That uncertain feeling we have especially at the onset of relationships that makes us cringe and brood over our partner. 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.
We might already know this person might be the perfect person for us but are we the perfect person for them?
This question and more gives rise to feelings that we find hard to interpret or assign a name.
How do you know if it’s just relationship anxiety or gut feeling, and what are they by the way?
This post is extensive so you might like to use the table of contents to navigate.
What is relationship anxiety?
Apprehension in relationship is the combined gnawing feelings of doubt, worry, and insecurity that pops up every now and then in your relationship.
It does not matter if everything is going on well. Something triggers it and you feel a measure of energy leave your core.
If you are good at relationship management, you could be able to handle this properly, but when you are overwhelmed by any negative thoughts, you could mess things up quickly.
You might notice that continually doubt your partner, yourself, and the relationship.
Are things durable? How do you tell whether this person is actually the one you should be with? What if they have a secret dark agenda?
These questions cause anxiety that makes you apprehensive and might even lead to possessiveness and other unhealthy behaviours.
However, we know we feel something but most times we are not sure of what it is because they mimic other feelings too, especially gut feelings that warn us of imminent dangers.
Here is a video of relationship anxiety by Breeny Lee:
Relationship anxiety or not in love?
People who entertain fears in relationship are always not sure if they are in love or not. They have conflicting, mixed feelings about if they should get committed or wait to be fully convinced.
This could be mere relationship anxiety that accompanies such decisions and would go away with time.
Falling in love on its own is a process that requires one to check their values and the values of their partner to be able to know if compatibility is a thing.
To put it straight, relationship anxiety is different from the feelings associated with not falling in love.
You could be in love and still experience anxiety or apprehension. In fact, falling in love brings about this feeling because you are very concerned about not making a mistake.
Is it normal to have relationship Apprehension?
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 toxic masculinity, then you should be concerned.
What causes anxiety in relationships?
Since apprehension or fear in relationship is an elusive feeling and cannot be explained most times, it is possible however to figure out its root with a clear head and careful investigation of details.
Anxiety in a relationship can, and probably will appear at some point regardless of whether you’ve been in a committed relationship for a long time or are just honing one on social media.
Related: How To Listen To Your Intuition In Relationships And Make Better Decisions
Most people have some level of anxiety about the future of their relationship, whether it’s caused by a lack of trust, a fear of being abandoned, doubts about your compatibility, or concerns over unrequited love.
The actual problem emerges when normal worry turns into crippling tension or produces self-destructive behavior that harms your relationship.
Here are some obvious causes of relationship anxiety:
1. 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 in the moment, but when used in mature, intimate relationships, it can develop into maladaptive behaviors that make one not to make necessary adjustments that would benefit them.
2. Previous relationship experiences
Having a history of bad experiences in relationships can be an obvious trigger of relationship uneasiness.
Even if you think you’ve mostly moved over the memories of events in the past, they can still have an impact on you.
Relationship fears may be more prevalent in you if a former partner:
- Hit you
- Was not open to you with their feelings
- Was a liar
- Cheated on you
After being harmed, it’s common to find it difficult to trust again, even if your partner at the time doesn’t manipulate you or act dishonestly.
Whether you’re aware of them or not, certain triggers can nonetheless bring back unpleasant memories and arouse anxiety and mistrust.
3. Poor self-worth
Anxiety in relationship 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.
4. Emotional neglect
Everyone has specific emotional requirements, such as the need for attention, support, affection, respect, and security, which are only partially satisfied in close relationships.
When someone’s emotional needs are consistently disregarded, minimized, or ignored, it is referred to as emotional neglect.
Negative effects of emotional neglect over time include relationship anxiety, harm to a person’s mental health, sense of worth, and capacity for developing committed, loving relationships.
5. Attachment disorders
Adult attachment problems are characterized by a range of challenges with emotion recognition, affection expression, and interpersonal trust.
These illnesses, which frequently begin in infancy, can have an impact on a person’s self-worth as well as their ability to enjoy romantic relationships.
People who are receiving treatment may become more conscious of their attachment preferences and develop effective ways to express their demands to others.
6. Normal anxiety that accompanies life changes
It’s acceptable to occasionally feel anxious, worried, or afraid, especially when such sentiments are brought on by demanding, hard, or stressful circumstances.
It is not uncommon for relationship uncertainties to cause one to have apprehension and usually gives way before long.
However, anxiety symptoms that are frequent, consistent, strong, and long-lasting nearly daily for six months may indicate an underlying anxiety disorder, particularly if they impair a person’s ability to carry out daily activities.
Signs of relationship anxiety
Relationship apprehension can manifest in many ways both elusive and obvious. If you pay attention, you can identify the following signs:
1. 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.
