and complex trauma and have a hard time trusting those closest to me and my (trauma) therapist when they say that it is my fear response. It feels so wrong to go against my body, especially when as a child the urge to leave was so intense but impossible, that it feels like I can’t honor myself. At the same time, I have learned that leaving doesn’t change the wounds within me and that changing my external world makes very little impact. Any suggested reading or advice, or relatability?
Dear Sheryl, I sometimes feel that people recover from RA fully in cases when they had infatuation stage or if they have not managed to get to the other side in 2 years time and still have doubts they will stay stuck in it for the rest of their relationship – for life or earlier if they get too drained by it and decide to leave.
Not at all, Anete. Having an infatuation stage or not has absolutely no bearing on healing from relationship anxiety.
I’m over my relationship anxiety. It took me 10 months and i find myself still having some thoughts every now and then.. they are the exact thoughts that used to occur in the anxiety, and i respond in a better, positive way than i used to before. The thing is.. the past couple of days were really hard. I felt like anxiety hit me all over again.. and i really don’t want it to happen.. sometimes i wonder how people find it much easier to have zero expectations and let things flow as it is, instead of trying to control every action and every feeling..
I know the road to success is never easy, but it’s tiring.. i find myself thinking about breaking up and not being afraid or anxious about it.. but to be honest i don’t want to let go of this relationship.. because it means so much to me. The only reason why breaking up is in my thoughts is because im a bit anxious these days and i have lots of expectations on many many things..
Can you give me some motivation?
The thing that triggers me most is that, being a spirtiual person, others are quick to say my “gut” is really God saying I shouldn’t be with that person. It’s something I’ve struggled with most as I don’t want to be faithful but isn’t this relationship the path God put me on in the first place?
I meant unfaithful
I know exactly how you feel. I’ve felt those same feelings. From the moment I started seeing my boyfriend I asked God to guide my path and when my anxiety kicked in, I’d ask for him to give me a sign if what I was feeling was him or something different. I learned through Sheryl’s breakthrough class that it was all a projection. When I really prayed about it, I found peace in the visions of me staying rather than leaving. If you believe that God brought you to this relationship, ask him if it is his will for you to stay there. He will respond and he wants you to keep calling on him to be a part of your relationship.
Thank you for responding Jennifer! I have prayed that prayer many times so I’m glad to hear that you agree it’s merely a projection.
Grace and Jennifer: many many people share your experience here. Sheryl wrote a brilliant blog post on “Living God’s Will” several years ago that addresses this exact point. Dozens of people posted comments to it. Look it up on her blog. I am sure you will find it helpful.
Your blog has been a true friend to me the past month or so when I was suddenly struck with a panic attack at night over my fears/ doubts about my relatively new boyfriend. The fact you have described that it usually starts that way (I wasn’t able to eat or feel hunger for 3 days! I thought it meant I HAD to leave him which would leave me in tears. I couldn’t go to school…) brought me some relief I wasn’t alone.
Secondly, I hope it is fair evidence that I am experiencing RA/ROCD becayse I lost an entire year of my life to debilitating health anxiety. I have intense panic on airplanes, and as a kid had a dysfunctional year of extreme emetophobia (fear of throwing up)…. how is it so many of your clients share these same things?!?!
How can it be that someone else out there has felt the way I do? I use to turn so inward, I was focused on my eye floaters, I used to “check” my mind to make sure I wasn’t developing Schizophrenia.
YET the hardest part of all these issues wasn’t the symptoms themselves. It was convincing myself it was a by product of anxiety.
But here I am again, on the hamster wheel with my mind, trying to gather enough evidence that I am not the exception and that I am not just convincing myself that there is not something wrong with my relationship. I have 2 questions for you :
1)I haven’t seen yet from other people the fear of saying I love you in the first place. Only that they feel like they’re lying etc. We have been together for 3/4 ish months and I haven’t been able to say it yet and it’s what fueled my anxiety to begin with. I thought that since I couldn’t say it yet it meant that I would never, or that I SHOULD be excited to say it. I’ve obsessed over this and check for signs that I have officially “fallen in love”. And it’s exhausting. This doesn’t spell doom does it?
