It’s that feeling down in your belly that wiggles and burns, then jumps into your chest as you check your phone for the 10th time for a text from the object of your interest. Fireworks. Electricity. A burning flame. These are all descriptors that often describe passionate, romantic love.
We often hear people say they love someone so much it hurts or that a person can give them “butterflies” in the stomach if they’re in the same room. We think to ourselves, “This person works them up so much. They must really be into them!” The reality, however, is that pain and anxiety are not signs of passion. They are just pain and anxiety. Authentic love should not feel that way.
The Mixed Signals of Romance
In the beginning of a developing relationship, you may feel preoccupied with powerful feelings. Anxiety and excitement feel very similar. However, as a relationship builds, those unnerving feelings can be indicators the relationship is not truly serving you.
Anxiety can show up in a number of ways in relationships. Perhaps you worry excessively about what your significant other thinks or feel like you need to be perfect when they are around. You may have irrational thoughts that they might be angry or leave you. You may feel self-conscious around this person, or even panic when things go wrong. This is not how a person should feel in a secure, loving, and supportive relationship.
Are Your Needs Being Met?
It’s not uncommon for someone to become anxious about a relationship when a partner is not meeting their needs. When we feel ignored or not prioritized, it can be unsettling.
You probably have a friend who texts their significant other relentlessly every time they fail to answer the phone, asking where they are, what they’re doing, or instructing the person to call back right away. Your friend may be coming from a place of anxiety and might not feel secure about their partnership. Maybe your friend has reason not to trust their partner. Maybe they are carrying hurt and suspicion from a past breakup. Either way, those rapid-fire texts are not a sign of undying love—they may, instead, indicate anxiousness.
All that angst may feel like over-the-moon passion, but remember: above anything else, your relationship should feel calm and safe.Some degree of anxiety in a relationship is normal. But if you frequently feel nervous about where things stand with your significant other, you may want to pause and think about what’s causing you to feel that way.
Does your partner ignore you for long periods of time? Are they hypercritical or jealous? Maybe they make you feel guilty, give you ultimatums, or become passive-aggressive and irritable. Does your partner act overly flirtatious with others? These are all examples of unhealthy relationship dynamics that can leave people feeling panicky and unnerved. If any of these are behaviors are commonplace in your relationship, you may want to reach out to a couples counselor or rethink your commitment.
From Infatuation to Meaningful Connection
As a relationship develops and moves past the honeymoon phase, lust and novelty should be replaced by trust, commitment, and dependability. These are the true qualifiers of an authentic, long-term connection. A loving relationship should feel secure, reliable, and supportive. You should be able to feel relaxed and open about being accepted as your true self. You should be able to trust your partner to be loyal. You should feel like a priority. Everyone deserves this type of relationship.
All that angst may feel like over-the-moon passion, but remember: above anything else, your relationship should feel calm and safe.
© Copyright 2015 GoodTherapy.org. All rights reserved. Permission to publish granted by Melissa G. Chosid, MS, PLMFT
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