Anxiety is a fairly common experience for individuals, but when this anxiety is extreme or prolonged, it can have detrimental effects both emotionally and physically. Previous research has shown that romantic relationships can have both positive and negative impacts on the mental health and levels of anxiety for individuals and that a number of stressors can create anxiety between romantic partners. The aim of this study was to examine the causes and sources of anxiety experienced by emerging adults specifically within their romantic relationships. A sample of six respondents from the Toledo Adolescent Relationship Study (TARS) who had the highest scores on the anxiety measures were selected to have their qualitative interviews analyzed. The goal of this analysis was to identify the events and experiences that cause anxiety for emerging adults. With a life course perspective in mind, I also examined how experiences throughout childhood and adolescence may impact the way individuals behave in relationships and what factors may lead to anxiety. The questions this study aimed to answer are: (1) What are the individuals anxious about?; (2) Is the anxiety discussed due to their romantic relationships or some other source? and; (3) Do men and women talk about their experiences with anxiety in different ways? Results showed a few common themes regarding sources of anxiety, including family conflict, mental or physical health issues, financial stress, divorce/breakups, and conflict/violence within romantic relationships. All of these sources were found to directly lead to stress and anxiety for individuals and to cause strain on romantic relationships. No significant gender differences were found. Interestingly, some of these variables were found to be a direct result of romantic relationships, such as mental/physical health issues and financial stress.
Dr. Monica Longmore
First Advisor Department
Dr. Anne Gordon
Second Advisor Department
Gay, Kayla, "Sources of Anxiety in Emerging Adult Relationships: A Qualitative Analysis" (2020). Honors Projects. 513.