The heart craves what the heart craves, and the mind follows suit. You may not always be able to control who you fall for.
Moreover, being in love means embracing and appreciating the other person’s positive traits and flaws. Your partner with anxiety, like you, wants to be accepted exactly as he or she is.
In your relationship, anxiety is a third party. It’s waiting for an opportunity to strike. Your relationship could be saved or destroyed by your partner’s anxiety.
It could put a strain on your relationship, or you and your partner could emerge stronger than ever.
You can help an anxious person by asking what you can do. Communicate with your partner after the situation calms.
Ask them about their anxiety symptoms and avoid thinking of anxiety as something only you or your partner has to deal with. Take small steps toward your goal with patience and professional guidance.
What you need to know and do when dating an anxious person is laid out in this article, from how to be a supportive partner to how anxiety can affect your relationship and more. This article is for those who want to ensure that anxiety doesn’t take over their relationship.
How Anxiety Affects Relationships
Regardless of how long you’ve been dating, your partner will eventually reveal that they are dealing with anxiety.
Be sensitive, empathic, and nonjudgmental at this crucial juncture in the relationship.
Your partner’s anxiety may be triggered by past relationship traumas like infidelity or a parent’s divorce, or by anything else that had an impact on the relationship.
There are times in a relationship when your partner’s anxiety stems from a previous trauma that has nothing to do with the current one.
A healthy relationship with someone who suffers from anxiety can only be achieved if both parties have a thorough understanding of what anxiety disorder is.
Anxiety disorder is characterized by a person’s tendency to overreact to a wide range of stimuli, including those that aren’t life-threatening.
Among the many physical signs of anxiety are a pounding heart, excessive sweating, shallow breathing, and a host of other difficulties focusing.
Individuals who suffer from crippling anxiety disorders struggle to get through their days without having panic attacks or overthinking everything.
Your partner may spend a lot of time stressing and thinking deeply about what could go wrong or is already wrong in the relationship if you’re dating someone who suffers from anxiety.
Negative thoughts and questions that might be going through their head include the following:
- What if they don’t adore me the way I adore them?
- What if they’re telling me the truth?
- What if they’re withholding information from me?
- What if they’re being unfaithful to me?
- What if they decide to betray me?
- What if they have a stronger attraction to someone else?
- What if my anxiety causes our relationship to fall apart? (anxiety over anxiety)
- What if we don’t work out?
- What if they don’t reply to my text?
- What if I’m always the one who reaches out first?
- What if they leave me alone?
The majority of us have at least a few of these thoughts. Relationships, especially new ones, often include them.
Anxiety disorders, on the other hand, tend to make these thoughts more frequent and more intense for those who suffer from them. Anxiety rises when we dwell on negative thoughts rather than positive ones
It’s not uncommon for a partner’s anxious thoughts to lead to behavior that irritates you and strains your bond.
Anxious people tend to project their negative thoughts and feelings onto the other person in their relationship. This can cause a rift in the relationship, which can lead to tension and stress.
Many people have to deal with anxiety-motivated behaviors in their relationships. Other warning signs to keep an eye out for include:
- Anger or irritability
- Being in charge
- Distracted and unable to concentrate
- Being overly critical
- Avoidant or passive-aggressive behavior
Being in a relationship with someone who suffers from social anxiety can harm your own social life. Social events and gatherings with your partner might not be possible at all times.
As with other forms of anxiety, if social anxiety disorder starts impacting your relationship, it could cause arguments or cause you two to grow apart.
How to Deal With an Anxious Partner: Do’s and Don’t
Having a partner who suffers from an anxiety disorder may be a completely new experience for you. But if you’re in love, you’ll do whatever it takes to keep the relationship going. You don’t have to put your relationship at risk because of your partner’s anxiety.
By employing the right coping mechanisms, you can maintain a healthy relationship and avoid excessive stress.
DO: Encourage your partner to seek therapy
To be there for your partner if they are experiencing anxiety is a no-brainer, right? You’re worried about them, so you want to be there for them all the time to offer support.
