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Anxiety can make having a happy and healthy relationship and love life nearly impossible. Even common relationship issues can stress you out when you have anxiety. It can also lead to a host of psychological and/or physical symptoms—i.e. emotional distress, depression, heart palpitations, sexual dysfunctions, headaches, high blood pressure, excessive perspiration, etc. Anxiety is dangerous for love lives because it limits your ability to socialize and meet new people, fully commit to your partner, and/or have mutually satisfying sex. In other words, it can dictate what you do, where you go, and who you interact with.
If you have anxiety, it is common to experience “difficulties” in the romance department. More specifically, it can be challenging to develop a healthy romantic relationship or maintain an active and fulfilling sex life. While dealing with anxiety can be exasperating, irritating, and frustrating at times, it is possible to address this issue. With patience, support, and the “right” help, you can conquer the anxiety and recapture that “loving feeling” in and out of the bedroom.
Listed below are issues that anxious people may suffer from in their relationships and love lives:
1. Unrelenting Fear that Your Relationship Will End
This unrelenting fear resembles the foreboding or dread you feel while watching a scary movie. Everything seems to be going well and no one has been harmed, but you know it’s coming. The only question is when and how. In a matter of time, the peace will be destroyed and chaos, pain, suffering, sadness, and death will ensue. For many men with anxiety, being in a relationship (especially a happy one) feels a lot like waiting for the doom and gloom to happen in a horror movie.
Sadly, it can actually be more soothing when things start going downhill, because you have already prepared yourself for the inevitable—the demise of your relationship and love life. It’s a self-fulling prophecy that you can’t stop from happening. So, when it occurs, you are oddly relieved that it happened. You now have validation that you were right all along_the end was always just right around the corner.
You realize that the anxiety is damaging your relationship or love life, but you’re on a runaway train—with no breaks. And, even if your relationship is good, the constant fear, worry, and questioning can slowly dismantle it until there is no relationship or love life left.
2. Sexual Performance Anxiety
Anxiety can also affect your ability to “perform” during sexual intercourse. It is quite common for some anxiety-prone men to experience performance anxiety before or during sex. Performance anxiety occurs when a man becomes anxious at the thought of not sexually satisfying his lover or partner. It can also occur as a result of relationship or financial problems. Emotional problems like depression, anger, shame, unresolved issues, and/or guilt can also trigger this type of anxiety.
Performance anxiety can trigger premature ejaculation (PE) in some anxious men. PE occurs when you ejaculate before you and your partner are ready. This can cause considerable strain on a relationship or love life if it is not properly addressed. Researchers have now linked performance anxiety to PE. In fact, a recent study found that performance anxiety may be partially or fully to blame for some cases of PE. However, for other cases, performance anxiety may actually be the result, not the cause of premature ejaculation.
The other sexual issue that anxiety can lead to is erectile dysfunction. Men with anxiety can find it hard to get or maintain an erection when they are about to have sex.
Anxious men tend to worry and fret about their sexual skills, which prevents them from fully immersing themselves in the sexual experience. Their minds are focused on “performing” and not on their partners or what is happening to their bodies.
This, over time, can cause major problems in a relationship. In other words, if you spend the majority of your time pondering on or obsessing about “performing,” it will not only affect your relationship and love life, but also your sex life.
If you’d like to learn more, read the articles I wrote about the relationship between performance anxiety and premature ejaculation and about sexual performance anxiety and erectile dysfunction.
3. Excessive Clinginess Towards Your Partner
Anxiety can also lead to excessive clinginess towards your partner. This type of clinginess is more physical or action-based than simply fearing your relationship is doomed to fail. In fact, anxiety-based clinginess draws you closer to your partner because you are more afraid of losing the actual person than the relationship. And, even if you are afraid that your relationship will end, it doesn’t automatically mean you will become clingy towards your partner. The truth is anxiety can either cause you to become clingy towards your partner or distance yourself from her as a form of protection. More specifically, the fear of the relationship ending can cause you to put up walls towards your partner so you won’t get hurt.
On the other hand, worry, fear, and concern can cause some men to become excessively clingy or insecure in the relationship. These men may also suffer from self-esteem and self-confidence issues because of the anxiety. Clinginess and insecurity can damage or destroy a healthy relationship, if left unchecked. In your mind, you are simply afraid of losing a “good thing.” However, to your partner; it may come across as “smothering” and controlling.
As a result, she may start distancing herself from you because she doesn’t understand why you are so clingy. It is common to feel like your world is about to explode at any given time when you suffer from anxiety. You become insecure because of the anxiety, which leads to clinginess. You feel like it’s only a matter of time before your partner or lover hates you, the relationship ends, or something bad happens to you or her.
So you hold on to her for dear life. The truth is it can feel stifling to your partner or lover, so it’s imperative you talk to her about the anxiety. Keep in mind that this fear can transfer to the bedroom, affecting your sex life. For instance, if after having sex, you bombard her with multiple texts and phone calls, it could send her running for the hills. You may interpret this as a desire to see your partner or lover again; however, she may interpret it as you being too clingy or obsessive. The end result is a broken relationship or a dismal love life.
4. Your “odd” behavior can make her develop trust issues.
Lastly, anxiety can prevent you from recognizing or understanding what you truly need in a given moment. Conversely, it can also make you less aware of what your partner or lover needs from you. In other words, if you are consumed with worry, whenever you are with your partner or lover, you probably aren’t paying attention to what is actually happening to you—i.e. in front of you and inside of you.
Anxiety can also make it harder for you to pay attention to what is happening to your partner or lover—during sex or during your everyday interactions. You are there physically, but not emotionally, which may cause your partner or lover to feel neglected. It may also make her question if there is someone else occupying your mind. This can lead to trust issues. She may not understand that it is the anxiety that is preventing you from being present in the moment. And, as a result, she may become angry and resentful towards you.
So, talk to your partner or lover about the anxiety and try to focus your mind only on your partner when you are together. If you feel anxiety and doubt creeping up on you, stop, take a few deep breaths, and make yourself focus on what is happening at the moment. Don’t, however, lash out at your partner or lover out of frustration and don’t withdraw out of embarrassment. Be honest with yourself and your partner about your fears, because if you can do that, you’ll be able to take away its power.
Anxiety can disrupt your life in a variety of ways. In fact, it can affect your self-esteem and self-confidence, finances, work productivity, social life, and even your relationship and love life. With anxiety, you may no longer enjoy doing things you once enjoyed, including having sex. You may even forfeit hobbies you once held dear because you can’t shake your worries, fears, and concerns long enough to enjoy them. Still, it typically hurts the most when it affects your relationship or love life. You are already struggling with keeping your fears in check and your emotions under control, so allowing yourself to become emotionally, physically, and sexually vulnerable to another person can be overwhelming, scary, and confusing. And, although you may feel like a lost cause or unworthy of love, you are wrong. Accepting that you have a problem and addressing the issue can help you squash your anxiety, so you can enjoy life, love, and sex again.
About the Author
Dr. R.Y. Langham holds a Master of Science in marriage and family therapy and a Ph.D. in family psychology. She serves as a professional consultant for the Between Us Clinic, which provides sex-therapy online programs for men and couples experiencing premature ejaculation.