Anxiety isn’t only rough on the people who suffer from it -- it can also be life-altering and frustrating for those who love someone with anxiety. It can be difficult for you to understand what causes anxiety and how bad the attacks can be if you have never experienced one firsthand.
You might be looking for ways to help while dating a girl with anxiety or dating a guy with anxiety. But you may not be sure if you’re helping matters or making them worse. After all, relationships are hard enough without factoring anxiety issues into them.
But the first step in figuring out how to cope with this problem is to put in the time to understand it. Just by reading this, you’ve proven that you’re ready to put in the legwork to help your partner and give your relationship an edge.
Understanding Anxiety and Its Influence on Your Partner
To come to terms with your partner’s panic problem, you need to first ask yourself: What does anxiety mean?
It means your partner will get abnormally worried or stressed about things that might seem silly to you if you don’t struggle with the same condition. Things that you think aren’t a big deal, like going to a social event or having a routine doctor’s appointment, may cause them to have a panic attack and other symptoms.
What are the symptoms of anxiety? Some of the common ones are fast breathing, rapid heart rate, sweating, shaking, fatigue, nervousness, sleep issues, and having feelings of doom or danger.
Your partner’s reaction and symptoms might be so bad, you might wonder -- can anxiety kill you? You’ll be relieved to know your partner won’t die from it.
How Can Anxiety Impact Relationships?
While your partner will survive his or her attacks without dying, your relationship might not be as lucky. It can be tricky to keep a relationship alive when one of you suffers from anxiety.
You might feel angry, resentful, or guilty that you don’t understand what it’s like for them when you’re dating someone with anxiety. You might wish they could just be “normal” like you. If they suffer from social anxiety, for instance, the thought of attending a party, work gathering, or even one of your family events can send them into a panic. They might avoid the situation entirely, telling you they don’t want to go.
You might skip the party or gathering too, which can lead to feelings of resentment or isolation. Or if the party was one of your family’s gatherings, you might face some awkward questions from your family members about why your partner isn’t there. That can put you in a terrible position, especially if you’re harboring resentment toward your partner for their anxiety issues.
If the panic disorder leads to sleep loss, you might also feel the effects because you may get less rest. You might feel your partner tossing and turning all night. Or you might feel compelled to get up too, so they aren’t sitting up awake by themselves in the middle of the night.
If you love to travel, you might take less joy in getting away because it may cause your partner to worry obsessively about things like travel safety, the weather, finances, meeting new people, or anything else that triggers their panic problems.
You may worry constantly about what might set off your partner’s anxiety. Their condition may cause you to stress in a number of ways. You might spend a lot of your time figuring out how to reduce anxiety or trying to pinpoint their habits that make anxiety worse.
Support and Help Your Partner
When you live with anxiety, your life together will be more challenging. That doesn’t mean your relationship isn’t worth the extra work, however. You can fight this challenge together and come out stronger than ever.
The key to reaching that end goal is to support your partner. Work with them instead of against them. That will require you to learn as much as you can about what type of anxiety they have, any triggers that make it worse, and how to help them get through the panic attacks that do happen.
Above all else, remember when you are upset: Don’t take it personally. Your partner isn’t acting this way to hurt you. They have a real issue.
If they had cancer or a heart problem, you wouldn’t question their condition or doubt that their symptoms were real, and you shouldn’t with their anxiety issues either.
If they are comfortable with it, ask if you can go with them to any doctor’s appointments they have. It might help them to have someone by their side during appointments asking questions and providing support.
And when they are struggling with their symptoms, listen to them without judgment. They will feel that support and be grateful to you for it.
What To Avoid
Don’t treat your partner as if they are broken and you need to fix them. Nobody likes to feel as if their partner wants to change them in order for them to be “good enough” to be with.
Criticizing them or dismissing their fears as silly won’t do any good. Chances are, people with anxiety already know their worst fears are unlikely to happen. But that doesn’t make the worry any less real to them.
If your partner is seeing a doctor for their problem, leave any medication suggestions to the professionals. Offering your partner drugs or medications is a bad idea. Some people have better success with other treatments, including self-help, avoiding triggers, and therapy.
That’s not to say medications can’t be helpful to people with anxiety issues. But because drugs can be habit-forming, expensive, and have unpleasant side effects, try to avoid making your partner feel as if popping a pill will immediately solve all their problems.
Tips for Dating Someone with Anxiety
If you’re in love with a person with anxiety, try the following tips to make your relationship better.
- Be patient: They are doing the best they can.
- Understand when they try to avoid triggers: Be respectful of the boundaries they set for themselves.
- Invest in a weighted blanket: When dealing with anxiety without medication, it may help to get a weighted blanket. Some people with this issue find them soothing, and it might help them get more rest.
- Improve your listening skills: This can help your partner immeasurably.
- Remember there will be good and bad days: Enjoy the good ones and lean on each other on the bad days.
It’s Worth It
While your relationship may be a challenge, if you love each other, the extra effort will be worth it. Do what you can to help, and try to keep your own emotions in check as you learn to navigate loving someone with this issue.