Humans have been designed to be social beings. This means that we need, want, and long for connections with others. Some may say it’s in our nature, while others will confirm our brain is wired this way.

But what happens when we feel disconnected? Or worse, what happens when we fear any connection and choose to keep our distance out of fear of being disappointed, rejected, or abandoned?

What happens when one of our most basic needs, the need to belong and connect, is not met? Can we learn how to form healthy attachments to other people?

What is an attachment style?

We all have different ways of relating to the people in our lives. Some of us need constant reassurance, while others may not. Our “attachment style” is the way we interact with and respond to the people we’re close to.

Attachment theory is the joint work of John Bowlby and Mary Ainsworth. Attachment theory explains the dynamics of long-term relationships between humans. Specifically, it focuses on how positive emotions within a relationship can be maintained.

The central tenet of attachment theory is that infants come into the world biologically pre-programmed to form attachments with others because the need to be close to others is essential for human survival. According to attachment theory, this need is what motivates human beings to seek out and maintain close relationships.

Most of us have a dominant attachment style that we use most of the time. But we may also use other styles depending on the situation. For example, we may have more insecurities and need more reassurance in romantic relationships than with our friends.

Understanding your attachment style can help you to:

• Make sense of your past relationships

• Improve your current relationships

• Avoid repeating negative patterns in future relationships

• Understand why you react the way you do in certain situations without judgment

• Communicate more effectively with others

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What are the four main attachment styles?

In order to understand our own relationship patterns, it can be helpful to know about the different attachment styles. There are four main adult attachment styles: secure, anxious-preoccupied, dismissive-avoidant, and fearful-avoidant. Each attachment style is characterized by different thoughts, feelings, and behaviors in relationships.

Secure attachment

Secure attachment is characterized by feelings of comfort and closeness with one’s partner. Individuals with a secure attachment style generally feel confident in their relationships and are able to express their emotions openly. Secure attachment gravitates around trust, emotional intimacy, and positive communication.

Secure attachment types are often described as being “in tune” with their partners. They are able to pick up on subtle cues and signals from their partners and respond accordingly. This type of communication often leads to a strong sense of understanding and closeness between partners involved in intimate relationships.

People with this style are able to be emotionally close to others and feel comfortable seeking support when needed. They’re also able to handle conflict and stressful situations in a healthy way. A study found that people with a secure attachment style reported higher levels of life satisfaction, self-esteem, and positive affect than those with other attachment styles. Having a secure attachment is associated with many positive outcomes and more stable mental health.

couple sitting on a bench

Anxious-preoccupied attachment

Anxious-preoccupied attachment is a type of attachment characterized by a strong desire for closeness with a partner, accompanied by feelings of anxiety and insecurity. Individuals with this attachment style tend to be preoccupied with their relationship and are often worried about their partner’s level of commitment and whether or not they will be abandoned. They may also appear “needy” and excessively dependent on their partner for support and reassurance.

People with anxious-preoccupied attachment often have difficulty trusting their partner and may constantly feel on edge. They may also experience jealousy and possessiveness and may constantly seek reassurance from their partner. Although they may be deeply in love with their partner, they may also find themselves feeling angry, hurt, and resentful.

Anxious-preoccupied attachment is thought to be formed in childhood when a child does not feel secure in their caregivers’ love and attention. This can be due to a number of factors, including unpredictable or absent caregivers or a history of childhood trauma or abuse.

According to a study by Miklowitz and colleagues, people with an anxious-preoccupied attachment style are more likely to experience depression and anxiety symptoms. The study found that 62% of the participants with an anxious-preoccupied attachment style met the criteria for a diagnosis of major depressive disorder, compared to only 26% of the participants with a secure attachment style.

Dismissive-avoidant attachment

Dismissive-avoidant attachment style is characterized by a lack of emotional closeness with others and a tendency to avoid intimacy. People with this attachment style often have difficulty trusting others and may feel like they are better off on their own.

People with a dismissive-avoidant attachment style often have a deep-seated fear of intimacy and close relationships. They may believe that they are better off alone. As a result, they may keep others at a distance, both physically and emotionally. They may also be unwilling to rely on others for support and may have difficulty trusting others.

upset couple

People who have this type of behavior in relationships appear to be more independent and self-sufficient than people with other attachment styles. However, this independence can also make it difficult for them to form close relationships, which, ultimately, people with this attachment type want as well, but they just find it hard to trust and get close to others.

Fearful-avoidant attachment

People with a fearful-avoidant attachment style, also known as disorganized attachment style, have a deep-rooted fear of intimacy and commitment. As a result, they often find themselves in unhealthy and unhappy relationships.

Fearful-avoidant individuals often have relationships marked by insecurity, mistrust, and anxiety. While they may long for closeness and intimacy, they’re unwilling to let anyone get too close due to their avoidant strategies. They may come across as cold, distant, or unemotional. But underneath their guarded exterior, they’re usually quite sensitive and vulnerable.

Why should you know your type of attachment style?

In order to have a healthy and successful adult relationship, it is important to know your attachment style. Attachment in adulthood is based on how you were treated as a child by your primary caregiver, and it will affect the way you relate to others as an adult.

If you had a caregiver who was supportive and responsive to your needs, you are more likely to have a secure attachment style. If you had a caregiver who was neglectful or unavailable, you are more likely to have an anxious or avoidant attachment behavior.

Knowing your attachment style can help you understand why you act the way you do in relationships and how you can improve your relationships.

If you know that you have an anxious attachment style, for example, you can work on ways to become more secure in your relationships. This may include learning how to trust others better and developing self-confidence.

If you know that you have an avoidant attachment style, you can work on becoming more comfortable with being close to others. This may include learning how to express your feelings and needs to others and establishing stronger connections with the people important to you.

two friends checking the phone

Which attachment style is best?

Our attachment history can influence our relationships in both positive and negative ways. What is important is that people are aware of their own attachment style and how it affects their relationships.

Some of us are more insecure in our attachments and may have a harder time trusting and confiding in others. We may be more prone to jealousy and anxiety and may find it difficult to let go of past hurts.

On the other hand, those of us with a more secure attachment style may find it easier to trust and be open with others. We may be better able to handle conflict and feel more comfortable with intimacy.

It’s important to remember that there is no one “right” way to attach to others. We all have different needs and preferences, and what works for one person may not work for another. If we’re not happy with the way our attachment style is impacting our life, we can always work on making changes to feel more secure in our relationships

Can we learn to have a secure attachment style?

While there is no right or wrong attachment style, research has shown that people with a secure attachment style are more likely to have healthier relationships, better mental and physical health, and overall greater life satisfaction. Furthermore, people with a secure attachment style are better able to cope with stress and adversity. They’re also more likely to be able to form close, meaningful relationships.

Secure attachment is when we feel confident in our ability to cope with life’s challenges and feel secure in our relationships. We trust that our needs will be met by our loved ones, and feel comfortable being emotionally and physically close to them.

two friends hugging

There are several factors that contribute to a secure attachment style, including having a stable home life and positive relationships with responsive caregivers. People who feel loved and supported by their family and friends are more likely to feel secure in their relationships.

Of course, just because our attachment style is influenced by our early experiences doesn’t mean it’s set in stone. In fact, research suggests that our attachment style is relatively flexible and that we can learn to feel more secure in our relationships. As expected, there is no quick fix, but there are things you can do to improve your relationships.

Build positive relationships with the people around you.

It’s no secret that the relationships we have with the people around us can have a profound impact on our lives. Whether it’s a romantic partner, a close friend, or even a coworker, our interactions with others can shape our moods, emotions, and behaviors in significant ways.

So, what’s the best way to build positive relationships with the people around you? Take an interest in the people around you and listen to their experiences. This may seem simple, but it is actually one of the most effective ways to build trust in your relationships.

Start by also sharing some things about yourself with loved ones. It’s okay to start small. You should also invest time in the little things like spending time with loved ones, going out for coffee, or taking a walk together.

