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My anxiety is getting in the way of being happy in my relationship

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    Hi, I was just wondering if I could get some advice on a few worries that have been gnawing at the back of my mind.

    I'm really happy with my boyfriend (we've only been dating a month but before that, we were friends with benefits and before that, we were just really good friends). I know I never have anything to worry about but he goes out drinking almost every weekend and sometimes he goes out multiple nights, I'm not a huge fan of drinking - I still do it but less frequently because I like feeling in control of my body and it sometimes makes my anxiety worse. I respect that it's entirely his choice what he does with his life but I need help/ advice on how to manage it, I really struggle when someone I care about goes out drinking or taking drugs due to past relationships where this has occurred and in one relationship where I was cheated on. I know full well that my boyfriend would never cheat but that's not all I get anxious about - it's also health and friendship related as well. I don't know where my health-related anxiety started but it began as just me and it's now worrying about other people's health too. The friendship-related anxiety is that I'm scared that I'll be left out or abandoned as we're in the same friendship group - this time last year I was struggling with being bullied by one of my closest friends and none of my other friends did anything, most of them just went along with it (these guys were my best friends for 5+ years) and then my boyfriend, who was kind of in the same group, also left me so it really negatively affected me. I got therapy and I'm working on getting over it but it's still there hidden below layers of pretending I'm fine and I've moved on.

    I usually get really anxious and overwhelmed when people I care about go out (friends, partners and my parents), I often find it hard to focus on tasks or do anything other than stare at my phone waiting for either bad news or an update making sure they're okay. I know I don't need to and my boyfriend is incredibly supportive of my anxiety and he always tries to make me feel better but I'm scared to tell him about this part of my anxiety because I don't want to be controlling of him - he's his own person and should be able to act as such. I really don't know how to manage my anxiety - I've had CBT before which helped but that was mainly focused on my eating and more generalised anxiety.

    Another thing that I'm currently stressing about - which is less related to my anxiety because I know I would worry about this anyway - is that we're part of the same friendship group and we were all talking and him and some of our other friends said they were planning on taking acid in the half term. Obviously I was worried but I haven't said much about it, just that he should be careful if he does end up doing it.

    Do you have any advice on how to manage my anxiety especially the anxiety that surrounds my relationship? The majority of the time I'm happy but whenever anyone so much as mentions drinking or drugs I begin to worry.

    anonymous101 I can completely relate to this thought process. One thing I have personally found is key - needing to understand why this is happening and then working on a strategy to deal with it, rather than just trying to stop the feelings which are after all, entirely valid.

    Have you ever confided in your BF about how you feel? If not, it could be hugely helpful; choose a time when neither one of you are drinking or just about to go out socially so that immediate pressure is removed. You could try and explain why you feel the way you do and say that you’d like to find a way forward together. Compromise can often be a good strategy while asserting that you are not trying to control his life.

    Whilst your feelings and fears are based on past experiences, remind him that you know he’s different but you’d like to work on it together. Honesty is vital as you don’t want to hide part of yourself and internalise the anxiety as it’s then likely to come out at some point in a negative way while he may have no idea at all that it’s an issue.

    It is usual to be concerned about excessive drinking and taking drugs, so it’s not like you are overreacting with your concerns, and just as you are respecting his views, yours need and deserve to be respected too otherwise the relationship will be very one-sided.

    It’s completely understandable that after your experiences of bullying you would have this fear of abandonment and while it can be hard and take work to move forward, it is entirely possible. I know you mention CBT - if you are able to access it, psychotherapy can be incredibly useful in ‘unpicking’ everything at your own pace, gaining an understanding over it and then working to build strategies that you can use whether in the midst of anxiety or when you can feel it building up.


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