Romantic relationships can and should be a source of happiness and enjoyment. Unfortunately, the beginning of a relationship can also be the culprit behind new relationship anxiety. It’s normal to experience some level of stress and self-doubt at the start of a relationship, but non-stop anxious thoughts aren’t healthy for you, your partner, or your relationship.
It’s not just the anxiety that you might experience when you enter into a relationship with a new partner that you must be aware of. Relationship anxiety can rear its ugly head at any point of the time you spend with someone else. Whether you experience relationship anxiety at the start of a relationship or after you’ve been with your partner for years, the key is to address the issue as early as possible.
Share in an Adventure With Your Mate
There’s nothing like experiencing something new with your partner, whether you’re in a new relationship or want to liven up date night while married. Adventures From Scratch: Date Edition is packed with intimate conversation prompts, creative activities, tear-out “I Love You” cards, and more. Make time to uncover challenges and bond while conquering them together!
Silence Your Critical Inner Voice
“Critical inner voice” refers to the mean entity within us all that feeds us negative thoughts and fuels our feelings of anxiety. People who have an existing anxiety disorder may find that their critical inner voice preys on their self-doubt and insecurities so intently that it causes them to question their self-worth and the strength of their relationship.
If left unchecked, your critical inner voice can cause self-loathing. It can also cause you to be hostile toward your significant other without regard to your partner’s feelings. When your critical inner voice gets in your head (where it already lives and possibly dominates the landscape), it can turn a healthy relationship into a toxic one that’s filled with relationship issues.
What type of thoughts might your critical inner voice whisper in your figurative ear? Here are some refrains that may seem all too familiar:
- Romantic relationships never work out, so why would you think yours will?
- What is it about your current partner that’s so great anyway?
- Your SO is just going to cheat on you
- You were fine before you met your partner, so you’ll be better off on your own now
- Don’t show your true feelings or vulnerabilities or your partner will leave or hurt you
- You’re too fat and ugly to be liked, let alone loved
Rather than letting your critical inner voice undermine or perhaps ruin your new relationship, you should take a stand against it to quash the negative thoughts it plants in your head. Psychologist and author Robert Firestone created voice therapy as a means for people to manhandle their critical inner voice. Firestone wrote “Voice Therapy” for psychotherapists and other mental health professionals so they could better help their patients.
Firestone teamed up with his son to pen “Conquer Your Critical Inner Voice” for the general public, so willing individuals could self-soothe and mute their critical inner voices. The process involves some basic steps that are pretty easy to pull off with some thoughtful self-reflection.
Identify What Your Critical Inner Voice Is Communicating to You
Before you can silence your critical inner voice, you must understand the messaging it’s relaying as it relates to your new relationship. Once you identify a negative message about your relationship, repeat it out loud in the second person.
For example, if your critical inner voice leads you to think, “I’m too overweight for my new partner to find me attractive,” you should say, “You’re too overweight for your new partner to find you attractive.” This exercise will help you access and resolve the hostility that fueled the original message.
Determine the Source of Your Critical Inner Voice
After you verbalize what your critical inner voice is laying down in your mind, you may gain an insight into the origins of the negative voice. It’s likely that you’ll realize the messaging is old, familiar, and reminiscent of things people you looked up to, admired, and trusted said during your formative years. While this epiphany might be difficult to swallow, recognizing the source of your critical inner voice can allow you to feel compassion toward yourself and your relationship.
Respond to Your Critical Inner Voice
Responding to your critical inner voice isn’t the same as verbalizing what it’s telling you. When you respond to your critical inner voice, you’ll directly challenge the negative messages that it’s planting in your head.
If your critical inner voice tells you that you’re too stupid to be in a relationship, you should respond by saying something like, “I’m not dumb. My partner values my input and thinks I have a unique perspective on things.” Alternatively, you might say, “Intelligence is relative, and I shine in plenty of areas that impress my partner and the people who care about me.”
