Help Me, I Think I’m Falling: How I Realized That I Have Relationship Anxiety

November 21, 2012  |  

A few years ago I began to notice that I had somewhat of an odd pattern of behavior surrounding my dating relationships. Let me explain. When I first meet or become romantically involved with a guy, I am one of the coolest most easygoing chicks to be around. I’m fun, I’m outgoing, I’m humorous, I’m confident. I presume this is a result of being totally detached from the guy I’m seeing. At this particular early point in the budding relationship, I am just enjoying myself and feel I have absolutely nothing to lose.

As time progresses and the relationship continues to grow, all seems well and things appear to be going fairly smooth. But then, out of nowhere, something happens. I wake up one day with this gripping feeling. It always takes me awhile to identify what it is, but I eventually come to the realization that the emotion I am being overtaken by is sheer terror. At some point in the progression of these relationships I suppose that my heart decides that she wishes to join in on the fun and that is where my problem seems to begin. When feelings start to grow and my mind receives the memo that my heart has become an active participant, I choke. Boy, do I choke. Panic seems to overtake me in a way that I am sure any licensed psychiatrist would prescribe medication to subdue. Thoughts of any and everything that could possibly go wrong in the relationship cloud my mind and I subconsciously begin looking for a way of escape.

“Get out now before any real damage is done,” is always the thought that looms in the back of my mind as fractured images of past hurts, disappointments and failed relationships clutter my memory. My mind wants to leave while my heart wants to stay and my soul seeks to find common ground between the two. More often than not, I decide to stay in the relationship, but not without putting up imaginary walls to guard my heart and appease my mind. And then of course, my mind goes into overtime by overthinking and overanalyzing every single detail of the relationship, hoping to catch on to or decode any signs of turbulence ahead of time so that I can get out before my heart can get broken.

I suppose that as a result of past occurrences, my mind is used to associating love and relationships with heartache, loss and suffering, which would make the emotional walls that I put up a mere defense mechanism; a simple defense mechanism that could potentially cause me to miss out on the love of my life. I realize that this fear is something that I must overcome. It would be a tragedy for me to get to the end of my life and realize that I allowed the one to get away because I let my uncompromising fear of being hurt have free reign to rule my love life. I know that conquering my fear of relationships won’t be easy, however, I am determined.

One of the most inspiring things I’ve ever read on this subject came in the form of an article by author and counselor, Sheryl Paul, on The Huffington Post entitled Relationship Anxiety: Fear Eyes or Clear Eyes? in which she shares her personal experiences of relationship anxiety with a boyfriend who is now her husband.

I learned that when we see life through fear-tinted glasses, it’s like walking through a fun-house where everything becomes distorted. Except that it’s not fun at all; it’s torture. Fear wanted to convince me to run because in fear’s mind, love is dangerous. Love means loss. Love means losing myself or losing the other person. Love means risking my heart and breaking down the layers of control. Real love means that I have to be accountable and vulnerable and, since I had never met someone with whom I felt safe enough to do this, almost every fiber in my body and soul wanted to run.

I remember letting out such a sigh of relief upon reading of her experiences. For so long I thought I was alone in feeling this way. What I found even more inspiring is when she reflects on how she was triumphant in her bout with relationship anxiety.

But I didn’t run. Thank God, I didn’t run…I would see his acts of caring, which are too numerous to list here. I would see his creativity, his soulfulness, the poetry of who he is. I would see that he’s everything I’ve ever wanted and needed, and I would be flooded with love and gratitude… There were many moments when fear would dissolve and I would see my partner through clear eyes, standing before me with the beauty of his soul radiating out like the rays of the sun. Fear might rear its ugly head the very next hour, but those windows of clarity are what gave me the inspiration and the knowing that I had to keep battling through the fear voices and fighting for love.

From Paul’s words, I know that there is hope for a fearful lover as myself, and as a follower of Christ, I don’t believe that it is in God’s will for me to live this way. I am determined to experience love the way in which God intended for it to be experienced. And so I will pray. I will fight, and if I’m lucky, I will not lose love to fear. Never again.

Have you ever dealt with relationship anxiety?

Jazmine Denise is a New York based writer. Follow her on Twitter @jazminedenise

All photos are courtesy of Shutterstock 

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  • other guest

    Can totally relate to this. Except that I gave the relationship up after almost 2 years. The doubts were exhausting, and I needed to put a stop to it, but I think I made a huge mistake. I was completely comfortable being open with him, but I was also anxious and doubtful immediately because he liked me too much, he was too nice to me, missed me too much, etc. and I figured if I can’t return it, I must not love him. Eventually he toned it down but the doubts and anxiety never went away. I couldn’t bear to keep him when he could seek someone more loving, less anxious, etc. I’ll just have to live with the fact that he will move on before I’ve figured it out.