2) I have a problem with the whole attraction spike that is different than just appearance. I did/ sometimes catch myself focusing on the fact he is very young to have a receding hairline. I know this isn’t a dealbreaker and all the amazing features outweigh something as trivial as hair. So that makes me sad that I even notice it. But also he has some issued with sinuses that make his voice a little nasally. He was raised by a single mom and 2 sisters which means his voice isn’t inherently “deep” and traditionally masculine. I hate that I notice this too. Even typing this makes me so sad and upset that I am even speaking this into existence that I don’t immediately find it attractive. Can I move past that? I desperately want this. He is the “unicorn” type of partner people dream about in regards to our aligned values, the fun and goofy times we have, the hope I have for our future. I need hope though that it is okay I am not super “hot” For these few features. I feel so sad about it.
I can relate to you. I suffered from emetophobia as a child for many many years. I also was hit with debilitating ROCD at about the 3 month mark of my relationship. I suffered from everything you described. I will not lie, my anxiety lasted for quite a while and was extremely debilitating. I lost a ton of weight (couldn’t eat) and I truly felt like I was losing my mind.
You are already doing way better than I was, by being able to identify your anxiety and draw conclusions about your past anxieties. You are on the right track. It took me months to get to this point.
It was a lot of work and even a year out from the worst of it, I occasionally will get spikes in anxiety. But I committed and did everything I could to break down my fear walls and open my heart up to love. And let me say, nothing in my life has been more worth it.
If your values are aligned, you have fun together, and you hope for the future than you are with the right person. Period. Everything else is a fear response. (also, you don’t even have to feel those things all the time. even if you disagree sometimes, don’t have fun sometimes, and worry about the future you are still with the right person. period)
What ifs? are just that- what. if. the reality of your situation is that you have found someone you really care about. that is why you fear response has been so deeply triggered. the people we have the potential to love the fullest bring out our biggest fears.
I also like to point out that you already answered your question above by saying “I desperately want this.” That’s all you need.
I got through this and you will too. You deserve this love. Trust yourself and allow yourself to have it.
I came a cross one of your other comments to Sheryl blog posts and I remember i dis felt relief reading your story and how i you broke free.
But i got apiked a littlw now by you saying “and you hope for the future “
I feel future topic is spikey part after the anxiety hit. And ita been present for me quite a long time
I can aay with 98% of confidence that our values are aligned and we do have fun together. For years I felt ao good ans confident that i found my partner. I know that so many people and even Sheryl is saying that “i juat knew” doesn’t exist but for 3,5 y i really did just knew that he ia my person that i know thia the man im gonna marry i never doubted us or him or my choice I couldn’t wait for the proposal _Ans of course when it finally happened, 3 weeks later the anxiety kicked in full force!
There are no res flags. Ans he truly ia moat loving and caring and kindest person! I have broke down in tears aooooo many times and said that I don’t want break up,that I don’t want lose hom or us.
But I scares me know ro reas that “hope for the future “
Why it spiked me ? Does that mean that he ia not the right person for me 🙁 ?
Yes!! FINALLY SOMEONE PEGS THIS BANG ON! I have felt for years my “gut fear” rears itself when I am confronted with something that is not my familiar. IE: actual love, tenderness, acceptance…I have realized I am most comfortable in chaos! Most of us have probably come from one or two narcissistic parents and those seeds are unfortunately our familiar, so when we meet someone who doesn’t have those seeds we are attracted to their normalcy, but then inevitably we become afraid that they will see the real us, or we get agitated because Chaos is our familiar. However, they are still here! We owe it to ourselves and to them to do the work.
Sheryl, your Break Free course has helped me so much. Its my daily go to.
I also realized this week that I am a narcissist based on who my father was. I never connected the dots before. Its always all about me! It makes so much sense, especially how I treat my wife. Readers may want to consider doing some research into that. This link is a great article I found… Thanks again Sheryl!
I very much agree…AND, how can one differentiate between knowing a big part of you doesn’t want to be in the relationship (for reasons other than fear of intimacy, like that they are a poor match etc) and the desire to run because intimacy is scary? And what if there is both happening at the same time?
The relationships I’ve been in where I experienced the most relationship anxiety…I was very unhappy in and did eventually leave and in retrospect, they were incredibly poor matches for me and they were not great partners to me (nothing extreme as a red flag but I absolutely believe I deserve better treatment). I stayed because I thought I should “grow” and face my fears etc and I did work on myself and continually tried to look at my part in things. But this kept me in relationships that were not good for me. So how do you differentiate?