Doubting is a typical anxiety sign that can swiftly disrupt a relationship.
Doubt can cause you to spy on your spouse more than you normally would, look through their belongings, and develop a mistrust for them even though they haven’t done anything to warrant it.
Once your partner realizes that you have a notion, they’ll probably become annoyed or agitated at having to repeatedly demonstrate their worth.
3. 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.
4. Validation is needed
Relationship anxiety can manifest as the excessive need for validation by a partner. One partner requires their spouse to confirm their love,” and it is a tremendous load to place on another person.
Being insecure with yourself or your relationship is indicated by a constant need for reassurance from your partner.
5. Withdrawal and shutdown
Not everyone expresses their anxiety openly. Withdrawal and shutting down can be an obvious sign of anxiety in relationship especially if the victim has tried unsuccessfully to have meaningful assurance.
People might shut down out of fear, and that kills a relationship.
Shutting down is not only unhealthy, but it also sends confusing signals to your spouse because it leaves them to interpret your feelings on their own.
Insecurity can be a sign of relationship anxiety. Even if the insecurity isn’t a direct outcome of the connection, one party in the anxious relationship may project their insecurities onto their partner.
Therefore, even if it’s not true you have a terrible opinion of yourself, you’re inclined to assume the same about your partner.
7. Commitment issues
A hesitation to commit to a relationship is referred to as having commitment concerns or having a fear of commitment. This can be a sign of relationship anxiety.
Although this phrase typically alludes to love relationships, it can occur everywhere.
People wishing for fulfilling relationships should take steps to recognize commitment issues and learn how to overcome them because disagreements, disputes, and break-ups can plague relationships for individuals with commitment issues.
8. Partner’s compatibility in the balance
You can begin to place more emphasis than is required on your partner’s differences from you, such as your differing tastes in music or movies, to the point where you wind up worrying about them more than you enjoy your compatibility.
How to overcome relationship fears
It is very possible to overcome relationship anxiety, although it does take some time and work. And doing so typically entails more than just hearing that your relationship is doing well.
You may tell someone their nervousness doesn’t necessarily mean there’s an underlying problem in the relationship, and in fact, they may be well loved.
But the fear will probably linger until they are convinced for sure that all is well, that they truly are safe and protected.
It is advisable to resolve this problem before it degenerates into something dangerous or threatens the relationship.
Also Read: The Stoic Personality: How to be Tough and Resilient in Adversity
Working with a qualified therapist as a guide will help you uncover any underlying anxiety you may have in order to effectively deal with your anxiety.
Also crucial is being honest and transparent with your partner, who may be able to ease your tension and give you a sense of security.
How to deal with relationship anxiety
The following would help you deal with and overcome anxiety in relationship and enjoy your relationship.
Here are 8 ways to deal with relationship anxiety:
1. Determine the source of your anxiety
What is causing your anxiety? Is it anxiety? low self-worth? lacking in assurance? Shame?
Identifying the source of your fear and making associations with earlier events or your upbringing might make you more conscious.
Sometimes, our inability to select healthy relationships for ourselves causes us to feel insecure.
2. Express your emotions openly
At your most anxious, you might not want to communicate your feelings, yet doing so is crucial.
Relationships can suffer from a lack of communication, yet these relationships benefit from and deepen from healthy communication.
Additionally, it maintains open channels of communication. Allow the encouraging people in your life access to your innermost thoughts.
3. Employ self-calming methods the elevate anxiety levels
The physical symptoms of anxiety can include a fast heartbeat, tightness in the chest, and dizziness.
Adopt self-soothing techniques that include deep breathing, guided meditation, yoga, and engaging in activities that emphasize one of your five senses.
When searching for anxiety treatments that work for you, don’t be hesitant to think outside the box.
To help people manage the stress reaction that occurs when people are anxious, new modalities like havening are being developed.
4. Build trust with people who will support you
Building trust in relationships is crucial for preserving strong ties, despite the fact that it can be challenging.
Being socially intelligent would help in this regard as you would need to connect with people who would empathize with you and be the support you need.
Make time for the individuals who care about you in your life. The ability to trust someone takes time, experience, and a pattern of consistent, cultivated actions.
5. Address any disagreements or conflicts of opinion
Relationship conflict that is not addressed can result in bitterness and the breakup of the union.
While conflict cannot be avoided, it must be managed and resolved in a constructive manner.
Although it could be challenging, try to start by emphasizing “I” comments and accepting responsibility for your part in the conflict.
6. Your emotions may be valid, but they may not always be true
Emotions can change abruptly, and it is simple to draw the wrong conclusions when they do.
Reframe your negative thoughts in a more positive way and practice giving your relationships the benefit of the doubt.
Say “I attract love and people are drawn to my warmth and vitality” as opposed to “I usually push people away and nobody likes me.”
