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Relationship Anxiety

Question:

I was diagnosed with an anxiety disorder 10 years ago, and have done some CBT to help me cope with it in my life. It seems like, in the last 5 years, most of my anxiety has come from being in relationships. Whenever I am with a man that comes on too strong or too fast, I get very anxious and I pull away. I’m just not sure if this is my heart telling me that they aren’t right for me, or if this is just part of my anxiety disorder. I just ended a 4 month relationship after trying to stick with it through a month of severe anxiety and panic. Everyone was telling me to just give it time, but I couldn’t give it anymore time, I didn’t love him and I was starting not to even like him anymore. Now I’m just not sure if I did the right thing, or if I was just trying to avoid my anxiety. I truly want to find someone who is right for me, but I fear that I will always run away from the guys that really love me.

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Answer:

I guess the real question is "what is there about intimate relationships that scare you?" There are many possible answers to that question but only you can answer them. For example, if you were physically abused or raped while growing then it is most likely that you would not trust men or relationships and do all you could to avoid them. The same could be true if you witnessed lots of domestic violence between your parents when you were young. Either way, you could be struggling with a kind of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder that really fuels your anxiety.

What also complicates your situation is the fact that lots of well meaning people are telling you what you "should do" when you are in a relationship. However, with this last four month relationship, if you did not love him and even grew to dislike him then you did the right thing regardless of what others have said. Learn to be true to yourself and to trust your own judgment.

I want to suggest to you that long term psychodynamic psychotherapy might be of greater benefit to you at this point because I suspect that you are dealing with deeper issues than the diagnosis of anxiety disorder suggests. Relationship issues, self confidence and self esteem as well as some sexual issues could be at the center of what you are attempting to deal with and that might account from your wanting to flee from relationships.

Best of Luck

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