Dealing With Friendship Anxiety? Here's What You Need to Know
Friendships can be some of the most important relationships in your life.
Good friends can support you through the difficult times and make the great times even better.
But even with the best of friends, you might still find yourself experiencing friendship anxiety.
Here at KMA Therapy, we know you want to understand the ins and outs of your relationships. Our team is here to help you learn how to navigate and manage all forms of anxiety - including friendship anxiety.
After reading this article, you’ll understand what friendship anxiety is, what causes it, and five ways to overcome it.
What is Friendship Anxiety?
Friendship anxiety is a sense of worry about your platonic relationships - you often feel stressed, overwhelmed, and nervous about your friendships.
You might really fear conflict and arguments, or worry about off-handed comments your friends make.
This doesn’t mean you don’t have quality friendships in your life. In fact, you might have really great friends that you’re scared of losing.
Friendship anxiety is often caused by internal feelings more than your friends themselves.
Signs you have friendship anxiety include:
- You find it difficult to trust others
- You experiencing physical symptoms
- You overthink and replay your interactions
- You’re scared of your friends rejecting you
- You need constant reassurance from your friends
It can be difficult for you to fully trust your friends. Even if they’ve been there for you through everything, you’re always waiting for the other shoe to drop. You worry about the day when you become too much for them, and they’ll give up on you for good.
You experience physical symptoms, like nausea and a rapid heartbeat, when you think you’ve upset your friend. The thought of anything going slightly wrong in your friendships is physically uncomfortable.
Overthinking and replaying conversations with your friends is an everyday occurrence. You can’t stop thinking about that one thing you said that might have annoyed them, and you worry about what you should have done differently the last time you hung out together.
You do everything you can to avoid rejection, including people-pleasing and making sure that all conflicts are smoothed over quickly. Arguments between people who care about each other might be normal, but you don’t know how to have a healthy disagreement.
You’re the friend who constantly asks, “Do you hate me?” While your friends often tell you how much they care about you, you still feel the need to double-check. You want to make sure they didn’t change their mind.
What’s the Difference Between Friendship Anxiety and Social Anxiety?
Friendship anxiety and social anxiety can have some overlapping traits, like ruminating over interactions with others and uncomfortable physical sensations.
But while social anxiety applies to broad situations and includes anxiety around strangers, family members, and friends alike, friendship anxiety is specific to your friendships.
You might have friendship anxiety because you’re worried about losing the relationship, but not the general sense of nervousness around others that comes with social anxiety.
Why Do I Get Anxiety When Someone Gets Too Close to Me?
There are a range of reasons why getting close to someone can make you nervous, from your attachment style to the societal pressure to hide vulnerability.
You may have had a friend who betrayed you in the past, and you’re scared history will repeat itself. You may not have had healthy relationships modelled to you growing up.
Situations like these can make you extra-sensitive to potential threats in relationships - and what some people might see as a friendly disagreement can feel like the end of a relationship to you.
5 Ways to Deal with Friendship Anxiety
It’s normal to feel some friendship anxiety, and it’s not your fault for feeling this way.
But learning how to manage friendship anxiety can help take the pressure off your relationships and make you feel more secure in your friendships.
1. Communicate openly and honestly
Open up to your friends about how you’re feeling.
This can feel daunting, especially if you’re dealing with a lot of fear around being rejected.
But most of the time, the worries you have about your friendships are based on your feelings, not the actual facts of the situation.
Being open and honest about how you’re feeling is a great way to build trust with your friends and give them the space to reassure you.
If they have any of the same worries you do, an honest conversation can help you tackle these challenges together.
2. Set realistic expectations
Are you trying to fill up too many of your needs with your friendships?
Friendships can be a great source of social and emotional support - but they can’t meet every need you have.
Be realistic about what you want from your friendships and explore other ways you can feel fulfilled.
If you find yourself feeling bored whenever you’re alone, think about new hobbies or passions you’d like to pursue. If there’s a concert you want to go to but none of your friends are interested in it, you’re allowed to go see it yourself.
3. Reflect on what’s going on internally
Friendship anxiety is often related to our own struggles and challenges, so learning to work through any difficult experiences you’ve faced can really help.
To dive deeper into self reflection, try finding out what your attachment style is and explore ways to feel more secure in your relationships.
4. Speak to someone who understands
We often think of therapy as something that’s only for mental health challenges like anxiety and depression.
But relationship therapists are great at helping you build healthy connections.
If you’re curious about how your childhood and past relationships might be impacting your friendships, it’s worth it to speak to a relationship therapist.
5. Give yourself time
Don’t be too hard on yourself if these four steps don’t work right away.
It’s okay to give yourself time and accept where you are right now.
Friendship anxiety can be stressful, but it doesn’t make you a bad friend. In fact, it probably means you care a lot about your friendships, and put a lot of effort into making sure you’re there for the people you care about.
Let yourself build more trust over time, and don’t feel bad if your anxieties don’t disappear overnight.
Next Steps for Successful Relationships
After reading this article, you know what friendship anxiety is and how you can overcome it.
Here at KMA Therapy, we’re passionate about helping you thrive in all your relationships, from platonic to romantic. For over 14 years, we’ve helped our clients build fulfilling relationships that create a solid foundation for them to thrive.
Register online to learn more about how therapy could help you and get started on your therapy journey.
If you’d prefer to keep reading, we’ve picked out these articles for you: