The uncertainty we have in our relationships can be tiring especially when we are about to make that big decision. Is it relationship anxiety or gut feeling?
There are certainly, feelings that are warning signs for us to take caution or action and there are normal feelings peculiar to relationships.
These actions could be to pay more attention to our partner or to even know when to walk away from the relationship.
Relationships are a fundamental aspect of human life, and their success or failure can have profound impacts on our overall well-being.
As such, it’s no surprise that many of us experience anxiety or uncertainty when it comes to our romantic connections.
In some cases, these anxieties might be rooted in genuine concerns about our partner’s behaviour or compatibility.
In other situations, however, these feelings might stem from more nebulous “gut feelings” that don’t have any obvious or rational grounding.
This distinction between relationship anxiety and gut feelings is an important one to consider, as it can have significant implications for how we approach our relationships and the decisions we make about them.
What is Relationship Anxiety?
As human beings, we are wired to crave human connection. We yearn for intimacy and love, but sometimes, these desires can lead to negative emotions and relationship anxiety.
It is a common phenomenon among couples, and it can take many forms.
It is a type of anxiety that occurs when someone is in a romantic relationship or has feelings for someone, and feels worried or insecure about the future of the relationship.
It can lead to a variety of symptoms, such as fear of abandonment, feeling trapped, and overthinking every interaction with their partner.
Is it Normal to Have Relationship Anxiety?
According to relationship therapists and psychologists, relationship apprehension is normal and typical, especially at the onset of relationships where the partners need more assurance to be sure they are with the right person.
Most anxieties are also a sign of happiness and overwhelming fulfillment that finally, they are settled with their dream persons.
But committed, long-term couples can also experience these emotions when triggered by an unusual behaviour of a partner, especially cheating and dishonesty.
If you are a woman and your partner begins to exhibit harmful masculinity, then you should be concerned.
What are the Signs of Relationship Anxiety?
- Constantly Questioning the Partner’s Feelings: People with relationship anxiety may frequently wonder if their partner truly loves them and feels the same way. Doubts and questions about the partner’s feelings can lead to anxiety and insecurity.
- Fear of Abandonment: It can manifest as a fear of losing the partner. Individuals may worry that they will be left alone, abandoned, or rejected.
- Overthinking and Obsessing: People with relationship anxiety may find themselves overthinking and ruminating about their relationship. They may repeatedly analyze their partner’s behaviors, words, and actions for any signs of disinterest or rejection.
- Jealousy and Possessiveness: Unhealthy jealousy and possessiveness can be a sign of relationship anxiety. Individuals may feel threatened by their partner’s interactions with others and want to control their partner’s behavior.
- Difficulty with Intimacy: Relationship anxiety can make it hard for people to connect with their partners emotionally and physically. They may struggle with opening up and sharing vulnerabilities with their partner.
- Feeling Trapped or Suffocated: People with relationship anxiety may feel trapped or suffocated in their relationship. They may worry that they will lose their autonomy or that their partner will restrict their freedom.
- Overthinking the Relationship: Overanalyzing relationships can result in a variety of problems including relationship anxiety. In essence, you are unable to be emotionally accessible to your partner in the now because you are either living in the future or the past. The anxiousness that results from thinking too much might cause you to go through a lot of emotional pain. However, stronger relationships might result from being willing to face overthinking.
Causes of Relationship Anxiety
There are many causes of relationship anxiety as described below:
- Insecurity: One of the main causes of relationship anxiety is feeling insecure in the relationship. This can be due to past experiences or a lack of trust and confidence in oneself.
- Fear of Abandonment: Many people who struggle with relationship anxiety also fear abandonment. This can be due to past experiences or the fear of not being good enough or lovable.
- Pressure to Perform: Sometimes people in relationships feel pressure to perform and be perfect, which can lead to anxiety and stress.
- Communication Issues: Poor communication or a lack of communication can lead to misunderstandings and anxiety in a relationship.
- Too Much Worrying: Anxiety frequently manifests as concern over the state of your relationship. According to NIH, as you consider all the possible ways your relationship could end, your fear could turn into unhealthy tension and prevent you from being in the moment.
- Differences In Values or Beliefs: Differences in values or beliefs can cause conflict and anxiety in a relationship, especially if neither partner is willing to compromise.
- Trauma or Past Experiences: Trauma or past experiences, such as a difficult breakup or childhood experiences, can lead to relationship anxiety.
- Personality Traits: Certain personality traits, such as anxiety or attachment issues, can make individuals more prone to relationship anxiety.
- Unrealistic Expectations: Unrealistic expectations can lead to disappointment and anxiety in a relationship, especially if both partners have different expectations.
- Poor Self-worth: Anxiety in relationships and insecurity can occasionally be exacerbated by poor self-worth or low self-esteem. According to a study, people who have lower self-esteem are more prone to question their partner’s emotions when they are feeling insecure. This is a form of projection that might occur. For instance, it can be simpler for you to think that your partner has the same opinion of you when you are feeling worthless.
- Childhood Parental Attachment: Attachment patterns that form in early childhood can cause relationship anxiety. “Based on their early caregiving experiences, a child will create a prototype of what to expect from others.” A kid would learn to express or repress their emotional and physical demands depending on the consistency and accuracy of the caregiver’s reaction. This coping strategy might be effective at the moment, but when used in mature, intimate relationships, it can develop into maladaptive behaviors that make one not make necessary adjustments that would benefit them.
How to Overcome Relationship Anxiety
While relationship anxiety can be distressing, it’s important to remember that it’s a normal part of the human experience.
Here are some tips for overcoming relationship anxiety:
- Identify the Source of your Anxiety: The first step in overcoming relationship anxiety is to identify the source of your anxiety. This may involve exploring past traumas, attachment styles, and communication issues that may be contributing to your anxiety.
- Practice Mindfulness: Mindfulness can help you stay present and aware of your thoughts and emotions, which can help you manage relationship anxiety. Try practicing mindfulness meditation, deep breathing exercises, or yoga to help you stay grounded and centered.
- Communicate Openly: Communication is key in any relationship. Be honest with your partner about your feelings and concerns, and encourage them to do the same. This can help you build trust and intimacy in the relationship and can help you manage relationship anxiety.
- Challenge Negative Thoughts: Relationship anxiety is often fueled by negative thoughts and beliefs about the relationship. Try challenging these negative thoughts by asking yourself if they are based in reality, and if there is evidence to support them.
- Seek Support: Whether it’s through therapy, support groups, or trusted friends and family, seeking support can help you manage relationship anxiety. A therapist can help you explore the root causes of your anxiety and develop coping strategies to manage it.
- Practice Self-care: Taking care of yourself is essential for managing relationship anxiety. Get enough sleep, eat healthy diets, and participate in activities that excite you.
What is Gut Feeling in a Relationship?
Gut feeling is a sinking or knotting sensation in the core of your stomach caused by chemical changes accompanied by apprehension, fear, or other physiological changes like goosebumps or sweating.
You are unable to rationally justify your emotions, but you are aware that something is off.
Gut feeling is always a sign that something is amiss. It’s similar to intuition but has physical manifestations.
For instance, you might walk into an environment and have this feeling of goosebumps and your stomach might seem to uncurl or make a move.
You just know the place might not be safe without having prior knowledge of the security history of the place.
Physiologically speaking, according to Tara Swart, M.D., Ph.D. The Source author and neurologist “Your gut sensations are a combination of your gut bacteria communicating with your brain directly through chemical messengers in the blood (cytokine transmission1) and the gut neurons’ connection to the limbic (emotional and intuitive) section of the brain,
Additionally, from a more spiritual perspective, Catharine Allan, a clairvoyant intuitive and the author of A Little Bit of Intuition, says that “people usually get an overall sensation of knowing,” but that each person will experience that knowledge in a different way, which leads us to our next point.
Below are signs of gut feelings in a relationship:
Signs of Gut Feeling
The signs of having a gut feeling may include the following:
- Physical Sensations: A gut feeling may cause physical sensations such as tightness or discomfort in the stomach, sweating, or shivers.
- Intuition: Intuition is the ability to sense or feel things without conscious reasoning. Gut feelings often rely on intuition.
- Sudden Changes in Mood: When you have a gut feeling, you might experience sudden changes in mood. For example, you might feel uneasy or anxious, or suddenly feel a burst of excitement.
- Signs of Danger: Often, a gut feeling alerts you to a potentially dangerous or threatening situation. You might sense danger or feel that something is amiss, even if you can’t explain why.
- Positive Feelings: Gut feelings don’t always indicate negative situations. Sometimes a gut feeling can lead you to a positive outcome or opportunity.
Examples of Gut Feelings
- You have a feeling that a particular person isn’t trustworthy, even though you can’t point to any specific red flags.
- You feel like you shouldn’t accept a job offer even though it seems like it could be a good opportunity.
