The Mating Grounds

Is Separation Anxiety Ruining Your Relationship? Here’s How to Cope

Understanding Separation Anxiety in Relationships

Do you ever feel an intense fear of separation when away from your partner or loved one? Does being apart from them make you feel anxious or uneasy?

If so, you may be experiencing separation anxiety. While it is often associated with children, it is also common among adults, particularly in romantic relationships.

In this article, we will discuss what separation anxiety is, its causes, symptoms, and impact on relationships.

Definition of Separation Anxiety

Separation anxiety is a psychological condition that causes a person to experience a great deal of distress when separated from their attachment figure, or someone who provides a sense of safety and security. It is a natural reaction, but if it becomes excessive or persistent, it can negatively impact one’s mental and emotional health, as well as relationships.

Attachment Figures in Adult Separation Anxiety

Attachment figures are those to whom people feel securely attached to and perceive as sources of comfort and safety. In the context of relationships, these figures are typically romantic partners.

However, separation anxiety can also occur in other relationships, such as parent-child or friendships. For instance, someone may experience boyfriend separation anxiety or marriage separation anxiety when away from their significant other.

They may feel a sense of emptiness and unease, with constant worry and fear of losing them. In some cases, individuals may also feel guilty or ashamed of their separation anxiety, leading them to avoid social situations or make up excuses to spend more time with their attachment figure.

Causes of Separation Anxiety in Relationships

The roots of separation anxiety can be traced back to childhood and early attachment relationships. The quality of the attachment figure’s care and support can impact an individual’s attachment style, which in turn affects their relationships later in life.

Social and cultural factors can also contribute to separation anxiety. For example, individuals who grew up in cultures that emphasize family values may feel a stronger bond with their family members, leading to separation anxiety when away from them.

Lastly, teenage relationships can also be a trigger for separation anxiety. Adolescents may feel intense emotions and form close bonds with their partners, leading them to experience boyfriend or girlfriend separation anxiety.

Symptoms of Separation Anxiety in Relationships

Signs of separation anxiety vary from person to person, but common symptoms include panic attacks, avoidance behaviors, jealousy, and constant worry. In more severe cases, individuals may experience trouble sleeping, loss of appetite, and even physical symptoms like headaches and stomachaches.

This fear of separation can also manifest in parenting and could lead to hovering, controlling behavior that can negatively affect the child’s independence and self-esteem. The impact of separation anxiety in relationships can be damaging as well.

It can cause relationship instability, poor communication, and difficulties in trust-building. Constant anxiety and worry can create distance, making it harder for partners to connect on an emotional level.

Steps to Manage Separation Anxiety

If you are experiencing separation anxiety, there are several things you can do to manage your symptoms and improve your relationship. – Identify the triggers: Recognize the situations or events that trigger your separation anxiety.

– Practice self-care: Take care of your mental and emotional health by practicing activities that you enjoy. – Seek professional help: Consider seeking help from a professional therapist or counselor who can provide strategies for coping with your separation anxiety.

– Communicate: Be open and honest with your partner about your feelings and work together to find ways to strengthen your relationship.


Separation anxiety is a common condition that affects many adults in relationships. It is important to understand the causes, symptoms, and impact of separation anxiety on both individuals and relationships.

However, by identifying triggers and implementing self-care routines, seeking professional help, and communicating openly with partners, those experiencing separation anxiety can take steps toward overcoming this condition and building healthy, thriving relationships.

Tips for Dealing with Separation Anxiety in Relationships

Separation anxiety can be a difficult condition to manage, especially in the context of relationships. However, there are several tips that can help individuals with separation anxiety cope with their symptoms and strengthen their relationships.

Recognizing the Signs

The first step in managing separation anxiety is recognizing the signs. This can include excessive worry and fear of being away from one’s attachment figure, panic attacks, and avoidance behaviors.

Effective communication with your partner can be a crucial part of recognizing signs early on and developing plans to address these behaviors.

Seeking Medical Help

If separation anxiety is interfering with one’s daily life and relationships, seeking medical assistance may be necessary. A professional therapist or counselor can help develop a treatment plan that includes evidence-based techniques to manage anxiety, including cognitive-behavioral therapy and medication.

Discussing Care Plan with Partner

Open communication is key when it comes to managing separation anxiety. Discussing the effectiveness of treatment plans with one’s partner can help develop a more cohesive care plan and provide insight into the impact of treatment on relationships.

Deep Breathing Exercises

Mindfulness and deep breathing techniques can assist in bringing a sense of calmness and provide relief from the symptoms of separation anxiety.

Acknowledging Temporary Separation

Acknowledging the temporary nature of separation can be a useful tool in managing separation anxiety. Logical thinking can help with conceptualizing that time apart does not mean the end of relationships.