Focus on improving your self-esteem.

We all know that feeling good about ourselves is important, but did you know that your self-esteem can actually impact your adult relationships? It’s true! According to research, people with a secure attachment style tend to have higher self-esteem, which leads to healthier relationships.

So, what does this mean for you? If you’re not happy with your current level of self-esteem, it’s time to focus on making some changes. Here are a few tips to get you started:

  • Spend time with people who make you feel good about yourself.
  • Do things that make you feel competent and successful.
  • Be mindful of the way you talk to yourself – avoid negative self-talk at all costs!
  • Make an effort to look after yourself physically and emotionally.

When you feel good about yourself, it will be easier to form healthy relationships with others.

couple checking their tablet

Work on building trust.

Do you find it difficult to trust people? One of the main issues with insecure attachment is a lack of trust. If you want to learn to have a secure attachment style, work on building trust in your relationships. This means being honest, reliable, and supportive.

In order to build trust in a relationship, it is important to feel safe and secure with your partner. Learn to rely on them for support, and you will see they are there for you when you need them. It also means feeling comfortable communicating with them and sharing your thoughts and feelings.

Seek professional help.

If you are struggling with your attachment style, professional help can make a big difference. A therapist can help you understand your attachment style and how it is impacting your current relationships. They can also provide tools and strategies for improving your relationships. Be patient with yourself, and don’t expect perfection.

On November 20, 1998, Rita Hester, an African-American transgender woman, was murdered in her apartment in Boston. She was stabbed 20 times and was still breathing when the police found her. Tragically, she died the same day at the hospital. She was 34 years old.

While Rita Hester was not the first trans woman to fall victim to anti-trans violence, her incident compelled activist Gwendolyn Ann Smith to start the Remembering Our Dead web project. The event was dedicated to the murdered trans and gender-diverse people in the United States. It was organized as a vigil to honor the memory of Rita and all the trans people who have become victims of anti-transgender hatred.

In 1999, Smith organized the first Transgender Day of Remembrance, and more candlelight vigils and similar events followed the next years.

Transgender Day of Remembrance

More than 20 years have passed since the murder of Rita Hester and the first Transgender Day of Remembrance, and the event continues to count new murders of transgender community members. 23 years have gone by since Smith started the campaign to end anti-transgender violence and raise awareness regarding the urgent need to educate ourselves about gender-nonconforming people and trans inclusion. And, sadly, not enough has changed.

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In 2019, at least 22 transgender lives were taken in the United States. Most of the people murdered were young, black women. In 2020, 44 transgender and gender-diverse people fell prey to hate and violence in our country, and 350 were murdered worldwide. And, unfortunately, the tragedy only grows from here.

2021 was the year with the highest number of fatalities since the Human Rights Campaign started tracking these crimes in 2013. 57 transgender people fell prey to acts of violence in the United States alone, and 375 transgender people were killed worldwide, with most of the murders (70%) happening in Central and South America. Real people with real lives and real stories lost their life because of a lack of education, inclusivity, and tolerance.

These numbers do not account for the transgender people who have taken their own lives because of national indifference, a culture of intolerance, and hatred propagated by the ignorance and prejudice of a portion of the population.

2022 is not over yet, and the transgender community has already seen at least 29 of its members killed for daring to be true to their own selves. Unfortunately, it is possible the number is higher than reported because many stories about transgender people being murdered go unreported, misreported, or unnoticed. Globally, 2022 is likely to surpass 2021 as the most deadly year on record for the trans community, and a majority of those killed in 2021 were transgender women of color, with a high number of deaths happening in Brazil and the United States.

Why does the world need the Transgender Day of Remembrance?

Awareness is key to ending violence against transgender and gender-diverse people. Rita Hester’s murder was the catalyst to this movement but the many lives lost every year among transgender and gender non-conforming people due to brutal violence should determine the rest of us to do more, try more, fight more! Considering the increasing number of deaths and constant violation of the rights of transgender people, it is obvious we are not doing everything in our power to crush this epidemic of violence.

The Transgender Day of Remembrance is not only an opportunity for communities of transgender and gender non-conforming individuals, as well as trans activists to remember and mourn the ones who lost their lives in the war against prejudice, intolerance, and hatred. It also is a firm reminder that trans people are sons, daughters, parents, and friends, people who have the same rights just like everyone else to love, live, and simply be. The event is an occasion to come together and find real solutions that promote transgender rights and encourage funding opportunities to sustain the cause and help transgender individuals be who they are while becoming the best version of themselves and finding their rightful place in our community.

Transgender Day of Remembrance raises awareness of hate crimes that are still happening against the trans community and encourages people to educate themselves, advocate for change, and embrace the world as it truly is: diverse and unique. The campaign addresses issues that plague the lives of trans and gender-diverse individuals and encourages the media to speak openly, boldly, and sincerely about the urgent need to change our mentalities and stop the hate, violence, and indifference that permits these murders to continue.

We need the Transgender Day of Remembrance to gather more allies against the campaign of hatred led by an uneducated majority determined to wipe out the existence of those who dare to be different. We need the Transgender Day of Remembrance to stand in vigil and remember those who have died because they choose to be free and live “differently”. We will continue to need the Transgender Day of Remembrance for as long as trans and gender-diverse people are martyrized on the altar of conformity and sacrificed to preserve an illusory sense of “normality”.

transgender symbol

What can you do to become involved in the Transgender Day of Remembrance?

Educate yourself and others about what being a transgender or gender-diverse person means and how you can help stop the stigma associated with their communities. You can advocate for trans-inclusive policies and practices in your workplace, school, town, or city. You can participate or organize a vigil in your neighborhood on November 20 to honor the lives of transgender people who have been murdered. Vigils are organized by local transgender advocates or LGBTQ organizations and usually take place in parks, community centers, or other venues. Use this annual observance day to raise awareness about trans rights and address issues that concern the community.

You can write stories, articles, or news pieces about victims of transphobic violence and anti-trans hatred and bring them to the attention of local and national media outlets. Telling their stories out loud raises awareness and gives a voice to those who are no longer able to use theirs. Amplify trans voices and take action to stop the abuse and ignorance.

You can offer transgender and gender-diverse people employment, medical care, tutoring, food resources, and any other type of help they need and is in your power to offer. You can be there for them and be an example in your community. You can lead people on the path of inclusion, acceptance, tolerance, and understanding.

Furthermore, you can donate to organizations that help trans people of color, sex workers, migrants, asylum seekers, and refugees, as many of them are victims of discrimination, abuse, persecution, and violence. And, of course, you can mobilize your friends and followers to stand with you and share news about the campaign and events in their communities using social media and the hashtag #TDoR2022.


Transgender person

Helpful resources to get involved

Disclaimer: The following is a list of possible resources throughout the United States. This list is provided solely as a resource and none of the following organizations are endorsed by Julia Schwab Therapy.

GLAAD has put together a great list of resources for anyone who’d like to get involved. Below are a few examples:

Organizations in Los Angeles that work with the Trans* population (not an exhaustive list)–

LA LGBT Center
Transwellness Center
Trans Latina Coalition
Children’s Hospital
Trans Lounge
Trans Can Work
UCLA Gender Health
Gender Justice Los Angeles
Trans Chorus of Los Angeles

Other Resources throughout the US

TRANScending Barriers Atlanta Transgender Nonprofit (Atlanta)
Brave Space Alliance (Chicago)
Ingersoll Gender Center (Seattle)
New York Transgender Advocacy Group ( (New York)
Boston Area Trans Support ( (Boston)
Transgender Education Network of Texas ( (Texas)
TransAL | MobPride (Alabama)
BreakOUT! – Fighting the criminalization of LGBTQ youth in New Orleans, LA / Luchando contra la criminalización de los jóvenes LGBTQ en Nueva Orleans, LA ( (Louisiana)
Transgender Resources | The City of Portland, Oregon ( (Portland resources)
Transinclusive Group (Florida)
Charleston Area Trans Support ( (South Carolina)
LGBT Center of Raleigh (North Carolina)
Welcome to OUTMemphis – OUTMemphis (Tennessee)
Resources · Transformations KC • Kansas City’s Transgender Youth Group (Kansas and Missouri)
TEA of Utah (Utah)
The Center – Western Montana’s LGBTQ+ Community Center – Missoula ( (Montana)
Identity Alaska – advancing Alaska’s LGBT community (Alaska)
Resources – Transgender Assistance Program of Virginia ( (Virginia)
StoneWall Society GLBT Resources in West Virginia (West Virginia resources)
TRANSGENDER SUPPORT – OKEQ – Oklahoma’s resource for LGBT persons and their families (Oklahoma)
Welcome to the Transgender Equality Network – Transgender Equality Network ( (Arkansas)

Here you can find a list of events happening around West Hollywood during the month of November that the city has prepared to Commemorate Transgender Awareness Month and Transgender Day of Remembrance.