Recognize How Your Critical Inner Voice Impacts Your Behavior
After you respond to your critical inner voice, it’s necessary to examine how the source of negativity has and does impact your behavior. If your critical inner voice has insisted that you’re an idiot, you might recall a time that you hesitated to join your partner for a lecture at a local museum for the first time because you were afraid the material presented would be above your head.
Has your critical inner voice convinced you that you’re too chunky to be in a loving relationship? If so, you may remember a time when you turned down a first date because you suffered from poor body image.
Adjust Your Self-Limiting Behavior
As painful as it can be to look back and identify situations in which your critical inner voice determined your actions, the exercise is actually a freeing one. By recognizing when you engaged in self-limiting behavior that was driven by your critical inner voice, you can break the cycle that causes you to repeat the behavior. In other words, you can stop engaging in the destructive behavior your inner critical voice is suggesting and you can actively choose positive behaviors that fly in the imaginary face of your critical inner voice’s negative recommendations.
Modify Your Attachment Style
In general, attachment style is something people develop in the early stages of life, and it’s basically the manner in which you establish relationships. People who have an attachment disorder often struggle to form meaningful relationships with others.
Although there isn’t a formal diagnostic process for attachment disorder in adults, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders recognizes two primary types of attachment disorder in children, reactive attachment disorder and disinhibited social engagement disorder. Both disorders are normally diagnosed in children ranging from nine months to five years in age.
In the case of the former disorder, kids repeatedly withdraw emotionally from their caregivers, and they don’t seek out or respond to comfort even when they’re visibly or audibly upset. As far as the latter disorder goes, kids are often overly friendly with adults they don’t even know.
Even if you weren’t formally diagnosed with an attachment disorder as a youngster, it doesn’t mean you don’t have some sort of dysfunction with connecting with others that stems from the early stages of your life. If you fear you may have an insecure attachment style that causes negative thought patterns that interfere with your ability to connect with your partner, it’s wise to make changes.
While it’s impossible to shed your engrained attachment style altogether, you can modify it. One of the most effective things you can do to change your attachment style is to surround yourself with people whose style is healthier and more positive than your own and mimic their behavior. Remember, if you make enough modifications, you’ll find that your particular attachment style will no longer interfere with your new relationship, which will more than reward you for your effort.
Actively Practice Mindfulness
Mindfulness refers to a state of being in which you immerse yourself in the present moment without judging what’s going on around you. If negative or anxious thoughts creep into your head, you should acknowledge them and simply let them pass through you without a second thought.
Being mindful can help you break out of negative thought patterns that might threaten your new relationship because it forces you to focus on what’s happening right now rather than allowing you to dwell on “what if” questions or your relationship anxiety. Practicing mindfulness can enhance the bond you share with your partner because you’ll focus on the here-and-now moments the two of you experience.
Employ Non-Threatening Language When You Communicate
Although relationship anxiety often hails from an internal source, that doesn’t mean that your partner won’t do things that increase your anxiety. If you’re SO has a habit that worries you, it’s wise to point it out and talk it over. The key is to use non-threatening language as you discuss the issue with your partner.
Rather than saying, “You tend to cut me off when your phone rings so you can answer it,” say something like, “I feel like you prioritize answering your phone over listening to what I have to say.” Owning your feelings instead of projecting them onto your partner will prevent your significant other from getting defensive. As a result, your statement has the potential to foster a beneficial conversation instead of being the fuel for a possible argument that might ultimately lead to a breakup.
Even if your partner’s behaviors have nothing to do with your relationship anxiety, you should still mention how you’re feeling. Once your partner is aware of your feelings of anxiety, the two of you can work together so that you feel more reassured about your relationship status.
Don’t Lose Your Sense of Self
Whether you’re in a serious relationship or a new one, it can be all too easy to lose your established sense of self as you get closer to your partner. While compromising on certain things is okay, you should never compromise when it comes to your identity, independence, values, or ethics just to keep a relationship going.
It’s important to remember that your partner initially had an interest in you because of who you are. If you start changing your core simply to please your SO, you may do more harm than good. You may feel less like the self you’ve known for years, and your partner might think she’s lost the individual she’s come to care so much about.
