“Our anxiety does not come from thinking about the future, but from wanting to control it.”
~ Kahlil Gibran
New relationships come packaged with so many positive feelings, but many times we find ourselves experiencing anxiety when we’re supposed to be happy.
Here are some practical things to consider if you find yourself anxious about your new man:
1. Consider the Past:
- Are your thoughts or feelings still tied to a previous relationship that ended badly?
- Are you recalling what another man did in the past and fearing your new guy will follow suit?
Some people seek out or fall into new relationships before they’ve had the chance to examine and grieve their last one.
You may need more time to heal your broken heart and being up front about this with your new man allows you to give a voice to those hurt feelings. When we try to hide our fears from others (or even deny those fears ourselves), we often make the anxiety worse.
Taking the time to acknowledge and accept where you’re at is a vital step to being honest with yourself.
2. Ground Yourself in the Present:
Sometimes a new man says or does something that can trigger feelings related to an old relationship. Instead of reacting with anxiety or anger, try to tell yourself, “That was my him then, this is my him now.”
If you’re feeling high levels of anxiety, try grounding yourself by examining your immediate environment using your five senses: What do you see, hear, smell, taste, and touch?
Focusing on something other than the triggering event can help to reduce anxious feelings in the body and allow your brain to think and respond more clearly.
3. Plan for the Future:
Do you have a tribe of support persons in your life? Try to seek out positive friends in healthy relationships and other supports who will be objective and challenge you to keep your relationships healthy.
As anxious thoughts try to sneak in, ask yourself if these thoughts are reality-based?
When our brains become flooded with emotions, it’s very common for our thinking to become muddled.
When encountering anxious situations, take a few deep belly breaths (inhaling to the point of pushing the air down into the depths of your lungs, usually breathing in to the count of four or five and then exhaling to the count of four or five) to engage your diaphragm and bring more calm into your body.
Don’t ignore troubling signs, but do talk back to any anxious thoughts that are not reality based.
For example, if your brain keeps telling you that your new man is going to lie and cheat just like an old flame, remind yourself that your new man has not said or done anything to cause you to question his loyalty.
If you’re having a difficult time staying grounded or talking back to your anxiety despite talking with your supports, you may want to consider finding a counselor who specializes in treating anxiety to help you master your troublesome thoughts and feelings and get back to enjoying your new man!
Laura Miller, LCSW – www.millerfamilytherapyinc.com
There are many reasons why people may experience anxiety at the start of a new relationship. Change evokes anxiety for many and a new relationship is a type of change.
Some people are afraid of being hurt. Some question whether or not their partner is truly interested in them. And some people worry about whether or not they are a good enough partner. Many of these reasons are rooted in low self-esteem, a history of a traumatic experience, or lacking healthy relationship role-models.
Some tips for managing anxiety about a new relationship:
1. Work on feeling better about yourself, as an individual.
The relationship you have with yourself is the most important one and will impact the quality of all your other relationships. The better you feel about yourself, the more confident and less anxious you become in the new relationship. Therapy can help with this.
2. Reflect on how far you have come.
Realize that you have survived many difficulties and even if this relationship doesn’t work out, you will be okay.
3. Think about your thoughts.
I know that may sound strange but take some time to try to identify the thoughts that are contributing to your anxiety. Then ask yourself if those thoughts are fact-based. Do you have evidence to support those thoughts? Or are you making assumptions?
Look at all the possibilities and then correct the thoughts that you can’t support with facts.
For example: If your thought is: “He didn’t call me yet today; he must not care.” You don’t know this to be true or factual. Ask yourself if there are any other possibilities other than that he doesn’t care. Perhaps some other possibilities are that he is busy with work or that his phone isn’t charged or he slept in late. When you start to acknowledge other possibilities (aside from the very worst one), anxiety lessens.
In summary, it’s not unusual to experience anxiety at the start of a new relationship.
But when that anxiety starts to interfere with your functioning (your sleep, the way you feel about yourself, your appetite, your other relationships), then it may be time to seek professional help.
Beverly Joy Pedroche, PsyD – www.drpedroche.com
Anxiety can put a strain on any relationship, but it can stop a budding new one in its tracks.
When you worry too much about how a relationship is progressing, not only do you present a tense and rigid version of yourself, but you also allow fear to drive your behavior in a way that you might later regret.
That’s why it’s so important to overcome anxiety in a relationship— so you can be your relaxed and confident self, and make good choices that bring you and your man closer.
Tips for overcoming your anxiety:
1. When you start to worry, stop what you’re doing.
It’s normal to try and fight your anxiety by doing something about it. Maybe you usually call a friend, hoping she’ll reassure you that your that guy is still interested?
Or maybe you try to distract yourself by cleaning and organizing your closet. While these things might make you feel better temporarily, they don’t manage the core of your anxiety so it just comes back.
