Anxiety and Relationships don’t mix…
Relationships can be difficult as it is, adding in someone with anxiety can make it that much worse. So I’m going to provide a few tips to those dating someone with anxiety. Hopefully, this will give you a little more insight to your significant other’s thought process on some things.
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Anxiety and Relationships
The past few months have been an eye-opener into learning that I’m not as “weird” as I thought – It’s just anxiety, & anxiety is actually more common than I thought.
Anxiety & Motherhood gives you a little insight into figuring out I have been fighting the fight against anxiety. It isn’t something that has just happened. Even though I have learned that it occurs commonly in young adults because stress causes it to surface.
However, looking back over my life span, I have had it for as long as I can remember but I just thought I was weird.
For instance, riding to school I would feel panicky and literally sweat profusely just thinking about the day. I wore a jacket (or at least took one with me) in even 80º weather because I knew before the first class was over, I would sweat through my deodorant. Gross, I know, but it happened without fail every day. It only stopped, or slowed, when I was in high school and I was in a relationship with a guy who made me feel better about myself and happier. It was almost like my anxiety subsided in some ways, but not in the relationship aspect. My anxiety affected that relationship, just like it does my current one. So I’ve learned, anxiety and relationships don’t mix. My current fiancé is a trooper to stick by me, that’s for sure.
I hope that if you’re with someone with anxiety that you will take these heart and think about what it’s like dealing with something you didn’t ask for. Having a brain you cannot shut off. A brain that jumps to the worst case scenario 99% of the time and blows everything out of proportion. If you react with anger, or sarcasm when they need you, it can have negative effects on them for longer than you know.
1. Can You Handle It?
Handling a partner with anxiety is not for the faint of heart. They are definitely not unlovable or too difficult, but some situations need to be handled with care. If you are someone who is angered easily, then you will either need to work on that or think about moving on. Someone who is easily angered around someone who is already freaking out about the little things is just a recipe for disaster.
2. Text Back
Someone with anxiety is counting how long it takes for you to text back vs. how long it usually takes. They are comparing the tone in which you send those texts. They are coming up with all kinds of scenarios that include you hating them, they’re bugging you, you are giving your attention to someone else, etc. It’s not our fault. We would literally love to shut this brain off. I feel like in modern times, this is one reason anxiety and relationships are that much harder.
Avoid making them wonder any worse than they already are and let them know you’re busy. It may seem like such a little thing to you, but to them it’s huge.
3. Watch What You Say/How You Say It.
The words you say are important, as well as how you say it. Maybe you think that you’re joking around or trying to help, but sometimes when they are anxious it could come off mean to them and make matters worse.
Never tell them to “just stop” or tell them they’re being “too uptight”.
Never say anything like that.
Make sure you talk to them and listen if they tell you how to react or how not to react.
Understand their expectations of you when they’re being anxious.
I feel like this is one reason anxiety and relationships don’t work well – the way you react could end it.
4. Changing Plans
This is one that is making sense now. I always wondered why changing the simplest of plans can send my mind into a whirlwind. Changing plans is not easy. This one is easier explained with an example.
Little A’s birthday party was planned to be at a local fire department because our driveway is too small for all the cars.
The Day Of…
Everyone but a few pulled out and my fiancé decided that it would be better to have it at the house so they could play on her new swing set. I was instantly irritable. I knew the idea was better. However, it sent my anxiety through the roof. I spent all week trying to mentally prepare and set out scenarios for what could happen at the fire department just for it to be changed an hour before her party was to start. I’m still trying to mentally recuperate 5 days later.
Changing plans is obviously inevitable, but you need to know that it won’t be easy for your partner.
Do NOT tell them to “just calm down”. We know we’re being irrational, we can’t help it.
5. The World IS Ending
If someone has anxiety, they feel like everything is the end of the world. Even the smallest tasks can stress them out. Going to the doctor, calling in take-out, etc. Those may be simple tasks for you, but these small tasks can make the world seem like it could crash and burn.
Understand that the small errands like grocery shopping can mentally wear them out.
Don’t ask “Why are you so tired, you only did (insert simple errand/activity here)”.
6. Relaxing? What’s That?
Want to walk through the park for a relaxing stroll? How sweet, right? Wrong. Their mind doesn’t shut off. Remember that. Walking through a park may make them tense. The quiet can cause their mind to wonder more. They can’t just “chill out” no matter how much they want to.
Talk to them. About anything really. Use the time to bond or whatever. Quiet doesn’t mean content. If they are quiet they may be panicking or extra anxious.
Just know, if it’s quiet, they have bombs going off in their head.
Also remember, a hug can go a long way.
7. Special Occasions/Holidays
Holidays and special occasions are the worst. Being in a different place, even if it’s familiar, it’s filled with people they’re not used to being around on a daily basis. Usually, it’s very loud and crowded. That’s just not our thing. Someone with anxiety may not do well with quiet, but they don’t do well with a ton of noise either. Their mind, already filled with thoughts. When they try to concentrate while 5 different conversations are going on around them – it is extremely overwhelming.
Learn how to read their expressions and know when to get them out.
However, don’t make it about their anxiety. Just ask them to go outside with you.
Or to a place with fewer people.
8. Don’t Interrupt
If someone with anxiety is trying to do something, don’t interrupt their train of thought unless absolutely necessary. Are they cooking or cleaning? Let them finish. They have their mind set on it and have their system is in place. Don’t mess it up.
However, you could offer to help so they get done quicker.
9. Falling asleep is difficult. Waking up is too.
Anxiety causes them to stay awake for hours at night. They could be thinking about something that happened to them recently, years ago or something that happened that day. Which in turn causes waking up to be a task too as they’re tired because they didn’t get enough sleep.
Don’t tell them to “just close their eyes” or “just go to sleep”.
Trust me, if we could we would!
10. Panic Attacks & Anxiety Attacks
Yes, there is a difference and you will have to be able to handle it.
Calmly is most definitely preferred.
Acting uptight and freaking out will not help someone who is already freaking out.
11. Don’t Play Games
If you want to be with them, be with them! Don’t play games. As someone who is literally already overthinking everything, your mind games can be the end of the relationship. If you don’t want that, watch how you react.
If they mess up and make a mistake, don’t do something to “get back at them”.
12. Patience is a Virtue
You will need to learn lots of patience. They are already on the edge. Anticipating for something, anything, to go wrong. If they are being overdramatic, don’t tell them that. Trust me, they know.
They want to be comfortable meeting new people. They want to be comfortable in new situations. Hell, they would even love being comfortable calling in take-out.
13. They know you have it rough
Someone with anxiety knows that being with them is not easy. They will overthink and find ways to justify to themselves that you don’t want to be with them. I mean, someone has probably already made them feel like they’re too much in the past.
Reassure them. A lot.
Anxiety and relationships may not mix, but that doesn’t mean it’s not possible to be with someone with anxiety. Just be a little more cautious how you react to certain situations. Remember they didn’t ask for this, they also don’t want to deal with it any more than you do.
If you have anxiety or are with someone who has anxiety, how do you deal with anxiety and relationships?
Leave any thoughts or comments below.