Relationship Anxiety is a type of anxiety that we barely ever talk about. Anxiety is basically a disorder of worrying. People with anxiety may worry about specific topics (like relationships, public speaking, specific phobias, etc.), and some people may worry about everything. Whatever the source of the worrying, it may cause some trouble in the person’s relationship.
This post is a guide for people who are dating someone with relationship anxiety. Trust me, I know that we are hard to deal with. However, if you love us, and want to continue to deal with us, please read this article in its entirety and attempt to incorporate some of the following advice into your relationship. Next week, I will be addressing tips on dating with anxiety. That post will give tips directly to the people with anxiety who are also trying to date, or in a relationship
1. Be patient while we work up the courage to express our feelings.
Sometimes it is hard for us to express our feelings. We may need some time to get our thoughts together because anxiety makes them race like crazy. Just encourage us to talk when we are ready and let us know that you will be there to listen
2. Don’t assume that we don’t want to talk to you or that we are angry
We do! We want to talk to you and tell you every thought that crosses our mind. However, we don’t want to push you away or make you lose interest because of all of our anxious thoughts. So sometimes we need space to get our thoughts together.
3. Don’t tell us our thoughts are irrational, we already know that.
We know that our thoughts are irrational sometimes. We don’t need you to remind us. We tell ourselves that all the time, but it does not make the thoughts go away
4. We may need confirmation for our anxious thoughts, not our sober ones.
We don’t think you’re cheating. We don’t think you’re lying. We don’t think you’re doing anything wrong. Our sober mind knows that. However, when anxiety hits, it convinces us that there are signs that were not actually there. The confirmation you give us, is what we use as the “I told you so” proof to our anxious thoughts.
Here’s an example of the type of conversation we may have with our anxious thoughts:
Anxious thought: What if s/he said that s/he was busy, but he was really with someone else?
Us: Well s/he doesn’t even have enough time to spend with someone else
Anxious thought: Well there was that time he stayed out late, maybe he met her then.
Us: *asks bae for confirmation that s/he was not with anybody else*
Bae: *Confirms that s/he did not meet up with anyone else.*
Us to Our Anxiety: See I told you s/he wouldn’t cheat on me! I have to stop listening to you!
As you can see, we (the anxious people) trusted you the entire time. We just needed proof so that our anxious thoughts can shut up
5. There may be a lot of tears, don’t run from them.
I often say, “I am a cry baby”. I will start the waterworks at the drop of a dime, but I don’t like to cry. I actually feel worse when I cry because I feel like I am burdening my partner, especially in situations where I see that my thoughts are irrational.
In these moments, I don’t need my partner to leave me alone, or give me space. I just need them to be there physically and remind me that they will listen when I am ready to talk. I am sure this is the case for others with anxiety as well.
6. Ask how to help during panic attacks and what to do during future attacks.
Panic attacks are different from person to person. Sometimes, it’s crying and screaming, sometimes it’s the inability to breathe, and sometimes it feels as severe as a heart attack.
If you sense that it is an emergency (the person may hurt himself/herself or if they are showing extreme physical symptoms) call emergency services for help.
If it is unnecessary to call emergency services, ask how you can help the person. They may need a hug, or to be held. They may need you to just stay next to them or stay on the phone with them.
When the attack calms, have an honest conversation about what your partner wants you to do if future attacks occur.
My anxiety attacks are mainly crying uncontrollably and hyperventilating. I sometimes feel like I can’t breathe. I usually just need my partner to hold me, without words until I calm down. Once calm, it’s helpful if they stay with me or stay on the phone for a bit until my mind is no longer on the situation and the attack.
7. Find out your partner’s love language and learn to speak it
This will curb some of that relationship anxiety
Anxiety in relationships is sometimes about your partner not feeling worthy to even be with you. Show them you love them in the way that they best understand it. Whether it be with words, actions, quality time, gifts, or physical tough. Learn how your partner feels most love and do that.
I wish you all the best when dealing with someone who has anxiety. I know that it is hard on you but think about how hard it must be on the person who actually has the anxious thoughts and feelings. A relationship is about working together. Be a team and work together to get through all of the obstacles that come with dating someone with relationship anxiety.
About the Author
Mish (Pronounced Meesh) Truth has always been a natural social justice advocate. She now holds BA in Psychology and will hold an MSW by May 2021.
She is is passionate about social justice issues and overall mental wellness. This includes knowledge on how to develop healthy relationships, and awareness mental and medical illnesses, and social justice issues.
Growing up in an urban, low income, community, she learned a lot before her time. She credits her success to her self awareness and desire for personal growth.
Her goal is to change the world by affecting at least one person, educating them, inspiring them, and then empowering them to go out and affect more change.
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