Are you constantly paranoid in your relationship?
Do you worry that your girlfriend might cheat on you or leave you?
Do you feel like this relationship is too good to last or that you aren't good enough for her?
Perhaps you have acted clingy or controlling.
Perhaps you have become withdrawn and given her the cold shoulder, emotionally punishing her for a problem that doesn't exist.
If so, you are not alone. Anxiety disorders affect 18.1% of adults in the USA and 15-20% of the population have frequent paranoid thoughts. It's not all that uncommon.
Even if you don't have a clinical disorder, anyone can experience anxiety or paranoid thoughts in a relationship.
Why You Have Relationship Paranoia
Learning how to stop being paranoid in your relationship first comes down to understanding why you get these thoughts in the first place.
And it can be any number of reasons.
Fear of Loss
At the start of a relationship you probably played it very cool and were not at all fearful or clingy.
It's easy to be like that when you haven't invested anything in a girl. You could have walked away and you both knew that. In fact that aloofness and non attachment is very attractive. Girls like a guy with options and don't like a guy who is grovelling and over committed.
But then the relationship progressed and you became more invested in her and in the partnership. Suddenly you couldn't imagine your life without her and the idea that she might leave you became catastrophic.
It is this fear of loss that drives your thoughts. Rather than focus on what is in front of you in the present this fear becomes all consuming.
A Belief That The World Is A Bad Place
Extremely paranoid people often think that someone or something nefarious is out to get them and they must constantly be on the lookout.
But many regular people have a fundamental belief that the world is a bad place and therefore good things can't last.
When something or someone wonderful comes along this self fulfilling prophecy will kick in and commit an act of sabotage, thus reinforcing the belief that the world is a bad place.
You Are Mistaking Anxiety For Paranoia
Anxiety and paranoia are related and cause similar fears and worries about the worst case scenario.
People with severe paranoia tend to suffer from delusions, while those with anxiety tend to worry. While the worries are serious and can be crippling, an anxious person still recognises them as worries and isn't deluded. They may suffer "paranoid tendencies" in that that some of their worries might be irrational but this is still different from full blown paranoia.
What you consider to be paranoia is probably anxiety, although be aware that only a psychologist can give you a diagnosis.
Anxiety is a more mild condition. Although the fears can be similar, anxiety is still tough to deal with. However it is treatable.
Regardless of exactly what you are experiencing I want to help you with one thing: overcoming the fears in your relationship.
You Have Anxious Attachment
There is a psychological theory called "attachment theory" which explains how people interact in their relationships based on how well they attached to their parents in early childhood.
There are four categories of attachment: secure, anxious, avoidant and anxious avoidant.
If you have anxious attachment then you display relationship behaviors such as insecurity, stress and the need for reassurance. An anxious attachment type will often be irrational, jealous and emotional.
This attachment type occurs when parents are either inconsistent, unpredictable or emotionally unavailable.
The good news is that if this sounds like you, you can change your attachment style in adulthood, through either a relationship with someone who was securely attached or through psychotherapy.
It's not easy, but it's possible.
Your Girlfriend Isn't Meeting Your Needs Nor You Hers
Another reason why you may be fearful about your relationship is that your girlfriend isn't meeting your needs in the way that you need or you may not be meeting hers.
You both love each other but you aren't seeing it and so it causes friction, fighting or a loss of spark. You might perceive that she is withdrawing from you and your suspicious mind kicks in and assumes the worst.
Gary Chapman pioneered the concept of love languages. The idea is that we each show and receive love in one of five languages. These are: words of affirmation, acts of service, gifts, quality time and physical touch.
If you don't speak each other's language then you might be missing out on the love she is showing and have no reason to be fearful. The solution is simply to learn each other's love language.
John Gottman argues that in a relationship couples make "bids" for each other's attention. The relationship is healthy when both partners recognise and respond to each other's bids. It will struggle when these bids are missed, rejected or ignored.
One way to start meeting each other's needs and to start feeling more loved is to make an effort to meet each other's bids. This will make you feel more connected and will keep the anxious and paranoid thoughts at bay.
Why You Need To Deal With Your Paranoid Thoughts
While these anxious and paranoid thoughts are common and can happen to anyone, they are a serious problem that you need to address.