However, you must keep in mind that you are not the patient’s therapist.
Because your advice may be influenced by your own biases, and since every issue boils down to a matter of personal preference. Additionally, you and your partner may feel exhausted and resentful of one another as a result of the experience.
Make sure they’re not alone when they need it by being there for them. Encourage them to seek out professional help.
Don’t try to impose your ideas on them right away; instead, introduce them one at a time. Talk to your partner about the benefits of seeing a therapist for their anxiety.
Couples therapy is an option if you feel the need for one. Your partner will get the impression that your goal is to make this relationship work and have a happy one if you do this.
DO: Go to therapy by yourself
In either case, whether or not your partner is on board, you should go to therapy on your own. You’ll learn how to better understand and deal with your partner’s anxiety as a result of this course.
A therapist can also help you learn how to be a better supporter in your relationship.
When you’re dating someone who suffers from anxiety, it’s easy to overlook your own needs. You can keep your focus on your mental health by going to therapy.
DO: Learn to communicate more effectively about your anxiety
Communicating with someone who suffers from anxiety requires practice. Every word you say, or refrain from saying, and every action you take can impact your partner. Find out how to communicate better with an anxious partner.
Accept your partner’s anxiety as part of their treatment. Discuss their feelings openly.
Encourage your partner to talk about their feelings. Listen without judgment to how they feel and what they’re thinking. If you’re insane, keep calm and don’t yell.
DO: Take control of your anxiety responses
Anxiety sufferers may break down in a way that appears to be a personal attack on you or an act of self-deprecation on your part when they do so. It’s not, however. In this case, it isn’t an attempt to break up with you.
Keep an eye on your reactions when you’re around your partner. Avoid yelling at your partner and avoiding situations that make him or her anxious.
Talking about how you can help them the next time they have a panic attack is helpful. To have a successful relationship, you and your partner must be on the same page.
It’s more important to control your own emotions than to control those of your partner. It can help you be there for your partner while also setting boundaries.
You can’t be there for your partner if you’re constantly freaking out over their anxiety.
DO: Establish boundaries
It’s important to strike a balance between being patient and setting healthy boundaries when dating someone with anxiety.
When you understand how their anxiety affects their behavior, you can be more forgiving of their mistakes.
In any case, there should be some restrictions on how far this can be taken. Mental illness does not give anyone the right to be mean or abusive, even if they are suffering from a severe mental illness.
Through non-violent communication training, you will learn to communicate more effectively with your loved ones.
Even amid panic attacks or other times of high anxiety, you can make it clear to your partner that these actions are unacceptable.
Tell your partner that you expect them to improve their ability to deal with their anxiety by taking action on their own. Establishing boundaries in this way is an important step.
DO: Take a mental health break together
It is beneficial for couples to engage in activities together as a means of coping with mental illness. Take a mental health break together as a couple.
For example, you can go on dates, short vacations, work out together, or even have a movie night with your significant other.
Make time as a couple to do things that make you both happy instead of focusing on and stressing about your anxiety. Stressful situations should be avoided at all costs. Consider what will bring you and your partner joy.
Instead of focusing on it as a source of stress, they can develop an interest in it and see it as an opportunity to learn. It’s harder to get angry about anxiety when you’re trying to understand it.
The Don’ts: What You Shouldn’t Do Avoid
Dating someone with anxiety is not there to worsen their condition, but rather to help them manage their symptoms so that they don’t fall into depression.
You’re a part of your partner’s treatment, whether you like it or not. The following are some suggestions for what to avoid if your partner is anxious.
DON’T: Never assume that everything bad in their life is due to their anxiety
A person’s life can be significantly impacted by their anxiety. It’s not always possible to control the symptoms they’re having. You should not, however, assume that your partner’s problems are solely the result of their stress.
When your partner is under a lot of stress, all you need to do is be there for them. These relationships necessitate open communication because of this.