7. Let the supportive people in your life know how much they mean to you
Reward those who have demonstrated real concern for you. Gratitude can boost your mood and strengthen your emotional ties.
Recognizing the contribution others have made, list the positive aspects of your connections and what you’re thankful for.
8. Seek therapy
A fantastic option to delve deeper and identify some of the unfavorable thought patterns and events that might be causing your relationship anxiety is through therapy for anxiety.
Gut feeling meaning
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.
Also Read: Multitasking Skills And It’s Effects On The Brain
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.
Relationship gut feeling
Don’t ever take your gut feeling for granted! It is a basic self-defense mechanism designed to keep you safe. Something is clearly off if it feels off.
Here is a post about how to listen to your intuition in relationships and make better decisions.
Don’t dismiss those annoying uncertainties, and don’t disobey your gut feelings. Accept it.
Even if ending it or nipping (your romance) in the bud didn’t “rationally” make sense.
Unfortunate incidents in people’s lives are used to teach others a lesson. I know of a person who disregarded her instincts and chose to value the opinions of others above their own.
This led her to pursue her second relationship for the wrong motives.
Her parents, whom she believed she could fully trust and rely on for wise advice, dismissed her concerns and stated she was making a big deal out of nothing and that she was the one who was “being overly sensitive” because I did not value my own opinion.
The gut feeling you’re meant to be with someone
Our guts give us clues in almost every area of our lives if we pay attention. Sometimes something might not just sit well with you.
You are convinced from within that there will be no connection.
You’ve only recently met someone new, and you suddenly have an inside insight that’s attempting to tell you something about them.
You may be asking if it’s even feasible to do that. Can you form an opinion on someone you’ve just met?
Your instinct is attempting to lead you in the correct direction and with the right person.
Also Read: Emotional Intelligence: History, Benefits And How To Improve It
Do not ignore your gut feeling if it tells you that this person is not trustworthy.
Spending time with these emotions is preferable to ignoring them. Pay attention to the signals they are sending you.
We can become so distracted from our inner selves that we find ourselves in odd situations, incorrect professions, or unhealthy relationships.
On the other hand, if you feel as though you were destined to be with this person, it is even more crucial to listen to your gut.
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:
Gut feeling he’s cheating no proof
There are times when women feel so sure their partner is cheating but don’t have any proof. Just their gut giving them strong signals.
Studies and experiences have shown that if you have a strong gut feeling that your partner is having an affair, you are probably right even without proof.
What can you do in such situation? Good enough, there are some signs that can validate the gut signals you are getting.
We have written a comprehensive post about infidelity and it’s signs in this post. Check it out for more insight on how to know if he’s cheating.
Gut feeling examples
Here are some of the ways your gut communicates to you that you are meant to be with someone:
- Your stomach is in a flutter.
- The moment you first met this individual, you instinctively hit them.
- You are certain that this person is “the one” for you because of a gut feeling.
- You immediately sense a connection; you don’t need to overthink and examine your relationship.
- There is an incredible connection between you two, and you feel at ease and upbeat when you are around them.
- You are hopeful for your future together and feel safe and secure around this person.
- Your instincts almost never let you down. You two are on the same page and can complete each other’s sentences.
- Before you even met, you feel as though you had dreams about them.
Now we have known what relationship anxiety and gut feelings are, we can be able to identify when any of them is wreaking havoc.
Relationship anxiety or gut feeling
Your gut emotions are those persistent sensations that warn you of potentially harmful circumstances or let you know when something might go awry.
These emotions keep you safe in dim parking lots and guide you to make wise decisions.
The issue is that it can frequently be challenging to distinguish between intuition and anxiety.
The difficulty is that you really can’t ‘trust your gut’ when you are prone to anxiety, both mental and physical.
The line separating anxiety from gut reactions gets quite hazy. And symptoms can appear to be the same.
Also Read: The Importance Of Self-Awareness And It’s Improvement
What appears to be intuition—a persistent notion, butterflies in the stomach, etc. — could instead be a worry or the opposite.
If you experience anxiety, your gut is overactive and frequently perceives harmless outside information, internal feelings, or passing thoughts as dangers.
The good news is that it is feasible to navigate the murky waters and identify what is what.
You can begin to amass techniques to more effectively manage anxiety by speaking with a therapist, for instance, so that it no longer interferes with your intuition.
8 ways to differentiate relationship anxiety from gut feeling
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 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 help 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 feeling 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.
Some times we might mistake relationship anxiety to gut feeling and go ahead to act in ways that shows 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 is, 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.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
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 experienced professionals in the field. Contents are fact-checked for accuracy, relevance, and timeliness and we include links to sources at the bottom of every article for more insights.