Can Toxic Relationships Cause Anxiety? Should you Leave or Fix it?

Every relationship goes through its fair share of rough patches. It’s completely normal to not always be on cloud nine with your partner, after all the honeymoon phase doesn’t last forever. But, if you find yourself feeling anxious, unsupported, or downright sad, could your relationship be to blame for your anxiety? Either way, we’re here for you! Keep reading to find out if toxic relationships cause anxiety and if you should fix it, or walk away. 

Couple standing opposite each other thinking about if toxic relationships cause anxiety.

What is a Toxic Relationship?

It can be difficult to know if you’re in a toxic relationship. Maybe you find it cute that your partner gets jealous when you go out with your friends. Does the fact that they are super protective over you mean they care? Or is it possessive? There is a fine line between a healthy relationship and a toxic one. 

A toxic relationship can be defined by disrespect, emotional manipulation, a need to be in constant control and not respecting boundaries. Or it could be characterized by a lack of kindness, support, empathy, and communication. The way the relationship makes you feel can be a surefire way of knowing if your relationship is toxic. If you feel anxious around your partner, or at the thought of their reaction, your relationship may be the cause for your anxiety. 

Ways Toxic Relationships Cause Anxiety

Everyone will have their own definition as to what a sign of a toxic relationship is. While occasional arguments are normal, if you’ve noticed a change in your mental health since entering your relationship, it’s time to take action. Let’s have a look at some ways toxic relationships cause anxiety, so you can evaluate how your relationship is affecting you.

Controlling Behavior

Does your partner constantly need to know every detail about your life? From who you are with to what you are doing at any given moment? Have they ever asked to check your phone, or demanded access to your laptop or social media accounts? Just because you’re in a relationship, it does not give the other person the right to know every detail of your life! It’s fine for them to text occasionally to check in on how your day’s going. But if they show behavior such as demanding you can’t see specific people or do certain things, they are acting in a controlling way. 

Exhibiting controlling behavior can also look like telling you what’s right and what’s wrong. Or even threatening you if you do something they don’t approve of. Secluding you from your friends and family or trying to oversee every aspect of your life, such as your finances. 

Lack of Trust

Trust should be at the center of your relationship. When it’s not there, it can play a major factor in contributing to anxiety. If you don’t trust your partner, it’s going to cause you to question your partner’s actions. Constantly second guessing your significant other will understandably lead to you feeling anxious and uneasy. As a result, you might find yourself questioning if they are actually working late, or going on that work trip. This anxiety in your relationship might have you overthinking and wondering if are they hiding something from you. 

Because of the lack of trust, you might also find yourself behaving out of character and acting jealous and insecure. Additionally, if your partner doesn’t trust you, they may, out of nowhere, lash out with accusations, assumptions, and untrue statements about your intent. Trust in the relationship may be unstable after a betrayal. Or it may stem from one, or both partner’s trauma from past relationships.

Hostile Communication

Hostile communication is communicating with aggression, high emotions, and a need to win the argument. They tend to have a lack of understanding and little care for the needs, or feelings of the other person. In extreme cases, a person may become verbally abusive when communicating. Has your partner ever said things like “this is your fault” “you owe me” or “I don’t care what you have to say?” If so, it is completely understandable if this treatment is taking a toll on you emotionally, and causing you to experience anxiety. 

Hostile communication can result in you feeling disrespected, stressed, and even attacked. You might find it hard to share things or even talk to your partner due to a fear of a damaging, negative situation arising. Good communication is extremely important in healthy relationship. And when you aren’t able to speak openly with your partner, it can cause drama and put your relationship at risk. 

Should you Leave, or Fix it?

Well it’s true that toxic relationships cause anxiety. But does that mean you have to end things and give up on the future of your relationship? Or can your relationship be fixed with a little work and commitment? It’s understandable for you to want to fix your relationship. But think about why you would want to stay with someone who causes you to feel anxious or unsupported?

There’s no formula to deciding to end a relationship. Though what you can do is take a step back to evaluate your relationship, and how it makes you feel. That may mean taking some time away from your partner to gain a fresh perspective.

Ask yourself “how did we get here?” “Is this a long term problem or a new issue?” “Have we already tried to fix the relationship?” Would I be better off alone?” “Does my relationship bring me joy or leave me feeling bad most of the time?” Consider these questions and remember to only make a decision for you, not anyone else. 

If you’re in need of a little self-love, check out How to Adopt a Practice of Self-Love and Still Build your Relationship, here.

Practice of self love - woman sitting on a rock looking at a view.

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About Jurnee

Jurnee is a writer and creative from New Zealand passionate about covering health, wellness, and fashion.