When I first explored the world of Separation Anxiety, I found it was not easily categorized but particular to the person. The many symptoms and means of healing aid in discovering the feeling or disorder, but they certainly do not help your inner peace.
So, I sat down, pen in hand and a glass of coke in the other, wondering what could have possibly helped me a few months ago when I sat alone with the same dilemma. It was more so a rhetorical question. Surely nothing can help a troubled mind… except for an understanding that what one is feeling is normal.
Every person I spoke to and wrote to had a unique story; all were diverse in sex and sexuality.
Annabel came in.
How old were you when you first experienced Separation Anxiety within a romantic relationship?
“I was about 18 the first time I really felt separation anxiety, About 1 year into the relationship. This happened with my first partner. We both had moved to university, I didn’t feel settled at all at; I didn’t fit in with the people around me therefore I would kind of cling onto my boyfriend, I would deliberately miss lectures and seminars to travel and stay with him. I would stay for as long as possible, sometimes I would call him late in the evenings and night to convince him that I should come again.”
How did he feel about it?
“He didn’t feel exactly the same.”
How did you ease it?
“I had no idea how to ease it and I felt extremely uncomfortable doing daily activities without him, which included simple walks into town. My anxiety levels were increasing. I never researched it but looking back now I can tell it was because I wasn’t settled in the environment I was in and completely relied on him for comfort.”
Did that make you feel any particular way?
“It made me feel really upset and scared that my boyfriend would think I was too clingy or not independent at all.”
Sansa walked in next.
Why and when did you begin feeling this way?
“We had a very rocky start and were on and off for a while, which I think fed into the separation anxiety, as he was a young uni student, and I was worried about him experiencing the whole “out of sight out of mind” thing. I figured it was to do with the previous negative experiences I had which created a massive fear of losing him or infidelity,”
I know that wouldn’t have felt great. How would you describe your state of mind?
“It felt terrible! I honestly felt like a crazy person because I knew deep down, I completely trusted my partner but there was just this unexplained anxiety and distress whenever we were apart. Combining this with being long distance meant that I just had this constant fear that as soon as we were separated it would lead to breaking up.”
Did this happen with your previous partner?
“It didn’t happen with my first partner but honestly, I think that’s because I didn’t have the same feelings for him. With my new partner, he became my best friend which I think also added to the separation anxiety, I wasn’t independent enough to be apart from him, but as time has gone on I’ve learnt to have my own life separate to the relationship.”
How long did it last?
“This lasted from about halfway through our “situationship” until we had been official for a couple of months (about six months).”
Did you get better? Did you research it?
“I didn’t really do any research on separation anxiety, but this was eased through building trust, which made it easier to feel comfortable and secure in the relationship even when we’re hundreds of miles apart.”
When did it start?
“I was 20 and about 5 months into my current relationship when I first experienced anxieties about being away from my partner.”
Do you know why you experienced this? It must have been difficult.
“After doing long distance for a while, we moved in together, and our romance blossomed. However, I began to experience feelings of dread whenever my partner left the house without me. Nights out were the worst, as I would think of the worst-case scenarios. My mind would spiral and would push myself into a panic about my partners safety.”
Did you only feel this way when they left?
“My heart also sank when I left the house without my partner. I felt guilty about leaving her alone. Separation Anxiety threatened my relationship.“
Did you look into why you felt this way?
“I did not research separation anxiety at all, I assumed all people feel this way about the one they love. I still experience feelings of dread when my partner leaves alone, but the feeling diminishes when I receive a text from her telling me she is okay. This puts my irrational thoughts at bay and allows me to look forward to when she comes home.”
Alfie approached last.
When exactly did you meet them?
“My situation is a weird one given that I and him were completely infatuated with each other within a week of the meeting. For context, I met him on Sunday and practically lived around him until Wednesday. Separation anxiety must have kicked in on Wednesday when we’d agreed that would be the night we would have a night off from each other, which I accepted as I did think we were moving too fast as well. However, he sent me snaps of him at a club where he was socializing with many guys from the same dating app.”
Was that scary to you at all?
“My fear was that he would meet one of these guys at the club and end up binning me off for one of them (childish, I know, considering we hadn’t even gone on a proper date). The separation anxiety manifested into the fact that I just wanted to be around him just to show that I would be fully committed to him in a romantic setting and that if he didn’t want me around then that would evolve into him not wanting me to stay round his again.”
How old were you at the time?
“I was 19, one week away from 20. It was in the first term of Second Year; a period of time where I thought I was quite grounded in finding myself.”
How did you cope? Did you try the internet?
“To be honest the easing was done on his part… He ended up blocking me on everything after my birthday. Then, on Valentine’s Day, I found out he was with another guy the entire time! Obviously, this was heartbreaking. I genuinely didn’t think it was possible to feel your heart sinking until I opened my social media on that night and saw all their memories together.”
Was this your first relationship?
“To date, this experience has been the closest I have ever gotten to a romantic relationship. I think the anxiety stemmed from the thought of losing this chance at love.”
Any words of advice?
“Part of me felt stupid for becoming so embroiled in a boy I had met 5 minutes ago, but now I have learned that the anxiety of a talking stage/situationship is completely normal. I have accepted that the universe does the work for you. If a new person comes along and knocks me off my feet, then so be it. Sometimes you just have to let life flow. Something will always be waiting around the corner. The anxiety will never last forever, and you never know that it might have been worth it.