You just want to be happy, but you can’t seem to stop the doubts from creeping in.
You feel like you are getting caught in cycles of overthinking and questioning aspects of your relationship and your partner.
Why do I feel uneasy in my relationship?
It could be that you are suffering from a bit of relationship anxiety.
This article will explore the reasons why you might be feeling this way, and what you can do about it.
What is relationship anxiety?
In a nutshell relationship anxiety are those feelings of doubt, uncertainty, or insecurity that crop up in a relationship.
It’s incredibly common and can happen at any time, although it’s even more likely in the earlier stages of a relationship or dating.
It can manifest in all sorts of ways.
- Question whether you and your partner are right for each other
- Worry your partner will cheat, reject you, leave you, or lose feelings for you
- Feel like something isn’t quite right in the relationship
- Be scared your feelings are stronger than your partners
- Worry you’re just not cut out for a serious relationship
When relationship anxiety creeps in it can cast a shadow of uneasiness that feels hard to shake.
But what exactly is behind it? Let’s look at the potential causes.
Why do I feel uneasy in my relationship? 10 possible reasons
1) You care
First things first. I want to reiterate again just how normal it is to experience a certain amount of unease in a relationship from time to time.
Nothing in life is quite as triggering as our romantic connections. They can be a hotbed of unresolved insecurities and issues.
Fundamentally it points to the fact that you care, and this can be a really good sign for your relationship.
Let’s face it, we don’t stress and worry about things that we don’t give a damn about.
To experience brief periods or fleeting moments of unease in a relationship doesn’t have to be a big deal.
We have to accept that a certain amount of relationship anxiety will pop up from time to time.
But it can start to be a bigger problem when it becomes consistent, spirals out of control, or creates problems for you and your relationship.
2) Childhood programming
So much of who we are, how we feel about the world, ourselves, and others, has been silently programmed into us from such a young age.
We are shaped and molded by our upbringing. And the attachment styles we form as youngsters we inadvertently take with us into our adult relationships.
Attachment style is a psychological theory that says the bond you create with your primary caregiver is the model you then go on to use throughout your life.
As explained in Psych Central:
“If a child can consistently rely on their parents to fulfill their needs growing up, they’re likely to develop a secure attachment style. They’ll see relationships as a safe space where they can express their emotions freely.
“On the other hand, insecure attachment styles develop if a child has had a strained bond with their caregivers. This happens when the child learns they may not be able to rely on others to fulfill basic needs and comfort.”
If your attachment style leans towards the insecure and anxious side of things, you may be more prone to feelings of uneasiness within your relationships.
You are naturally more suspicious that relationships are not safe places where you can get your emotional needs met.
3) Bad experiences in the past
You know what they say, ‘once bitten, twice shy’.
Very few of us manage to get through life without experiencing heartache.
Whether it’s a particularly bad breakup, a toxic ex, being unexpectedly dumped, or being betrayed through cheating — most people carry some baggage with them.
The problem is that these negative past experiences can taint our future relationships too.
We are fearful of getting hurt again.
And as a consequence, we may overly question new relationships or become hyper-vigilant about potential problems.
We may cling on even tighter for fear of losing someone again. Or the complete opposite might occur, we may put up walls and push a partner away in order to try to shield ourselves.
Experiences are how we learn, and sadly some experiences leave bad memories and lingering pain and fear that we carry with us into our next relationship.
4) It’s part of your personality type
The reality is that your personality is going to shape how you approach relationships.
For example, I have often felt very envious of couples who seem hopelessly in love. Who act lovey-dovey and appear to dote on their partner.
The fact that I don’t feel this way in relationships has even made me question whether something has been missing.
Why don’t I feel and act like that in relationships? Is there something wrong with me? Is there something wrong with the relationship?
But the more simple truth is that I’m not the “smitten” type.
And rather than pointing to any fundamental issues in my relationship, it points more to who I am as a person and how I express affection.
In a similar way, some of us are overthinkers. We can quickly let doubts spiral when others might find it easier to squash them when they arise.
Or you may be a bit of a worrier in general. Anxiety and being hyper-alert can be a learned behavior or a result of a bad experience.
Some people have personalities where they are more prone to questioning things in their relationship which leads to uneasiness.
5) You’re putting pressure on yourself
Overthinking and worrying can very easily create pressure. That pressure gets piled on you and your relationship.
When it comes to matters of the heart, the stakes often feel very high.
We don’t want things to go wrong. We don’t want to say or do the wrong thing.
And that intensity caused by not wanting to put a foot wrong can make you feel really uneasy.
There feels like there is so much riding on everything working out that you find it difficult to relax.
6) Something isn’t right in the relationship
Of course, not all uneasiness or anxiety about a relationship is just in the mind.
There will be instances when genuine issues that are going unresolved cause you to feel this way.
If your partner is exhibiting some red flag behavior then your discomfort could be a natural reaction to this. You may not be happy in your relationship and something needs to change.
It will take self-awareness and deep reflection to recognize whether your unease is a projection from yourself or stems from real relationship problems.
Either way, it can be useful to talk this through with a relationship expert if you want more clarity.
Relationship Hero is a site that gives you 24-7 access to highly trained relationship coaches.
They can advise and guide you on your relationship concerns, helping you find better insight and come up with personalized solutions.
7) You’re scared of commitment
Maybe this feeling of something not being right in a relationship isn’t new to you.
This uneasiness has come and gone plenty of times before in other romantic connections too.
Our feelings are simply signals. But we can read too much into them or read the wrong thing from them.
If you have a fear of commitment, you are likely to experience uneasiness as intimacy grows.
To your mind, an increasing bond and growing feelings are a threat. It’s something you are subconsciously (or perhaps even consciously) trying to avoid.
So you start to feel “off” about the relationship.
