Relationship Cold Feet? 5 Coping Tips

Many people know what it feels like to have "cold feet." You may experience pressure in your chest, butterflies in your stomach, confusion in your heart—and ambivalence about just what the future holds. All the uncertainty can be unnerving, to say the least.

Whether it's your first date since you ended a previous relationship or your upcoming wedding, it's natural to get cold feet once in a while.

"It's normal to have nervousness, excitement, and confusion all at the same time," says Karol Ward, LCSW and the author of Worried Sick. With any significant change in relationship status, negative feelings can be present.  "I have had people really go into a panic mode and have feelings of dread," Ward says. "I have people who say, 'Oh my gosh, life as I know it is ending.' "

If you're unsure how to cope with cold feet, consider the following:

1. It's important to talk it out with your partner. Once you actually give voice to your feelings, chances are that you'll feel more centered and positive about moving forward. "A couple should feel that they have the space to say to each other, 'I am scared and I am nervous,' " Ward says. "Often when a couple explores the issues they are having together, they are able to proceed."

2. It's natural to feel a certain amount of pressure and ambivalence before you take the plunge. "To a certain degree, people can even feel pressured to get married, especially if they are at an age when all their friends are getting married and having babies," says Howard Belkin, MD., a psychiatrist affiliated with William Beaumont Hospital in Royal Oak, Michigan. "With this comes second thoughts, where half of you wants to get married and half does not."

3. If there are any trust issues between the two of you, getting cold feet may be positive because it puts the brakes on things, at least for the time being.  "If you are going to be married and share your life with someone, you have to trust the person implicitly," Belkin says. "You need to be able to share the most intimate details of your life and not worry that you need to withhold some details because the other person might use them against you."

4. If your significant other isn't completely over an previous partner, this, too, is a good reason to call a timeout. "In this situation, you want to wait," Belkin says.

5. Listen to your innermost voice. While having cold feet can be normal before a wedding, if you really think that you'd like to turn around and run, then "It is probably not a good thing to go through with the marriage," Belkin says. You may need to give yourself time as a couple to sort things through."