Anxiety and relationship perceptions

Friday, 26 July 2013 0 comments

Anxiety and relationship perceptions

Compared with less anxious persons, highly anxious individuals worry about being abandoned and crave emotional support, closeness, and reassurance from their romantic partners. These desires and worries motivate highly anxious persons to monitor their partners and relationships closely for signs of deficient or waning physical or emotional proximity.

Anxiety also biases the way in which they perceive their romantic partners and relationships. When asked to imagine their partners behaving negatively toward them (e.g., “your partner does not comfort you when you are feeling down”), highly anxious individuals make more negative attributions about their partners’ behavior (e.g., “my partner is rejecting my desire for closeness/intimacy”), believe that their partners are selfish and deliberately unresponsive to their needs, question their partners’ love, feel less secure about the relationship, and feel greater anger toward their partners than do less anxious individuals.

The hypervigilance of more anxiously attached individuals intensifies the monitoring and appraisal of relationship-threatening cues. These individuals thus interpret information in a manner that confirms their negative expectations of attachment figures. These tendencies make highly anxious individuals even more vulnerable to experiencing distress and concerns about the stability and future of their relationships. Indeed, when they are distressed, highly anxious individuals typically display emotion-focused coping strategies that increase their distress, tendencies that could also lead them to view their partners and relationships in a less positive light.

Highly anxious persons experience more intense feelings and more variable highs and lows in their relationships than others. Compared with less anxious individuals, they also report greater distress, anxiety, and impulsiveness in their social interactions; experience stronger negative emotions in their romantic relationships and often are involved in stable but dissatisfying romantic relationships.
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