I wanted to let you know that I have totally been there, and it’s confusing! I also had a lot of RA in past relationships (which turned out to be relationships that were not good for me) as well as in my current relationship (with my wonderful, amazing, so-good-for-me husband). One difference I’ve found is the level in which I feel comfortable sharing with him. In those past relationships I would rarely tell my partner about my anxiety, and when I did, those partners reacted negatively (by either pushing me away/ not wanting to deal with it, or getting really upset as they mistakenly thought it was all about them). In my current relationship, I am able to be 100% honest with my husband, and he is with me. When I tell him about my feelings, he listens and tries to understand and think of ways to help.
Of course it’s not that my RA has magically gone away – I still get it, and sometimes I am still scared to tell my husband how I feel. But it’s gotten waaay better, which is another sign that I am with the right person this time 🙂
checking in for the first time in a while. just wanted to let anyone who reads know that this time last year i was in the trenches of the most life-sucking, debilitating, traumatic relationship anxiety. i was entering the 6 month of battling with every fiber of my being to save a relationship I was convinced was doomed to fail because “i did not love him” and “he was not the right person.”
i’m writing to tell you, that I am still with this person and I am able to say that I love him with my entire being. Love is a lot different than I anticipated it being, but it is also so much better.
if you think you’re the exception or that Sheryl’s work sounds too good to be true, ignore the impulse to run away.
move in! if i can do it! you can!
i hope this brings you hope :]
Thank you for sharing!
Amazing, so happy for you!
Thank you for sharing, and it’s always good to hear from you!
So beautiful to hear! It’s really heart warming when you read these things and know you can come out of the other side. I’m back in the anxious stage again and feeling rather depressed about it all, but I still have a little golden nugget of hope that I will come through.
I’m so happy for you and my heart is filled with warmth for you and your partner! xx
Sheryl. Would open heart be good for me? My heart is so hard in general my last boyfriend always questioned my ability to love. It took me a year to have any feelings for him. My present boyfriend isn’t so hung up on needing high feelings. Sometimes I can feel something. Sometimes not. I feel really stuck. I’ve protected my hesrt for so long it’s hard to get it open again. I was such a soft sweet kid. Now I’m just a hardass. So tough at work. Etc. I hate it. Can this course help? Susan
I can relate to this, Susan.
This course can absolutely help, Susan. I hope you’ll join us.
Wow. Again, Sheryl, thank You. Changes sooo much in my way of judging things. I have been ill for so many months now, and I can observe myself thinking, it is the relationships fault- releasing to realize, IT is my FEAR of commitment, of loss, of Life. Thank You so much and sending Love from Germany!
Sending love back to you. xo
Sheryl, this is so timely for me! Last week I read a New York Times article written by a woman who had a gut reaction following a conversation with her partner about marriage and she went on to end the relationship. There were other details to the story, but the theme of the article was that sometimes your body knows better than your brain. I read the article and intellectually, I discounted the message, but still I ruminated on the story, as it resonated with some other aspects of my relationship anxiety. I wonder if anyone else read this?! I managed to worry my way out of it after a couple of days, but I love your point about getting the interpretation right, as in ‘I feel nervous’ rather than ‘my gut is telling me I’m with the wrong person’. It made me think of the way we interpret other nervous bodily reactions, like an upset stomach before giving a public speaking event. We don’t interpret that feeling as an indication that we shouldn’t do the speech or that there is some real danger. We just see it as nerves. Thank you for this helpful insight, as always 🙂
Emma, I replied to you below!
Hi Sheryl, thank you for yet another amazing article.
Can the same knowledge be applied to body language? I find that I’m often unintentionally spiking myself when I position myself away from my boyfriend; be it in the car, home or everywhere else. I fear that it’s my body unconsciously telling me that I don’t love him. However, this doesn’t happen all the time. Sometimes, I’ll sit close to him if I’m in a good place anxiety-wise or I’ll just be sitting in a certain position because it’s comfier.
What are your thoughts on this?
