As someone who has been married twice, I have a lot of experience navigating the first few years of relationships. As I result, I am also well-versed in the anxiety that can happen about your partner. Both the good and bad news for new couples is that relationship fears are extremely common, and for the most part, can totally be overcome. Of course, the first step in this process is admitting you have a problem, which can be pretty hard to do.
From paranoia about your partner cheating and fears of abandonment, to difficulty building trust and doubts about starting a family, many of us are coping with some serious anxiety about our relationships, especially when they are relatively new. Some of our fears are totally understandable. As someone who's been cheated on in the past, I personally think it's natural for me to worry about it happening again. Others are more difficult to wrap your head around — like a fear of commitment, which can stem from childhood experiences or attachment issues, and might make you unconsciously sabotage your relationships early. While completely common, your anxiety and doubts about your relationship might also be completely unfounded, and nothing to worry about.
For more on how to recognize these fears for what they are, so you can get past them, or move on with your life, read on:
As William J. Doherty, director of the Marriage and Family Therapy Program at the University of Minnesota, told the LA Times, if your partner is going to cheat, they generally will at some point between the "honeymoon" ending, and the seven year mark in a relationship, with infidelity often happening at times of stress, like the birth of a child.
But, before you let your worries about infidelity take over, you should know that most people don't cheat. As reported by Refinery29, it's become a common perception that everyone cheats, when statistics don't back this up. While cheating does happen, and we don't exactly know how often (because cheaters might not be honest with researchers about their behavior), it's far from inevitable and not worth worrying incessantly about.
Certified Life Coach Martha Beck told HuffPost that the best ways to get past fears of your partner cheating are to own them, talk to your partner about them, and recognize that history doesn't always repeat itself.
Hal Shorey, Ph.D. a professor of clinical psychology at Widener University's Institute of Graduate Clinical Psychology wrote for Psychology Today that a fear of intimacy is common in relationships — impacting as many as 17 percent of people. It might sound Freudian, but he theorized that many of our fears of opening up and sharing our lives with someone else, stem from our relationships with our parents, and an inability to connect with them during childhood. He recommended that people try to acknowledge avoidance in themselves and their partners to overcome feelings of fear, and challenges connecting that might be completely subconscious.
Any parent can tell you that having kids can place a significant amount of stress on any relationship. It's totally natural to fear that having kids will change everything. And it totally does, taking money, time, energy, and emotional resources you might not even know you have. As Lori Gottlieb wrote for The Atlantic, you can also face insecurities about your abilities as a parent, and fears about totally screwing up. All of this is normal.
When you love someone, fear of losing them is natural. As Michelle Skeen, Psy.D. wrote for Mind Body Green, fear of abandonment might stem from insecurity about yourself, past experiences of loss, or lack of support or consistency from your partner. On the downside, these fears might cause you to test your relationship by starting fights or smother the heck out of your partner, both of which can totally wreak havoc on your relationship.
Losing The Spark
Your sex life is bound to change throughout the course of your relationship, especially during the first few years. If sex is important to you or your partner, you understandably may worry about if your relationship will weather the storm. As therapist Dr. Paul Hokemeyer told Headspace.com, these ups and downs are inevitable, so it's important to set realistic expectations about what a "normal" sex life can be, so you can avoid setting yourself up for failure or feelings of inadequacy.
Discovering A Dealbreaker
There's nothing worse than falling in love with someone and discovering something about them you just can't get over. Hokemeyer noted that these differences of opinion might be dealbreakers, or might actually be opportunities to learn how to compromise with your partner and strengthen your relationship for the future.
As psychologist John Grohol, Psy.D. explained on the website Psych Central, a fear of commitment can be completely normal, especially in the beginning of a relationship, when you are still feeling each other out and learning to trust your partner. He added that these fears can actually lead to ending relationships before "things get serious," to avoid committing to the wrong person, or getting hurt. Therapy can help with commitment phobia, per Grohol, as can acknowledging that you have an issue, and making a commitment to change.
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