New Relationship Anxiety

Alyssa Dover
Alyssa Dover

Why do we get anxious when building a new connection, and what is new relationship anxiety?

The butterflies and happiness we get when someone new comes into our life. The possibility of love and a future with them is a warm feeling, but quickly the warm feeling starts getting hotter. Your heart is beating faster, and you begin to sweat while your mind floods with all these triggers, memories, and worries.

There are thousands of questions and uncertainty that come with our anxiety. How can we ever let someone in again? Trust someone with exactly who we are? It’s essential to take the time to understand your anxiety and yourself.

Start with yourself

Trauma can affect every part of our lives, from our thinking and emotions to our self-worth. Setting your boundaries and having a safety plan will give you more confidence, and it’s crucial to follow. Taking the time to prioritize yourself at the beginning is very important. It can help relieve some of the anxiety as well.

I looked into some of the comments on our site and saw two common questions or concerns about a new relationship.

1. How can I be vulnerable again?

Being vulnerable is not a weakness. Without it, we wouldn’t push ourselves to love and take risks again. We need it to get out of our comfort zone and grow. It’s going to be the hardest thing after abuse and will be a huge challenge. In time, vulnerability will become easier when we are truly happy and confident in ourselves and can own our story. 

Read more about vulnerability

2. How do you know love from abuse/trauma bonding?

Love isn’t driven by fear like trauma bonding is. A loving relationship is about emotional and physical safety, where you are a priority. Trauma bonding is an attachment formed by repeated abuse with positive reinforcement; it is difficult to recognize or escape from these situations.

Read more about trauma bonding

Giving it a fighting chance

Standing up for yourself might be hard but it can change your self-confidence. If you can always be yourself, honest, and communicate, it will help your new relationship in so many ways. If you don’t like something, don’t agree out of fear.

Sharing our stories and experiences can help by relating or giving voice to those who most need it. It was a blessing to read the stories of two amazing women.

Tara Woodlee, President

Tara Woodlee, President

“I knew I was ready to start dating again when I had to stop and consider what my children meant when they told me they wanted to see me happy again. Was I meant to be happy? And I decided I was and was ready to take that first step to find happiness.”

“When you find someone, you are constantly gauging what they do and over-evaluate it with your anxiety. You are nervous about what caused the blowup to begin with in the past relationship and you have triggers. I self-sabotaged myself. For example, my abusive relationship would not be happy with how I cooked or what I cooked and would throw away the pan and tell me to start over. In my relationship with my husband when it started, I was terrified if he would like it. Would there be an altercation? Would he have me stop and start over? It took me a good 2 to 3 years to overcome it. If he complimented it, I would not believe it. I would nitpick to see if I could get him to have an argument to see if I could push him away to trigger him to do what my ex did. If something seemed like the relationship was going south, I would leave him, just not wanting to live through that again. It was hard to realize I was doing that until a year and a half later he packed his stuff with me and told me he was leaving too. I asked him where? And he said to me. ‘Wherever you are going I’m going with you, and we are going to work on this together.’ It was then I realized it was time to start dealing with my anxiety.”

“I was able to tell him most of my story at the beginning but held some back. As a survivor I was afraid and anxiety that he would use some of the stuff against me at some point in the relationship. I learned to trust him and opened up after a few years. I lost my daughter to domestic violence as well and my husband got to experience my ex at the hospital and see kind of what I went through. It was at that point I could open up. My husband was always so understanding and patient with my story and myself.”

“I did have some boundaries in my new relationship with him and I did talk to him about them. He had some as well, and that was something I learned after my abusive relationship and my watching my grandparents healthy loving relationship. I wasn’t going to settle in any relationship till I was able to find someone to treat me like my grandpa treated my grandma. He taught me how a man should treat a woman. I did know my husband from the past so there was some amount of trust, but there was still pain and anxiety on both sides. We sat down the first time we went out pretty much and went over our boundaries. I was amazed how open he was to have that and listening to me.”

“Some advice I would have to anyone getting into a new relationship with anxiety is to seek help from a therapist first if your anxiety is making you physically sick. Past that though it’s recognizing your needs, communicating those needs, setting your boundaries, and their boundaries. When something comes up that triggers you, being able to communicate that and making sure they are responding in a healthy way back to you. DO NOT self-sabotage yourself. You are your own worst enemy sometimes. You are worth this next level of relationship. You are worth it!”

Nina Miller, Volunteer

Nina Miller, Volunteer

“I knew I was ready to get into a relationship again when I took some time to myself for a while. My mom was abusive growing up. She put stuff in my head to make me doubt the guys when I was thinking I was ready. It really held me back as well. I can’t go through my abusive relationship again. I was anxious and scared. What if my mom was right about the doubt she put in my head? What if the next guy is going to cheat on me or abuse me like my ex?”

“My current boyfriend asked me to get together, but I told him not yet. I wanted to sit down and talk to him about everything that happened and ease into this. I needed to be friends first. I was nervous because I was with him in high school, but I didn’t know him anymore. We were different people now. I had some trust in him and was able to tell him everything. I didn’t hold back anything, and he listened and supported me. But it took me a few months to sit down and tell him. I had to deal with all of it in my head first then we got together. He was so kind, loving, and caring, but we had little arguments at the beginning. If he stood up to hug me, I would twitch. He then would stop what he was doing, and we would sit down and talk about it. We communicated and were able to get through it.”

“I have anxiety about getting engaged. My abusive ex purposed to me, and we were never married, just engaged for years. I don’t trust that the next person will want to marry me, and it gives me anxiety. I have a promise ring now from my boyfriend, because I still have my old ring and I’m struggling to let go of it. I am working on myself to not be attached to it anymore. I have it because I felt like I was being engaged for nothing. I was controlled in our relationship and marriage never happened. He abused our animals and still has 2 of them. That is one of the reasons I have the ring still. I have gotten rid of everything from him, but that ring is the last thing that he gave me that still attaches me to my animals. I know I will be able to get rid of it soon and give myself to my new boyfriend completely.”

“How do I deserve such a nice guy for the 2nd time? I don’t feel good enough for him. He told me how much he loves me and how happy I make him. I didn’t believe it at first. We connect so well on every level. I still always have anxiety and doubt. I know I’m not worthless, but why do I keep asking him why he wants to be with me? My ex made me feel worthless and not a priority. My boyfriend now makes me a priority. He supports me in time for my self-care from my family abuse to my ex-abuse. I even have anxiety about being a mother in fear of being like my mother. Every day I am working on myself!”
“Some advice I could give to people getting into a new relationship is the advice my dad gave me. Be friends before anything else. Take time for yourself and internalize yourself and know what your self-worth is. Learn about yourself. Also writing in a journal helps me. Anytime something bothers me, I can write all anger and anxiety in it as well. It helps so much. Being friends first helps with communication and trust first. Learn about each other before just jumping into a relationship. Get to really know that person. The right guy will respect you wanting to be friends before anything else. Find what their goals are, and boundaries are. See if it aligns with what you want.”

“You are worthy. No matter if you were hurt physically, sexually, emotionally, or psychologically you need to take time to focus on you. It may take days to heal or the rest of your life. The fear and crippling anxiety to open up to someone again can make us just want to run. The strength just to be willing to start a new relationship is ineffable! You are worthy of love and being cared for. Be proud of yourself and love who you are now no matter the outcome.”

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