Don’t Act Impulsively
When it comes to overthinking and relationship anxiety, you’re sort of in a chicken and the egg situation. Relationship anxiety can lead you to overthink things while overthinking can generate anxious thoughts you hadn’t even considered before. In either case, relationship anxiety can result in impulsive behavior you might regret.
Anxiety may lead you to feel suspicious about your partner’s behavior, for example. If you react impulsively, you may find yourself doing something regrettable like going through his phone or email to look for damning evidence about your partner’s presumed infidelity. Even worse, you might install spying software on his smartphone and your own that allows you to read all of your partner’s text messages. Even a fleeting fit of untrust and impulsive decisions can mortally wound a relationship.
Whenever you sense that your relationship anxiety may cause you to act impulsively, distract yourself. Here are some things that might distract you long enough for the anxiety and impending impulsivity to pass:
- Take some deep breaths
- Go for a walk, jog, or bike ride
- Call a friend or family member
- Do some yoga or light stretches
- Shop online
- Put on some loud music and sing or dance along
- Cook a meal or at least do some prep work
- Declutter your desk or closet
- Clean something you’ve been putting off, such as your oven or car
- Go for a drive
Spend Time Together
When you’re in a new relationship, it can be difficult to carve time out of your established daily routine to spend time with your love interest. As hard as it might be, it’s a crucial step if you want your relationship to last long enough to grow into a serious relationship. If you can’t find spare time to invest in your relationship, at least invite your partner to join you as you go about your daily activities. You can ask your girlfriend to go to the gym or grocery store with you, for example.
If you look close enough at your schedule, it’s likely that you’ll find time you can spend with your new love interest. While that’s true, you might instantly wonder how you might fill that time. If you’re having a hard time thinking of things to do, don’t worry! The pros at Let’s Roam have some really cool ideas for you.
Take On a Challenge in the Adventures from Scratch: Couples Edition
Adventures From Scratch: Couples Edition includes over 50 scratch-off challenges couples are meant to do together. While each adventure is different, every one of them will help deepen the bond you share with your partner.
Does your new SO have kids? If so, you may want to switch gears in favor of the Adventures From Scratch: Family Edition. Whereas the couples adventure book has activities that range from first date challenges to romantic adventures, the family adventure book includes more than 50 kid-friendly activities you can do with your SO and his kids as you all spend time together and get to know each other better.
Sign Up for a Couples Scavenger Hunt
Another idea for spending time with your new love interest is to sign up for a couples scavenger hunt. Let’s Roam has a series of in-home couples scavenger hunts that you’ll have a blast doing with your SO. If you want a date night like no other, book an in-home scavenger hunt for couples by Let’s Roam now.
Talk to a Therapist or Relationship Coach
If you can’t manage your new relationship anxiety or you can’t stop being anxious due to your experiences in past relationships, you may want to see a therapist or talk to a relationship coach with your SO. If you go to therapy alone, it’s crucial that you update your SO about your progress and let her know how she can help and support you.
By going to therapy together, you and your partner will benefit from the therapist’s insights. It will also help bring the two of you closer together because you’ll each share information about yourselves and your experiences in a non-judgmental environment. In fact, you might find that you end up sharing and learning details you wouldn’t have otherwise, which may ease your relationship anxiety.
You can stop being hesitant about going to therapy because you think it will destine you to a lifetime of appointments. You may discover that you only need one or a handful of appointments to resolve your new relationship anxiety once and for all.
Frequently Asked Questions
Yes, the “Adventures from Scratch: Couples Adventure Book” can lead couples to share deeper and more intense connections. Every scratch-off adventure in the book is meant to bring couples closer together as they have fun, laugh, and complete challenges.
You can watch a movie, play games, enjoy a date night with friends, and so much more. If you can’t think of activities off the top of your head, check out our list of creative activities for adventurous couples.
We’ve done the legwork necessary to find the top 11 date books for couples, and we stand by each of our selections. We hope you enjoy them all