Separation anxiety in a relationship is a term we hear somewhat mostly when discussing a mother leaving her young child in the care of another for the very first time, or perhaps when twins are placed in separate classes in elementary school, and they have to learn how to get through their day without the other by their side for the first time in their young lives.
Seldom do we ever hear about adults who suffer from couple separation anxiety which is a debilitating psychological condition?
So what is separation anxiety in adults?
What causes it?
How does it manifest itself within an adult relationship?
Let’s understand all these aspects and more in this article.
Define separation anxiety
What do you understand by separation anxiety in relationships?
Separation anxiety is most commonly recognized as a juvenile disorder in which children experience signs of anxiety when separated from their primary caregiver.
Can adults have separation anxiety?
In more recent times, however, adults have become increasingly diagnosed with an adult separation anxiety disorder (or ASAD). Adult separation anxiety or separation anxiety in a relationship is much the same as the disorder as that faced by children.
However, these attachment figures typically include:
Boyfriends or girlfriends
Hence, we can use the terms like boyfriend separation anxiety or marriage separation anxiety for separation anxiety witnessed in adults.
On the other hand, children who experience separation anxiety during their juvenile years very often go on to live their adult lives anxiety free.
Imagining the “worst-case scenario” while thinking about separation from loved ones
Trouble sleeping when away from the focus of separation
Apart from these, “mooching” is also one of the potential symptoms of adult separation anxiety.
Causes of adult separation anxiety
It is commonly believed that separation anxiety in adults comes from the perception across society over recent years of the importance of being in attached relationships during adulthood being increasingly emphasized.
Also, separation issues in relationships can trigger separation anxiety in teenage relationships.
Watch this video featuring a discussion on Adult Separation Anxiety by Relationship Coach Margaret and Pyschotherapist Craig Kenneth to learn more:
Is employment status related to Adult Separation Anxiety Disorder?
It is currently not known whether employment status is caused by the ASAD or whether the adult separation anxiety in a relationship can be caused by employment status.
In either case, it has been noted that the majority of individuals diagnosed with ASAD are unemployed or are working in non-traditional employment opportunities.
Additional data suggests the second most likely employment status for those with ASAD is being employed, while the third is working as a homemaker. Medical professionals agree the least likely to suffer from ASAD are adults who are retired or are full-time students.
How does separation anxiety impact adult relationships?
It is not easy having separation anxiety in relationship.
To be the loved one of someone battling with the disorder can be just as stressful as having the disorder yourself.
Your attention is on constant demand, and it may feel like you can never calm or satisfy the fears of your significant other.
There may be times you feel trapped by the same insecurities and fears that have your loved one feeling like there is no escape. Unfortunately, loving and or living with someone with adult separation anxiety can become so taxing that the relationship can quickly begin to crumble under the stress.
What to do?
It is vitally crucial to the stability of every relationship in which one or both persons have adult separation anxiety that each person has his or her support system separate from one another.
It is highly recommended that these support systems should include a licensed professional that is able to help both partners develop coping tools to reduce the burden of ASAD on themselves and each other.
The support of friends and family is also important so that each individual feels connected, social, and supported within their romantic relationships.
Combating adult separation anxiety
How to deal with separation anxiety in a relationship and how to help someone with separation anxiety?
The first step to combating adult separation anxiety is recognizing the signs of it and talking to someone, such as your significant other, about your concerns.
Make an appointment with your primary care doctor and ask for referrals to a psychologist and or psychiatrist to develop a treatment plan for the disorder (Be sure to check with your insurance for coverage!).
Treatment plans might include therapy sessions, medication, maintaining a journal or written log, reducing the amount of hours you work or taking a less-stressful role in the workplace, among many other options.
Be sure to discuss all aspects of your treatment plan with your partner, as it will also have a direct impact on them as well.
The most important thing to remember about combating separation anxiety in relationship or separation anxiety in couples is to be open in your communication with your support team, and especially your partner.
While the disorder is still a newly recognized medical diagnosis, the feelings and struggles are very real. Maintaining open and honest lines of communication will be the best thing you can do to combat separation anxiety in adult relationships.
If you feel disconnected or frustrated about the state of your marriage but want to avoid separation and/or divorce, the marriage.com course meant for married couples is an excellent resource to help you overcome the most challenging aspects of being married.
Rachael Pace is a noted relationship writer associated with Marriage.com. She provides inspiration, support, and empowerment in the form of motivational articles and essays. Rachael enjoys studying the evolution of loving partnerships and is passionate about writing on them. She believes that everyone should make room for love in their lives and encourages couples to work on overcoming their challenges together.