- You have a hunch that you should take a different route home, and later find out that there was an accident on your regular route.
- You feel uneasy about a particular investment opportunity, even though the numbers seem to add up.
- You have this feeling that the person you just met will become a close friend in the future.
Causes of Gut Feeling
In a relationship, a gut feeling can be triggered by the following:
- Trust Issues: Lack of trust in a relationship can cause a gut feeling of uneasiness or suspicion.
- Intuition: Sometimes, people’s instincts or intuition tell them that something is not right in the relationship, causing a gut feeling.
- Past Experiences: Past experiences, even from previous relationships, can cause gut feelings that something is wrong or uncomfortable in the present relationship.
- Unspoken Communication: Communication is not always verbal. Unspoken cues such as body language, tone of voice, and facial expressions can cause a gut feeling that something is off.
- Red Flags: Behaviors or actions that are outside of the normal or acceptable boundaries of a relationship, such as secrecy or controlling behavior, can also trigger gut feelings.
Importance of Trusting Your Gut Feeling in a Relationship
Trusting your gut feeling, often referred to as intuition, is an important aspect of navigating relationships.
While rational thinking and analysis have their place, your gut feeling can provide valuable insights and guide you in making decisions that align with your emotions and instincts.
Here are some reasons why trusting your gut feeling is important in a relationship:
Your gut feeling is connected to your subconscious mind, which is highly attuned to your emotions and experiences.
By trusting your gut, you can tap into your inner wisdom and gain a deeper understanding of your own desires, needs, and boundaries within the relationship.
2. Warning Signs
Sometimes, your gut feeling serves as an early warning system, alerting you to potential issues or red flags in the relationship.
It may pick up on subtle cues or patterns that your conscious mind hasn’t fully processed yet.
Trusting your intuition can help you recognize potential problems and address them proactively.
Your gut feeling often aligns with your authentic self. It can guide you towards choices and actions that are true to who you are and what you value.
By listening to your intuition, you can maintain your integrity and ensure that your actions in the relationship are in line with your core values.
4. Emotional Connection
Relationships are built on emotional connection and compatibility. Your gut feeling can help you assess whether you feel genuinely connected to your partner on an emotional level.
It can provide a sense of whether the relationship feels right and whether you are experiencing a deep sense of trust, comfort, and security.
Trusting your gut feeling can assist you in making decisions in your relationship.
While rational analysis is important, your intuition can offer a valuable perspective that takes into account your emotions and instincts.
It can guide you when making choices about the direction of the relationship or addressing important issues.
Your gut feeling acts as a protective mechanism, helping you avoid potentially harmful situations or relationships.
If something feels off or if your intuition signals caution, it’s important to listen and take the necessary steps to protect yourself emotionally and physically.
How Gut Feelings Can Be Impaired by Anxiety
In romantic relationships, anxiety can impair gut feelings by causing individuals to misinterpret their partner’s actions and intentions.
When we are anxious, our attention is often focused on potential threats, which can make it difficult to accurately perceive and interpret our partner’s behavior.
This can lead to feelings of insecurity, jealousy, and mistrust, which can further exacerbate anxiety.
For example, if an individual is anxious about their partner’s commitment to the relationship, they may misinterpret their partner’s actions as evidence of disinterest or infidelity.
This can cause them to feel anxious and insecure, which can further impair their ability to accurately perceive their partner’s intentions.
Additionally, anxiety can cause individuals to engage in behaviors that are not in their best interest, such as avoiding conflict or suppressing their emotions.
This can lead to a breakdown in communication and intimacy, which can further escalate anxiety and impair gut feelings.
The Role of Gut Feeling in Relationships
It is often described as a “knowing” or “sensing” that something is right or wrong, without necessarily being able to explain why.
In relationships, a gut feeling can play a variety of roles, such as:
- Providing Insight into Our Own Needs and Desires: Intuition can help us tune into our own needs and desires, and provide guidance on what we need to feel fulfilled and happy in a relationship. For example, if we feel a sense of discomfort or unease around our partner, it may be a sign that our needs are not being met.
- Providing Insight into Our Partner’s Needs and Desires: Intuition can also help us tune into our partner’s needs and desires, and provide guidance on how we can support and nurture them in the relationship. For example, if we sense that our partner is feeling stressed or overwhelmed, we may be able to offer them support and comfort.