I’m really glad to have found this website and have been reading the weekly articles which have been very helpful. Recently, I have been diagnosed with ROCD and have been suffering from it for nearly a year. I have been with my boyfriend for nearly three years. I’m almost 19.
Over the weekend, I went away with my boyfriend for a weekend to celebrate his birthday. It was an amazing weekend and the ROCD thoughts almost faded away. However, I found myself getting irritated with him for showing me funny pictures on his phone which was his way of trying to be kind to me. I also have a terrible fear of cheating on him. I feel very uncomfortable around male friends as I’m worried I’ll do something silly, I feel sick to my stomach when I find other guys attractive and then sometimes I feel like I want to cheat but in reality, I don’t want to lose my boyfriend. If anyone would have advice on handling these intrusive thoughts, I’d be so grateful.
I read your comment and I couldn’t not reply as I have been through some really similar intrusive thoughts and worked around this with my therapist for many months …
Just think about It, you are petrified of hurting him and of doing something wrong – your mind sends you these images and stories of being attracted and wanting to cheat but it’s actually so far from the true desire given how afraid of that outcome you actually are. Does it make sense? You are so beautifully sensitive that your mind will picture all the possible scenarios in which something could go wrong or you could hurt him.
You wouldn’t be so upset or so scared about these thoughts if you actually wanted to cheat !
The way in which you can work with the intrusive thoughts is by noticing them, acknowledging them as a product of your fear of losing your partner and fear of disappointing him.
Hold yourself and be kind to yourself 🙂
Don’t try to reason, just watch them and if you can laugh about yourself a little
We all take our thoughts so seriously and that gets us into trouble 😉
Good luck x
As someone who often suffers from misfiring gut instinct when it comes to matters of the heart, I look at it this way: say you stuck your hand into the fire as a toddler and really hurt yourself. From that day on, you’d get anxiety in your gut every time you were near an open flame. Wouldn’t matter if it was a genuine threat like your house on fire, or a friend’s BBQ party. The fact is, that initial traumatic experience with fire would forever be imprinted on your subconscious and present as a ‘gut instinct’ anxiety whenever a flame was near. So it is with relationships – being hurt badly at an early stage can imprint the same ‘Stay away! Protect yourself!’-style gut reaction whenever a future opportunity presents itself, whether it’s the romantic equivalent of the house fire or BBQ party variety. I have certainly misinterpreted my gut feelings at times in the past but it’s good to more recently be seeing them for what I now believe they actually are: warning bells, sure, but not always correct…
Well-said, Tom, and thank you. I’ll add that even those who haven’t had obvious early trauma around love/relationships can still experience relationship anxiety.
Emma! Yes! I read the article you are referring to in the NYT—I think it was titled, When Your Body Tells You What Your Brain Won’t. I read most of it and finally had to stop because the anxiety it made me feel was awful. I made myself sick for days with worry and anxiety— upset stomach, anxious, the works. I finally had to remember that this wasn’t MY story, this wasn’t happening to me and so therefore I didn’t have to worry so much. When I saw Sheryl post article last night, I felt so much better— the timing was impeccable!! I can’t tell you you how comforting it is to know that I’m not the one who felt spiked by that article. Despite this website and all the people who comment and share their stories, your comment, Emma, really made me fell less alone in my anxiety. Thank you Sheryl and Emma!
I’m glad to hear that, Curious ? (not glad it caused you a spike in anxiety). It’s amazing how our minds can latch on so forcefully to those stories. Now that I’m out of that particular perseveration, I don’t know why I got so anxious about it, but looking back, I know I read it towards the end of the week when I was feeling tired and bored with work and my mind was probably looking for something to do *sigh*. Anyway, hope you’re having a mindful start to the week 🙂
Dear Sheryl, what would be your advice to those, who never had infatuation stage, who struggled with doubt from very early on, who never had “knowing”, who had issues with attraction and not “what if” thoughts, but clear statements, and who after discovering this work still struggled daily with doubt even two or more years down the line.
I might be entirely wrong, but it feels that if you had an infatuation stage, you have more chance to heal from incessant doubt. Or if you don’t overcome majority of RA in two years after starting this work, you will remain stuck and doubtful for the rest of it. I feel as if I’m going in that direction, forever stuck. I feel like I am failing life’s great exam.
Is there hope to pass it?
I replied to your first comment above.
I have relationship anxiety for a variety of reasons, and am doing a lot of reading about healing, but I have a question about something Ive never seen addressed before.. when I enter a relationship with someone, I dont develop long term memories of our time or experiences together. The kinds of memories that create bonds or trust.. For example I’ve entered a new relationship, and though it’s been over 3 months of slowly developing emotional intimacy and timed shared, I got triggered somehow, and now feel like this man is an almost new acquaintance. I don’t recall the times share or anything from history to build on. Granted I had a concussion 6 months ago and one two years before that in my last relationship. but I don’t really remember my 13 year marriage. I don’t know if because of early wiring and trauma there is something wrong with me, or my brain is injured or Im a narcissist or ??? Not stacking up a “bank” of shared experiences makes trust almost impossible. Does this make any sense? Is this a common issue? I know it is a Cause of anxiety for me and the people Im relating with, but I don’t know how to change it. Thank you
Great conscious words, as always. Thanks!
I’ve been meaning to ask you something about an old blog post, only if you don’t mind, of course.
It’s about breaking up: You talk about the importance of letting go, even when we’re still attached, which I see very clearly now.
I’d like to know what your take is on “being friends” with an ex. I don’t know if these thoughts come to me as a disguised desperation to reach out, which would mean I’m still attached and there’s still work to be done, or if it can be healthy.
Right now I feel sort of sad that I will NEVER AGAIN (desperation detected hehe) be updated on this man’s life, get to know whether he’s happy etc. It’s been 3 months out of the relationship and I think about reaching out, but am afraid it would take me back on my healing process or possibly hurt him.
I’m so glad you listed other lines along with “trust your gut.”
“Don’t settle” is my biggest one! I never thought of it in this way, though.
Your blog posts speak to me every time. I have registered for this course and can’t wait to start. I’m waiting for login information before we start March 10 – could you let me know when I should expect it?
If you haven’t received any confirmation information please contact my assistant: [email protected]. “See” you on Saturday!
hi there everyone! Thank you for the comfort you bring us all.
I have a question.. I have been dealing with severe RA and depression off and on for about 5 years now. I took the anti depressant route which kind of made me more numb then anything. It did keep my anxiety at bay for the most part but I still would had depressive flair ups that always surround my relationship. Which has literally been the most open and loving, trusting relationship I have ever been in. He is completely understanding of my RA and always tries his best to help me work through it.
I’ve been off of the anti depressants as well as my birth control since october, mainly because I am done with pumping my body full of chemicals. The withdrawal was so completely awful but I made it through.
Me and my fiance J. (No wedding plans and have been engaged since 2013 lol) have had our ups and downs and usually we can work them out just fine.
Recently I have been feeling down about what the purpose of life is and wondering what the heck do I do to get out of this spiritual funk..
And for a while I was feeling really disconnected from J and we hardly spent time together, he was in the garage and I was inside kinda waiting for him to be done so he can come in and hangout with me. It got me really down. So like 6 days ago
We sat down and had a very emotional(on both sides) talk. He expressed that its hard for him to deal with the fact that I he cant make me happy and take on every thing else thats on his plate, as he is also overwhelmed with work and all the demands of life and the things that have to be done at home.
We decided we needed to spend more time together and he promised he is going to be more loving and attentive. And he has been, every day and it was more of a change that I could have hoped for. It is amazing. ( at this time I was not having RA, only wanted our connection back) and now just just a few days later after we seemingly fell back in love I am in the pits of RA hell trying to claw my way out back to the man I love and longed for. Why, why would all these intrusive thoughts and doubts spring up now that I finally have my relationship back up and running?
Also recently I have been working with a spiritual worker who says I have spiritual gifts and has been trying to help me through to awakening to my purpose. Which after googling for endless hours I come to posts about awakening and it talks about shedding the people who no longer serve you. Which made my anxiety 100% worse. My thoughts go so out of control about my ” truth ” its killing me. I can barely eat, I didnt sleep for 2 days ruminating and trying to find answers. I finally had to take an anti anxiety pill which helped me get some sleep.
I want to take the e-courses but it is just not in the budget.
Any words of wisdom are grately appreciated as I feel like im on the verge of a mental brakedown, if im not not already.
Hi Sheryl, would love a response from you directly.
