No one chooses who you fall for and no one ever prepared you for this. Anxiety doesn’t have to break your relationship or put a strain on it to the point that you can hardly enjoy each other. When you date someone with anxiety, they do things that can irritate you. However, let me be the one to tell you that they’re only doing that to be assured or feel validated.
Anxiety is something that burdens a lot of people.
But, it doesn’t mean that they are a burden because of it.
There are a lot of things that you have to learn about anxiety in general. This way, it would positively affect your partner, your relationship, and you can connect with them in an entirely new way. Remember, educating yourself can also relieve a lot of stress. You will have to know how you support your partner and understand how their mental health issue is impacting them and not just your relationship with them.
Anxiety is normal. It makes people experience fight-or-flight reactions and stress during non-life-threatening instances. This includes worrying non-stop whether their partner will leave or not. When you date someone with anxiety, you can’t “fix” or “cure” them despite what cliché movies and books tell you.
They need constant reassurance and validation.
Symptoms can occur in waves or consistently or sometimes, even both. However, there will be times that your partner won’t experience symptoms. It causes them to worry too much and sometimes, act irrationally. They tend to have frequent and intense anxious thoughts, making them doubt you despite what they feel about you.
Sometimes, questions inside their head sound like these:
- What if he doesn’t love me as much as I love him?
- What if he’s lying to me?
- Is he happy with me?
- What if he likes someone else?
- Will they be better for him?
- Am I even worth it?
- What if we break up?
- What if I’m always the first one to reach out?
- Am I enough for him?
How to know if you’re dating a person with anxiety
Sometimes, they say sorry too many times. It’s involuntary. They worry about always saying and doing the right thing. If they screwed up a little task, they would feel as if it would ruin the whole relationship. They would reevaluate the situation and realize that ‘Oh, I could I have said/done this differently.‘ This would trigger their apologies, triggering them to wanting to better the situation.
Sometimes, they would apologize for thinking too much, talking too much, texting too much, trying entirely too hard, caring too much, showing that they care, coming on too strong, or even apologizing to the fact that they are apologizing. The fact that they do this all the time made their reflex of apologizing become a habit. Thankfully, since it isn’t a neurologically engendered action, they can amend it over time.
They ask the same question time and time again. Just to be sure, they will ask it one more time. They need to be assured and promised that everything will be okay. Sometimes, if you repeat the directions multiple times, they will need you to repeat it again. Better yet, you just have to take their hand and lead them to the place they want to go.
They need to be assured and promised that everything is going to be okay.
You will have to text them or call them all the time. They would need constant replies just to feel calmed or validated. They feel distressed when waiting for a reply or never receiving a reply from a text they sent to you. It raises unexpected questions and concerns inside their minds which frequently lead to unnecessary time attempting to resolve the tension that they thought of.
Please don’t act as if you are their surrogate therapist.
For obvious reasons, you don’t have to “cope” with it. Just care for them, support them, and be there for them. Although when you deeply care for someone, it would be tempting to try to act as their surrogate therapist. However, if you’re not a therapist, please don’t act like one. It would be emotionally draining and it would make you resent your partner.
As much as you want to be one, don’t be their superhero. They can save themselves and for them, it would be satisfying to see you fighting alongside them. They would need you to be their teammate who doesn’t treat them as a damsel in distress or a bachelor in despair. Of course, you can take the pressure off your partner, but don’t tiptoe around them.
Communicate with your partner about their anxiety
Anxiety is scary. Sometimes, they want to avoid talking about it. However, one of the most effective ways to face it is feeling and validating those feelings. You need to encourage them to open up about it and try to listen without judging or being defensive about it. You can talk and talk and talk but if you don’t understand each other, you won’t get anywhere.
Communication may be the key.
But, to open the lock, you’ll also need comprehension.
If you really care about them, you shouldn’t say these things to people with anxiety:
- “Calm down!” They literally can’t do that.
- “It’s all in your head.” Of course, it is. But, it doesn’t mean that it isn’t real.
- “It’s really not a big deal.” Congrats, you just implied that their anxiety isn’t a big deal.
- “I know how you feel.” Unless you have anxiety yourself, no you don’t.
- “Other people are suffering from worse conditions.” It’s like telling them to shut up and stop complaining. Someone may be in a full-body cast right next to them but it also doesn’t mean that their broken leg doesn’t hurt.
All in all, just be there for them. Love them, take care of them, and support them.
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Angela Grace P. Baltan is a Communication graduate from Colegio de San Juan de Letran. She doesn’t hesitate to be opinionated in analyzing movies and television series. As a writer, she uses her articles to advocate for feminism, gender equality, and mental health among others.