What Is Separation Anxiety in Relationships?
In This Article
Separation anxiety in relationships is a term we often hear in the context of a mother leaving her young child in the care of another for the very first time.
Another example of separation anxiety is 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.
However, separation anxiety can also exist in a romantic relationship. Here is all you need to know about it.
What is separation anxiety in relationships?
What do you understand about 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.
However, adults have become increasingly diagnosed with an adult separation anxiety disorder (or ASAD) in more recent times. Relationship separation anxiety or separation anxiety in relationships is much the same as the disorder 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.
Conversely, children who do not experience separation anxiety during their childhood still can develop separation anxiety in a relationship during their adult years.
Can you have separation anxiety from your partner?
Separation anxiety in adult relationships can occur commonly. People can feel separation anxiety from boyfriend, girlfriend, partner, or spouse.
Some causes of separation anxiety in relationships include –
- It is commonly believed that separation anxiety in adults from partners comes from the perception across society over recent years of increasingly emphasizing the importance of being in attached relationships during adulthood.
- 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 Psychotherapist Craig Kenneth to learn more:
Symptoms of separation anxiety in relationships
There are some telltale signs of separation anxiety in relationships. Separation anxiety in relationships symptoms include –
- Full-blown panic attacks.
- Avoidance of being alone or fear that something bad will happen to loved ones
- Extreme jealousy
- Over strict parenting
- Imagining the “worst-case scenario” while thinking about separation from loved ones
- Trouble sleeping when away from the focus of the separation.
Apart from these, “mooching” is also one of the potential symptoms of adult separation anxiety.
10 tips for dealing with separation anxiety in relationships
How to control separation anxiety in a relationship and how to help someone with separation anxiety? Here are some tips for separation anxiety management.
1. Recognize the signs
The first step to combating adult separation anxiety is recognizing its signs and talking to someone, such as your significant other, about your concerns.
2. Seek medical help
Make an appointment with your primary care doctor and ask for referrals to a psychologist or psychiatrist to develop a treatment plan for the disorder (Be sure to check about your coverage insurance!)
Treatment plans might include therapy sessions, medication, maintaining a journal or written log, reducing the number of hours you work, or taking a less stressful role in the workplace, among many other options.
3. Discuss the care plan with your partner
Be sure to discuss all aspects of your treatment plan with your partner, as it will also directly impact them. They should be well aware of how the treatment will roll out, so they can also prepare their schedules and availability accordingly.
4. Be open to communication
The most important thing to remember about combating separation anxiety in relationships or separation anxiety in couples is to be open in communication with your support team, especially your partner.
Related Reading: Easy Tips for Effective Communication Between Couples
5. Deep breathing exercises
Apart from medical care and therapy, one other way to overcome separation anxiety in a relationship is to practice deep breathing exercises. Such exercises help to be more mindful of your thoughts and calm you down.
6. Know that the separation is temporary
Even as you feel anxiety due to separation from your partner, it is important to acknowledge that the separation is only temporary. While your anxiety may make you want to believe that you are forever separated from them, convince yourself logically that it is not true.
Related Reading: Is Temporary Separation a Good Solution for Resolving Marital Conflicts
7. Do things that you enjoy when away from your partner
To ease your anxiety, do things that you enjoy doing when your partner is away. You could read, watch your favorite movie or show, or even spend time outdoors taking a walk, running, or gardening. Enjoying your own company is extremely important to deal with separation anxiety in relationships.
8. Keep active
Staying active, both physically and mentally, is crucial for dealing with separation anxiety in relationships. When you stay active physically, the hormones released by your body help to manage anxiety. Similarly, when you keep your mind occupied, you keep negative thoughts at bay, which helps to reduce anxiety.
9. Focus on other important relationships in your life
Apart from your romantic relationships, there are various other relationships in your life that hold importance. When you suffer from separation anxiety in relationships, you should focus on the other meaningful relationships – that of siblings, friends, family, and others.
Related Reading: 10 Important Things To Remember About A Relationship
10. Plan something special for when you meet
When you have something positive to look forward to, you are likely to feel less anxious. When you are away from your partner, spend some time planning extraordinary things for each other when you finally meet.
Related Reading: 10 Ways to Thrill and Surprise Your Special Someone
It is currently unknown whether the ASAD causes employment status or whether the adult separation anxiety in a relationship can be caused by employment status.
In either case, it has been noted that most individuals diagnosed with ASAD are unemployed or 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 who agree the least likely to suffer from ASAD are adults who are retired or are full-time students.
How separation anxiety impacts adult relationships
It is not easy having separation anxiety in relationships.
To be the loved one of someone battling with the disorder can be just as stressful as having the disorder yourself.
Your attention is in 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 or living with adult separation anxiety can become so taxing that the relationship can quickly crumble under stress.
What to do?
- It is vitally crucial to the stability of every relationship in which one or both persons have adult separation anxiety. Each person has their support system separate from one another.
- It is highly recommended that these support systems include a licensed professional that can 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 essential to feel connected, social and supported within their romantic relationships.
While the disorder is still a newly recognized medical diagnosis, the feelings and struggles are genuine. Maintaining open and honest lines of communication will be the best thing you can do to combat separation anxiety in adult relationships.
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