  • Guess

    I can totally relate to this! The anxiety makes me push the person that likes me away. And I have no idea why. At one moment I can totally see myself dating this person, then at another moment I don’t want to see them again. It’s so bad… I don’t want to live like this, I want to get into a relationship to love and to be loved.
    As you published this article a while ago, I would like to ask you if you are already free from this anxiety?

  • Sophia

    This was really helpful. I’ve just started a new relationship, and ever since we first kissed I’ve had this constant anxiety bubbling for no reason. I feel like I didn’t feel what I should feel when I kissed him. It was my first kiss, so I think that I had really built it up in my head over 18 years. He’s such a great guy. It kills me that there is this voice in my head telling me that I’m making a mistake. When we are spending time together I’m usually fine, but now I am anxious that this anxiety is going to ruin that. I know I’m probably just over thinking everything, but that doesn’t make it any easier.

  • Guest

    I feel like I was meant to read this article today. I am in a fairly new relationship and I have had the urge to end it so many times, for truly no reason at all except for the fact that the relationship gives me anxiety. We have so much fun together and have such an amazing emotional and physical connection. I’m an anxious person though, so I’ll take one small flaw and blow it WAY out of proportion so that I have a reason to run. The difference between this relationship however, and my previous ones, is that I haven’t taken the opportunity to run. Even though I think about it nearly everyday, there’s this part of me that can’t bear the thought of walking away. I think when you suffer from anxiety, you can mistake your anxiety as a “gut feeling” which can lead you to question your feelings. It’s good to take a step back and look at everything from a very rational and logical perspective. Does he treat me well? Yes. Do we have fun together? Yes. Do we have amazing conversations? Yes. Do we have an unbelievable physical connection? Yes. Do I get butterflies every time I know I’m going to see him? Yes. Is he the first person I think about when I wake up and the last person I think about when I go to sleep? Yes. Does he tell me and show me that he cares for me? Yes. Does he incorporate me into his life? Yes. Those are ALL the things that EVERYONE wants in a relationship. When you step back and view it from a non-emotional perspective, it helps ease the anxiety. I know as an anxious person, I fight the urge everyday to let my emotions make decisions for me, because most of the time, they’re irrational. When you get your mind right, that’s when you can make the proper decisions regarding every component of your life, including your love life.

  • Gabby

    Wow, this article really hit close to home. The entire time, I was nodding my head with my jaw half-dropped because of how true it was. Especially the first 2 paragraphs, of feeling like you’re in control and you got nothing to lose at the very beginning of a budding relationship.. and then, you get that feeling. The feeling that terrifies you and makes you realize that you have FEELINGS for this person and you’re about to embark on a roller coaster ride of anxiety. Ha, I get it. It sucks. So glad that there are other people out there with the same debhilitating issue.

  • colourmegreen

    Spot on. I was the same and I’m getting so much better. Easy going and cool and laid back in the beginning of my relationship and then completely froze. I met him 4 years ago when we worked together and he was on my mind since, not realizing the most obvious signs that he was into me for so long as well. (When the signs now seem so clear from back then haha) our relationship has been a rollercoaster due to my anxiety and tiny past relationship troubles. My advice, don’t let the bad image in your head ruin what you TRULY have. Dont go looking for things. If you search for bad, youll get it! Whether its pushing him away or him telling you he can’t do it anymore. Ladies you are worth so much, especially to that special someone. From someone who is a believer in love and hope, you can do this! Xoxoxoxo

    • Maria

      Even though it’s been a year since you posted this, THANK YOU!!!!!!! I’m going through this with therapy, medication and excellent friends support (not to mention my amazing boyfriend). But sometimes I lose hope, so it’s nice to hear some pep talk once in a while. THANK YOU!!!!!!!!!

      • Ashlee

        Did you go straight to finding a therapist? Everything I’m rradi my points straight at me, so I know I need to do something about it. But not sure where to start.

