Another article explaining how to date someone with anxiety because a few just isn't enough.
To start, if you are considering dating someone with anxiety you need to really understand what you are getting into. Anxiety is not beautiful nor is it easy to deal with. Also, if you have dated someone with anxiety in the past, not all triggers are the same.
One thing those who are dating an individual with anxiety need to know is we know we hurt others by our reaction to our catastrophic thoughts. We understand that you might be an innocent third party but that does not keep us from acting out. We know that you have done nothing personally to us, but if none of this is something you can handle, you should probably leave.
Whether you are loving or caring for an individual with anxiety, you have probably already seen what being scared looks like for them. Being asked, "Are you okay?" "Are we okay?" "Is there anything on your mind?" "Do you want to talk about anything?", 40 times a day has probably already let you in on what is going on. The worries that come from not knowing or thinking that all the bad things that we believe are now happening.
If you are unaware of why an individual does this, ask. Ask in a way that does not make the individual feel like they are ridiculous or irrational for asking those kinds of questions a million times a day. Do not tell them that they are getting on your nerves, they will tell you that they know they are. Even if they are, just simply say, “You are not getting on my nerves”. But I am sure you also have also noticed that telling them that you are okay and that nothing is wrong, isn't doing it either.
So just ask them why they are asking you if something is wrong. Usually, when anxious people ask someone if something is wrong, there is actually something wrong with them. They have formulated some scenario in their head that has made them believe that you are not okay or that you guys are not okay. No matter how early or late it is in your relationship with that person, this will always happen. It is nothing you did personally, just a little reassurance that you guys are okay goes a long way.
Speaking of reassurance, that is the most important thing you can do for them.
Reassure the individual that you care about or love that you guys are okay. Reassure them that you still like them even if you have already told them a million times. Tell them again. I suffer from social anxiety as well and I am not big on PDA, so needing reassurance in public has always been a difficult task for those I have dated. If you pick up on your partner’s anxiety in public and they aren’t big on PDA, maybe just hold their hand or rub their leg. Let them know that you are present with them.
Reassurance does not have to be time consuming or expensive. A simple, "I've been thinking about you" text message out of the blue. Or instilling reassurance in them by making effort to spend time with them.
Besides reassurance, communication is a big one. Anxious people are people with lots of emotions and even if we are drowning in emotions all we sometimes know how to say is, “I don’t know, I am sorry.” When we do, very well, know exactly how we feel. If we cannot talk just be patient. Our anxiety will not keep us quiet about anything that has upset us and you will be the first to know.
But we also need someone who is good at listening and good at reciprocating communication. Anxious individuals wish they could be mind readers, and often, we think that we are skilled at it. But we aren’t. We need you to tell us how you are feeling every day and if that changes at all, we want to be the first to know. We cannot tell you that we have put together a scenario of why you no longer like us but have decided to stay with us anyway, but we have. As irrational and pointless as it might be to you, it is a very big thing to your partner.
And here is the most important thing I will say: Everything that is big to your partner is big for a reason. Do not belittle it because you do not understand it. Do not dehumanize your partner into thinking that they cause problems when their problems are more than problems. Their anxiety and thoughts are demons they have to battle with every day and just because you cannot understand it, does not mean it isn't real.
Dating an individual with anxiety is not easy. It’s a constant uneasy feeling of not knowing if things are alright between you two or if you even still want them. If you question why anyone would be this way then please do not think that you can take on a relationship that requires more effort than you are used to. They are not hard to be with, you just aren’t skilled to be with them and that is okay. But if you know you will do anything for the person you want to be with then just be present. Let them be their anxious self while you are just there. Be ready to hold them while they cry or just sit while they get everything off their mind.
Being with someone with anxiety should not require "How-To" articles, but it does. The lack of understanding and the abundance of judgment is what holds back those with anxiety from being able to make things easier for you. Letting them be themselves while you are there with a little more reassurance and communication, can go a long way for the both of you.
And to those who have anxiety: Choose people who don't make having anxiety harder on you. There are going to be people that come into your life that make it seem like you are hard to love and that your anxiety is the reason you have never been able to find love. That is not true. Dating is my biggest trigger and alone makes my anxiety worse. Not only does my anxiety stem from parental infidelity but also who I have dated. Anxiety will never be easy on you if you date people who aren't easy on your anxiety.