Trans day of remembrace



Trans Day Remembrance


Post Update: The article was updated on October 29th, 2022, originally published on November 18th, 2021. It has been completely revamped and updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.

The LGBTQ community since the beginning has had to fight for their rights and visibility in America. And it hasn’t always been easy. In fact, the LGBTQ community has had to fight for every inch of progress they’ve made.

The origins of the LGBTQ community can be traced back to the early 1900s when a group of like-minded individuals started to form in cities like New York and San Francisco. These early pioneers were mostly male and mostly white, but they were united by a shared desire to live their lives openly and without shame.

They started to meet in secret, in spaces like bars and coffeehouses that were safe for them to congregate in. And slowly but surely, they started to build a community.

This community was faced with challenges from the very beginning. Not only were they fighting for acceptance from the mainstream world, but they were also fighting for acceptance from within their own community. There were debates over what the community should be called (gay, queer, etc.) and disagreements over which issues should be prioritized.

But despite these challenges, the community continued to grow. And in the 1950s, a new generation of LGBTQ individuals started to come of age. These people were inspired by the early pioneers, and they were determined to make their own mark on the world.

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Turning points in the history of the LGBTQ community

The 1960s was a time of tremendous change for the LGBTQ community. This was the decade when the Stonewall Riots occurred, which is widely considered to be the beginning of the modern LGBTQ rights movement. On June 28, 1969, police raided the Stonewall Inn, a gay bar in New York City’s Greenwich Village. The raid sparked a series of riots and protests that lasted for days.

In the aftermath of the riots, LGBTQ activists began to organize. One of the first organizations was the Gay Liberation Front, which was formed in the wake of the Stonewall Riots. The group’s goal was to end discrimination against LGBTQ people and to achieve social and political equality.

In the 1970s, gay rights groups began to form across the United States. These groups lobbied for laws and policies that would protect LGBTQ people from discrimination. They also worked to promote visibility and acceptance of LGBTQ people. This was the decade when the first gay pride marches were held and when the first gay rights organizations were founded. It was also the decade when the AIDS crisis began, which would have a devastating impact on the community in the years to come.

The 1980s was a difficult decade for the LGBTQ community. The AIDS crisis continued to ravage the community, and the Reagan administration was notoriously hostile to LGBTQ rights. But despite all of the challenges, the community continued to fight for progress. One of the most important moments in the history of the LGBTQ rights movement came in 1986 when the Supreme Court ruled in Bowers v. Hardwick that a state law banning sodomy was unconstitutional. This ruling paved the way for same-sex marriage and other advances for the LGBTQ community.

LGBTQ community together

In the 1990s, the LGBTQ community made significant strides. This was the decade when the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy was enacted, which allowed gay individuals to serve in the military but prohibited them from being open about their sexual identity. It was also the decade when the first overall gay rights bill was passed in the US and when same-sex marriage was legalized in some states.

The 2000s was a decade of even more progress for the LGBTQ community. Same-sex marriage was legalized in all 50 states, and the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy was finally repealed. It was also the decade when the first openly gay man was elected to the US Senate, and when the first transgender woman was elected to the US House of Representatives.

October – the month when we celebrate the LGBTQ community’s icons

The LGBTQ community has come a long way in the last few decades. In the past, queer people were often discriminated against and even criminalized and subjected to violence, simply for being who they are. But thanks to the hard work of gay rights activists and civil rights movements, things have started to change, although violence and harassment continue to exist, particularly for the trans* community.

Today, the LGBTQ community is more visible than ever before. It is represented in the media, in politics, and in everyday life. It is no longer afraid to speak its truth, and it is making its voice heard. But the fight for equality has to continue!

LGBTQ History Month commemorates the anniversary of the National March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights, which took place on October 14, 1979. This was the largest political gathering in support of LGBT rights in United Stateshistory up to that point, with an estimated half a million people attending. The theme of the march was “We’re here, we’re queer, get used to it!” Today, that same slogan is widely considered a rallying cry for the entire LGBTQ community.

LGBTQ rights

LGBTQ History Month is an annual event that came to be due to the efforts of Rodney Wilson, a school history teacher at a Missouri high school. He created the event in 1994. In 1995, LGBTQ History Month was included in the list of commemorative months and submitted to the General Assembly of the National Education Association. Since October 11 was already National Coming Out Day and the first march for gay rights took place in Washington in October, it has been decided that the entire month of October should become the month of observance of the LGBTQ community.

LGBTQ History Month is a time to celebrate how far they’ve come and to continue fighting for equality. We have made incredible progress in the fight for LGBTQ rights, but there is still more work to be done. October is a month when we remember the past for a better future. It is a time to come together and continue working towards a more just and equal society for all.

LGBTQ History Month 2022

LGBTQ History Month is a yearly event that brings to the forefront of the community a collection of impressive people who have managed to overcome an abundance of obstacles and position themselves as pillars of the community. October is now the month when the members of the LGBTQ community take pride in their past, celebrate their most iconic figures, and organize a multitude of events meant to raise awareness, present the challenges of the present, and reiterate their hopes for the future.

Each day of the month is dedicated to the life and achievements of remarkable gay, lesbian, transgender, or bisexual icons, to remind the community and the world that talent and perseverance can lie in each and every one of us regardless of our gender identity and sexual orientation.

LGBTQ flags

LGBTQ History Month 2022 celebrates the achievements of 31 members of the LGBTQ community, including the British military officer Lawrence of Arabia, storyteller Hans Christian Andersen, reality television star and transgender youth advocate Jazz Jennings, five-time Olympic basketball gold medalist Sue Bird, actors Lea DeLaria, Andre De Shields and Matt Bomer, Oregon Gov. Kate Brown, author Bell Hooks, and judges, lawmakers, artists, rights pioneers and more.

The month of October will be filled with fun celebrations, events, programs, and get-togethers meant to continue the conversation about inclusion, equal rights, and awareness. The programs include detailed lessons on the LGBTQ community but also opportunities for the members of the community to add another brick stone to their academic and professional foundation.

The Syracuse Universitystudents and ESF community invite community members to connect and learn through their programs and honor LGBTQ History Month with events that allow members of the community to interact and show themselves authentically. October is a month of celebration, and everyone is invited to attend various gatherings, such as the Knit 3 Spill the Tea gatherings at the Intercultural Collective, Chalk and Tie-Dye at the Quad, National Coming Out Day, Queer Trivia Night, and HalloQueen Ball.

The 2022’sLHHM and Fourth Annual LGBTQ+ History Month Potash Keynote will be delivered by Paola Ramos, author of “Finding Latinx: In Search of the Voices Redefining Latino Identity ”, and Emmy award-winning journalist and advocate for the Latinx community. The VICE and Vice News host will deliver the keynote at the Joyce Hergenhan Auditorium on October 13 at 7 p.m.