  • Melissa

    I just stumbled upon this article at the perfect moment. Everything you said describes me to a T, but I was never able to see it for myself until now. I’ve had so many relationships and heartaches that I’ve become cautious and analytical. I become infatuated really easily, but once I start to develop deep feelings for a person I want to run! I find excuses and flaws that either aren’t there or I amplify existing “annoyances” a person might have and chalk it up to that person not being right for me. My question is, how do I get past this? How do I know when it’s fear talking and not that my partner is the wrong person for me?

  • unknown

    Men suffer too. Been crippled for years with relationship anxiety, and the moment I go into a relationship fear hits with a vengeance. Do I like her? Have I made the wrong decision? Is she attractive? And so forth. I just want to run away.

  • anxiouslover

    I have always had anxiety problems, but they became unbearable when I left for college. At the time, I had had a boyfriend of four years who hadn’t treated me right. And after I left, I wouldn’t hear from him for days, and when we hung out he didn’t even act like he had missed me. When we finally did break up early spring term, my anxiety was gone! And I wanted to be single for a while. But then about four months later I met the absolute perfect guy. We talked for about three weeks before he asked me out, and I was the happiest I’d been in years. Now two weeks has passed, and I’m beginning to notice a change, like he doesn’t text me as much as he used to, or put smileys after the message. I know these sound like tiny, unimportant things, but that is how it started with my ex, and now I am starting to feel the anxiety again.

  • Jen

    thank you for this article. i have read this article twice in the past two or three months. i book marked it as my boyfriend suggested i do. so i can read it when times get hard. i have a very loving and compassionate boyfriend of only about 4 months. there is no reason for me to be unhappy or anxious or scared but i am. and it “cripples” me, just like you said. i have to talk myself down. sometimes i want to give up and call him and break up with him. but why? bc im scared? what a cop out. i will keep coming back to read this article when things get tough. i may also go back to my therapist. thank you again.

  • Angelo

    Now im a man and i feel this way!!

  • Reader

    When experiencing this anxiety is there any thought & consideration for the feelings of the person that you unintentionally push away? Does the possibility of hurting the other person affect your actions and thought process or is the fear too great to overcome and work things out (in those situations where the person’s anxiety ends the relationship)? Also does the anxiety’s level worsen depending on how well the other person treats you?

  • How do we get this way? …this way of being happy and sad at the same time with someone who does nothing but want to spend quality time with us. When I feel myself fall I completely do a 180 and just do whatever possible to push that person away..unintentionally knowing I do this, I don’t realize what I’ve done until it’s too late. Working on myself but yet my vulnerabilities get the best of me. I blame romantic love films and most of all Love Jones lol.

    • Unknown2

      Same! omg, I do the same. I tend to push the person away because of the anxiety, I start to panic even though I know they are serious about me. But something stops me from getting into the relationship, it’s soooo annoying.

  • Ms.Rin

    This was a great article and i believe MANY experience this anxiety. I know I do. Thank you for your words of encouragement and insight. Keep it coming.

  • Alohilani

    No. I’ve never met anyone who I liked romantically.

  • YaFavShowoff

    This sounds just like ME! smh

  • What happens is the moment you realize you have some skin in the game you become frightened because you believe he now has your heart and therefore the means with which to hurt you. It means you do not fully have confidence in yourself. You do not believe you will be ok if the relationship doesn’t work out. You don’t think you are strong enough to pick up the pieces once again.

    What do you do? Stop dating and work on you. Go into a relationship only win you are 100%. With a clear mind that you are in it to reap the highest good and you will STILL be fine, happy, and prospering whether things work out or not. Having that attitude out the gate automatically pulls to you quality men who want to enjoy and share your happiness.


    Totally relatable. I do have up walls because I want to trust but dont want to be naive (many times they are not trustworthy). I stick around because I love being in relationships and I love love but he doesn’t so I end up heartbroken!

    • You really choose men who fulfill exactly what it is you think you deserve out of a relationship. Nothing less and certainly nothing more.

  • VirgoStarr

    Same here. I’ve been doing some serious soul searching because relationship anxiety has crippled me big time. Mine is so bad that there are moments where I completely shut down and check out. It drives me insane.

  • bluekissess

    Omg this is me. The being vulnerable. Someone told me the reason I’m not vulnerable is because I’m afraid someone will hold something against me. Which I totally agree to. If this fear didn’t conquer my life I probably would be married to an ex marine. I miss him

    • pretty1908

      i suffer from this as well, which i why im not dating until I am more positive and prudent about the decisions I make in love and dating.

      • Good. When you take a pause to make sure you are ok you reaffirm in your mind that you are a happy person whether in a relationship or not. Good for you.