Anxiety is a pretty big romance killer, but it’s a reality that many have to live with on a day to day basis. Being in a relationship with someone who suffers from anxiety isn’t always the easiest, and there might be one rough moments, but here are some key ways to cope with it in a controlled but compassionate manner.
1. Take the time to research and learn about anxiety so you can understand unusual or seemingly erratic behavior and learn to identify when your partner might be having an anxiety attack.
2. Learn to ask them about their triggers and identity or work around them or at least compromise. Do you love fairs and amusement parks but bae has social anxiety? Maybe bring your BFF instead and bring your sweetie home a souvenir.
3. Learn the most effective breathing exercises for people with anxiety and lead your partner in it when you can tell they’re about to have a meltdown. It’s hard for them to control, but if you learn to notice it in advance, you might be able to nip it in the bud.
4. Be strong when they are weak. If you panic, they’ll be able to sense it and till just make the situation worse. Try to enact patience instead of anger, otherwise it will be a long and grueling journey.
5. Don’t assume it’s about you! If you take their anxiety personally, it will lead to fights about something that is just about them. Even if you feel rejected, it doesn’t have to do with you, and rather than making a false assumption, it’s better to just ask, or even better – listen.
6. Don’t tell them to calm down. This is something extremely frustrating for people with anxiety to hear – they don’t experience stress the way normal people do, so to hear that when you’re experiencing something very hard to control can make it even worse.
7. Instead, keep your cool and stay calm when your partner is going through an anxiety attack. This will create an anchored feeling of Zen for them to gravitate back towards when they’re going through a tough moment.
8. They might have a social limit that can’t be exceeded. If you’re at a party and it’s been more than a couple of hours and you see your partner starting to get shifty, they might have had enough of the social gathering for that night.
9. Don’t try to be their whole support system – you’re not their therapist, and you don’t need to be. You can be supportive, but they need to manage their daily anxiety, whether that means through different coping mechanisms, finding an actual therapist, or going on appropriate medication. You can’t “fix” someone and it puts unfair burden on a relationship.
10. Sometimes, asking “are you ok?” can make it worse. Instead, try to act as comforting as possible, reassuring them and letting them know that you believe in them instead of being too much of a worry-wort.
11. Don’t try to talk them down in a rational way – they’re very aware that they’re not being rational, and bringing up logic in an emotional situation won’t do anything to neutralize tension and bring peace. Make sure you don’t downplay it or make them feel as though they’re being dramatic.
12. They might have moments where they obsess and nitpick about every aspect of the relationship, so strength and emotional support plays an important role in dating someone with anxiety. Don’t give them yet another reason to freak out!