Overcoming Separation Anxiety in Relationships: Causes, Practical Tips, and More

separation anxiety relationships

Do you constantly worry about being separated from your partner? Do you feel an intense fear of abandonment when they’re not around? If so, you may be experiencing separation anxiety. It’s a type of anxiety that revolves around the dread of being apart from loved ones or sources of safety and connection. And yes, it’s very real.

According to a study published in the American Journal of Psychiatry, separation anxiety disorder is not only a genuine condition, but it also occurs more frequently in adults than children. This evidence underscores the fact that separation anxiety is not just a childhood phenomenon but a serious mental health issue that affects many adults worldwide, particularly within their intimate relationships.

What does one experience when one has separation anxiety?

So, what does it feel like to have separation anxiety? Well, imagine this: every time your partner is away, you feel an overwhelming sense of dread. Your heart races, your stomach churns, and your mind is filled with worst-case scenarios about what could happen to them. It’s as if a part of you is missing, and you can’t shake off that unsettling feeling until you’re reunited.

Yes, you can absolutely have separation anxiety from your partner. It’s not limited to parent-child relationships; adults can experience it too, particularly in romantic relationships.

But why does this happen? Several factors can contribute to separation anxiety. These can range from genetic factors to past traumatic experiences, insecure attachment styles, or even changes in life circumstances, such as moving to a new place or starting a new job.

People with separation anxiety often exhibit common behaviors, including:

  • Excessive Worry: They constantly worry about the safety and well-being of their loved ones.
  • Reluctance to Be Alone: They find it hard to be alone and may avoid situations where they’ll be separated from their partner.
  • Fear of Abandonment: They have an intense fear that their loved one will leave them or not return.
  • Physical Symptoms: They may experience physical symptoms like headaches, stomachaches or even panic attacks when separated from their loved ones.

The Impacts and Pitfalls of Separation Anxiety in Relationships

Having separation anxiety can feel like you’re on an emotional roller-coaster, and it doesn’t just affect you—it affects your relationships too. So, let’s talk about some of the common implications and pitfalls that come along with it.

First off, separation anxiety can lead to an over-reliance on your partner. You might find yourself constantly seeking reassurance from them, needing them to be around all the time, and struggling to make decisions without their input. This dependency can place a heavy burden on your partner and create an imbalance in your relationship.

Secondly, it can result in avoidance behaviors. You might start avoiding situations or activities that require you to be away from your partner. This could mean missing out on opportunities, experiences, and personal growth.

Thirdly, separation anxiety can give rise to constant tension and conflict. Excessive worry and fear of abandonment can lead to frequent arguments, mistrust, and misunderstandings. It can strain the relationship and create a stressful environment for both partners.

Last but not least, it might be detrimental to both your physical and mental wellbeing. Issues such as sleeplessness, appetite loss, and depression may result from ongoing stress and anxiety.

Practical Ways to Cope with Separation Anxiety

Being away from your partner can be tough when you have separation anxiety. But the good news is, there are practical steps you can take to manage these feelings and cultivate a healthier dynamic in your relationship. Here’s how:

Seek professional help

You should consider getting professional mental health assistance if your quality of life is being negatively impacted by separation anxiety and is causing you considerable distress. They can offer therapeutic approaches that have been shown to be successful in treating separation anxiety, like exposure therapy or cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT).

Practice mindfulness and relaxation techniques

By practicing mindfulness, you can avoid losing yourself in anxious thoughts about the future and instead remain rooted in the here and now. Anxiety can also be decreased by methods like progressive muscle relaxation, yoga, and deep breathing.

Maintain your own identity and independence

Remember, it’s healthy to have interests and activities separate from your partner. Cultivating your own hobbies, spending time with friends, or pursuing personal goals can help you feel more secure and less reliant on your partner.

Communicate openly with your partner

Talk to your partner about your emotions and worries. Encourage them to do the same thing. In a relationship, open communication can promote understanding and support.

Establish routines

Regular schedules can ease anxiety and give a sense of security when there is uncertainty about being apart. This could be as easy as setting aside specified times for shared activities or making regular check-ins.

Focus on the positives

Try concentrating on the advantages of being apart rather than the drawbacks. This might be an opportunity for personal growth, self-discovery, or even strengthening your relationship through trust and independence.

Don’t Let Separation Anxiety Hinder Your Relationship

As we wrap up this discussion, remember that separation anxiety doesn’t have to be a roadblock in your relationship. Yes, it can pose challenges, but it’s important to know that these are not insurmountable.

Take the opportunity to embrace openness with your partner, where you can both discuss your feelings and fears openly. This mutual understanding can create a supportive environment that is crucial for dealing with separation anxiety.

Moreover, accepting your anxiety instead of resisting it can be a major step towards managing it effectively. Remember, acceptance is not about giving in; it’s about acknowledging your feelings and working through them.

Working on building your own independence and focusing on personal growth can also greatly contribute to relieving separation anxiety. Having interests, hobbies, and routines outside of your relationship can help to build a sense of self-assurance.

And lastly, never forget that asking for expert assistance is not a sign of weakness. More than that, it demonstrates your resolve and strength to enhance your relationships and mental well-being.

So, don’t let separation anxiety be the gatekeeper of your relationship. With acceptance, openness, and proactive steps, you can navigate through this journey towards a healthier relationship. And who knows? This process might just lead to a permanent cure for your separation anxiety. So, keep going and remember, every step forward counts!


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