Life is stressful and we all cope with stress in different ways. Some of us are more anxious or more easily depressed because of trauma or other difficult life experiences. But dating someone with serious anxiety or depression doesn’t mean you need to label them as such or avoid having a serious relationship with them. In today’s blog, we’ll be talking about how to deal with romantic partners that have anxiety and how to not let your partner’s anxiety and depression affect you too harshly.
Dating someone with anxiety and depression
Many of you have probably experienced this – at some point, your partner reveals they have issues with anxiety, and you notice that she creates a wall of negativity around her when she becomes anxious. This negativity leads to an argument, and you automatically think it’s a personal attack on you. But how do we really understand what anxiety is? How can we be there for our partner without it leading to conflict or making their anxiety worse? How can we, as partners, be more empathetic?
There are a couple of things to know straight off the bat about dating someone with anxiety and depression. In their strongest form, anxiety and depression can take the form of medical disorders and be incredibly crippling. It can often feel like there is a third person in the relationship, deliberately trying to create anger and doubt. It doesn’t have to be like that, but if you as a partner don’t make the effort to understand the source of her feelings, it will feel like that. Many people take antidepressants and medication for these feelings, and that is totally normal.
Know that when feelings of depression or anxiety set in for her, she may treat you badly. She may disrespect you personally and not be able to be there for you emotionally. Communicate openly with her how you feel, but also give her space even if she may not ask for it. Anxiety and depression are real mental health issues – everyone has levels of it, but anxiety and depression become serious when they are debilitating. If you are with someone with extreme anxiety and depression, it’s important to be able to not associate her symptoms as a personal attack on you and to try to be supportive.
How to date someone with anxiety
Is it even possible to date someone with crippling anxiety? Anxiety can often create irrational thoughts and extreme mood swings. That is difficult to be in a relationship with. But it is completely possible to date someone with anxiety and not give you anxiety in the process. The good news is: anxiety is completely treatable, and you have several tools at your disposal to better understand how to date someone with anxiety.
If you’re dating someone with anxiety, chances are they are worried about incredibly irrational things that you yourself don’t even think of. Their thoughts constantly go into the worse-case-scenario. People with anxiety often test the trust of their partner. They may come across as angry, irritable, or passive-aggressive in their behavior. They may be overly judgmental. As long as they are aware of their own behavior and are seeking ways to reduce their anxiety, there is hope. With open and free communication and a supportive attitude, you can still have a great relationship. Here are five tips for dating someone with anxiety.
Five Tips for dating someone with anxiety
Tip #1: Understand the root of the anxiety.
The first step is to make the effort to understand where anxiety comes from. This can be quite layered if you start to probe it deeper, but this means asking meaningful questions to your partner and being empathetic. The key is to not alienate your partner by making them feel like their feelings are invalid or that they don’t make sense. Just because you don’t experience the level of anxiety or depression they feel, doesn’t mean you can’t be there to understand where their feelings are coming from.
One way of doing that is by doing a bit of research on what anxiety is and where it comes from. It’s important to know that having anxiety shouldn’t be seen as a weakness. People with anxiety often worry that their anxiety is a burden on others. They wish they didn’t have it. But there are also millions of people with anxiety that still have fantastic relationships because anxiety is treatable.
Tip #2: Show support.
Create a safe mode of communication with her. Let her talk and resolve her own issues. Ask yourself: where are her feelings coming from? Maybe she has a father that was abusive or a mother that was an alcoholic. If she reveals these types of things to you, be sensitive to these details. Perhaps she struggled with addiction or is estranged from her family. Any number of things from her past may affect her anxiety. When anxiety sets in, it is typically either because of a fear of the future or a fear of the past. Try to find out where her issues are coming from. Once you do, you can address them with her and try to be there for her. You may not be able to be her therapist, but you can listen to her and create a safe space to explore talking about things that may be difficult to talk about.
Tip #3: Create boundaries.
Being supportive of her also comes hand in hand with being supportive of yourself. People that are anxious often behave in irrational ways and release intense negative energy. It is up to you to create the boundaries that you need with your partner so that you don’t let that negativity become personal. She may treat you terribly when she is depressed or anxious and unable to be there for anyone but herself. She may say on one day that she loves you, and on the next that she hates you. There is nothing more confusing than that.
Being part of that back and forth can take a mental toll on you, too. When she is feeling less anxious, you have to be able to communicate with her and tell her how she spoke to you and how it made you feel. You have to let her know what is ok and what is not ok for you. If she needs space and time, let her know that she should take it instead of deliberately hurting you. Let her know that you are there to support her, but not to be disrespected. Once she knows your boundaries, then she can choose the option to stay in the relationship or not, as can you.
Tip #4: Find out what your attachment style is.
Typically when you’re in a relationship with someone that is incredibly anxious, they need to be balanced by stability. Anxious people need to attach to things that make them feel good. Know for yourself if you’re the type of person that can be grounded and stable, or if you are unable to provide that and you suffer from extreme anxiety yourself. The anxious attachment style needs a secure attachment style, not an avoidant attachment style, for example.
If you have the tendency to avoid issues, then you have to change the way you behave in order to be able to communicate more effectively with her. Set your boundaries, communicate clearly, and then move forward with the relationship.
Tip #5: Don’t try to fix her.
You can be supportive of her without trying to solve her anxiety. Remember, you’re not a mental health professional and you’re not a therapist. She is going to have to put in the work and the time in order to help alleviate her anxiety. Don’t tell her what pills to take or not take. Let her take care of herself and respect her space when she asks for it.
She should be conscious of her own behavior and make conscious decisions to help herself. Try not to tell her what to do or how she should behave. Pointing fingers never helps a relationship, and making her feel that she’s the one with the problem that you need to fix doesn’t help either. A relationship is a give and take, not two people coming together to fix or change each other. Educating yourself, learning how to communicate and how to set your boundaries, finding out what your attachment style is, are all better ways of embarking on a relationship.
Would you date someone with anxiety
In order to empower your partner to make the right decisions for their life, you have to continue to make the right ones for yourself. Only you yourself know what you can take and what you cannot take. Millions of people suffer from anxiety – it is not something that is impossible to overcome. But if you’re being disrespected, abused, or overextending your energy and not getting anything in return, then it’s important to step back and have a conversation with her. You have to take care of yourself, too.
Remember to trust your feelings and, as always, remember that you are loved. If you liked today’s article, please comment below and let me know what helped you!