Hi Brittany: I don’t often offer direct advice through my blog. I encourage you to read through as many of my posts as possible as your questions will likely be answered in other articles. Sending blessings.
Oh okay. Thanks
Hey Brittany, I feel for you and can relate in some ways to your experience and the desperation for answers and a way out. It is sounding like you’re in a wrestling match with your thoughts and feelings and it is exhausting you. Sometimes you’re winning, sometimes losing. Could it be worth seeing if you can leave the fight and the constant search for answers and evaluation of your situation and instead focus on some self-care activities that you enjoy that will reinforce how you are valuable and loved as a person, just for who you are, no matter what is happening. It sounds like you need a break from your mental battle and being kind and caring to yourself might help you xx
I cannot begin to thank you enough for your heartfelt comment. And I found it at the perfect time. Yes I do believe you are right, and I am currently trying to figure out what it is that I really enjoy.. I think through the last 6 years in my relationship I forgot who I am, and quite a few trusted sources that I know have said the same.
I also had a reiki healer tell me that at some point in my childhood I started to believe I didnt deserve love unless I preformed perfectly.
So I realize that, an almost lifelong belief pattern will take time to dissolve and replace with the healthy belief that I do not have to do anything to be worthy of love.
Thank you for your time and compassion ?
I remember years back you were on the Oprah show. I think trust your instinct was part of the discussion on the show.
Lots of people cannot decide whether its best to follow their heart or their mind.
This culture has got us hooked on follow your gut. Which means you pretty much know, within that instant of meeting he is or she is the one. I did live my 20’s and 30’s thinking that way. I know from you Sheryl, it takes time to feel it, learn the right language of love. I feel so lucky I get it. So many relationships have sadly ended because of the hollywood fake rubbish, we all have been sucked into. ???
Hi Sheryl, I love how you call your course ‘Open your heart’ because I think that the ‘heart’ in my (western) culture is not well understood or validated as the core of who we are. I’m learning to listen to my heart more and what it is saying, but I struggle to differentiate from gut feelings which I’ve found can vary in their reliability and usefulness. Any advice?
Sheryl, is it possible to get the loving feeling back with your partner even after something has happened between you two that has caused you anxiety? I mean, no doubt, I love him still and I want to work it out but I just feel distant and afraid and I know I’ve always had anxiety but now it’s just hightened.
I have been dating the most amazing guy since last June. He is so kind, loving, thoughtful and has so many other wonderful qualities that are perfect for me. In mid September, my father got diagnosed with cancer. This news sent me into a spiral of confusion, doubt, and anxiety. I began to question everything about my relationship thoughts such as “What if I don’t love my boyfriend enough?” “What if he isn’t mature enough?” “What if God doesn’t want me to be with him?” “What if we are too young?” “What if I’m not emotionally ready to handle this serious of a relationship right now?”. I have had breakup urges from time to time but breaking up just does not seem logical. Every time I have these thoughts it makes me sick to my stomach. I am so scared that I am going to have to break up with him for some reason and the last thing I want to do is break his heart because he is so perfect and he is my best friend. I got put on medicine to help with the anxiety in early January, it has helped me feel more calm and has eased the anxiety a lot. My father passed away about 3 weeks ago due to his disease, and this has brought back some of the more intense thoughts and anxieties. My boyfriend has been so attentive and loving to me during this time but these thoughts still pop into my head and they cause me so much pain because he has been the absolute best to me through this hard time. I have talked to him about it multiple times and he tries his best to be understanding but it hurts him to see me like this and to know that I am having doubts. I was just wondering if it is common for trauma like this to bring on ROCD? I have had occasional OCD tendencies growing up, but never this extreme. Any advice?? Thank you in advance!
Sheryl, what’s your take on this article? This scientist claims his research shows gut feelings tell you when your relationship is over. The article literally SPIKED me.
And now it’s probably spiked many others because it’s posted
One of my top recommendations for those suffering from relationship anxiety is to STOP reading the internet. Stop Googling for reassurance. Stop clicking on spike-worthy headlines. Based on the title of this article, it’s not something that anyone on this site should click on. I haven’t read the article but my guess is that it’s the opposite message from what I share here, so you can probably assume what I might say.