How to celebrate and support the LGBTQ community

For starters, it is important to learn about and understand the history of the community. This can be done by reading books, watching films, and attending events that focus on LGBTQ history and sexual diversity. We should also learn to be an ally to the community by standing up against discrimination and supporting its rights.

LGBTQ celebration in October

There are many ways to celebrate LGBT History Month. Here are just a few ideas:

  • Share your story. LGBTQ history is made every day. Share your story of coming out or of standing up for LGBTQ rights on social media using the hashtag #LGBTQHistoryMonth.
  • Educate yourself and others. Take some time to learn about LGBTQ history. Read a book, watch a movie, or visit a museum. Then, share what you’ve learned with others.
  • Support a local LGBTQ organization. There are many organizations working to improve the lives of LGBTQ people. Find one that aligns with your values and make a donation or volunteer your time.
  • Reach out to a friend or family member who is in the LGBTQ community. This month is a great time to start or continue a conversation with someone you know who is LGBTQ. Show your support and let them know they are not alone.
  • Support LGBTQ-owned businesses. Make a point to support LGBTQ-owned businesses during LGBTQ History Month.
  • Celebrate LGBTQ icons. Take some time to learn about and celebrate LGBTQ icons, past and present.

Aromantic and Asexual are two terms that might be a little new to you, but they represent a broad spectrum of the LGBTQIA2S+community. Aromantics and Asexuals, or Aros & Aces, are individuals who do not experience romantic attraction/desire (Aromantic) or people who do not experience sexual attraction/desire (Asexual) or both.

While it is helpful to start with these definitions if one is interested in the vast universe of identities, the aromantic spectrum identities are more nuanced than that. You might encounter someone who is demisexual or gray asexual, or someone who is gay sexually while part of the Aro community, just to name a few different ways folks on the Ace spectrum might identify. And while you might be looking for definitions of these terms now that they have been brought to your attention, it might be best to start with a simple yet complex idea instead.

Romance and sexuality are two distinct concepts

In a United States social context (and in many other social contexts globally), we link romance and sexuality together. However, these are actually separate things, but separate things that go together quite often, like peanut butter and jelly in a sandwich. In fact, many people can’t picture just a peanut butter sandwich or just a jelly one. For some, they have to accompany each other for them to be complete. However, this doesn’t change the fact that you can have just a peanut butter sandwich or just a jelly one, or a sandwich that doesn’t include either ingredient (clearly, I’m thinking about lunch). The same applies to romantic attraction and sexual attraction. You can have one without the other or engage in something that has an entirely different meaning to you individually.

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When we start to untie the knot that our society makes with sexual attraction and romantic attraction, we start to learn and understand how vast the human experiences are for individuals in each category. For example, there are people who only have sex when they are married, people who are happy to have sex without a romantic connection, folks who will have sex only with romantic partners, and individuals who will have romantic relationships that don’t include sex. All of these people are experiencing some form of sexual attraction, romantic attraction, or a combination of both. Just like people who sexually desire others (Allosexuals) can have different individual experiences when it comes to sexual desires and behaviors, Aces and Aros can have a rich and unique interpretation of their identities and their behaviors.

LGBT community

A “match made in heaven” doesn’t need to be one on Earth

While there are many asexuals who are also aromantic, sometimes an asexual person might be in a romantic relationship with allosexual people. And these individuals might decide to engage in sex with their romantic partner even though they have no sex drive or have an interest because of their romantic attraction to their partner. Or aromantic people might decide to engage in activities with a sexual partner that one might consider romantic (dates, holding hands, kissing, being exclusive, etc.) because of the sexual attraction they have towards their partner or if they know their sexual partner enjoys those activities.

In addition, as we start to see that sexual attraction and romantic attraction are two separate things, it becomes clearer that other things we tie together are also separate things, like our behaviors and how we label ourselves. In other words, asexual people can still see themselves as asexual even when they are having sex with a partner or partners because their identity is based on how they understand who they are, not what they do. Remember, how someone identifies is their choice, and we should respect and honor each other for who we are.

lesbian couple in bed

How can I contribute to the conversation about Aces & Aros?

So, what does this have to do with mental health? Well, for people who are asexual and aromantic, it has to do with it a lot.

Remember that, in a United States context, society lumps sexuality and romantic attraction together. And it does that in every aspect of social behavior and culture. Sex is used in marketing and advertising. It’s acceptable to share about your romantic life (and, in some groups, your sex life), public displays of affection have been normalized, and some people even feel entitled to ask probing questions about other people’s relationships, sexual orientation and interests, and the like (Are you dating? When are you going to get married? When are you going to have a baby?).

If you are asexual and/or aromantic, this constant foray into sex and romance can be taxing on your mental health. Can you imagine how hard it might be to be constantly bombarded by something you have zero interest in, every day, in nearly every aspect of social interaction, for your entire life?

We’re all learning and growing. Different ideas are new or old to different people, but the hope is that we all work on being more thoughtful and respectful to others. There are however some things you can do to be supportive of the aromantic communities and asexual communities. You can start with the Aces & Aros in your life: ask before sharing about your romantic or sexual life experiences, avoid asking probing questions of people in your life that put their sexuality or romantic orientations in the spotlight, take initiative and learn more by visiting AVEN, the asexual visibility and education network, and help encourage others to reflect on their behaviors so that they can have the opportunity to learn and grow alongside you.

couple of two men hugging

Terms to integrate into our vocabulary

Below you’ll find some definitions to help get you started:

Alloromantic – an individual who desires others romantically.

Allosexual – an individual who desires others sexually.

Aromantic – an individual who experiences no romantic desire or romantic attraction.

Asexual – an individual who experiences no sexual desire or sexual attraction.

Demisexual/gray asexual – an individual who experiences romantic or sexual attraction only after forming an emotional or intellectual connection with someone.

Monosexual – an individual who only desires themselves sexually.

Monoromantic – an individual who only desires themselves romantically.


Jamez Ahmad


This post was written by Jamez Ahmad.

Jamez (they, them) is a proud member of the LGBTQIA2S+ community. They have over fifteen years of experience educating groups on issues relating to gender identity and sexual orientation. As a mixed-race individual, they are passionate about social justice and dismantling systems of oppression. They have an MA from USC and an MSW from Smith College. They are a Taurus who enjoys travel, fiction writing, and film.

LinkedIn – Jamez Ahmad

Prefer to watch? Below is the full interview with special guest Dr. Marie Fang. Dr. Fang is a clinical psychologist in San Diego passionate about empowering folks who are often misunderstood or marginalized by the church. She loves helping folks explore and affirm who they are, whether it be aspects of their gender, sexuality, faith, or values. You can learn more about what she does at Affirming Christian Counseling. Dr. Fang served as the original inspiration for this article.

The LGBTQIA+ community and major religions have often been at odds with each other. This conflict can create hardship for members of the religious community, particularly those that are also part of the LGBTIA+ community.

We’ll explore the tension between sexual relations and the influence of religion, how it affects those caught in the middle, and how we can create a space that allows for both religion and gender and sexuality to coexist without hardship, pain, or discrimination.

No matter how you may feel, change is possible!

We'll work side by side to uncover the challenges and patterns that keep you from living the life you desire.


The “Typical” Religious Perspective on Sexuality and Gender

It’s no secret that the relationship between religion and sexual relationships has been contentious. For many conservative religious people, sex may be seen as a dirty, sinful act that should only be engaged within the confines of heterosexual cisgender marriage. And while there are a few religions that are more open-minded about sex, sexuality, and gender, the vast majority still view it as a taboo subject.

LGBT couple with their dog

The reason “typical” is in quotes is that, though there are common views, a lot of variety exists among religions, their practitioners, and their institutions. Some religions, such as Christianity, view sex as a sacred act that should be reserved for marriage between a man and a woman, while others, such as Hinduism, view it as a natural and normal part of life. Still others, such as Islam, have a more complex view of sex and sexuality, seeing it as both a natural and normal part of life but also something that should be used for procreation between husband and wife in order to avoid sin. All of this is cis-dominated and heteronormative.

