Dealing with your own anxiety can be difficult, but it can also be incredibly hard to watch anxiety affect someone you love. Anxiety is different for every person and managing it is not “one size fits all.” The first thing to do when you love someone with anxiety is to do your best to understand the condition itself and how it impacts their daily life.
Keep in mind that you will not fully comprehend it to the fullest extent, but it is important to know what the anxiety looks like for them. Your desire for deeper awareness and insight into their world can illustrate how much you love and care for them.
How to Support a Partner With Anxiety
First, realize that you do not have to try to fix anything. When your partner is having a tough time, it can leave you with a desire to step in and help. No one wants to see someone they love experience pain. It is important to fight the urge to fix the situation. It can lead to your feeling helpless, but trying to fix things can make the person feel worse.
Do Not Shield Them From Reality
You do not have to try to shield your partner from everything. It can be tempting to try to help them avoid things that might trigger the anxiety. Whether it’s avoiding an argument or anything that might potentially upset them, shielding them from things will hurt them and your relationship in the long run.
Be a Present Listener
Being present and listening helps. In the moments where you want to help, the best thing you can do is be present and listen. Your calming presence and listening ear is the best help you can provide. It can help your partner feel safe and validated when they are feeling anxious.
Ask, Don’t Guess What They Want
Ask them what they need or want from you. When you find yourself not knowing what to do, it can be helpful to ask your partner. You can ask them what they might want or need when they are in the middle of an anxiety attack. Some people want someone around them, or even to be held. Others might want to be alone and not be touched. Knowing what they want and need can be helpful.
Ride the Waves
Sometimes there will just be periods of time that are more difficult than others. You will need to accept that there are going to be tough days and even tough weeks. Many people learn how to deal with and manage their anxiety over time, so there is certainly hope that things will get better, assuming your partner is open to taking active step to improving their condition.
Encourage Them to Seek Treatment
While you do not want to seem too pushy, encouraging your partner to take action in dealing with their anxiety can be very helpful to them, not to mention your relationship. This can including suggesting they engage in mindfulness and meditation, seek out a professional therapist or make lifestyle changes to reduce stress.
Final Thoughts on Dating Someone With Anxiety
Sometimes there are going to be days that are really hard and no matter what your partner does or how much progress they have made, their anxiety will be overwhelming. But even then, there are things you can do to help. By just being there to support them when they need it, you can help ease some of the stress they experience.
While living with chronic anxiety is a difficult challenge, loving someone with anxiety can be painful as well. However, as a partner, you have stepped into the role of a support system. While you will not be able to take the anxiety away or fix every problem, you do have the power to make things dramatically better.
- Zaider, T. I., Heimberg, R. G., & Iida, M. (2010). Anxiety disorders and intimate relationships: a study of daily processes in couples. Journal of abnormal psychology, 119(1), 163–173. https://doi.org/10.1037/a0018473
- Spouse or Partner. (n.d.). Anxiety and Depression Association of America, ADAA. https://adaa.org/finding-help/helping-others/spouse-or-partner
- Anxiety Disorders. (n.d.). NAMI: National Alliance on Mental Illness. https://www.nami.org/About-Mental-Illness/Mental-Health-Conditions/Anxiety-Disorders