Being in a relationship is difficult. You have to think of another person’s feelings and best interests, since you care for them deeply. You battle with wanting this person near you, but sometimes, also really wanting your personal space, despite how much you love them. Being in a relationship is work, and hard work at that.
Having anxiety or anything of the sort means that you have additional challenges that make many things harder. Anxiety comes out of nowhere sometimes, but most days, it’s a constant pressure. Anxiety is its own person. It’s illogical, and doesn’t always make a lot of sense. It follows you around constantly, always asking you questions and begging you for attention.
If your partner struggles with anxiety, it can often feel like they’re being pulled away from you by their anxiety. As someone who copes with anxiety every day, I understand how difficult it can be. Here are a few things you need to know about dating someone with anxiety.
1. Accept that anxiety attacks are a part of your partner’s life.
Anxiety is a panic disorder which often comes with powerful, terrifying, unforgettable panic attacks. Sometimes, they come out of nowhere, and other times it can be felt all day. The attacks can be accompanied by shortness of breath, sweating, increased paleness, dizziness, trembling, and a weakness in the knees. Mentally, a person having an anxiety attack feels helpless and afraid, with a complete lack of control.
Seeing an anxiety attack can be a scary thing. Experiencing one is worse. Try to help them breathe slower and just be there for them so they don’t feel so alone. Remember, anxiety is not a logical thing.
2. Be aware that sometimes we get really jittery.
Sometimes, a person on the verge of an attack or with high anxiety will act hyper and seem to have a lot of energy. To cope with all that, it’s sometimes easier to talk fast and jump around to keep your mind busy. Don’t sit them down and soothe them like a child, but point out gently that they’re acting hyper. Sometimes it’ll force them to take a deep breath which can go a long way in stopping an attack. Just remember, even the most loving words won’t always help, so don’t be discouraged if you don’t get the response you’re hoping for.
3. But sometimes we’re also really calm and having a low day.
The day(s), or hours, after an anxiety attack are exhausting. Our bodies have literally turned on us, but we have to go about our lives like normal. Don’t be worried if your partner looks fatigued some days – even right after they were jittery. It just means that their anxiety has exhausted them.
4. Know that there isn’t always a reason for our anxiety.
People with anxiety can be set off by the smallest trigger. It could be a sad movie, a happy movie, or even a phone call from a loved one. They don’t always know the reason for their attack, and you don’t have to figure it out. Just be aware that sometimes we also don’t know why we are having an attack and that’s ok.
5. Show us kindness, patience, and care.
Plans will be cancelled unexpectedly. Calls will go unanswered and texts unread. The thought of leaving bed can be crippling some days. Just remember that even a kind text saying, ‘It’ll be okay,’ or ‘I’m here if you need anything,’ can be the perfect thing to say when you know that your significant other is struggling. Knowing someone is there for you and cares for you is an amazing way to conquer anxiety attacks.
6. Realize we will overanalyze.
That stereotype of girls over analyzing texts may be false, but I promise you that people with anxiety will be reading into everything. We don’t do it on purpose, but it is our default reaction. It’s exhausting because we are constantly worrying about what we should and shouldn’t say, because we stress over what could happen if we say them. The thought, “Do they hate me?” crosses my mind at least three times a day.
7. Most of all, treat us like normal people.
Just because your significant other has anxiety does not mean you have to walk on eggshells around them. Yes, we can be triggered by small things, but that doesn’t mean you should hide things from us. Don’t soothe us constantly. Don’t try to fix us. That’s the worst thing you could do. We live normal lives, just like everyone else. Treating us differently will only make us feel worse.
Of course there is so much more to anxiety than anyone could list, but these are 7 basic things to remember when navigating a relationship with someone who has anxiety. At the end of the day, we are just the same as you – just a little (a lot) more stressed.