Your brain convinces you that something isn’t quite right. But rather than there being genuine problems with the relationship, it may just be your alarm bells sounding off that someone is getting too close for comfort.
Part hurt, bad experiences, and your attachment style can all contribute to a fear of commitment that leads you to find fault and withdraw from relationships.
8) You’re scared of being rejected
Everybody hates rejection.
Understandably too, because it hurts. In fact, research shows that the brain responds to social rejection in the same way it responds to physical pain.
You may have noticed that anxiety and nervousness commonly creep into new romances the moment you start to really fall for someone.
Because it’s at this time that we suddenly have more to lose. And we may start to worry about whether they feel the same way as us.
You might be scared that your partner will abandon you, fall out of love with you, or find someone else.
These are all manifestations of a fear of being rejected, and it can make you really uneasy in a relationship.
9) Your own Insecurities
Often relationship anxiety and doubts can be a reflection of how we feel about ourselves. It can be created or compounded by low self-esteem.
When you don’t truly like or love yourself, you may deep down feel like nobody else could love you either.
When we have a healthy sense of self-esteem we are able to self-soothe and meet most of our own emotional needs.
We look primarily to ourselves first for our sense of validation and worth.
But when we have very low self-esteem, we can become completely reliant on our relationship with others to make us feel good about ourselves.
This can lead to co-dependent relationships and losing your sense of self in a relationship.
Your own insecurities turn into an uneasiness that you may fear is some sort of “gut feeling” that you are picking up on. But in reality, it is more likely your own nervousness and uncertainty that you are projecting onto your partner.
10) You’re comparing yourself to unrealistic standards
‘Comparison is the thief of joy’.
It seems almost impossible these days not to measure ourselves against other people in an increasingly connected world.
We see #couplegoals splashed around the internet giving a glossy outside look at what a relationship “should” be.
We see love and relationships in the movies or in stories and we create these unrealistic expectations about what love is.
We want so much from our partners and our relationships, but sometimes we want too much from them. We want them to fulfill needs that really we should be looking to ourselves to fulfill.
It’s a standard that real-world love — and all its natural imperfections —simply can’t live up to. And it sets a relationship up for failure.
Looking around at unrealistic standards can quickly make us feel like our relationship falls short — creating a sense of uneasiness or dissatisfaction.
What to do when you feel uneasy in your relationship
1) Dig deeper into potential causes
I hope this list of reasons why you could feel uneasy in your relationship has already pointed you in the right direction. By now, some of the reasons may already be resonating with you.
You need to be able to separate your worries as an individual from your relationship problems.
Knowing where your uneasiness stems from isn’t always easy and the two do have a tendency to blur. That’s why it can be very useful to talk to an expert.
I mentioned Relationship Hero earlier. A relationship coach can provide the guidance you need to get to the bottom of things. They can give you tailor-made advice depending on your unique circumstances.
This will help you work out whether certain issues in your relationship need resolving, or whether you are experiencing normal relationship anxiety that you need to work through.
Research has found that just talking about our problems helps to reduce stress and makes us feel better.
Rather than carry this uneasiness with you, talking about it can help you release it and find practical solutions to move forward.
2) Maintain your own identity
When we are in a relationship we can inadvertently start to lose our own individual sense of self.
As you merge lives, compromise, and come together as a couple this can create an imbalance that impacts your independence.
But as Psychotherapist Esther Perel points out, autonomy is a vital part of a healthy relationship:
“Love rests on two pillars: surrender and autonomy. Our need for togetherness exists alongside our need for separateness. One does not exist without the other.”
3) Boost your self-esteem
Most of us could do with a little more self-care and self-love.
The more stable we feel in our own foundations, the more stable we feel in our relationships too.
Take a look at your own insecurities and where they may come from.
And try to boost your self-esteem:
- Recognize your positive qualities and what you have to offer
- Make an effort to be kinder to yourself
- Watch your negative self-talk (more on this next!)
- Say “no” to things rather than feeling obliged to say yes
- Use positive affirmations
4) Be aware of negative thoughts
There is a voice in all of our heads that tells us things throughout the day.
We have tens of thousands of thoughts that flash through our minds, but a whopping 70-80% of them tend to be negative.
It’s habitual and it can be very destructive.
Being aware of your negative thinking patterns isn’t about brainwashing yourself to only think happy thoughts.
But it is about bringing consciousness to the thoughts that pop up for you and being more critical of the ones that cause you distress.
We all too easily listen to these negative thoughts and take them on board as facts.
Challenging negative thoughts relies on cultivating a more positive mindset.
We can’t always stop negative thinking, but we can examine and question it, which helps to minimize its impact.
5) Practice mindfulness
The overwhelming majority of the time, our problems only exist in the past or the future.
And ironically, when they do exist in the present we are more focused on resolving them than worrying about them.
A variety of mindfulness techniques can help prevent you from getting caught up in relationship anxiety by reducing stress and helping to keep you more present.
This helps you to stay in the now and rein in unwanted wandering thoughts.
These mindfulness practices can help:
- Conscious breathing exercises
- Mindful movements such as yoga, Tai chi, and Qigong to calm the nervous system.
6) Try to improve relationship communication
As we’ve already highlighted, sometimes uneasiness in a relationship comes from within yourself. But sometimes it is brought on (or made worse by) certain behaviors your partner displays.
Healthy communication is really important in a relationship. That means being able to explain how you are feeling to your partner, and resolving your differences or problems.
Some tips to improve relationship communication include:
- Try to process and understand your feelings before bringing them to your partner. That way they will be clearer and you are less likely to overreact.
- Choose the right moment to raise issues — when you are both calm and relaxed.
- Use “I” feel statements to avoid assigning blame.
- Listen as much as you speak.
- Make sure your boundaries are clear to one another.