- Providing Guidance on The Future of The Relationship: Intuition can also provide guidance on the future of the relationship, such as whether it is healthy and fulfilling, or whether it is time to move on. For example, if we sense that the relationship is no longer serving our needs, it may be a sign that it’s time to end the relationship.
While intuition can be a valuable source of information in relationships, it’s important to remember that it’s not always accurate or reliable.
Intuition can be influenced by a variety of factors, such as past experiences, biases, and fears.
It’s important to balance intuition with rational thinking and communication in order to make informed decisions about the future of the relationship.
How to Trust Your Gut Feeling in Relationships
Trusting your gut feeling in relationships can be challenging, especially if you’ve experienced past traumas or have a history of relationship anxiety.
However, learning to trust your gut feeling can help you make informed decisions about the future of the relationship and can help you build healthy and fulfilling relationships.
Here are some tips for trusting your gut feeling in relationships:
- Practice Mindfulness: Mindfulness can help you stay present and aware of your thoughts and emotions, which can help you tune into your gut feeling. Try practicing mindfulness meditation, deep breathing exercises, or yoga to help you stay grounded and centered.
- Pay Attention to Your Physical Sensations: Gut feelings often manifest as physical sensations in the body, such as butterflies in the stomach or a sinking feeling. Pay attention to these physical sensations and try to identify what they may be telling you about the relationship.
- Listen to your Intuition: Intuition is an intuitive sensation that arises from the gut and provides important information about our physical and emotional states. Listen to your intuition and trust that it is guiding you in the right direction.
- Reflect on Past Experiences: Reflecting on past experiences can help you identify patterns and themes that may be influencing your gut feeling. Try journaling or talking to a therapist about past experiences that may be impacting your current relationship.
- Communicate Openly: Communication is the fulcrum of any relationship. Be honest with your partner about your feelings and concerns, and encourage them to do the same. This can help you build trust and intimacy in the relationship and can help you tune into your gut feeling.
- Trust Yourself: Ultimately, you are the best judge of your own needs and desires. Trust yourself to make the right decisions for yourself and your relationship. Remember that it’s okay to take time to reflect and make decisions that are in your best interest.
Here is a screenshot of an answer I came across on Quora. A bad “gut” feeling in a relationship, what could it mean?
A lady Umarah Kay answered thus:
Another user, Charles Yawn also has this to say:
Also, Gwen S gave an opinion:
Relationship Anxiety vs. Gut Feeling
Navigating the gray area in a relationship can be challenging, especially when it comes to distinguishing between relationship anxiety and gut feelings.
While both experiences can be valid and informative, it’s important to understand the difference between the two in order to make informed decisions about the future of the relationship.
How to Tell the Difference between Relationship Anxiety and Gut Feelings
On one hand, anxiety can be a constructive and beneficial emotion that helps us identify potential problems or conflicts in our relationship.
On the other hand, excessive anxiety or baseless feelings of unease can create unnecessary stress and strain on our relationship, potentially leading to the very issues we were afraid of in the first place.
At the same time, gut feelings can be a useful tool for navigating our romantic lives, as they can alert us to deeper truths or insights that might not be immediately apparent.
However, these intuitions can also be misguided or tainted by our own biases and fears, leading us down a path that doesn’t ultimately serve us.
In this context, finding a healthy balance between relationship anxiety and gut feelings is key.
By learning to identify and differentiate between these two emotional states, we can make more informed and grounded choices about our romantic lives, fostering healthier and more fulfilling connections in the process.
Here are some considerations to make so that you can distinguish between them more easily.
1. Anxiety is Persistent
How long your symptoms last is one of the easiest ways to distinguish between a gut hunch and worry.
A gut instinct is frequently a response to an immediate situation. On the other hand, anxiety may exist regardless of how relevant it is to your current situation.
For instance, your gut might prompt you to run when you meet an immediate danger, directing you away from harm.
But anxiety is a feeling that persists throughout the day and even can stretch into weeks.
2. It Can Make you Apprehensive of the Future
Future-focused anxiety has a very unhealthy tendency. So it’s probably not your gut feeling, but anxiety, if your head is teeming with many manufactured ideas and worst-case possibilities.
As you anticipate job projects, worry about your health, or consider the future of your relationship, anxiety symptoms may even keep you up at night.
In contrast to intuition, anxiety prefers to focus on uncontrollable factors like the future.
3. Anxiety Causes Strong Feelings of Uncertainty
Both anxiety and gut feeling might make you feel uneasy, but anxiety will probably make you feel more uncertain while gut feeling makes you feel more confident.