The best way to handle worrying about your relationship, or anything else for that matter, is to stop what you’re doing and try to get those worried thoughts under control. Don’t do anything but breath and bring awareness to the thoughts in your head. Then, move on to step two…
2. Notice the “What If” scenarios.
Anxiety typically strikes when your mind has wandered into the future and is thinking about some undesirable outcome. Now that you’re paying full attention to your anxiety you might notice that you’ve been engaging in various “what if” scenarios which has triggered you.
Maybe you haven’t received a text from your boyfriend and now you’re thinking, “what if” he’s out with another woman, or “what if” something you said has turned him off?
As much as you want to deal with these imaginary situations, the truth is you can’t. You can only manage what is real and right in front of you. Take more deep breaths and move on to the final step…
3. Come back to the present.
The safest place to reside, the place that anxiety cannot bother you, is in the present moment. If your mind and body are totally synced and only focused on what is right in front of you, you can’t be anxious. So, if you are with your new boyfriend, actually be with him.
Give your full attention to him, the moment, and the feelings between you.
Don’t retreat into your head and start thinking about how he’s feeling, what he’s thinking, or if you’ll still be dating tomorrow.
As I say in my book, “Cursed?: Why You Still Don’t Have the Relationship You Want and the 5 Cures That Can Transform Your Love Life” get out of your head and into the moment. If you live by that rule, you’ll not only quell your anxiety, you’ll strengthen the connection between you and your partner… because the only place that you two can actively grow your relationship is in the present!
Jess McCann Ballagh, Relationship Coach – www.jessmccann.com
Starting something new is an opportunity to reinvent how you want to feel in a relationship.
However, it’s important to honor that we are products of our experience. This means we may carry into our new relationship some anxieties based on relationships past.
There are three steps that help when working through the anxiety of starting a new relationship.
Step 1: Take your own inventory.
This means asking yourself, “How do I want to feel in this relationship?” Let yourself journal about this or make a list. The idea is to put forth in motion your intention. By doing so you have a foundation to refer back to if you should start to question the relationship down the road.
When you have created this journal you can go back and think about how achieving those feelings together would be possible. We can truly use our past to our advantage.
Step 2: Heal any hurts.
When something is new it requires more nurture and vulnerability which can be hard if you are carry hurt with from the past. Continue to prioritize any leftover healing you need to do.
Write a list of what you will NOT tolerate from yourself in a relationship.
Yes, this is about you.
We are the gatekeepers of how people treat us.
We can truly use our past to our advantage to forge the type of relationship we have always wanted. For example, “I will not tolerate my not speaking up for my needs.” This will help remind you of the boundaries that you have always wanted to have in place.
Step 3: Talk over your list with your partner and encourage them to do these activities too.
It is important to understand that in a relationship there is no one thing that is just one person’s problem.
If you are feeling nervous or anxious about a new relationship it is a relationship issue NOT just a ‘you’ problem.
It is so important early on to connect back with your partner about any apprehensions you may have.
How insightful would it be to hear your partner complete the reflections you just did?
It would really open you up to their world and perhaps help you understand where they are coming from in a lot of ways. Together sharing at this level of vulnerability can help you to forge a cohesive-loving bond that allows the safety and openness to be yourself.
Good relationships take time; be patient with yourself and don’t be afraid to talk about your needs.
Don’t forget to acknowledge what is working and what brought the two of your together. Relationships that are successful last because two people come together and make a choice every day to keep it, work on, and add value to it.
Dana Hall, LCPC, MA, TF-CBT – www.danahalltherapy.com
Starting a new relationship can be exciting and fun in many ways, but for many it can also bring up some nerves and anxiety.
A small level of anxiety during the discovery of something new is perfectly normal and can even be positive.
Anxiety can help us remain aware and keep us critically thinking and looking for insights. However, anxiety can also cross a threshold where our thoughts and behaviors become a hindrance to something we want to enjoy.
Ultimately, our feelings serve a purpose from telling us to slow down and take a breath to seeking some outside services- and everything in between.
Insights let us know where our feelings are coming from. They tell us what is underneath a feeling or the “why” behind it. This is why working to gain these insights is the first step to overcoming any anxiety when starting a new relationship.
Now that you know these insights, the next step would be working through those realizations.
Maybe your fears regarding the new relationship has to do with your attachment style, or pain from a past relationship, and maybe it is more to do with action or inaction in the current one.
The path to feeling better could involve practicing mindfulness, gaining closure or perspective, or processing through the past with a therapist.
Once you are able to process through your insights, you will start to feel you are on the road forward.
- If you discover the work is yours, you can continue to combat those anxieties with new skills learned.
- If it is about the new relationship there are also ways to lean in and connect through communication so that you are starting on an honest open path.
Transparency is key to healthy communication and turning toward each other when there are bids for connection can help build and strengthen trust to create a healthy foundation.
In any case, taking care of yourself and owning what is yours is always a good idea and worth the work you put into creating a path to a healthy self.
Bridget Boursiquot, MSW, LICSW – www.bridgetohealthyself.com
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