Engaging in Enjoyable Activities

Engaging in activities that are viewed as pleasurable, such as reading, going to the movies, or outdoor adventures, can provide an uplifting outlet to soothe the anxiety-inducing effects of separation.

Staying Active

Physical activity and mental stimulation are excellent tools for reducing the effects of anxiety. Regular exercise, meditation, and mindfulness techniques can be the answers to combatting anxiety and developing a clearer sense of relaxation.

Focusing on Other Relationships

Family and friends can be a source of support for individuals with separation anxiety. Focusing on maintaining other relationships can provide other avenues of support while in separation from attachment figures.

Planning Something Special

Planning something enjoyable for the future can be an effective way to create a positive outlook and anticipate reuniting with one’s attachment figure. A romantic weekend getaway or planned event can provide anticipatory excitement that can help assuage the effects of separation anxiety.

Employment Status and Adult Separation Anxiety Disorder

Adult Separation Anxiety Disorder (ASAD) is a relatively new concept in psychology. However, the relation between employment status and the likelihood of ASAD development is still largely unknown.

Still, research indicates that ASAD is more common when individuals are experiencing significant life changes and stressors, including employment status change.


One study showed that unemployed individuals were more likely to experience symptoms of ASAD than their employed peers. Researchers suggested that the uncertainty and instability that come with unemployment potentially contribute to feelings of anxiety and separation.

Non-Traditional Employment

People with non-traditional employment, including freelancers, seasonal workers, and others in constantly fluctuating employment situations, also had a higher likelihood of ASAD. The study found that uncertainty in employment status and the absence of familiar routines could lead to anxiety toward loved ones, increasing the likelihood of ASAD.

Homemakers and Retired Adults

While unemployed individuals and those with non-traditional employment had the highest risk of ASAD development, homemakers and retirees also experienced symptoms of ASAD. These individuals had removed themselves from the traditional workforce, often creating distance from individuals outside of the family circle.

Causes for this are underrepresented and require further study.

Full-Time Students

Full-time students also had a higher likelihood of ASAD development due to separation from attachment figures. Being away from home and in a new environment can produce feelings of anxiety, causing students to exhibit symptoms of separation anxiety.

In conclusion, separation anxiety can be difficult to manage, but effective communication, seeking medical treatment, and engaging in enjoyable activities can help individuals with symptoms of ASAD. While research indicates that unemployment and non-traditional employment or work-related changes or instability create an atmosphere for ASAD development, homemakers, retirees, and full-time students are not exempt from experiencing ASAD, requiring further study.

Impact of Separation Anxiety on Adult Relationships

Separation anxiety can have a significant impact on adult relationships, causing stress, instability, and strain. However, with effective communication and the support of friends, family, and licensed professionals, individuals can learn to manage their separation anxiety and strengthen their relationships.

Potential Stress and Strain on Relationships

The symptoms of separation anxiety, such as panic attacks, avoidance behaviors, and constant worry, can place a significant burden on relationships. Partners of those experiencing separation anxiety may feel helpless or frustrated, causing emotional distance and ultimately, relationship instability.

The constant need for reassurance or attention from partners can also create difficulty in building trust and communication. Unmanaged separation anxiety can cause a vicious cycle of increasing anxiety and worsening relationship outcomes.

Importance of Support Systems

Support systems are a crucial component in managing separation anxiety in relationships. Licensed professionals can provide effective coping tools and strategies that can assist individuals in working through their anxiety and building resilience.

Seeking treatment and support can also reduce anxiety levels and prevent the development of more severe mental health conditions. Friends and family can also offer vital support in managing separation anxiety through providing a safe space to express feelings and provide emotional support.

Cross-functional support can also include working with a couples therapist. Addressing the effects of separation anxiety in a relationship with the assistance of a professional therapist can promote skills and ultimately improve relationship dynamics.


Open and honest communication between partners is vital in combating separation anxiety. Through effective communication, partners can discuss their needs, develop coping strategies, create routines and safe spaces that preserve boundaries, and foster trust-building exercises.

Overcoming separation anxiety in relationships is a process and requires commitment and effort to manage effectively. However, with support systems and a willingness to grow, individuals can significantly alleviate the impact of separation anxiety on their relationships and mental health.

In conclusion, separation anxiety is a natural human emotion experienced by individuals in relationships, but when left unmanaged, it can lead to significant stress and strain on relationships. It can affect an individual’s mental and emotional health, and also trigger other disorders.

People who experience separation anxiety can benefit from identifying triggers, establishing self-care practices, seeking professional help, and communicating openly with their partners. In addition, building and maintaining strong relationships with a supportive social circle is crucial in managing separation anxiety effectively.

By promoting open communication and seeking support from a diverse range of emotional and professional resources, individuals can overcome separation anxiety and develop healthy, strong relationships.

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