According to clinical psychologist Dr. Helen Odessky, “Your gut is your own wisdom.” “You might be reluctant to act on it, but it feels certain, in contrast to the uncertainty that fear feels like.”
Therefore, if you’re unsure of what to do and are wavering, you can be confident that whatever is on your mind is most likely motivated by worry.
4. Apprehension Hampers your Day-to-day Productivity
Anxiety, in contrast to gut impulses, is completely useless. And it can even begin to have a detrimental effect on your life.
So, pay attention if you begin to dwindle in your daily activities or start to avoid particular circumstances, or find it difficult to conduct yourself in a healthy manner.
When your gut feeling starts to interfere with how you’re processing life, it can be an indication that you are battling with anxiety.
Your gut instinct may warn you to leave a dangerous scenario, but worry may make you avoid most situations.
And when that happens, you won’t be able to determine what is important enough to worry about.
5. It Presents Many Protracted Symptoms
In order to identify the source of your stressful feelings, especially if they’re persistent, it might be very helpful to look at the actual meaning of anxiety.
The DSM-V – a diagnostic tool used by mental health professionals to identify disorders like anxiety, lists the specific symptoms of general anxiety, which include excessive worry and anxiety, difficulty controlling the worry, and physical symptoms like restlessness, fatigue, difficulty concentrating, irritability, muscle tension, and trouble sleeping.
If you are having these symptoms, talking to a therapist could be beneficial since they can show you coping mechanisms.
You’ll be able to more easily tune into your intuition as you start to heal yourself of anxiety.
6. Gut feeling Can Be Tested and Identified
One benefit of this feeling is that it can be simply tested. Anxiety cannot. So, if you wish to distinguish between the two, look around you for some obvious clues.
For example, if you feel you heard a sound in your other room, you can quickly go to verify.
You can as well hail your instincts for giving you a heads-up if your cat is having an unapproved feast.
However, if your cat is in the habit of eating unapproved meals and making a mess of your kitchen, and you are always worried that such would happen is anxiety.
7. Gut Feeling Helps Direct you
Gut feelings frequently slow things down because they guide you in the right direction.
There is a core of calm knowledge with a gut feeling, and confidence on a specific topic.
This is completely dissimilar to anxiety, which frequently results in disorganized, confusion in thinking.
8. Gut Feelings Have Remedies
It’s frequently simple to address a problem when you have that uneasy feeling towards something. Using the previous example, you had to just go investigate the sound you heard.
The remedy is to put the cat in its place and make sure it doesn’t misbehave again.
If something is actually wrong, it will be possible to take prompt action to fix it. Anxiety is when a worry cannot be taken action immediately.
Relationship Anxiety Test
If you want to go further to know for sure if you are having relationship anxiety, then you can help yourself by taking the ROCD test.
What is relationship OCD (ROCD)?
ROCD is the fear of being in the wrong relationship, the worry of one’s partner not actually loving them, or the fear of one’s own lack of true love for them.
Since all forms of OCD fall under the obsessive-compulsive continuum, relationship OCD is not a recognized diagnostic and is not listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-V).
If you don’t have OCD, you could choose to refer to it as relationship anxiety.
Regardless of the name you use, both relationship anxiety and ROCD can be treated.
Understanding if what you have is relationship anxiety or gut feeling goes a long way to have better decisions towards your partner or relationship.
Sometimes we might mistake relationship anxiety to gut feeling and go ahead to act in ways that show we are sure our partner might be cheating or being dishonest.
Remember that you are not alone if you are experiencing the negative impacts of anxiety in a relationship.
Even though your experiences might be personal, there are some people in your circle that can relate and are willing to support you.
Consider letting those folks in on your predicament after noticing the relationship anxiety triggers, symptoms, and coping techniques.
Therapy may be very helpful, whether you’re experiencing relationship anxiety or your partner’s since it gives you a safe space to work through your nervous feelings and acquire a greater understanding of how to recognize and have a healthy connection.
- Relationship Anxiety
- Commitment Issues in Relationships
- The Difference Between Gut Instinct, Anxiety & Intuition
- Relationship Anxiety: Intuition or Fear?
A Personal Development Content Creator and an author. I write about life ethics and love to document and share life hacks and experiences of people to help others make good life decisions.
Every content published on The Conducts Of Life is well-reviewed by our board of experienced professionals in psychology. Contents are fact-checked for accuracy, relevance, and timeliness and we include links to sources at the bottom of every article for more insight.