In order to have a healthy and happy relationship you must work through this phase, otherwise it is only a matter of time before the relationship ends.
No self respecting woman, who is a faithful and trustworthy partner, will tolerate repeated aspersions on her character from their significant other.
A relationship cannot withstand the intense negativity that comes with these feelings and will often die a violent and explosive death, causing much pain to those involved and those watching.
This is a good time in your life to learn about mental health. When I experienced these thoughts for the first time I had never experienced anything like it in my life. The idea that I couldn't rely or trust my own mind was completely foreign.
This can be an opportunity for you to look at fear, insecurity and anxiety in other areas of your life as well, because it may not only be your relationship where you are experiencing it.
Whether this current relationship survives this experience or not, you will be a better man for having confronted this issue. It's all about getting to your yourself better and taking responsibility for improving yourself.
While it was painful at the time, I'm incredibly glad I went through an episode of this, so I could learn from it and make sure it didn't happen again.
How To Stop Being Paranoid In Your Relationship
1. Own The Problem
You need to look at yourself for the solution at that means owning the problem. Blaming your parents, society or the world isn't going to do you any good.
This may not be your fault, but you are the only one who has the power to change it.
So make sure you take responsibility for it.
2. Try And Find The Root Of The Problem
Is there an underlying cause as to why you distrust your partner? Perhaps you distrust everyone you get close to.
Maybe you experienced a trauma in childhood or maybe you are an anxious attachment type.
If you can find the root of the problem then it will greatly aid you in dealing with anxious and paranoid thoughts.
Therapy, journalling or talking with your parents can help.
3. Recognize What Is Imagination And What Is Reality
When you are paranoid your imagination runs wild. Normal everyday events or comments take on meanings that are not real and exist only in your head.
Identify when this happens and accept that what you are thinking is not real, but is imagined. This won't make the thoughts go away but it will make them easier to manage.
4. Let Go Of Past Relationships
Baggage from previous relationships may be weighing you down in this one.
Just because something went wrong in a previous relationship doesn't mean that it is going to happen in this one.
While everyone brings some baggage a new relationship, it is unfair on your current girlfriend for you to project past hurts onto her and assume that she is going to treat you in the same way.
5. Accept That Relationships Make You Vulnerable
The very nature of a relationship is that is creates a certain level of uncertainty, risk and vulnerability. Even in the most secure and stable relationship this is inevitable. It is what you get when you relate with a human, not a robot.
A lot of the fear you have stems from this fact. You cannot control your girlfriend and this scares you. She wields enormous power to hurt you.
There is no way around this other than to be comfortable with being uncomfortable. This doesn't mean you should accept extreme volatility in a partner or someone who is always threatening to break up with you to get what they want.
What it does mean is that you have to relinquish control and be okay with being vulnerable and trust that she will treat your heart with care and kindness.
6. Understand That Relationships Are Challenging
Don't look for perfection in your relationship.
Two people getting close and intimate is inevitably going to bring uncomfortable thoughts and feelings to the surface.
A relationship is often described as holding up a mirror to your flaws.
If anxiety or paranoia is one of your flaws, it may have been suppressed when you were single and now rearing its head in your relationship.
By it's very nature, it's normal for a relationship to be challenging. So don't get scared and run away, use it as a chance to face your problems and your fears.
7. Learn To Give The Benefit Of The Doubt
It's not paranoia when what you fear is actually true.
But if you don't know it to be true then you need to train yourself to give the benefit of the doubt. Instead of rushing to the worst case scenario, be optimistic and try to assume the best. Don't get worked up or over analyze small irrelevant details.
Trust is learning to be comfortable with not knowing. You don't need to know where she is and who she is with at all times.
8. Learn To Have Space
Your relationship is not the only important thing in your life, nor is it the only important thing in your girlfriend's life.
It is normal and healthy to have time apart investing in things outside of the relationship. This might be career, hobbies or friends.
Allowing her to have space doesn't mean she is going to leave you. It means she has the freedom to continue growing as an individual.
It is important for you to have space as well and to maintain your own independence and identity.
It will make the time you have together much happier when you both have that degree of freedom.
9. Don't Assume What She Is Thinking, Ask
Anxiety and paranoia can take hold when a couple stops talking to each other.
Don't assume what she is thinking, instead talk to her and have a conversation about each other's feelings.