DONT: Discourage them from being afraid
Try to stay away from convincing your partner that they have nothing to be afraid of, no matter how much you care about them.
Their fears are irrational, and your partner is aware of this fact. That which worries them may not come to pass. In contrast, persuading them that fear is rational can make them feel like an idiot.
This isn’t going to help you. Do not make light of their fears or the things they are afraid of, and this goes without saying. It’s better to keep your mouth shut if you think this is absurd.
These anxieties are real. It’s enough to just be present and hold their hand. Instead of saying something that may or may not be helpful, keep your mouth shut.
DON’T: Pretend to be an expert on everything
Good for you for researching anxiety to better understand what your partner is going through. However, don’t pretend to be an expert on anxiety or the feelings of your partner. Your partner’s anxiety can only be fully understood by you.
You have to be respectful of that, and you have to be there to listen, not to judge. Don’t try to tell your partner what they should do because you think you know better.
Remember not to take everything personally. Don’t blame yourself if your partner isn’t interested in the conversation.
Don’t stoke the flames by reacting anxiously or angrily, as this isn’t good for your relationship. Wait for the situation to calm down before approaching your partner.
Don’t try to force your partner to change if he or she has anxiety. Even if that change is necessary, it must be done slowly and with the support of those who need it. Begin with small steps and always seek the advice of mental health professionals.
5 Best Ways to Help Your Anxious Partner
It can be difficult to know what to say or do to help someone who suffers from an anxiety disorder.
Often, you know that what they are experiencing is irrational and that their perception of reality at the moment may not be entirely correct.
You can be supportive but you can’t become your partner’s therapist without compensation. If your partner needs emotional support, a therapist won’t be there.
To provide a “safe space” for someone who is experiencing anxiety, there are some practical steps you can take. Here are a few pointers.
1. Realize they are not their disorder
Think of your partner’s anxiety disorder as a separate entity from theirs when you’re talking to them. Their lives are colored by this disorder, but it isn’t a state of being at all.
The more compassionate approach is to treat people with anxiety disorders as whole people, not just as a collection of symptoms they happen to be suffering from.
2. Drop the “Blame Game”
Recall that your partner’s feelings of anxiety stem from a combination of genetic and environmental factors.
Arousal of anxiety isn’t something they do to be cunning or to thwart their plans. As much as those who suffer from anxiety wish it would go away, having an anxiety disorder is something that no one can prevent.
3. Share self-care/mental health rituals with your partner
Do you engage in any rituals or pastimes that help you maintain your mental well-being? Alternatively, you could try meditating, running, or listening to calming music. Include your significant other if possible.
Daily movement and doing something you enjoy are important protective factors for our mental health, and finding hobbies that benefit both of you is a great place to start.
These shared experiences can help both you and your partner manage your anxiety, as well. Your relationship will be less stressful if you include your partner in rituals like this.
4. Be a mindful listener
An anxious person appreciates a sympathetic ear. Chronic anxiety is isolating and humiliating. Talking openly about your feelings and experiences with someone who can listen without judgment and with empathy can be very beneficial.
The listener should remember to simply be there for them without offering advice or trying to “fix” anything for them.
5. Understand that they have certain triggers
Understanding what sets off your partner’s anxiety is the first step toward managing it. Anxiety sufferers are usually aware of the triggers that cause them to spiral into a state of panic.
Not every trigger must be protected, but you can help them navigate their lives more sensitively around those that are.
A better understanding of how and when your partner becomes anxious can also be gained from this.
Anxiety can be a source of tension outside of romantic relationships as well. In your fear, you have the opportunity to get to know and appreciate your partner even more. Their anxiety stems from the beliefs they hold about the world around them.
You don’t have to let your anxiety ruin your relationship or make it difficult for you to enjoy it. You and your partner can deepen your love and intimacy by gaining a better understanding of anxiety in general and how it affects both of you. Many of the stresses in life can be alleviated by educating oneself.