Why Does it Hurt to be Apart? Understanding Separation Anxiety and Strengthening Relationships


Why It Hurts to be Away from Your Partner

Have you ever felt like something is seriously missing in your life when your partner is not around? Maybe you get anxious, can’t focus on your daily tasks, or just feel sad whenever you’re apart.

Well, you’re not alone. Separation anxiety is a real issue that affects many couples, and it can impact our daily functioning if not addressed properly.

In this article, we’re going to explore the reasons why it hurts to be away from your partner, as well as some strategies to overcome separation anxiety and strengthen your relationship.

Separation Anxiety: An Anxiety Disorder

First and foremost, separation anxiety is an anxiety disorder.

It can manifest as intense anxiety or fear when we’re apart from our loved ones, and can even lead to physical symptoms like headaches, stomachaches, or even panic attacks. If you’re an anxious person by nature, you’re even more prone to experiencing separation anxiety – and it can be tough to manage on your own.

It’s important to remember that seeking help from a psychiatrist or therapist if the anxiety is impacting your daily life is okay – and in fact, it’s encouraged.

Hormonal Changes: Oxytocin and Vasopressin

Have you ever heard of oxytocin and vasopressin?

These hormones are often referred to as the “love hormones,” and they’re what make us feel so close and connected to our partners. When we’re away from our partners, our bodies go through withdrawal from these hormones – with a corresponding drop in positive emotions and mood.

This can lead to a sense of loss, heartache, or even physical pain.

Anxiety and Stress: The Dependency Trap

Many people come to depend on their partners for support, comfort, and validation.

And when we’re apart, it can be hard to know how to take care of ourselves in the same way. Anxiety and stress can result from feeling like we can’t function on our own.

If we’re constantly looking to our partners for our sense of self-worth or well-being, we’re left feeling lost and helpless when we’re separated.

Physical Pain: Social Pain and Heartache

Believe it or not, physical pain and emotional pain go hand in hand.

Studies have shown that social pain and physical pain activate the same areas of the brain. So when we experience heartache from being apart from our partner, our physical pain centers can also be activated, leading to a very real sense of discomfort and distress.

Attachment Style: Secure, Anxious, or Anxious-Avoidant

Our attachment style is a major factor in how we experience separation anxiety. If we have a secure attachment style, we know we can count on our partners for support and stability, even when we’re apart.

But if we have an anxious or anxious-avoidant attachment style, we’re more prone to feeling insecure, upset, or even pushing our partners away when we’re separated. Understanding your own attachment style and how it affects your reactions to separation is key to managing this anxiety.

Sense of Self: Dependency and Self-Care

As we mentioned earlier, the sense of loss we feel when we’re apart from our partners can lead to a dependency trap. It can be hard to know how to take care of ourselves – emotionally and physically – when we’re used to relying on our partners.

But the good news is that we can work on cultivating a sense of self that doesn’t depend on external validation or support. Self-care strategies like journaling, practicing hobbies, or taking a vacation can help us feel more independent and self-sufficient.

Pushing Your Partner Away: Negative Emotions and Distancing Behavior

Sometimes, when we’re feeling anxious or upset about being separated from our partners, we can unintentionally push them away. This can manifest as negative emotions or distancing behavior – and it can be damaging to our relationships.

It’s important to recognize when we’re having an emotional reaction and take steps to communicate this to our partners in a healthy and constructive way. Promoting positivity and seeking mutual support can help keep our relationships strong even when we’re apart.

Past Trauma: Insecurity, Projection, and Baggage

Our past experiences can also influence how we experience separation anxiety. If we’ve gone through traumatic experiences related to separations – like a parent leaving us at a young age, for example – we may have deeper-seated feelings of insecurity or projection that come up when we’re separated from our partners.

Recognizing and addressing past traumas with a therapist or psychologist can be a helpful step in managing these feelings.

Lack of Quality Time: Meaningful Connection, Bonding, and Relaxing

Sometimes, the root of our separation anxiety is simply a lack of quality time spent with our partners.

If we’re not able to connect with them on a meaningful or regular basis, we may feel more anxious or worried when we’re apart. Making time for bonding activities – like going on a date, taking a walk, or just relaxing together – can help us feel closer to our partners and more secure in our relationships.

Sudden Life Changes: Insecurity, Sudden Bouts, and Stress

Finally, sudden life changes – like a job loss, move, or illness – can upend our sense of security and stability. We may experience sudden bouts of anxiety or stress related to these changes, especially if they impact our ability to spend time with our partners.