No matter what the religion, there are usually strict guidelines about sex, sexuality, and gender. For example, many religions believe that premarital sex is a sin, and that sex outside of marriage is an even bigger sin. There are also usually strict rules about who you can have sex with. For example, many major religions forbid same-sex or same-gendered relationships and have an exclusively gender-binary narrative.

So, while there is no one answer to the question of how religions view sex, sexuality, and gender expression, it is safe to say that it is often seen as a taboo subject.

family with LGBTQIA+ parents

What About the LGBTQIA+ Community?

The LGBTQIA+ community has long been the target of discrimination and violence from religious groups. This is often justified using religious doctrine that condemns being gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender as a sin. This has led to many LGBTQIA+ people feeling unwelcome in religious communities, and has contributed to a feeling of isolation and exclusion.

Recent years have seen a growing movement within some religious groups to be more inclusive of the LGBTQIA+ community. This has been driven in part by a growing acceptance of being gay in society, and by a desire to be more compassionate and understanding. However, there are still many religious groups that actively discriminate against LGBTQIA+ people, and the impact of this can be very damaging.

LGBTQIA+ people who are rejected by their religious communities can often feel isolated and alone. This can lead to mental health problems and can make it difficult to form healthy relationships. It can also make it harder to access support and advice from within the LGBTQIA+ community.

guy with a flag LGBT

The impact of religious doctrine on the LGBTQIA+ community is complex and multifaceted. It can lead to feelings of isolation and exclusion and can be damaging to mental health.

In some cases, it can lead to an unhealthy “us vs them” mindset where the religious individual separates themselves from their faith because of how unwelcoming it was of their identity. For some, this dichotomy creates a struggle because they want to hold on to their faith, but are repeatedly shunned by the members of their faith. They’re seemingly faced with an impossible decision of embracing who they are OR practicing their faith. However, times are changing, though not fast enough, some religious institutions are making great strides toward a more inclusive outlook.

A Healthier More Inclusive Take On Religion

The LGBTQIA+ community has long been marginalized by religious institutions, despite the fact that many religious texts and teachings actually support equality and inclusion for all people, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity. However, this is slowly beginning to change, but there is still much work to be done. We’re starting to see more ways in which religious institutions are starting to be more inclusive of the LGBTQIA+ community:

1. Being open and welcoming.

This may seem obvious, but it is still worth stating. Some religious institutions ensure their doors are open to all, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity. Everyone is welcome in their space. This goes beyond just embracing members of the LGBTQIA+ community, but also including them in religious services, in the clergy, and in celebrating same-sex marriage.

LGBT couple wedding

2. Using inclusive language.

When referring to members of the LGBTQIA+ community, they use language that is inclusive and respectful. This includes using the correct pronouns and avoiding offensive terms.

3. Offering support and resources.

Many members of the LGBTQIA+ community face discrimination, violence, and rejection from their families. Some religious institutions are offering support and resources to help those in need. This can take the form of anything from financial assistance to counseling, and providing a safe space.

4. Educating others.

Educating its members about the unique experiences and needs of the LGBTQIA+ community. Reminding their faithful that members of the LGBTQIA+ community are also a valid part of the community and God loves them and all of them, not just parts. As well as discussing some of the challenges the community faces.

5. Speaking out against discrimination.

In addition to educating their members, they also speak out when someone among their faithful is discriminating based on sexual orientation or gender identity. These religious leaders lead by example and show their support for the LGBTQIA+ community by standing up against hate.

Embracing Your Sexuality and Gender while also Holding On To Your Faith

No matter what religious doctrine someone follows, it is important to remember that everyone should be treated with respect. Just because someone is part of the LGBTQIA+ community does not mean that they are any less of a person. Everyone should be able to live their life the way they want to, without fear of discrimination or violence.

march for LGBTQ rights

With that understanding, this journey of navigating faith and sexuality is very personal. For some, the answer is to turn away from religion. They don’t want or need religion in their life. If this works for you and it’s brought you peace and happiness, that’s fantastic.

For others, it’s about finding a group where they feel secure and can still exercise and express their faith and study religion on their own terms. It may not involve the same conventions or level of organization that more traditional religious institutions employ. This can be anything from getting together with a trusted group and doing bible studies or practicing ceremonies or studying religious texts that are important to your religion.

It’s also possible to find more conventional religious institutions, like a church or a temple, that is welcoming of members of the LGBTQIA+ community. They may be harder to find, but they do exist. If that’s where you feel most comfortable expressing your faith, then seeking them out is the option for you.

What’s most important is to remember that being a member of the LGBTQIA community and desiring to have faith in your life is possible and nothing is wrong with you for wanting or needing this. There are many other people and religious spaces that will respect and embrace you and also allow you to practice your faith. You deserve respect and to live your life on your terms without discrimination. If you are struggling, counseling is always an option, just remember to find an inclusive therapist. If you don’t feel you need it, or aren’t ready just yet, below are some resources that may help you on your journey in navigating faith, gender, and sexuality.


Reclaiming my Theology Podcast

God and the Gay Christian by Matthew Vines

Bible, Gender, Sexuality by Dr. James Brownson

Transforming: The Bible and the Lives of Transgender Christians by Austen Hartke

Resource page from Austen Harke’s website

Queerology Podcast

The Christian Closet

The Christian Closet BlogAusten 

IamClinic Blog – Can I Be Gay & Christian? Navigating Your Spirituality & Sexual Orientation

IamClinic Blog – Faith & Sexual Identity | Using Your Spirituality to Strengthen Your Confidence

We often think of intimacy as physical closeness, but it goes much deeper than that. Emotional intimacy is about sharing your innermost thoughts, feelings, and experiences with someone else and being able to be vulnerable without fear of judgment or rejection.

Emotional intimacy is often confused with physical intimacy or sexual intimacy, but they are two very different things. Physical intimacy is about sexual attraction and physical closeness, whereas emotional intimacy is about a deep, emotional connection.

While physical intimacy and sexual satisfaction are certainly important in a relationship, they are not the be-all and end-all. In fact, many intimate relationships that are built solely on physical attraction often fizzle out quickly because there’s no emotional bond to sustain them.

On the other hand, romantic relationships that are built on emotional intimacy can often withstand the ups and downs of life because there’s a deep level of understanding, connection, and care between the people involved.

So why are we so afraid of emotional intimacy?

For many of us, emotional intimacy is scary because it means putting ourselves out there and opening up to someone else. We worry that we’ll be rejected or hurt if we let down our walls and show our true selves. But the reality is that emotional intimacy is a vital part of any close relationship, even platonic relationships, and without it, we may continually struggle to truly connect with another person.

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We'll work side by side to uncover the challenges and patterns that keep you from living the life you desire.


According to a study by the National Opinion Research Center at the University of Chicago, only 26% of adults report being very emotionally close to their partner. It’s no secret that our upbringing and society’s messages can profoundly affect our lives, including our emotional intelligence and sexual well-being. When it comes to emotional intimacy, these factors can play a significant role in our fear of intimacy and vulnerability. Our parents may have taught us to be independent and self-sufficient, which can only contribute to our emotional distance and make it difficult to open up and depend on someone else. Additionally, we may have received messages from society that emotional intimacy is weak, unimportant, and not a valuable trait. As a result, we may view emotional intimacy and the feeling of closeness as something to be avoided or overcome.

But the truth is that emotional intimacy is an essential part of a healthy and fulfilling life. Emotional experiences are crucial for our development as human beings and life satisfaction. That is why it is essential to understand the root of our fears with self-compassion and learn to embrace emotional intimacy instead of running from it, especially if we are yearning for a long-term commitment or a close friendship. Studies find that adults in long-term relationships are more likely to report feeling emotionally close to their partner than those in shorter relationships. This makes sense, as we often need time to develop trust and intimacy with someone.

worried woman

How do you create emotional intimacy with someone?