Hi Sheryl! Wonderful post, thank you! Wanted to offer that I caught a typo that tripped up my comprehension for a moment: “we’ve longed to be seen and loved our entire loves”
*our entire lives
No need to make this comment public; just wanted to let you know!
Sheryl, does “fear” still apply even when you know that you have nothing to fear at all? I’ve never felt fear that my boyfriend doesn’t love me, only fear that I don’t love him in the same way (especially as we become more serious). I grew up in a loving family with no feelings of abandonment ever, so curious if this still applies.
By the way, thanks for your work, Sheryl. I feel I’ve come a long way because of you!
The fear of love and loss is intrinsic to being human regardless of life circumstances. More on that next week… :).
thank you for this, when my ROCD and anxiety was at it’s peak i was constantly checking my body for signs that i should be with him, if i got a bad feeling i felt as though my world was gonna crash down. So thank you, fear really does mess with you a lot.
To whom is willing to read this:
I diagnosed myself with relationship anxiety when I met my fiance. We are due to be married in one (1) month. I came to the conclusion that I have relationship anxiety because he is the only man who has committed to me, is loving, and available to me physically and emotionally – but I don’t feel the spark, the chemistry and most of the time I can barely stand him (even his voice annoys me). I never had the infatuation phase with my fiance and I am in a constant state of panic and stress which has been ongoing for the past two years. I decided to move forward with this relationship regardless of my lack of feelings because I wanted to change from the string of unavailable men that I’ve pursued in the past. I figured that if I stuck with the “good guy” eventually I will develop romantic feelings. The wedding is four short weeks away and every day I feel like leaving. Every day I’m numb. Every day I can’t believe I’m still with him. I’m tired and exhausted from thinking. I am currently on lesson 4 of Sheryl’s Break Free from RA” course. I feel like I need a breakthrough BEFORE the wedding. I don’t know if I will get my breakthrough prior to my wedding but I’m almost inclined to cancel everything until I break free from relationship anxiety.
Thoughts? Be honest.
Yes, I do practice Sheryl’s exercises of breathing, living through the anxiety, yoga, and asking myself: “do I want to be stuck here forever or push through”. I’d say I’m a dedicated student to the course that not only reads but also practices. I’m actually reading and watching videos multiple times to make sure I internalize all of the information.
Does anybody out there have felt like they have a better connection with someone else? Or is this just an illusion? Does relationship anxiety trick your brain to feel like you connect better with someone else? Is this some type of projection?
Everybody says he is such a great guy and that I’m such a lucky girl. But I just want to run away. My logic says to stay because he is a “good guy” but my gut tells me he is just all wrong for me. I feel like I can’t leave because I don’t have a strong enough of a reason to do so. So I stay. And I suffer.
Your story is textbook, and what I can tell you is that this work takes time; you’ve had the course just over a month and have been living with anxiety for years. I hear that you’re a dedicated student, which is wonderful, and that you’re committed to the breathing, yoga, and thought practices. Have you been able to commit to the journaling/dialoging yet? Doing the practices requires a lot more than asking yourself, “Do I want to be stuck here forever?” You need to get underneath the top-layer fears and connect to pain underneath the stories.
Curious to know how things have been for you since you wrote this post?
I had fallen into a loop of superstitious thinking and through compulsive internet searching (I know this is bad) I actually ended up discovering what ROCD is. Stumbling upon your blog has significantly helped me feel less alone and also helped me to better understand what’s been going on in my mind and gut.
Unfortunately, ROCD has reared it’s ugly head in my new relationship. The analogy of the stick and snake in earlier comments resonated so much with me. It is weird, every “safe” or “secure” partner I’d had always aroused a sense of ROCD for some reason…. Yet the two very narcissistic and abusive partners did not.
As an earlier comment also stated, perhaps my comfort zone was chaos and abuse. I have one very self centered parent and I suspect I developed my attachment style around them.
For anyone out there reading this, I hope I can offer these helpful tidbits. Being logical helps. Sometimes thoughts are just thoughts and bad gut feelings aren’t a sign that your relationship is bad but rather a symptom of an emotional/mental problem. In addition, it’s best to look at the reality of your relationship, what I mean is, if you are with a partner who cares for you and is kind, then it is worth staying.
I say leave if you are being abused! That is a given. Stay if your partner is good to you.