Dealing with Relationship Anxiety: How to Heal for Healthy Relationships

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Romantic relationships used to be the number one trigger for my anxiety. I would experience some stress and anxiety related to academics and a little in response to friendships but dating was what consistently caused me to feel most anxious. And there’s good reason, in contrast to a lot of areas of our lives, romantic relationships are one place where we don’t have much control. Sure we have agency over how we engage with the person we are dating but we can’t control how they feel about us. We can feel like we are doing “all the right things” but we can’t make someone like or commit to us. Also, romantic relationships put us in a place of vulnerability. In romantic relationships more than other types of relationships, we open up to our partners and share parts of ourselves that we are scared to let the world see. This combination of dynamics coupled with my desire for everyone to like me and the pressure I felt starting around age 23 to meet and marry the right partner made relationships a powder keg for my anxiety.

Thankfully, I have emerged from that period of my life more calm and grounded in myself, which has helped me to be much less anxious in relationships. My last relationship was a true testament to the growth that I’ve experienced in this area. While there were times when I felt anxious I was able to manage these periods and communicate constructively with my boyfriend about what I needed. Instead of getting overwhelmed and leaving the relationship abruptly or beginning to criticize my partner in response to my anxiety I learned to soothe myself and identify when I wanted to address a concern and when I could let things go.

Below, I highlight some of the primary challenges people encounter related to anxiety in romantic relationships along with strategies to begin effectively managing your anxiety so that it does not ruin your relationship. Continue reading “Dealing with Relationship Anxiety: How to Heal for Healthy Relationships”

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On Nayla Kidd and Finding a Way Out

architecture-1391930_1920In mid-May I saw the Facebook posts about a black, female Columbia student (Nayla Kidd) who was missing. I said a prayer for her safety and hoped that she was okay. When I saw posts a few weeks later that she had been found alive and well, I was surprised and relieved because sadly that’s not how stories of missing black women usually turn out. On May 29th Nayla shared her story and decision-making in a New York Post article. While I saw a handful of Facebook posts affirming Nayla’s courage for walking away from an Ivy League school to pursue a career in music, I had a different reaction. As a therapists at a university counseling center I spend a lot of time helping young adults as they wrestle with questions about what is important to them beyond grades and academic success. I know that Nayla was not alone in her desire to escape because I have supported students who are questioning their place in a predominantly white university. I do not believe disappearing is a constructive way to get on a meaningful path. In addition to causing distress to people who cared about her and unnecessarily using resources (police department, search teams etc.) Nayla’s disappearance may have enabled her to avoid some difficult conversations that likely would have supported her personal growth. Continue reading “On Nayla Kidd and Finding a Way Out”