April 8, 2024

Anxiety and Relationships: Fostering Healthy Connections and Setting Boundaries

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A couple kissing in front of a window. If you can feel anxiety rising in your relationship, reach out to us. We offer therapy for anxiety in NYC!

When it comes to relationships, do any of the following statements ring true for you?

  • Confrontation or disagreement always leads to conflict, so it’s better to be agreeable.
  • I can’t be my true self because that kind of vulnerability would lead to rejection.
  • I consider myself needy, and I’m certain that other people think I’m a burden.
  • When my needs aren’t met in just the right way, I feel disappointed.

These beliefs don’t reflect the truth, but rather the presence of anxiety. As a therapist who specializes in both anxiety and relationships, I deeply understand the subtle yet profound ways that anxiety can influence and shape our bonds with others. Anxiety can all too easily become a guest in your relationships, quietly directing your interactions and dynamics. From the fear of rejection or abandonment to the struggle to feel in control, anxiety has a way of sabotaging your sense of safety and security in relationships. When anxiety becomes the driving force, it can be challenging to build and maintain healthy connections with others.

Whether with romantic partners, friends, family, or colleagues, fostering meaningful connections is essential for your emotional well-being and overall degree of happiness in life. When anxiety gets in the way of your ability to have these positive, healthy connections with other people, it’s frustrating, isolating, and painful.

A young woman looking at her phone in the dark. By working with an anxiety therapist in NYC, you can find relief. Begin the work in NYC anxiety therapy today!

The Role of an Anxiety Therapist in NYC

If you’re grappling with the weight of anxiety, or supporting a loved one through their mental health journey, understanding the impact of anxiety on relationships is a critical step towards establishing healthier bonds. In this post, we’ll explore the impact of anxiety on relationships and the ways you can maintain and build healthy connections. My goal is to equip you with knowledge and tools that will give you peace of mind.

Know you deserve to have relationships that feel genuine and joyful!

Understanding Anxiety’s Role in Relationships

Anxiety hides in the shadows of relationships, shaping the way you think about, communicate, and connect with others. As the silent saboteur, it weaves itself into relationships, breeding doubt and insecurity, ultimately creating a strain on both people.

Being aware of the role that anxiety plays in our relationships is essential if we want to maintain healthy connections. Here are some of the ways that anxiety impacts our relationships:

Communication Issues:

Anxiety can make it challenging to express your needs and concerns clearly, which can hinder communication and cause a strain on your relationships.

Avoidance of Conflict:

Fear of conflict or rejection resulting from anxiety may lead you to avoid addressing issues within your relationships. Over time, this can lead to a buildup of resentment and tension.

Negative Self-Perception:

Anxiety can cause you to doubt your worth and question whether you deserve love. Challenges with self-confidence and self-esteem can lead you to feel less trusting of others’ love and generosity.

Difficulty with Intimacy:

Anxiety can make intimacy and vulnerability feel unsafe. When anxiety holds you back from being your authentic self, it’s more difficult to fully connect with others, leading to a painful loneliness.


Because anxiety affects the way we think and perceive, you might find yourself in a pattern of constant worry about perceived threats to your relationship.

Changes to Social Life:

Going out to socialize can become a source of dread and anxiety, which might lead you to cancel or avoid plans. Over time, friends may start to reach out to you about plans less frequently. This can leave you feeling disconnected and isolated, which can cause your anxiety symptoms to worsen.

Fear of Abandonment and Rejection

Anxiety can interfere with feeling secure in your closest relationships. Often, this kind of anxiety can be traced back to early childhood, when attachment styles develop. For those with an anxious attachment style, there is typically a coexisting fear of abandonment and rejection in relationships.

This deep-seated fear of being rejected or abandoned can manifest as relationship anxiety in several ways, including:

Do You Still Love Me?” – Overdependence:

You feel dependent on others for emotional validation and support, and any perceived distance or detachment feels like abandonment.

“Can You Promise You Won’t Leave?” – Reassurance Seeking:

You feel compelled to seek constant reassurance about the status of your relationship as a way to quiet your fears of abandonment.

“Are You Looking at Them?” – Jealousy and Possessiveness:

Fear of abandonment can lead to jealousy and possessiveness, where harmless interactions and gestures are interpreted as threats to your relationship. This is rooted in a fear that you will be abandoned and replaced.

“I Don’t Want to Get Hurt” – Avoidance of Vulnerability:

You protect yourself from rejection and abandonment by putting up walls to avoid opening up or being vulnerable, believing that such an outcome will be less painful if you never show up as your truest self.

“Where Were You? Who Were You Talking To?” – Monitoring:

To alleviate the fear of betrayal, you closely monitor your loved one’s activities, either by reading their texts or looking through their social media accounts.

