Studies show that, on average, adults with anxiety disorders are likely to experience poor relationship quality.1 This is especially true in the case of generalized anxiety disorder, which affects 6.8 million adults in the U.S.2 and is said to account for significantly higher levels of marital distress and risk of divorce.3 Symptoms like excessive worrying and rumination, increased stress, and a fear of negative experiences can lead to irrational thoughts and behaviors, which can take a toll on an anxious person’s relationships, including their friendships, marriages, and family lives. To understand how generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) affects relationships, we’ll look at the most common reported relationship problems for people with anxiety and how anxiety may even affect one’s overall personality.
Anxiety, Relationships & Dating
While some anxiety disorders, like social anxiety or agoraphobia, can interfere with a person’s ability to meet new people or maintain current relationships, a 2007 study on GAD and marriage/long-term partnerships showed that those with GAD were just as likely to enter into marriage.4 This data suggests that people with GAD don't necessarily have trouble finding a mate, though they may struggle later with marital problems.
Anxiety manifests in a variety of ways, with excessive worrying being a main symptom. This excessive worrying has the potential to affect a person’s overall personality within a relationship, with case studies indicating the following four interactive styles: intrusive, cold, non-assertive, and exploitable.5 Anxiety can also come and go, causing people with this disorder to go for periods of time without any symptoms, and then suddenly change when triggered. This unpredictability could cause tension in a romantic relationship.
Common Relationship Problems for People with Anxiety
From being overly dependent to totally detached, there are a number of ways that anxiety can affect one’s relationships with friends, relatives and partners. The most common relationship problems for people with anxiety include:
Having few relationships or avoiding relationships altogether
Feeling overly dependent or clingy toward others
Difficulty expressing feelings
Inability to feel joy due to excessive worry
Impatience with others
Being overly critical of others
Feeling suspicious of others and requiring constant reassurance
Tendency to overreact to situations
Ending relationships abruptly out of fear
Understanding Anxiety and How It May Be Affecting Your Partner
If you are struggling with anxiety, you may also be struggling with relationship issues. But aside from affecting your overall relationship and your own well-being, your anxiety may also be affecting your partner’s well-being. An ADAA study found that GAD sufferers were significantly less likely to consider themselves in a “healthy and supportive” relationship with their partner than people without GAD, they were two times more likely to experience at least one relationship problem, and they were three times more likely to avoid being intimate with their partner.6 Partners of GAD sufferers were also more likely to take on more than the normal share of domestic, economic, parenting, and other responsibilities, leading to stress, isolation and resentment.
Anxiety interferes with relationships the most when left unaddressed. Brillia for Adults is a safe and non-prescription alternative to prescription anxiety drugs that helps reduce symptoms of anxiety without harmful side effects. Brillia is most effective when used in tandem with healthier lifestyle choices, such as following a nutritious diet, controlling screen time, getting adequate sleep and practicing mindfulness and relaxation techniques. Brillia’s main ingredient is an antibody to the brain-specific S100 protein (S100B), a protein responsible for regulating many different intracellular and extracellular brain processes. Find out more about how Brillia works for adults struggling with anxiety issues.
Erica Garza is an author and essayist from Los Angeles and a mother of one. She holds an MFA from Columbia University and a certificate in Narrative Therapy. Her writing has appeared in TIME, Health, Glamour, Good Housekeeping, Women's Health, and VICE.