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» Scarleteen Boards: 2000 - 2014 (Archive) » SCARLETEEN CENTRAL » Relationships » Relationship Anxiety

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Author Topic: Relationship Anxiety
PandaYoghurt
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Hi,

I have an issue I've been worried about for a while now. I'm hoping that writing it out here will help me, and I would love to hear any advice/input any of you might have.

I've been with my boyfriend for about a year and a half now. I really liked him for ages before we got together, and we were good friends. Then we started going out and it was fantastic, I got butterflies constantly, and always had a 'warm fuzzy feeling', got so excited about seeing him and missed him so much when he went away that it felt like my heart hurt. That all sounds really cheesy but it was really how I felt! Haha. It was wonderful.

Then last December I started going through some mental health issues – first it felt like I lost all my feelings, like I was numb and kind of cut off from things around me. I hated it, and it seemed to begin really suddenly. I lost my feelings in relation to every area of my life, but the worst part of all was that I lost feeling for my boyfriend. I still wanted to be around him all the time and he was the only one who could make me feel somewhat ok about how I was feeling (or not feeling!). But I lost the butterflies and warm fuzzy feeling and began to get so worried that I was going off my boyfriend.

In my past two serious relationships, they have ended when I just 'went off' the people I was with. It was a very gradual process though. But I'm terrified of that happening with my current boyfriend because I just think he's so amazing and lovely and I don't want my feelings to be gone for him.

I had an extremely severe panic attack in February and it has really thrown me, I am still trying to recover, and am a lot better than I was, but it is still really affecting me. I have been attending counselling. I talk to my boyfriend a lot too, and have told him all about my fears of 'going off' him, and he knows that I am extra worried about this because of how my last two relationships ended.

I can't stop worrying about it. I don't want to go off him or stop loving him, I don't ever want to be without him. He's the only one who can make me feel any bit better when I get really anxious. He's so sweet and generous and loving and caring and understanding, and I just think he's the greatest person ever.

I know it might sound a bit stupid because I think so highly of him and the fact that I'm so afraid of going off him probably just indicates how much I want to be with him. I just can't seem to get over this anxiety.

I'm sorry this was so long, but I just would really love to talk to someone on here about what I'm feeling. Thanks so much.

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WesLuck
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It's quite normal after the initial "butterflies" (I think otherwise known as the "infatuation" stage) that the feelings begin to mellow and become deeper. It doesn't mean you don't love them any more, just that the love takes on a more all-around quality. I'm sure you'll get replies from other Scarleteen users too. [Smile]

If you need to, it might be good to speak to a counselor who can help you get your anxiety in check.

Anyway, I wish you the best and I hope you have a great year. [Smile]

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Jacob at Scarleteen
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Hey Panda,

This sounds really tough for you.

I think for me, different stages of relationships require different sorts of compatibility with someone as we start to go through different stuff.

When we make our way further into a long term relationship we can find that what we need from a partner is something else. It could be just to feel comfortable with them, butterflies etc could become less important, compared to trust or something else like wanting more from our sex lives. I think it makes a lot of sense that with some partners this is the stage where you find that the relationship is starting not to work any more.

What you've said about the fear of this happening again sounds like a superstition that your feelings towards him will, as in the past just 'go away'... I imagine however that in the past they didn't really just 'go away', but rather the relationship progressed and reached a point where you had to break up. The butterflies may have faded too, but I'm not seeing this as 'cause and effect'.

Given what you're feeling, experiencing mental health problems is making close people even more important to you, so the possibility of loosing him through the faded butterflies is going to be scary as heck.

So yes, separate the butterflies from the idea of breaking up. You sound like you really like him and appreciate him, so there is no reason for things to end... what you could take the butterfly-reduction to indicate is that you're relationship is changing and progressing and perhaps you will need to appreciate NEW ways he makes you feel and new aspects of your relationship, this will take adaptability to change on both your parts to be a positive part of each-others lives. So thinking about your needs right now, i.e. having someone to turn to who respects you given what you're going through, thinking about his needs and what he is feeling... are everything you will need to communicate about, this is what will keep your relationship positive and happening. Butterflies ain't required.