“I’m Better Off Alone” – Self-Sabotage:

Without realizing it, you engage in behaviors that sabotage your relationship, such as starting fights or distancing yourself. In this way, you preemptively protect yourself from the pain of abandonment or rejection.

A couple walking through the city together. Anxiety can show up in romantic relationships so begin working with an anxiety therapist in NYC, NY today. We offer anxiety therapy to help!

“Please Don’t Leave Me” – Clinginess:

Fearful of being discarded, you cling closely in your relationships, showering others with constant attention and affection. This can be understood as an attempt to maintain closeness and avoid being forgotten or left behind.

Hopefully, this offered you a deeper understanding of the ways anxiety can affect your relationships. Now that you’re more knowledgeable, let’s walk through some skills and strategies to help you feel more comfortable and secure in your relationships.

Building Trust and Open Communication

Navigating anxiety within relationships requires a combination of self-awareness, effective communication skills, and collaborative efforts to foster understanding and mutual support.

If you’re struggling with anxiety, the most important step you can take is to be honest and upfront about what you are feeling. Telling your partner, friends, and loved ones about your anxiety, and finding a constructive way to express your needs and fears to those who can support you is the most productive way to begin taking care of yourself in this context. It’s also important to encourage others to be open and honest with you about what they need.

Setting and Respecting Boundaries

Anxiety can be exhausting, and it can make relationships feel scary or overwhelming. To minimize these negative feelings and maintain healthy relationships, it’s important to have clear boundaries in place. To set boundaries that honor your needs, try the following:

Draw your lines:

First, reflect thoughtfully on where you can improve your boundaries. Under what circumstances are you overly accommodating? Where might your boundaries be too flexible? The answers to these questions are exactly where you can begin to set healthy boundaries.

Assert your space:

Communicate these needs and boundaries clearly and confidently. It’s okay to ask for what you need and to be clear about what you can reasonably give. This step might feel counter to what your anxiety says, but the truth is that healthy boundaries tend to strengthen relationships.
The power of no: Remember that you can say no or set limits when necessary, and it’s okay to remind others of the boundaries that you have in place.

It can feel anxiety-provoking to set and maintain boundaries, so remember: healthy boundaries are a form of self-care and a show of self-love. As you embark on this worthwhile challenge, pay attention to the way that others set boundaries. Let those you respect and admire lead by example. You can do this!

Supporting Your Loved One’s Anxiety Journey

If someone close to you is struggling with anxiety, know that you can support them on their journey with patience, understanding, and empathy. You can offer support by encouraging open honesty about their feelings, as well as their personal boundaries. In addition to these encouragements, here are some other ways you can best support a loved one with anxiety:

Inquire with love:

Take the time to thoughtfully ask about their experience with anxiety. Compassionately inquire what it’s like for them. Developing an understanding will allow you to empathize with their struggles and respond to their needs more effectively. As an added benefit, conversations around anxiety will help them practice open communication, and it will demonstrate your genuine care.

Validate carefully:

When they talk about their feelings, respond with empathy. Show that you are there to listen. Be mindful not to dismiss feelings or perceptions that seem irrational to you, as that can be received as invalidating. If something they share doesn’t make sense to you, it’s okay to ask more questions to help you better understand.

A couple gently touching their noses together while smiling. To heal & empower your relationship, begin working with an anxiety therapist in NYC, NY. Our NYC anxiety therapy can help!


Offer to work together to come up with coping strategies and self-care activities. This will help you better understand what they find helpful, and it’ll give you a chance to share what has worked for you!

Deep breaths:

Just as you’re showing patience for your loved one, be patient with yourself too. Know that it’s okay to feel frustrated at times. Offering support is a vital part of relationships, but if you over-extend yourself, you might start to feel resentful and drained. Pay attention to how you’re feeling throughout the process, and know that you’re allowed to hold boundaries, too!

By practicing these strategies, you’ll navigate your relationship with compassion and resilience, ultimately strengthening your bond.

For Additional Support, Consider Anxiety Therapy in NYC

Stepping outside your comfort zone is never easy, and it’s okay to want help. Recognizing the need for professional support to work on your anxiety shows that you’re honest with yourself and in touch with what you need. Working on anxiety by yourself isn’t impossible, but it can be challenging on your own. Having an anxiety therapist to support you along the way can help you navigate setbacks and achieve lasting progress. Our team of therapists at Gold Therapy NYC is here to understand you, support you, and empower you. To begin, let’s talk:

Other Therapy Services Offered at Gold Therapy NYC

Whether or not anxiety is your primary struggle, we’re here for you. Gold Therapy NYC offers a variety of therapy services to address your needs and goals. We offer additional therapy services for Life Transitions, Depression, Trauma Recovery, and more. Together, we can work towards creating a life that feels fulfilling and authentic to you. To learn more about our therapy services, visit our website. You deserve the best, and you deserve Gold Therapy.