This should only be done on occasion and shouldn't turn into a means for constant reassurance. But if you are getting in your own head and have had a decent conversation in a while just have a chat and check in.
10. Avoid Constantly Seeking Reassurance
Seeking and receiving reassurance that everything is going well for her can feel good. It can put your fear at bay.
But only for a short time.
Eventually the fears creep back and you start asking for more and more reassurance. It becomes a cycle of neediness and will eventually become suffocating for her.
Getting reassurance can almost become an addiction.
You need to become self assured and build your confidence so you see the value in yourself that she sees in you.
When you stop looking for validation in the relationship it puts less pressure on it.
11. Override The Desire To Act On Your Paranoia
You may feel the need to check her phone or her social media accounts. You may even want to follow her and spy on her.
Do everything you can to override this desire!
It is a major breach of trust that will cause greater problems if she finds out. Worse than that it only satisfies the craving for a short period of time. Like the need for reassurance, it becomes an addiction.
You check her phone now and there is no incriminating evidence. But that won't stop you checking it again tomorrow or next week.
Don't give in to that cycle.
12. Share Your Fears With Someone Else
Talking to someone else can really help. They can help you see that you are being irrational. Someone who exists outside the fog that your relationship is causing you.
If you are up for it, then a therapist is best, but a trusted friend or family member will do.
13. Learn To See The Value You Provide The Relationship
When you suffer from low confidence and low self esteem it can be hard to see what good you provide the relationship. You cannot answer the question, "why would someone be interested in being with me?"
But trust me, you do provide some value to the relationship, otherwise she wouldn't be there.
The easy part is finding out what that something is. All you have to do is ask her.
The challenging part is internalizing it and genuinely believing it to be true.
If you can do so then it will stop you thinking she is leaving or cheating on you all the time, because you know that you are a catch.
14. Build Your Confidence And Self Esteem
I'm sure it will come of no surprise to hear that research has shown that people with high self worth have less insecurity, and those who lack self worth have increased insecurity in their relationships.
Forget about your relationship for a moment and take the time to focus on doing some personal development.
Some key ways to build confidence are to figure out what you are good at, celebrate your successes, set high expectations for yourself and get in shape.
15. Get Your Sleep, Diet And Exercise Under Control
Often your mental frailties can be exacerbated when your physical wellbeing is not right.
An effective way to deal with mental challenges is to make sure you are doing everything right physically.
Get enough sleep, drink plenty of water, eat healthy and make sure you are working out.
If this doesn't fix the problem it will certainly help.
16. Understand That If She Hurts You It Is Her Choice
Earlier we discussed that a relationship by its very nature makes you vulnerable.
Part of that is understanding that if she chooses to act in a way that causes hurt to you then it is her choice. You can't stop her making bad decisions by controlling, paternalistic behavior.
If she cheats, it's not because there is something wrong with you. It is because she made a choice. That choice is out of your hands and if you can accept that then it takes the pressure off because you are not responsible for her behavior.
A relationship is a two way street. If she has issues then she has a responsiblity to sort them out or bring them to the table.
17. Go Deeper Into Your Subconscious
All the reasons listed so far primarily deal with the issue on a conscious level.
But sometimes confronting an issue on the conscious level is not enough and you need to go deeper.
Making a significant change to the way you think can be a challenging thing to do, particularly if it has been embedded over a long period of time.
There are numerous therapy options that can help you acces sthe subconscious and create more positive thought patterns.
Another option, that I've used, is a self hypnosis program called 10 Steps To Overcome Insecurity In Relatioships.
It's a comprehensive program that will help you stop obsessing, overcome fear and allow you to trust.
This program will help you to become a better partner and a better man.
Paranoid and anxious thoughts are reasonably common. But that doesn't mean you should put up with them, as they can be relationship killers.
First try and work out what it is that is the root cause of these feelings and then take the necessary measures to sort out the problem.
It will be challenging and confronting and it will take a lot of work. But your relationship will be better for it and you will come out the other side a better person.
- Why Men Display Insecurity In Relationships
- Overcoming Jealousy - How To Banish The Green Eyed Monster
- Jealousy And Insecurity - What's The Difference?
- The Causes Of Jealousy
- Overcoming Insecurity: How To Stop Being Paranoid About Your Girl