I used to be so “anxiously attached”. When I was dating someone, I picked apart their every word or their every silence. Within moments I could go from crying (re: feeling like someone wasn’t into me anymore) to smiling (re: hearing from them). It was a rollercoaster.
I often changed my own plans to meet their needs. I spent a lot of time thinking about how they weren’t meeting mine but fantasizing about how they would one day. I was nervous that if I was busy when they asked for me or if I said I didn’t like something then they wouldn’t want to be with me anymore. I thought I had to make things easy.
I’d call my friends crying & then, later, voraciously defending them.
If something ended with someone and they randomly contacted me a week later, guess who hopped right into a cab to meet them for a drink? And ohh the desperation and uncertainty. Even when things were good I’d ask “is everything ok?” & when things weren’t good I’d try to prove they could be.
When I couldn’t prove it & they moved on – heartbroken.
After one particularly painful experience, I decided I needed to change RADICALLY! I called a therapist and took some Zoloft (watch my stories for more on this).
How to stop being anxious in a relationship
The list below is what I did, but it’s also what I see work with other people, too.
- Talk to a therapist
- Get really good at something
- Self soothe with breathing & muscle relaxation
- Take care of your body
- Read a lot of books
- Be clear on your boundaries & limits, and practice setting them
- Say “bye” when someone violates or dismisses your boundaries
You don’t have to put up with it anymore. Seriously, it’s so much better on the other side. You can get there if you make a deep commitment to gaining security.
Say what you don’t like. Make plans and keep them. Explore your family patterns. Take really good care of your body inside and out. Get clear on what makes you feel good and what you need. State these things even when it’s hard. Become really really good at something! Anything!
I know, it sucks. You need to learn to breathe and to relax your body. You need to practice. It won’t happen over night. But, it will happen if you surround yourself with the messaging of who you want to be and how you want to be – books, Instagram accounts, friends, your therapist. You can do it!
I sent out a cheat sheet for this on Friday so sign up for the newsletter if you haven’t.
Elizabeth Earnshaw, LMFT is the founder and Clinical Director of A Better Life Therapy. She supports individuals and couples to develop healthy and fulfilling relationships. She is located in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, right next to City Hall!