Ask a Therapist | New Relationship & Attachment Anxiety

I’m Amber*, a 26-year-old woman who has recently entered into a new relationship, and I’m struggling with overwhelming anxiety.

It’s been just a few weeks, but I find myself constantly teetering on the edge of insecurity and doubt. I’ve noticed that I’m trying to rush things, pushing for commitment, and overthinking every aspect of our relationship. I’m always assuming that my new partner might find someone better and leave me, which leaves me seeking reassurance repeatedly.

I’m on high alert for any signs of trouble, even when there might not be any. This level of self-doubt is new to me, and it’s starting to take a toll. I used to feel secure and healthy when I was single, but now it’s as if I’ve uncovered a Pandora’s box of issues.

I’m terrified of sabotaging this promising relationship because of my anxiety.

Could you please offer advice on steps I can take to manage this anxiety and regain a sense of security within myself and my relationship?

I want to ensure that my past insecurities don’t overshadow what could be a great connection.

Thank you for your guidance.

Dearest Amber*,

Thank you for reaching out and sharing your feelings with me. It takes so much courage to acknowledge and address the anxiety that can sometimes accompany the early stages of a new relationship. It’s not uncommon to experience such emotions, especially when we’re embarking on something as meaningful as building a connection with someone new.

First and foremost, I want you to know that what you’re feeling is entirely valid! Seriously, you’re not alone in this, and many people go through similar experiences when they start a new relationship and I have many clients who experience this same thing.

The key is to recognize these feelings and take proactive steps to manage them, which you’re already doing by seeking guidance.

Attachment theory, creative therapies, and understanding relational trauma can all provide valuable insights into your current situation, so let’s explore some next steps you can take to manage your anxiety and foster a healthier sense of security within yourself, and in your relationship.

1. Self-Compassion and Mindfulness

Begin by practicing self-compassion. Dr. Kristin Neff, a leading researcher in this field, emphasizes treating yourself with the same kindness and understanding that you would offer to a dear friend.

When you notice self-doubt creeping in, remind yourself that it’s okay to feel this way, and it doesn’t define your worth!

Engage in mindfulness exercises to stay grounded in the present moment. These can be extremely helpful when anxiety starts to kick in and your mind begins to enter unhelpful thought-spirals.

Deep breathing and meditation can help you manage anxiety, regulate your overactive nervous system and reduce racing thoughts. You can begin with the Compassionate Hand exercise here.

2. Explore Your Attachment Style

Attachment theory suggests that our early experiences influence how we form connections in adulthood. Reflect on your attachment style, which may be contributing to your anxiety.

If you find that you have an anxious attachment style, it’s crucial to be aware of it but not to label yourself. Understanding your style can help you recognize patterns in your behavior and work on healthier ways to relate to your partner.

Learning about this is much easier when you are in a relationship, as opposed to being single. That’s why we can sometimes feel like we ”lose ourselves”, feel out of control or feel like very different people when we enter close relationships.

Remember that attachment styles are not fixed and can evolve with self-awareness and effort.

3. Communicate Openly

Maintaining open and honest communication with your new partner is important to avoid misunderstandings and assumptions.

Share your feelings and concerns with them, letting them know that you’re working on managing your anxiety. A supportive partner will appreciate your honesty and can be a valuable source of reassurance. You are still getting to know each other so letting them know adds clarity to some of the behaviours you’ve described.

Remember, vulnerability can deepen the connection in a relationship.

4. Set Realistic Expectations

It’s natural to desire commitment and security in a relationship, but it’s important not to rush things.

Healthy relationships take time to develop and grow. Try to focus on enjoying the journey rather than fixating on the destination. As relationship psychologist John Gottman wisely said, “It’s not the absence of conflict but how you manage it that counts.”

Expect ups and downs, and know that they can strengthen your bond if approached constructively.

Lastly, this early period especially is somewhat of a vetting process…

…instead of thinking ”do they want and accept me?” make sure to ask ”do I accept and want them?”

Don’t aim for commitment for commitment’s sake, make sure you’re developing something with someone that aligns with your relational goals, respects you, and adds value to your life, rather than takes it away.

5. Self-Exploration Through Creative Therapy

Creative therapy techniques, such as freewriting, creative journaling, art, or even engaging in a new hobby, can be incredibly healing and therapeutic.

Consider keeping a journal to track your thoughts and emotions. This can help you identify patterns and triggers for your anxiety.

Creative outlets provide a safe space to explore your feelings and gain insights into your inner world. Using artistic therapy practices can unlock and reveal inner wounds that might be blocking you from letting go of control in this process. For example, art making often activates a need for control, so using it as tool to ”let go” first can help apply this to other parts of your life.

I often run creative therapy workshops and events because I’m a huge believer in the power in emotional processing, self-discovery and healing. Make sure to check them out on the Events & Workshops page. Since you wrote to me, you’ll also receive the newest Event updates straight to your Inbox – I hope you see you at an Event soon!

6. Seek Professional Help

If your anxiety continues to overwhelm you and significantly impacts your daily life, consider seeking therapy with a trained mental health professional. They can provide specialized guidance tailored to your unique situation.

Earlier childhood and teenage hood experiences when traumatic in relation to others, can impact adult relationships later on.

Some Mental Health conditions also impact anxiety and behaviours when in relationships, such as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) / Emotional Regulation Disorder. Dialectical Behavioural Therapy (DBT) has been shown to be particularly effective in managing emotions and distress activated in relationships.

It’s important to know when any of this might be the case for you, and not working through these issues alone.

7. Reconnect with Your Own Identity

Lastly, it’s vital to maintain a strong sense of self within your relationship. Continue pursuing your interests and spending time with friends and family. Remember that a healthy relationship should complement your life, not consume it.

As the poet Rumi once wrote, “Do not be satisfied with the stories that come before you. Unfold your own myth.”

You can read more about Dependency types here.

Remember Amber, that healing and growth takes time. Be patient and compassionate with yourself as you navigate this journey of self-discovery and building a new relationship.

If past traumas or insecurities are the culprit, remember they don’t have to define your future. By implementing these steps, you can regain a sense of security within yourself and create a healthy, fulfilling connection with your partner.

If you ever find yourself struggling, don’t hesitate to reach out to a therapist-near-you who can provide ongoing support and guidance. Private mental health is also something I offer and you’re welcome to consider this also.

I truely believe you have the strength and resilience to overcome these challenges and nurture a loving, secure relationship.

Wishing you all the best on your path towards healing and love.


Tanisha MA. AThR HCPC (at Loving Therapy Project)

*name has been changed to honour anonymity

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