‘I want to be with you… I go berserk when you are not here.’
‘She is not responding to my messages.. something unpleasant might have happened, I should go and check right away,’ or
‘I cannot eat or sleep without you.. my life becomes depressing when you are not around.’
Anxiety is stressful for the people who are dealing with it, and also for their loved ones. It could be difficult to date someone with anxiety issues while maintaining a balance in the relationship. If your partner is dealing with anxiety issues or has frequent panic attacks, you have to be patient in dealing with them if you want the relationship to work.
Knowing what to do and what not to do to help your partner with their anxiety may help you strengthen your bond and keep the relationship going without any hiccups.
In this MomJunction post, we give you a few tips on dating someone with anxiety.
Understanding Anxiety Issues In A Relationship
Getting into a relationship is more or less like getting on a roller coaster. There’s excitement and happiness, along with some risk of getting hurt or being disappointed. And if you are dating someone with anxiety issues, you should be prepared for some bumps on the way.
There might be uncertainty when stepping into a new relationship, and some amount of anxiety could be reasonable. But if your partner has an anxiety disorder, it could be challenging for you to understand them (especially when you don’t have anxiety issues or know anyone who’s had anxiety issues). So how would you know if your partner is dealing with normal anxiety or generalized anxiety disorder (GAD)?
Generalized anxiety disorder can be understood by traits such as severe and constant worry about anything and everything. A person with GAD could be constantly worried and anxious about family, relationships, partners, friends, work, finance, and health, even when there is no problem. They tend to worry excessively even about small things and experience sudden panic attacks (1).
Generalized anxiety disorder is different from general anxiety issues. Here, we list some signs of GAD to help you figure out if your partner is dealing with GAD or common anxiety disorder.
- If your partner depends on you entirely and needs your reassurance always, then they may have GAD. For instance, they have a terrible day at work, and they want you to calm them down. Or they want to go shopping, and they want you to go along.
- Your partner worries or gets too anxious in bed. For instance, you may find something wrong with them when you are getting close to them. Or they stop you without giving you any reason. In such cases, they may be dealing with GAD.
- You want to talk about the future and wedding or something important. But your partner avoids serious discussions.
- Your significant other always has a fear of losing you. They keep on asking whether you love them, or would you leave them if they find someone else.
- Your partner may get jealous or act too possessive when you spend more time with a friend or someone else. It could be a sign of generalized anxiety disorder.
- If your loved one doubts you always, it could be a sign of GAD. They may think you are hiding or lying about something when you are not.
These are a few indicators that could mean your significant other is having anxiety issues. So how do you manage a relationship with someone with an anxiety disorder? We’ll give you a few tips for that.
Tips On Dating Someone With Anxiety
As a loving partner, you may want to support your partner and maintain a healthy relationship. Here are some tips that you can follow to keep the relationship strong while helping your partner with their anxiety issues.
1. Communicate openly
It is essential to have open and transparent communication in a relationship, especially when you are dating someone with severe anxiety, or who is prone to panic attacks. This helps you know what your partner is expecting from you and whether or not you can fulfill their expectations.
When interacting with a person having anxiety issues, you may come across some unexpected situations too. An anxious person may be distracted or look controlling or show you a passive-aggressive mood. If you are unable to figure out what their attitude or actions mean, you should ask them gently and get clarity on it.
2. Try to be as calm as possible
Dealing with a partner with too many anxiety issues can be annoying, as they may become rude or furious when unheard or when their expectations are not met. A counterattack to their behavior may only damage your bond, but not help. Instead, try to be cool and help them resolve the situation. The calmer you are, the better you can manage.
3. Don’t take everything to heart
People with anxiety issues are extremely vulnerable. When hurt, they might say anything that could hurt you. It could be intentional or unintentional. In such scenarios, you should not take it personally and understand that it is because of the anxiety that they cannot control.
Many times, their outburst may not even be directed at you, but you may have to deal with it. They might have panic attacks for some other reasons, but they express their emotions to you because they connect with you closely. It could also be because they trust you and know you are not going to leave them.
4. Establish boundaries
When your partner is going through anxiety issues, you must create a balance between what you can do and what you cannot do in a relationship. Knowing the limits, even in a romantic relationship, helps keep it healthy and long-lasting.
For instance, you may let your partner know that you won’t accept abuses, blame-games, or blackmailing. Self-respect should not be at stake in any relationship. Otherwise, it may harm your relationship. At the same time, let your significant other know that you expect and want them to control or manage their anxiety issues in time and that you are willing to support them through that.
5. Do not humiliate them
If you’ve accepted your partner and their anxiety issues, avoid humiliating them about it or making fun of their anxiety, for it is no joke for them. Anxiety issues are real, and people go through difficult times because of them. So be compassionate about your partner’s emotions and help them control their extreme feelings.
Also, do not pity them, and don’t be too blunt or rude to say something like ‘you are overreacting.’ That can be hurtful and may backfire. Instead, hold their hands and show them you love them, care for them, and respect them.
6. Don’t push your partner too much
Some people dealing with anxiety issues may not be comfortable in social situations or meeting new people. So, your partner may not be comfortable meeting your family members or friends and may need extra time to get along with them.
If that is the case, do not force them to spend time with your family or try to get them to have dinner with your friends. Instead, let them know what you are thinking (plans of introducing or hanging out with friends and family), give them time to think, and let them have their say.
7. Don’t relate everything to anxiety
Your partner is dealing with anxiety, but it doesn’t mean that their every act or behavior is because of the psychological issue. As human beings, we deal with many problems regularly. Even you deal with some of them. So, it is not right to assume that your partner’s anger or upsetting behavior is due to anxiety.
For instance, your significant other is unhappy because you forgot something or did something wrong. But you may think it is due to their anxiety issues and blame them even though they are not at fault. So, it is good to talk to them to find out the reason behind a behavior rather than assuming they are just anxious.
8. Be supportive of your partner
People dealing with anxiety issues may sometimes feel bad about their mental status. If your partner is feeling low, you need to be supportive and help them look at the positive aspects of life. Let them know you are with them, and they can freely share any thoughts coming to their mind. Help them come out of their anxiety issues, but slowly and at their own pace.
9. Take them to a therapist
Sometimes, you may not be able to fix everything. If you are dating someone with an anxiety disorder, you can encourage them to consult a therapist. However, that should not be done by force but with understanding. You may tell them the benefits of going to a therapist to deal with anxiety. Let them know how a therapist can help in dealing with panic attacks or OCD (Obsessive-compulsive disorder) and how that may help them in the relationship and even outside.
It might not be so easy to date someone with anxiety issues, or who frequently experiences panic attacks. But if your love is unconditional and you are sure that you want to help them and support them, then these tips would help you in making your relationship stronger, happier, and healthier.
Do you have any more tips for dating someone with anxiety issues? If yes, then please share them in the comment section below.