In these cases, it’s important to remember that our partners can be a source of strength and support. Communicating our feelings and seeking mutual understanding can help us overcome these challenges together.

Overcoming Separation Anxiety: Self-Care, Therapy, and Healthy Relationship Behaviors

So, how can we overcome separation anxiety and strengthen our relationships? There are a few key strategies:

Self-Care Strategies

  • Practice journaling, meditation, or other hobbies that help you cultivate a sense of self outside of your relationship.
  • Take a vacation or plan a fun activity to look forward to with your partner.
  • Engage in physical exercise that helps improve your mood and reduce stress.


  • Work with a psychologist or therapist to address past traumas or anxiety disorders.
  • Use cognitive-behavioral strategies to break down negative thought patterns related to separation.

Healthy Relationship Behaviors

  • Communicate your feelings and needs to your partner in a positive and constructive way.
  • Actively promote positivity and mutual support in your relationship.
  • Make time for meaningful bonding activities on a regular basis.

By using these strategies, we can learn how to manage our separation anxiety and build stronger, more resilient relationships with our partners.

Importance of Meaningful Connection

At the heart of overcoming separation anxiety is the importance of meaningful connection. Whether it’s with our partners, friends, or family members, having support systems and close relationships can help keep us grounded and secure even when we’re apart.

Bonding experiences can take many forms – from simple conversations over coffee to more elaborate date nights or vacations. It’s important to prioritize these experiences and make them a regular part of our lives to maintain a sense of closeness and connection with the people we care about.

But it’s not just about our romantic relationships – maintaining strong friendships can also be a key factor in reducing the impact of separation anxiety. Good friends can provide a sounding board, a distraction from negative emotions, or even just a shoulder to cry on when we’re feeling down.

It’s important to cultivate relationships with people who we can trust and rely on in times of need. And when we’re feeling separated from our partners, friends and loved ones can be an invaluable source of comfort and support.

Seeking Professional Help

While self-care and relationship-building strategies can be effective in managing separation anxiety, sometimes we need more guidance and support than these strategies can provide on their own. That’s where seeking professional help can come in.

Working with a therapist or psychologist can be a helpful way to address deeper-seated emotional issues or anxiety disorders that might be contributing to our separation anxiety. Through therapy, we can learn new coping strategies, break down negative thought patterns, and gain a deeper understanding of ourselves and our needs.

Professional guidance can also be useful in helping us communicate with our partners in healthy and constructive ways. A therapist can provide an objective outside perspective and help mediate difficult conversations or conflicts.

While seeking professional help can feel intimidating or scary, it’s important to remember that it’s a sign of strength and self-care. We all need help sometimes, and reaching out for support is an essential step in overcoming separation anxiety.

Reducing Emotional Stress

One key strategy for managing separation anxiety is reducing emotional stress in our daily lives. This can take many forms, from incorporating more self-care activities into our routines to making healthy lifestyle choices that help us feel more calm and centered.

Self-care can include things like journaling, meditation, practicing hobbies, or taking a hot bath. These activities give us the chance to step away from our worries and focus on our own needs, helping us feel more grounded and centered in ourselves.

Engaging in healthy behaviors like regular exercise, healthy eating, or avoiding substances like alcohol and drugs can also help reduce our overall stress levels. When our bodies are healthy and well-cared for, we’re better able to manage the emotional ups and downs of life – including separation from our partners.

Finally, meaningful connection with others can be a key factor in reducing emotional stress. Prioritizing time spent with loved ones and friends can help us feel more grounded and supported, even when we’re apart from our partners.

It’s important to remember that managing separation anxiety is an ongoing process. It takes time, effort, and dedication to build strong relationships, practice self-care, and seek professional help when we need it.

But with the right tools and support, we can learn how to navigate separation anxiety and build strong, resilient relationships with the people we care about. In conclusion, separation anxiety can be a challenging issue to manage, but with the right strategies and support, we can learn how to overcome it and strengthen our relationships.

From practicing self-care and seeking professional help to prioritizing meaningful connection, there are many effective ways to manage the feelings of loss and heartache that can arise when we’re apart from our partners. By building strong relationships with our partners, friends, and loved ones and taking care of ourselves physically and emotionally, we can learn how to navigate separation anxiety and build stronger, more resilient relationships that last.

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