When you are in a romantic relationship, you want to spend as much time with your partner as possible. But there are times when you need to travel or your partner needs to be away for work or personal reasons. Well, spending time apart isn’t always easy in a relationship. We always have the convenience of video calls or messages, but using a device or gadget to connect with your loved one is not the same as meeting in person. You can also feel a little lonely when they’re not there. However, there are people who experience overwhelming anxiety when they are away from their partner. That is separation anxiety in a relationship and you need to know how to deal with it.
Separation anxiety in a relationship
When you are in a relationship, it is normal to feel a little uncomfortable when you are away from your loved one. But if you experience panic and a sense of unbearable distress during that time, it is a cause for concern and is identified as separation anxiety, says Dr Ruchi Jain, consultant psychologist, Jaslok Hospital & Research Centre, Mumbai. It becomes difficult to focus on anything other than getting back together.
Here are some signs of separation anxiety in a relationship:
1. Anxious attachment
People with an anxious attachment style are constantly afraid that their partner will leave them. They also need a lot of reassurance to believe that they are truly loved and find it very difficult to spend time without them. The memories of the time spent together constantly occupy their minds and cause them heartache, says the expert.
2. Fear of ‘out of sight, out of mind’
Some people start to lose trust in their relationship when distance gets in the way. Any form of reassurance from their partner does not help them.
3. Difficulty functioning alone
In a codependent relationship, people can become so intertwined that they find it difficult to remember that they are two different people and people lose their sense of who they are. The separation from their loved ones makes it difficult for them to function alone, Dr. Jain tells Health Shots.
How to deal with separation anxiety in a relationship?
While acceptance of the current situation is important, there are some coping strategies that may be helpful.
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1. Set boundaries
Setting boundaries is required when both partners are divorced. This means that you have to give each other space. If your partner is away for work that requires his time and attention, give him that space and don’t monitor his every move, otherwise the relationship could become strained.
2. Have honest conversations
It’s possible that both partners are experiencing similar fears, so sharing those feelings and having an open and honest conversation with each other can go a long way in dealing with separation anxiety.
3. Set a time to connect
It’s necessary to give each other space, but also make a dedicated effort to make time to connect at least once a day. This can be done via an audio or video call, but don’t be too pushy and call every now and then.
Self-care is very important for physical and mental well-being and distracts from constant thoughts about the partner, says the expert. So follow a healthy diet, exercise routine and do things that make you happy.
Mindfulness techniques can be effective in such cases. Living in the present moment and making the most of it helps with acceptance and dealing with separation anxiety in a relationship.
6. Be constructive
Take up hobbies or take up a new path you’ve always wanted to pursue, especially if your partner will be away for an extended period of time. In short: channel the energies in a constructive direction.
7. Control negative feelings
Breathing techniques can calm your mind and body. You can also practice self-compassion and positive self-talk to increase self-confidence and reduce negative feelings.
8. Minimize social media use
Social media is not just about what you post. Your friends may post something with their partner, and seeing them together can cause extreme distress. It could make the situation worse because you might compare your life with them.
9. Meet friends and relatives
Meet people who are understanding, mature and who won’t add to your misery. Besides talking, you can also do fun activities with them to relax your mind.
If it becomes unbearable even after you have tried to overcome the separation anxiety, you should see a therapist.