The Dos and Don’ts of Dating Someone with Anxiety

Anxiety can impact a relationship in more than one way. People who experience anxiety disorders often tend to have a challenging time self-regulating, and they’re prone to other maladaptive behaviors like over-analyzing, always coming up with worst-case scenarios, constantly expecting rejection, and seeking out constant reassurance. At times, this may be tiring for an intimate partner.

People with anxiety may experience diminished relationship quality more frequently than their peers. All healthy relationships always require a lot of work. If you have a partner with anxiety, here are the essentials you need to understand about it and the manner in which it can impact your intimate connection.

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Understanding Anxiety: Signs to Watch Out for in a Relationship

Here are some of the most common signs an anxious partner may exhibit:

  • Constantly doubting a partner’s feelings and needing reassurance
  • Constantly worrying that a significant other will want to break up (which can lead to poor boundary setting and neglecting one’s needs in a relationship)
  • Sabotaging the relationship, whether intentionally or subconsciously
  • Waiting for something to go wrong and expressing negative thoughts all the time
  • Frequently doubting compatibility
  • Over-analyzing an intimate partner’s words and actions
  • Being too clingy
  • Exhibiting controlling behavior (checking a partner’s texts or emails, calling them frequently, prohibiting them from meeting certain people, etc.)
  • Having anxiety over certain aspects of the relationship like sex or emotional intimacy, for example

On their own, a few of those anxiety symptoms aren’t necessarily indicative of a mental health issue. When such behaviors and thoughts, however, start interfering with the quality of the relationship, one can take into consideration the possibility of an anxiety disorder. Anxiety symptoms usually affect multiple aspects of someone’s life.

Anxious man having trouble getting intimate with his partner

Anxiety: Important Things You Need to Understand

Here are some of the key facts therapists and other mental health professionals want you to know about common anxiety disorders and how different forms of anxiety impact behaviors:

  • Anxiety is not a made-up problem: unfortunately, society misunderstands generalized anxiety disorder, and many people with anxiety disorders are told to simply get over it. Anxiety disorders aren’t something that those who experience it make up to seek sympathy or attention. They can be debilitating, preventing individuals from enjoying life or engaging in satisfying intimate relationships.
  • Panic attacks can happen with some types of anxiety disorders. People with anxiety can also experience terrible physical symptoms like tiredness, shortness of breath, dry mouth, dizziness, headaches, and others.
  • People who have anxiety may benefit from therapy and professional assistance in order to address it. Couples therapy can also deliver effective results.
  • Symptoms of anxiety can occur in waves.

The Don’ts of Dealing with Anxiety Issues in a Relationship

Before moving on to the best practices and techniques, we need to talk about certain things you want to avoid to reduce the effects of anxiety on your relationship.

Don’t Play the Blame Game

Managing to separate anxious behaviors from your partner is going to be a difficult task. Still, they didn’t choose to suffer from an anxiety disorder. Blaming them for negative occurrences in the relationship isn’t going to fix the situation. Instead, try to discuss the anxiety episode that has caused problems and work together on addressing them.

Don’t Ignore the Importance of Boundaries

Setting and enforcing boundaries when anxiety is a part of the equation can be challenging. Still, boundaries are important to keep toxicity out of your interactions with an intimate partner. Anxiety should never be used as an excuse for unfair behavior. If this happens, you’ll find it much more difficult to build trust and resolve issues down the line.

Don’t Assume All Relationship Problems Are Caused by Anxiety

Some issues in your relationship may be caused by the lack of compatibility, previous relationship issues, or communication problems. You will need to understand these elements to address problems accordingly and grow stronger together.

man with anxiety having communication problems with his partner

The Dos of Being a Supportive Partner to Someone with Anxiety

Below is a list of some ideas that may be of benefit when dating someone who experiencing anxiety.

Understand What Triggers Your Partner

Anxiety attacks can be triggered by different things for different people. In time, you’ll know what sets your partner off. Understanding these triggers can help you diffuse situations effortlessly by simply avoiding problematic behaviors, interactions, or situations. Caffeine, for example, is a common anxiety trigger. The same applies to the lack of enough sleep or frequently facing stressful situations.

Be an Active Listener

Listening and hearing are two different things. In order to help someone successfully manage this mental health condition, you’ll need to work extra hard on putting yourself in their shoes. Practice active listening, be patient, and let them express their feelings and worries without being judged.

Consider Couples Therapy Together

Mental health professionals can help you understand aspects of anxiety and your partner’s behavior that can be difficult to fathom otherwise. Furthermore, you’ll get the tools and resources required to actively work together to increase the security in your relationship.

Take Good Care of Yourself

You may start neglecting your own feelings and needs. Self-care is very important for a balanced, healthy, and happy relationship. If your needs aren’t being met, you will find it much more difficult to be in a healthy committed relationship.

couple looking into each other's eyes during their vacation in the mountains

Final Thoughts

Remember, everyone experiences anxiety differently, and it’s important to communicate and understand each other’s needs in the relationship. With patience, empathy, and open communication, dating someone with anxiety can be a fulfilling and loving experience.

Remember to educate yourself about anxiety, offer support and encouragement, and avoid dismissiveness, criticism, and avoidance. Your partner needs your support and understanding, and with the right approach, you can help them work through their anxiety and build a strong and loving relationship.