When it comes to emotional intimacy, many of us tend to shy away from it because it can be scary. We may not know how to express our feelings or may be afraid of being rejected. But emotional intimacy is an important part of any relationship, whether it’s with a romantic partner, family member, or friend.

So how do you create healthy emotional relationships? It all starts with communication. Building intimacy requires honesty and communication. Communicate openly and honestly with your partner. First, you need to feel safe sharing your thoughts, feelings, and experiences with them without fear of judgment or rejection.

It’s also important to spend quality time together on a regular basis. Spending time together allows you to connect with each other without distractions. Quality time means having long conversations, sharing experiences, and simply enjoying each other’s company. It also means being curious about where the other person is coming from without judgment, ridicule, and shame.

Finally, it’s important to be supportive of each other. This means being there for each other during tough times, offering encouragement and understanding, and being each other’s biggest supporters.

Emotional intimacy is not just about sharing your feelings with each other. It’s also about feeling heard and understood by your partner. It’s about feeling supported and valued by your partner. When you have emotional intimacy in a relationship, you feel a sense of closeness and connectedness that goes beyond the sexual experiences. You feel like you can really be yourself with your partner and that they accept and love you for who you are.

couple sharing feelings

What is at the root of the fear of emotional intimacy?

Fear of emotional intimacy is often rooted in fear of abandonment and rejection. This can be due to childhood experiences, such as being neglected or having parents who were emotionally unavailable. Trauma plays a major role in fear of emotional intimacy, especially if it has been caused by a parent or caregiver leaving or not being consistently available and nurturing.

Fear of emotional intimacy can also be connected to feelings of insecurity. When we are afraid of emotional intimacy, we are afraid of being vulnerable and hurt. We may feel we need to protect ourselves by keeping our guard up. Previous relationships where you felt rejected or abandoned often lead to fear of opening up with other partners. If you’ve been hurt in the past, it can be difficult to let yourself get close to someone again.

Low self-esteem or trust issues can also play their part in fear of emotional intimacy. If you don’t feel good about yourself, it can be hard to believe that someone else would want to be close to you. And if you’ve been betrayed in the past, it can be hard to trust that your partner won’t hurt you too.

Fear of emotional intimacy can prevent people from having healthy and fulfilling relationships. It’s important to develop insight and self-awareness of why fear comes up for you and possible ways to work through it. If you are afraid of being rejected or abandoned, try to build up your self-esteem and confidence. If you are afraid of being hurt or betrayed, try to work on building trust with people. If you are afraid of the intensity of emotions, try to learn healthy ways to cope with and manage your emotions.

couple drinking coffee

Tips to work through your fear of emotional intimacy

There are many ways to work on overcoming a fear of emotional intimacy. One is to talk about it with someone you trust. This can help you to understand your fears and start to work through them. Another way is to slowly open up with more and more people in your life that you feel safe with. Share a little bit more each time until you feel comfortable with being more vulnerable. Finally, it’s important to practice self-compassion.

When it comes to emotional intimacy, we often put up barriers because we’re afraid of getting hurt. By following these tips, you may find it easier to let down your guard and open yourself up to a more fulfilling and connected relationship.

  1. Don’t be afraid to share your feelings with the other person. It’s okay to be vulnerable and open up about your thoughts and feelings. This will help create a stronger connection between you two. Make sure you feel safe first.
  2. Spend time talking and listening to the other person. Really get to know them on a deeper level. Ask them questions about their life, thoughts, and feelings, and listen to what they have to say. This will help nurture your romantic partnership.
  3. Be honest about what you’re feeling. If you’re feeling scared or vulnerable, tell your partner. This can be difficult, but it’s an important first step in being emotionally intimate with someone.
  4. Don’t try to control the situation. Trying to control how your partner responds to you or what they feel may push them further away instead of creating a close relationship. Consider focusing on being present and open yourself up to whatever they may feel.
  5. Don’t make assumptions! Don’t assume you know what’s going on with your partner. Instead, ask them to explain what they’re feeling and why. This will help you understand where they’re coming from and give you a much better idea of the appropriate response.
  6. Don’t try to fix things! Dedicate your energy to listening and understanding, and avoid coming up with solutions. When you tell your partner what they should do or feel, you may create judgment for them and invalidate their feelings.

couple talking

Of course, these tips are oversimplified versions of the work that needs to be done to increase self-confidence and healthy emotional intimacy. Talking with a therapist to get to the root of your fear of emotional intimacy and understand what emotional intimacy really entails can be the foundation of healthy relationships and the best investment you can make for your well-being.

Working with a mental health professional who can validate your experiences, provide insight into how these experiences have shaped your life, and help you find tools to cope is invaluable. As with anything else related to our mental health, small and safe steps are most important.

You might know that the I in LGBTQIA2S+ stands for intersex, but you may not know very much about the experience of individuals who are intersex. You might not even be sure what the definition of the term intersex is, and while it is easy to explain, a lot of the language is medical and not the nicest way to describe someone.

What is intersex?

The definition of intersex is not as simple as some may think. Intersex, to explain it in as inclusive a way as possible, is an umbrella term used to describe a person born with different characteristics assigned to biological sex traits and reproductive organs i.e., the development of a vagina and the development of a penis. These characteristics can be anatomical ones identified at birth, such as a penis with ovaries, secondary characteristics that appear at puberty, like the development of breasts and facial hair, or genetic characteristics that are likely not to be noticed.

Medically, terms like “ambiguous” are often used to describe the genitals of a newborn person who is intersex. While the term “ambiguous genitalia” is less harmful than previously used words, it’s still not an inclusive way to label people with intersex traits. This is because terms like this one stem from the oversimplified idea that there are only two biological sexes and that gender classification is binary.

person waving the flag

In truth, the actual science behind chromosome configuration is not entirely accurate when taught to people in schools. Oversimplifying the science behind sex chromosomes and chromosome patterns leads to reinforcing typical binary notions and, most importantly, to prejudice and discrimination against people with intersex conditions.

Most people think you can either be born XX or XY, which are the only possible options. However, nature proves us wrong… again! Because parents have two chromosomes each, a baby can theoretically end up with four chromosomes (or only one). If you were to follow the pure mathematics behind this theory, it is only natural to conclude that a healthy baby can be the result of more than two combinations of chromosomes.

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What are the struggles of intersex individuals?

The problem is society finds it difficult to include people who don’t fit neatly into prescribed labels. So, instead of making room for individuals with atypical sex characteristics and intersex bodies, it forces them into boxes where they don’t fit nor have room to develop and reach their potential. Historically, many states in the U.S. and worldwide allowed health care providers to assign sex and perform unnecessary surgeries without informing the parents of any medical intervention performed.

intersex person with her partner

One of the reasons I is included in LGBTQIA2S+ is because intersex people are discriminated against in society based on their physical anatomy and sexual characteristics. Some members of the intersex community don’t feel like they belong in the LGBTQIA2S+ community because they identify as straight, and that’s okay too.

One of the biggest obstacles facing the intersex community are the “corrective” surgical interventions made without the patient’s and/or parents’ consent. Many intersex children grow up not knowing they were intersex. Some have reported feeling like something was “off” about their assigned gender, especially when puberty sets in and their body starts to change in ways they weren’t prepared for. When others make decisions about someone’s personal bodily autonomy, they often make the wrong choice for the person being impacted.

How to become an intersex ally

Supporting the intersex community can consist of advocating for changes to policies around nonconsensual genital surgery and other medical procedures. Our support can also take the shape of allowing intersex infants to grow up and make decisions when they get older instead of trying to physically alter their bodies through guesswork.

We can help by trying harder to understand the concept of gender nonconformity. When we grasp the notion, we can start educating others and help them understand the complexity of gender, sex, and diverse communities to prevent injustice from spreading.

intersex person

Intersex individuals are estimated to be born at a rate of 1 in every 2,000 births, which is equal to the number of natural redheads. This means you may not know it, but you have definitely met and likely interacted with someone who is intersex. By making space for intersex individuals, you can help reduce the harm they experience in society and stop the degrading treatment many are subjected to even before they can talk.