To add: My personal experience has been that while those feelings used to be a big thing for me, right now, feeling fuzzy and warm inside have gone WAY down in my priorities list. Being able to talk to somebody openly and having mutual respect and I'd happily give up all the butterfly feelings in the world to have/keep that at this point in my life.

[ 05-19-2013, 07:36 AM: Message edited by: Jacob at Scarleteen ]

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PandaYoghurt
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@WesLuck: Thanks for your response. I have been seeing a counsellor but I suppose I talk more to her about my general feelings of anxiety, rather than those specific to my boyfriend.

I kind of feel like if I tell anyone I'm having anxious feelings surrounding my boyfriend they'll automatically think that our relationship is over or that we're going to break up soon. I suppose that's because movies, etc. often make it seem like if you're truly in a suitable and fulfilling relationship, you'll never feel anxiety. Or that if you feel anxiety that's a sign from your 'subconscious' that things aren't right or going well in the relationship, you know? That's what's worrying me more – I feel like if I feel anxiety, I must be unhappy in our relationship (even though I don't feel unhappy about our relationship, I only feel unhappy about the anxiety! If that makes sense....)

@Jacob: Firstly, thank you for being so understanding.

Yes, I've read in a few places that it's after the butterflies are gone that a lot of relationships end, because it was more of an infatuation thing rather than real compatibility. I suppose it's a good sign that I still think the world of my boyfriend and really like him for who he is (as well as how he makes me feel – even if there aren't as many butterflies). I certainly feel supported and comfortable and trusting around him. He treats me really well and I try to do the same for him.

I think I'm really just having difficulty separating this relationship from other ones I was in. I guess I keep seeing myself as having a 'pattern' (which doesn't really make sense, because I'm young and have only been in two serious relationships before this one).

“I imagine however that in the past they didn't really just 'go away', but rather the relationship progressed and reached a point where you had to break up” - I'll have to think about this a bit more. Up until you suggested that I had attributed my past relationships ending to me 'going off' my partners. I suppose in those cases, I also had a very strong desire to be with other people sexually, and I felt a bit trapped in my relationships at those times. However, I don't feel that at all this time. The only person I want to be with sexually is my boyfriend and I don't feel trapped. So maybe that's a good sign.

You mentioned thinking about his needs and what he is feeling – I am very conscious of this. I want him to be happy and comfortable in the relationship too, of course. He is a very logical, level-headed kind of guy and because we have been friends for a long time, he knows that I sometimes get anxious about stuff and then can't really get past it. So I hope that my own feelings aren't making him concerned. I have asked him if all this is upsetting him but he always tells me that he's “not worried about 'us', just worried about me”. He says he is happy in our relationship, and that his feelings for me haven't changed at all.

“Being able to talk to somebody openly and having mutual respect and I'd happily give up all the butterfly feelings in the world to have/keep that at this point in my life.” - I agree that those things are far more important than butterflies. I suppose I'm just a bit anxious because there was a brief while when I had both. Like I was feeling comfortable around him (and I've always felt respected around him), but I also felt butterflies. I guess it is unrealistic to think that butterflies will go on in a relationship forever!

I'm sorry this is so long again but you have no idea how helpful it is for me to get my feelings out, and it would be great to get some more input from you or anyone else willing!

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Jacob at Scarleteen
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I'm glad it's helpful.

It sounds you guys are going to be completely fine, and are being realistic about things, go you!

And about the 'real compatibility' thing... I think it's perhaps just that you have different compatibility needs at different stages in a relationship so I wouldn't want to say you were incompatible with previous partners, you maybe just were compatible at one time, but not later on.

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PandaYoghurt
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Yeah, that compatability thing makes sense. I suppose the fact that it could change is what makes me worried that my feelings for my current boyfriend will change. I know there's no way of knowing, and no point in worrying, but I just can't help it! Although I suppose I can draw one conclusion: that right now, I definitely really want to be with him. I hate the thought of being without him so I should start acknowledging that as a sign that our relationship is actually going well, and is not necessarily going to go the same way as my last two. I know that's just a conclusion about our relationship right now, but I suppose that's all anyone can ever know without being able to tell the future, haha. I wish I could just get past this anxiety
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Jacob at Scarleteen
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Well it sounds like the anxiety is it's own thing which you're working on. This is perhaps just one way it's coming out.

