Being in a relationship can at times, make anyone anxious. But what about if you have an anxious partner who is one of the 20 percent of Americans with Generalized Anxiety Disorder, Panic Disorder, or Social Anxiety Disorder?
These serious disorders can impact your day-to-day life as your partner exhibits a range of symptoms. They may include irritability to panic attacks, from muscular tension to difficulty sleeping, from avoidance of social situations to sweating and nausea—and much, much more.
In such relationships, the non-anxious partner may end up taking on some unexpected anxiety and previously unwanted roles. This could add up to major changes in your social life, your physical and emotional work load, and your own anxiety levels. Needless to say, dealing with such a challenging situation requires teamwork, creativity, and patience. But, fear not, it is absolutely doable!
First Step: Communication
Communication is key for every relationship, of course. When living with an anxious partner, this reality looms even larger. Since it’s quite easy for you to interpret your partner’s anxiety as a personal attack or daunting long term statement, be sure to communicate. Furthermore, it’s quite easy for your partner to wonder if their behavior is alienating or upsetting you, so make certain you communicate.
Ask questions. Explain situations. Schedule sit-downs and updates. Leave as little as possible to chance and misinterpretation.
9 More Tips to Make Life Easier When Living With an Anxious Partner
Your partner didn’t ask for anxiety. You didn’t ask to fall in love with someone with anxiety. But here you are. So, now what? Acceptance, in this kind of situation, might mean realizing (as the saying goes) “it is what it is.” From there, you can work together on managing the reality you’ve accepted and evolve together within it.
Commit to learning everything you can about your partner’s particular condition. It’s especially helpful to focus on the self-perpetuating aspect of anxiety. It can literally change one’s brain chemistry. Such changes, in turn, increase the likelihood of negative thoughts, which then decrease one’s ability to control anxiety. The more you learn, the better partner you can be.
Keep reminding yourself that anxiety disorders are not just about thoughts. They’re about chemicals, too. Your partner can’t “just stop” being anxious.
4. Don’t Over-Accommodate
When your partner—the person you love—is suffering, you may instinctively step into the role of superhero. By doing everything for them, however, you may be signaling that they really do have much to fear. Consequently, this might reduce their motivation to change.
5. Set boundaries
Take care of yourself and your needs. Make time to work on your own stress.
The neuro-chemical component of anxiety can easily irritate or anger your partner. This is super challenging for the most patient of people, but it’s best to not take everything they say or do personally.
7. Share Your Time
Be there for your partner and keep reminding them that you’re there for them. You may feel like such reminders become redundant but to them, they are essential reassurance.
8. Relax together
When you’re with your anxious partner, you’re making it harder for them to focus on their anxiety. Find ways to enjoy this time. Enhance your connection while reducing stress.
9. Trust yourself
You and your partner are together for a reason. For many reasons, in fact. You may have to change some behaviors and perceptions but you don’t have to change who you are. They don’t want you to become someone else. They want you to be a positive, understanding, and loving presence in their life. Trust the bond of your relationship and trust yourself.