Our community wants to protect and advocate for all communities that experience discrimination, human rights violations, and violence based on their sexual identity, sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression. Standing together with intersex people means providing them with support and mental health access so they can avoid mental disorders like gender dysphoria, anxiety, and depression and find their path towards happiness just like the rest of us. And for this to happen, we have to let go of our concept of normality and start embracing nature as it is.


Jamez Ahmad


This post was written by Jamez Ahmad.

Jamez (they, them) is a proud member of the LGBTQIA2S+ community. They have over fifteen years of experience educating groups on issues relating to gender identity and sexual orientation. As a mixed-race individual, they are passionate about social justice and dismantling systems of oppression. They have an MA from USC and an MSW from Smith College. They are a Taurus who enjoys travel, fiction writing, and film.

LinkedIn – Jamez Ahmad

Some people seem to have it all together. They breeze through life with little stress and few problems. But for others, even everyday tasks can be a challenge and overwhelming. Life may feel like a never-ending balancing act for people with high functioning anxiety.

High functioning anxiety is a term used to describe people who experience many symptoms of generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) but can continue functioning in their daily lives. People with high functioning anxiety may feel anxious all the time, worry about things that may not seem important to other people, or have trouble focusing on anything else other than their worries.

Even though they may impress others with their poise, self-confidence, and ability to handle stressful situations, high-functioning anxiety sufferers often struggle with the same issues that people with GAD experience. Many people with high functioning anxiety are successful in work or school, but most often, they live in fear of doing something wrong or being evaluated negatively by others.

The good news is that individuals with high functioning anxiety can learn to manage their symptoms of anxiety and live with reasonable levels of anxiety. The bad news is they are often unaware of how debilitating their anxiety is and feel stuck. There are many reasons why people with high functioning anxiety often aren’t aware of their mental health condition.

What are the symptoms of high functioning anxiety?

For many, the term “anxiety” is interchangeable with the term “stress.” And while stress is a common experience for most, it can be debilitating for those who suffer from high functioning anxiety. Individuals with high functioning anxiety may appear to have it all together. They’re often seen as high-achieving people who are always organized, efficient, and driven. But looks can be deceiving.

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Beneath the surface, these individuals are struggling with a constant sense of worry and fear. They have an intense desire to control their excessive anxiety but find it difficult and overwhelming to do. They’re often plagued by a feeling of impending doom. They live in constant fear that something terrible will happen and that they’ll be unable to cope with the crisis.

High-functioning anxiety often takes the shape of one or more of the following symptoms:

  • Feeling constantly anxious or on edge
  • Difficulty concentrating or focusing
  • Racing thoughts or mind going blank
  • Feeling overwhelmed
  • Difficulty falling asleep or poor sleep
  • Muscle tension or pain
  • Headaches, stomach upset, rapid heart rate, or heart palpitations

women with anxiety

What’s the difference between anxiety and high functioning anxiety?

Anxiety disorders are the most common mental health condition in the United States, affecting 40 million American adults in the US each year. There are different types of anxiety disorders, but the most common are generalized anxiety disorder and social anxiety disorder.

Many people don’t know the difference between anxiety and high functioning anxiety. Anxiety is what most people experience when they have to give a presentation or speak in public. It’s that feeling of butterflies in your stomach or racing thoughts you get before stressful life events. High functioning anxiety is a more severe form of anxiety that can make it difficult for people to function in their day-to-day lives.

People with high functioning anxiety often have difficulty sleeping, concentrating, and making decisions. They may also experience intense feelings and often worry about things that some people would not worry about.

Normal anxiety is usually a healthy response to being anxious. It keeps you on your toes and gives you an extra energy boost when needed. However, if your anxious feelings are so severe that they affect your ability to get your daily tasks done at work or at home, it may be important to work with a therapist to process your feelings and find the best treatment for anxiety.

woman with anxiety

What causes high functioning anxiety?

High functioning anxiety is caused by a combination of factors, including genetics, environment, and lifestyle. While scientists are still learning about the specific causes of high functioning anxiety, they believe it may be related to a malfunctioning in the portion of the brain that regulates fear and stress. Thus, high functioning anxiety may be caused by a specific genetic mutation or a combination of factors that trigger the brain to over-respond to stress and fear.

There are many different causes of high functioning anxiety, but some of the most common include:

  • Genetics
  • Environment
  • Brain chemistry
  • Learned behavior
  • Coping mechanisms
  • Medication

One theory suggests that people with high-functioning anxiety are perfectionists who strive for excellence in everything they do. This constant pressure to be perfect can lead to a high stress level. Another theory suggests that people with high-functioning anxiety are hypersensitive and constantly scan their environment for potential threats. This constant vigilance can also lead to bad stress and severe anxiety.

What are the treatments for high functioning anxiety?

Although high functioning anxiety can be frustrating and debilitating, various treatments available can help lessen symptoms and improve quality of life. Behavioral treatments include cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) and relaxation strategies.

Cognitive behavioral therapy is a form of psychotherapy that focuses on the relationship between thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. The goal is to teach patients how their thoughts, feelings, and behaviors can affect their anxiety symptoms. CBT is often used to help patients overcome fears, such as fear of failure or rejection.

To reduce the fear, the patient works on identifying the triggers for these feelings and learning more effective coping skills. CBT can be used to treat generalized anxiety disorder, high functioning anxiety, social phobia, and panic disorder. Relaxation strategies help patients learn to relax and cope with stress. Relaxation techniques include progressive muscle relaxation, deep breathing exercises, guided imagery, and meditation.

People with high functioning anxiety benefit greatly from a self-care plan. One of the most common self-management activities is social support. Social support can include family and friends, as well as professionals. These people can provide the support and encouragement a person needs to get through the challenges of high functioning anxiety.

family support

Your self-care plan should also include eating well, exercising, and taking breaks to relieve stress. These strategies can be as simple as working through a difficult situation by telling a friend or family member about it. It is also important to make time for hobbies and friends to distract the mind from negative thoughts and feelings.

A mental health professional can suggest self-care strategies and teach you how to manage stress and difficult situations. There is no one “cure” for anxiety disorders, but with the right help and treatment, individuals can learn to manage their symptoms and find strategies for high-functioning anxiety. It’s important to seek professional help to have a therapist in your corner while working through this.

In many Indigenous and Native communities and traditions, there were folks welcomed and celebrated for being Two-Spirit people. Native people and tribal communities considered Two-Spirit individuals to be divine. Indigenous cultures saw Two-Spirit folks as people who communed with the creator, sacred beings often regaled in their societies. Furthermore, people with Two-Spirit identities were given roles as healers, mediators, shamans, matchmakers, and leaders. People like We’wha, Osh-Tisch, Hastiin Klah, Lozen, Dahteste are just a few of the historically documented Two-Spirit people who took such roles.

The term Two-Spirit was coined in the 1990s by Myra Laramee during an international Indigenous gathering of Lesbian and Gay Natives in Winnipeg, Canada. It was used to identify indigenous individuals who fulfilled mixed gender roles in Native American cultures. Two-Spirit expresses the complex and diverse traditions of tribal nations regarding gender identity and gender-diverse people in a way that could unify across tribal affiliations without erasing multiple native terms or individual experiences.

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We'll work side by side to uncover the challenges and patterns that keep you from living the life you desire.


Nevertheless, this third gender identity should only be used by people who are part of Native American communities and not by folks outside of Native and Indigenous tribes. The term reflects a traditional, cultural, and spiritual component that should be respected. Native and Indigenous members of the LGBTQIA2S+ community may also use the term Indigiqueer.