I will say that you guys are not somehow powerless here. Rather you actually create that compatibility, you guys are the ones communicating and caring for each other. It doesn't happen to you.

Do you think you can see the separation between your anxiety itself and the reality of what's going to happen in your relationship? (i.e. it'll be ok, as far as we know)

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PandaYoghurt
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Yes, that's what I keep trying to tell myself! That it's general anxiety being manifested in this way.

The thing you said about powerlessness is interesting to me. I suppose up until now, I've kind of felt that I have been powerless about my feelings. Like that one day they might just change and they would never change back? With my past two relationships I attributed them ending to my feelings just changing. Since then, I've felt like I lost interest in romantic relationships 'when the novelty was gone', if you know what I mean? So that's why I've been worried about my current boyfriend. I've been afraid that my feelings for my boyfriend might just change, independently of all of his wonderful traits and how I feel about him. But you don't think this necessarily has to be the case?

"Do you think you can see the separation between your anxiety itself and the reality of what's going to happen in your relationship? (i.e. it'll be ok, as far as we know)"
I'm trying my very best to do it. Just the nature of anxiety makes it kind of difficult to do so. Maybe my anxiety is not an indication of what is going on in the relationship, but I don't want my anxiety to ruin things between us in the future. So that's worrying me a bit too.

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Jacob at Scarleteen
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No I don't... like I said before, it might not have been the feelings changing at all... Maybe a wacky metaphor could help:

Maybe you could think of yourselves as a sports team who does all kinds of sports... maybe you start relationships with rowing and move on to doubles tennis. They're different skills, and you might work well at rowing but when it gets to tennis you realise that you're both less skilled at it... This could mean the team breaks up, or it could mean that you train extra hard, work on the communication and the skills to make that work.

If you're both dedicated to it you can always make it work, in my opinion. It could require learning new things but it's always doable. That might be the point where you realise that some partnerships aren't going to work any-more, but that's still your decision.

As per seeing the separation, it seems like you know it's separate. Feeling it and not being worried by it is another matter and, I guess that will take time.

And again being anxious about your anxiety, or your anxiety "ruining things" isn't so much a relationship problem but just one more manifestation of the anxiety itself. It is so much easier for me to say it than for you to feel it, but I think you should be really proud of yourself for seeking professional help with this.

If you're not already this is something it would be a good idea to talk about with your counsellor, i.e. the way your anxiety is manifesting as a fear that for whatever reason your relationship with your boyfriend is under threat. It's just not a result of your anxiety, and outside the counselling, rather, it is your anxiety.

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PandaYoghurt
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Ok, that's really interesting for me to consider. If that's actually the case, then I don't have as much to worry about as I thought before. Thank you for the sports metaphor! Haha. I suppose with my last two relationships, I just didn't notice a breakdown in communication (or something else), all I noticed were my feelings about the situation/person.

The fact that you said it's my decision whether or not a partnership works is reassuring. It might just take me some time to really acknowledge and accept what you've said. I will definitely try to keep it all in mind though.

I'm also really glad that I am able to see some separation between my anxiety about the situation, and the actual reality of the situation. It has been really helpful to hear that from you, and to be able to tease out my feelings about it here. I hope you don't mind if I continue to do so? I feel bad taking up so much of your time so just say the word and I'll stop! Thanks for all of your help.

I will definitely talk to my counsellor about this. I've specifically held off talking to her about it because I kind of felt guilty to be having some doubts and worries about my relationship. I felt as if that was a sign it wasn't working. But that's not the case, is it? (Sorry, just need some reassurance here!)

I think that talking to you has made me realise that a lot of my anxiety is actually coming from a perceived loss of control on my part. Over my own feelings - it's like I've been seeing myself as a passenger being taken somewhere by a car that I had no control over (another wacky metaphor!). Do you think that might make sense? The loss of control fuelling my anxiety, that is.

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Molias
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I think your counselor would be a great person to talk to about this. One thing they may be able to help you with is figuring out ways to differentiate between when you're feeling worried about a situation because it's actually a problem vs. when you're caught up in anxiety that makes you worry that things might become a problem, if that makes sense.
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PandaYoghurt
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@Molias: Yes, that does make sense to me. It sounds like, if I could do that, it would help me with a lot of the things I'm going through. I might look up a bit about it online too. Thanks for the suggestion!
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