Relationship Fitness

S12: Anxiety E1: Fear or Anxiety?

In “Relationship Workout for Men,” Season 12 Episode 1 titled “Fear or Anxiety?”, Vince delves into the relationship core of anxiety, probing the foundational question of whether anxiety is fueling drama in relationships. He distinguishes between fear, a response to tangible threats, and anxiety, which can arise without clear danger, emphasizing how heightened anxiety levels can lead to quick tempers and conflicts, thereby straining relationships. Vince outlines practical steps to discern and address realistic versus unrealistic threats, aiming to mitigate anxiety’s impact. Through this episode, Vince sets the stage for exploring anxiety’s broader implications on relationships, underlining the importance of managing anxiety to maintain a healthy, fun, and drama-minimized partnership.

Welcome to Relationship Workout for Men, a podcast dedicated to helping men be intentional in choosing a better partner, and being a better partner for the person they choose.

Season 12, Episode 1: Fear or Anxiety?

In season 12, we explore Relationship Workout core #11 Anxiety, where we’ll discuss answering the foundational relationship question: Does anxiety fuel drama in your relationship?

So, why is Anxiety a Core Strength Area?

It’s normal to feel a bit stressed out when life gets busy and complicated. In fact, fear is the body’s natural defense mechanism when danger is sensed.  

That said, high levels of anxiety can shorten a person’s temper, increasing the risk of weak anger plays paying a visit, as discussed in season 11. This is a potential recipe for drama-infused conflict as inevitable issues and differences surface, which can wreak havoc not only on you, but also on your relationship.

In addition, today’s world continues to serve up plenty of things to worry about. All you have to do is turn on the news for a heavy dose of topics like terrorism, wars, global warming, and local crime. 

Then there is the multitude of day-to-day concerns that hit close to home like paying the bills, keeping your children safe, and meeting the latest deadline for work. 

Fear and anxiety differ, however. Fear is felt when a realistic threat is perceived. On the other hand, “symptoms leading to anxiety occur even though there is no apparent risk or cause for physical harm to occur.” 

The challenge is discerning between the two. What’s realistic and what’s not? Is it realistic to fear that you could get struck by lightning, or that your baby could be kidnapped? It’s happened to some; are you next?

Well, here are five things you can do to help discern between what is a realistic or unrealistic threat — along with recognizing what is actionable versus simply out of your control:

  1. Identify a risk.
  2. Collect the necessary facts to help you understand this risk better.
  3. List what you have control over and what you don’t.
  4.  Make the changes you can in the present moment to safeguard against this risk.
  5. Then move on, meaning don’t dwell or obsess about it.

If you worry about your house getting broken into, then put in an alarm system and use it. If you worry about the environment, then do your part by recycling more and driving less. If you worry about your job, then do the best you can on the current project.

Unfortunately, anxiety can wreak havoc not only on you, but also on your relationship. This is because anxiety can fuel self-created issues. An anxious person can, for instance:

  • Be edgy, irritable and, therefore, vulnerable to getting upset at even the smallest of incidents or misunderstandings.
  • Become emotionally withdrawn, consumed by the negative thoughts that are driving the anxious feelings, often leaving the other person feeling very alone. 
  • Become dependent and clingy, leading the other person to feel suffocated or believe there’s a huge imbalance in the relationship.

So, for the partner of a person constantly consumed with anxiety, it can be a real challenge, potentially becoming a breeding ground for drama and reducing the fun you can have together. 

And if you find yourselves constantly dealing with self-created drama driven by anxiety, and if you’re not having much fun together, then you can find yourselves feeling disconnected and just tolerating each other: Not the strongest of relationship places to be in, and probably not what you thought you signed up for when you began being together.

That said, it could also be difficult to know whether you or your partner are struggling with anxiety. This is because the symptoms of anxiety range widely, including anxious feelings, thinking, behaviors and varying physical sensations. In addition, there are a host of anxiety disorders that could potentially be impacting your relationship.

In this season, we’ll discuss each of these a bit more in an attempt to provide a bit more understanding around anxiety. 

But before we do this, let me share a friend’s story around dealing with anxiety in her relationship.

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