While many tribes and nations respected diversity in gender and sexual identities, often celebrating Two-Spirit traditions, a lot of the history was forcibly destroyed through colonization by European settlers that came to Turtle Island, now commonly referred to as North America. Unfortunately, many of the records available today are from the perspective of colonizers who often did not understand nor respect the wide variety of gender identities of native individuals, and refused to comprehend the traditions and experiences of Native American societies. We’wha is one of the most prominent figures recorded in Two-Spirit history, and a member of the Zuni Indians from the area of New Mexico, was imprisoned by Christian missionaries for being Two-Spirit.

It wasn’t until these interactions with colonizers that Two-Spirit people started to become displaced in tribal societies. As mentioned earlier, Two-Spirit individuals often held positions of power and were highly regarded in Native American communities. However, colonizers and settlers would refuse to work with any Two-Spirit people and used hostility to displace them from their esteemed societal roles, leaving them ostracized and eventually erased.

Girl LGBTQ with flag

This displacement and erasure were magnified by genocidal practices inflicted on Native nations across Turtle Island. Unfortunately, the atrocities didn’t stop with genocide and land displacement, as many Native children were taken and placed in boarding schools, where they would be beaten, starved, humiliated, and murdered in an effort to “kill the savage, save the man,” as it was in the interest of colonizers to completely eliminate Native culture and tradition.

The impact of colonization on Native and Indigenous communities is still ongoing and continues to marginalize Two-Spirit and Indigiqueer people as well. When advocating for Two-Spirit folks, it’s important to recognize that all aspects of oppression are interlinked. This is most clear in the policies regularly put in place in the U.S. with the purpose of disenfranchising Native peoples.

Two-Spirit girl

Two-Spirit people were healers and leaders and served an important role in their communities. We should honor and respect their identities and third gender status, as well as the culture and history intertwined with them. The constant erasure and disregard for Native and Indigenous people take a toll on the mental health of Two-spirit people. There’s a disproportionate amount of stressors and pressure put on Native communities and this gets amplified if you are Indigiqueer or Two-Spirit.

All members of the LGBTQIA2S+ community deserve respect, and you can help us by advocating for the Two-Spirit community, nearby Native communities where you live, and more mental health resource access in your area.


Jamez Ahmad


This post was written by Jamez Ahmad.

Jamez (they, them) is a proud member of the LGBTQIA2S+ community. They have over fifteen years of experience educating groups on issues relating to gender identity and sexual orientation. As a mixed-race individual, they are passionate about social justice and dismantling systems of oppression. They have an MA from USC and an MSW from Smith College. They are a Taurus who enjoys travel, fiction writing, and film.

LinkedIn – Jamez Ahmad

We keep hearing about the dangers of work-related stress and the importance of work-life balance. However, many of us struggle to participate in self-compassion and self-care. We struggle with “taking care of our needs.” High achievers, in particular, find it difficult to abandon their “I can do everything by myself” motto and label asking for help as a sign of weakness. It may be the passion that fuels their ambition or the desire to constantly prove themselves.

High achievers strive to excel by working long hours, taking on overwhelming workloads, and constantly putting pressure on themselves to be the best. This is what makes them and other professionals who struggle to find a positive balance between their work life and private life the best candidates for burnout.

What is burnout?

The concept is relatively new and was first used in 1974 by Herbert Freudenberger, in his book Burnout: The High Cost of High Achievement. Burnout manifests as extreme fatigue and chronic stress and takes individuals through three main stages: exhaustion, detachment or cynicism, and the feeling of ineffectiveness and lack of accomplishment. In other words, individuals suffering from job burnout tend to experience mental exhaustion that affects their job performance, feel no joy going to work, and have a reduced ability to perform their job properly.

Burnout is usually associated with a high-stress job or a demanding profession (lawyer, physician, nurse, therapist, teacher), but it can also stem from an unhealthy lifestyle and environment that can cause constant stress or build up over the already existing chronic workplace stress. Perfectionism, the constant need for control, and pessimism can also fuel feelings of burnout.

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Who is most predisposed to burnout?

Burnout, like many other mental health issues, has a way of creeping up on someone without the individual ever noticing it. It can be caused by various stressors, including high-stress environments and stressful situations, such as caring for an ill family member or children or receiving tragic or upsetting news. Unnoticed and untreated, burnout can impact someone’s overall well-being, stealing their joy and sometimes their will to live and leading to more serious mental health conditions like anxiety disorders and depression.


High achievers are the most predisposed to developing burnout, but this doesn’t mean that other individuals exposed to a constant source of stress or dealing with high-stress levels outside a professional environment are not at risk of burnout. Everyone can suffer from burnout as long as they are exposed to a prolonged period of stress, negative emotions, or traumatic stress.

What are the tell-tale signs of burnout?

Burnout is a state of mental and emotional exhaustion often accompanied by a wide range of mental and physical symptoms. Some of the most common symptoms of burnout are:

chronic fatigue – it starts with a constant lack of energy and feeling tired all the time and may lead to emotional exhaustion, feeling empty and drained, and having to struggle with a lack of motivation in all aspects of life;

isolation – patients suffering from burnout tend to feel overwhelmed in any situation and find it easier to withdraw from a social situation and isolate themselves from the rest of the world;

sleep and appetite changes – changes in appetite and sleep patterns are often a consequence of stressful situations, and they usually get worse as the level of burnout increases;

attention and concentration problems – workplace burnout often manifests as lack of focus and forgetfulness that, in time, may prevent individuals from getting their work done and struggle with a lack of productivity;

physical symptoms – burnout can impact your blood pressure, decrease energy levels, and cause shortness of breath; individuals suffering from burnout may also experience chest pain, heart palpitation, dizziness, and fainting;


increased illness – due to extreme exhaustion and overwhelming stress for an extended period, burnout patients have a weakened immune system and are more prone to colds, flu, and infections;

irritability – a natural consequence of extreme fatigue and continuous stressors, irritability takes hold of the individual struggling with burnout, who finds it more difficult to be patient and understanding with the people around them;

anxiety and depression – in the late stages of burnout, the patient may develop symptoms of anxiety and depression from constantly worrying and being on the edge to pronounced sadness and hopelessness, as well as feelings of worthlessness and guilt; a carousel of distressing emotions and negative effects impact the individual’s health and well-being.

How can we prevent burnout?

The path to burnout starts with excessive drive and an uncontrollable eagerness to work harder and push yourself beyond your own limits. Left unchecked, your ambition and drive can cause you to lose sight of what really matters in life and put your needs and self-care on a secondary plan. The most common symptoms of stress can amplify and pave the way to burnout.

Soon enough, you’ll find no time for needs that are not associated with your work and isolate yourself from your family and friends in an endless chase for perfection. Behavioral changes often follow and can bring with them irritability, lack of motivation, feelings of inadequacy, fatigue, and lower productivity levels.

Stress is indeed unavoidable in our day-to-day life, and trying to eliminate all sources of stress from our professional and personal life is a battle lost before it’s ever fought. However, burnout syndrome can be avoided if we educate ourselves on the topic and adopt a healthy lifestyle. Whether we are talking of professional burnout, burnout caused by financial pressures, or caregiver burnout, we can learn to manage excessive stress and prevent the effects of chronic fatigue if we:

eat healthily – a healthy diet abundant in omega-3 fatty acids can help us fight depression and improve our mood;

exercise – regular exercise boosts our positive emotions and allows us to better handle stressful situations without succumbing to their emotional weight;
sleep – a healthy sleep pattern can do wonders for our health, providing our body with the necessary time to rest and reset;


adopt a self-care plan – whether we’re taking some time off to read a book, take a bath, or go on vacation, self-care is primordial for our physical and emotional health;

be aware of the warning signs – knowing the most common signs of burnout and making sure we change our ways as soon as we notice the first sign of burnout can help us avoid the psychological effects of burnout and allow us to adopt a positive attitude when faced with stressors.

talk to a therapist – asking for help is never a sign of weakness; talking about our overwhelming emotions with a mental health professional can help us identify the stressors in our life and learn to manage them.