7 Causes of Stress and Anxiety in Relationships


Emotions are some of the most powerful forces in life and anxiety is a difficult emotion to control. There are many things that can lead to anxiety developing in a relationship. It is not necessarily triggered by one behaviour such as betrayal or a fear of commitment, sometimes, anxiety arises over time as the partnership goes on. One thing is clear though, anxiety in relationships can have a significant impact on the overall quality of your life.

Whether you are currently experiencing anxiety in your partnership, or have had a recent breakup or divorce, learning more about the causes and symptoms can help you to identify and become more mindful of these emotions.


Common Causes for Relationship Anxiety


Below is a list of some of the common things that can lead to relationship anxiety. Do any of these ring a bell?


1. Long-Term Stress


When you or your partner experience long-term stress, this can have a deep impact on the relationship. This could stem from factors like work pressure, illness, in-laws, financial strain or feeling trapped just to name a few. If you feel tense, symptoms of anxiety can surface causing a strain, not just with your partner, but also with friends and colleagues at work.


2. Lost Trust


This is a very common cause of anxiety in relationships. This could be the result of infidelity, or when one partner feels like they can no longer rely on the other person, from blowing off plans to just not following through on promises. Trust is crucial in a partnership, and once it’s gone it takes time, patience and effort to get it back.


3. Breakups


Those who have experienced the breakup of a marriage or partnership can experience high levels of anxiety. Whether it be a long term relationship or just a fleeting romance, the resulting insecurity, feelings of loss, inadequacy and deprivation can take a huge emotional toll.


4. Early Experiences


Each of us develops a set of rules or expectations for relationships from our childhood experiences with parents, peers and siblings. These rules and expectations can then come back to negatively impact us when we are in an intimate relationship as an adult. For example, we might be quick to anticipate that a partner will be unreliable, or will abandon us when we need care. We may feel unworthy of love or support, or we may feel like disaster is about to strike at all times, or have learnt never to show our true emotions (particularly the negative ones).

Sometimes in relationships one partner can be quick to lose their temper, with anger just simmering below the surface waiting for an outlet. If this is a regular occurrence it can be a major cause of anxiety, as family members live with a constant level of underlying tension never knowing when the next eruption will come.


5. Negativity


Negativity in a relationship can be a toxic factor with communications that include criticisms, sarcasm or cracks at the other person. Daily negatively can be extremely draining for both parties and can lead to severe anxiety.


6. Jealousy


Jealousy can also be a major cause of anxiety, with both partners being impacted. Betrayal and a loss of trust in either present or past relationships can trigger jealousy, or the fear of being abandoned, betrayed or neglected.


7. Regular Fights


Regular fighting can lead to anxiety in a relationship. This can lead to both partners holding back and feeling like they need to walk around on eggshells to avoid saying or doing something that might start another fight.
Whatever the cause, those suffering from relationship anxiety may find it starting to impact other areas of their lives, including friendships, other family or work.
It is well-known that anxiety affects the sufferers emotional well-being, but it is important to note that it can also detrimentally impact their physical health.


Physical Symptoms of Anxiety


Anxiety can have a significant effect on physical health, both in the short and long-term. Those suffering from relationship anxiety can start to have symptoms such as:

  • Digestive issues
  • Insomnia
  • Increased risk of Infection
  • Respiratory Issues
  • Fatigue
  • Shaking
  • Dizziness
  • Muscle tension
  • Increased heart-rate
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Sweating
  • Nausea
  • And in severe cases, panic attacks


What can you do to get over your relationship anxiety?


Relationships and emotions are complicated and there can be a point of no return.
First you need to decide what you want to do next. There are some questions you need to ask yourself:
If you are currently in a relationship, do you want to save it? If so, are you willing to make an effort to change yourself, even if your partner is not yet ready to change?
If you have experienced a breakup, and need help coping and developing strategies to set a new course for your future relationships, are you willing to put the effort in?

In relationships you can’t force your partner to change. Not all people are ready to acknowledge that it is needed. The thing you can do though, either in your current relationship or in starting over, is to make a commitment to change your own actions and reactions in relationships.
Understanding more about the reasons for your reactions, learning to recognise and name these reactions, managing the symptoms of anxiety so they don’t overwhelm you, and taking time to consider what (if any) action to take is an important skill to learn. This commitment to increase your self-understanding is your first step to improve your relationships.


If you would like to take the next step forward to a positive and balanced future, often it can help to speak to a psychologist to help you set a course.


Mindfulness and Finding Moments of Calm in as little as 2 minutes a day!


For all of you busy people out there, we have just created a one-week mindfulness course to help decrease anxiety and stress in just 2 minutes a day. As well as reducing stress, practising these mindfulness techniques also help improve focus, reduce emotional reactivity and improve relationships and resilience.


You don’t need to set aside 30 minutes a day in a quiet room on your own with incense burning and in complete silence. Who has time for that? Just add your details to get started. You will then receive an email each day with your 2-minute mindfulness challenge.




Who Is Courtney Smith

Courtney Smith


Clinical Psychologist
M.Psy (Clin Psy)
B. Sc. Honours (Psy)


My name is Courtney, and I am passionate about helping people improve their wellbeing and psychological health. I have a special interest in working with people with a complex mix of issues within relationships – whether that be their relationship with others, themselves or food. I help people identify long-term patterns in their relationships, understand the origins of these difficulties and look at how you can make lasting changes to interrupt these patterns.

I have helped many people overcome anxiety and other difficult emotions within their relationships, guiding them to find sustainable long-term solutions and to become happier in their lives. As well as this I am passionate about helping those suffering with long-term difficulties in their relationship with food. People who have tried all they can to change but need help in addressing the psychological aspects and causes of their eating, hunger or body image.


Working in partnership with my clients we aim to build self-awareness, enhance confidence and bring back a sense of direction on the road to achieving long term fulfilment.


What is my approach?


I use a form of psychotherapy which is empathetic, supportive and non-judgemental, providing a safe place to open up. My emphasis is on helping individuals achieve long term results for desired changes and outcomes.
I use a variety of therapeutic models that I have had great success with including Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT), Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT), Dialectical Behaviour Therapy (DBT) and Schema Therapy.


Special Interest Areas:


  • Relationship Anxiety
  • Reconnecting with Your Partner
  • Loss of intimacy with your partner
  • Relationship break-ups
  • Issues staying in relationships
  • Anxiety Disorders
  • Depression
  • Eating disorders


How to Contact Me ‘


If you would like to make a booking or to inquire about sessions with Courtney, contact Core Psychology on 02 9817 1993 or simply complete this enquiry form.


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