Every relationship has its hurdles. A relationship where one person has anxiety, however, presents a unique set of challenges. The Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA) reports that people with anxiety, when compared to those without anxiety, were three times more likely to avoid intimacy with their partner and two times more likely to experience at least one relationship problem.
Five Ways to Support Your Partner When They Have Anxiety
Accept Them as They Are
When someone is under stress or anxiety, it’s difficult for them not to feel that way. Telling someone not to have anxiety or expecting them to improve overnight only serves to make that person feel helpless. It would be like asking someone with diabetes not to be a diabetic and asking them to change right away. Sometimes, the best thing to do is to let your partner know you accept them as they are and are willing to support them.
Educate Yourself About Anxiety
Partners can educate themselves about the experience of living with anxiety. Learning and identifying the signs and symptoms of anxiety can allow you to help your partner manage those symptoms when they arise. It also enables you to think ahead and avoid situations that may trigger their anxiety.
Developing a knowledge base about anxiety also helps you to empathize with your other half. Learning simple, but effective, treatment options, like meditating and breathing techniques, can help you walk a partner through anxiety symptoms. Even a little technology can help. CalmiGo is a portable device that can help someone breathe in a moment of anxiousness. Just three minutes a few times a day may help to relieve stress without medication.
Empathize and Support
Once you’ve educated yourself about anxiety, you’ll be more likely to empathize with your partner’s situation. Being able to empathize improves your ability to solve issues alongside your partner and understand their journey. People with anxiety, just like everyone else, want reassurance that their partner will love them despite their challenges.
It’s tempting to create timetables for progress, but learning to manage anxiety is a process. Creating timelines and making ultimatums only generates more anxiety. Being patient and flexible can help your partner manage their anxiety in a supportive environment.
Know Your Boundaries
You are also important in this relationship, so knowing what your limits are and following them are essential. Take time to perform your own self-care and have your individual needs addressed. Don't forget to pursue your interests and hobbies, also. Communicate with your partner about what you need from the relationship and, if necessary, seek couples counseling.
You’re Important, Too!
The partner of someone who has anxiety can find themselves taking on more of the heavy lifting in a relationship at times. When the partner with anxiety requires time off, the other half has to fulfill domestic responsibilities like bill paying, cooking, and cleaning. When there are children involved, the responsibilities are more significant. Taking on these extra duties, in addition to helping the other partner with anxiety symptoms, means both people in the relationship deserve kudos for all they put into it.
Loving someone with anxiety can have some hard moments, but it can have very bright ones, too! People with anxiety are very genuine and empathetic people, which makes them easy to fall in love with. Both partners must remember why they were drawn to each other in the beginning stages of a relationship and to allow that magic to carry them through tough times.