Navigating Anxiety as a Significant Other

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Anxiety is a challenging mental health condition for those who live with it, but also for those who are in a relationship with someone battling anxiety. The anxiety can put severe strain on the relationship, causing tension due to unfounded concerns, fears and paranoias dreamt up by the anxious mind. 

While this doesn’t make a dating relationship any easier, it doesn’t make it impossible either. All it does is present different challenges in the relationship that, once addressed, can make a world of a difference. 

1. Take the time to learn 

When dating someone who battles anxiety, take the time to learn about the mental health condition in general, such as — signs to look for, what an anxiety attack is like and what anxiety sounds like when you’re living with it. 

While general information from reputable sources is good, it’s also important to learn about anxiety from your partner. Ask them things like what their triggers are, what do they most often have anxious thoughts about and how you can help them during times of distress, or during the day in general. 

When your partner talks, really take the time to listen without contributing thoughts, opinions or advice unless it’s asked of you. Let your partner share, learn from them and thank them for their vulnerability. 

2. Foster honest conversation 

One of the easiest ways for resentment and discomfort to build is through silence. If you are having difficulties with a partner’s struggle with anxiety, kindly talk with them about it. A relationship is a two-way street, so in order to keep everything flowy smoothly, it’s vital to a healthy relationship to promote communication. 

You can foster healthy discussions in your relationship through various methods, including: 

  • Avoid having conversations in the heat of the moment. When tempers are flared and emotions are more angry than neutral. Take time to regroup and talk when both of you have calmed down.
  • Using proper language; avoid referring to your partner as “someone with anxiety” and instead use language like, “my partner battling/living with anxiety.” This helps prevent your partner’s identity becoming one with the anxiety and instead keeps the two separated;
  • Encouraging your partner’s steps towards recovery, and trying to not enable behaviors like unhealthy coping mechanisms.

By not avoiding the topic of anxiety, but instead fostering a safe environment where your loved one feels comfortable sharing with you. You can work together to create a characteristic of communication in your relationship which can positively impact recovery.

3. Avoid having serious conversations over text 

It can be tempting to “get into it” via texts, but it’s crucial to the wellbeing of your relationship to avoid having arguments and intense conversations over technology. With messaging, it’s much too easy to misconstrue tone, mistranslate the meaning of something or read between the lines and thus overthink. 

If there is tension in the relationship, wait until you can both be face to face to talk. While it might still be difficult, it’s likely to lead to less complications overall. 

4. Remember your partner is not the anxiety 

When your significant other is in the middle of an anxiety attack or is battling an anxious flare-up, remember that your partner is not one with the mental disorder. Also, keep in mind that anxious behaviors from your partner aren’t always going to occur because of something you did. 

Anxiety overwhelms the mind of the individual, pushing all other rational thoughts to the wayside. You might notice erratic, moody or irritable behavior from your partner, and while they’re still responsible for their actions, it’s important to remember that some of these actions occur as a result of anxiety. 

At the core of it, however, your partner is still so much more than the disorder. Even when they’re in the throes of a challenging time, know that the disorder does not define who they truly are as a person.

5. Set healthy boundaries 

While the needs of your loved one are valid, so are yours, and how can you hope to successfully support your partner if your needs aren’t being met either? It becomes very difficult to provide for another when you yourself feel empty and exhausted. 

To keep this from happening, it’s vital to the success of your relationship to set healthy boundaries. This prevents tension from building as a result of unspoken expectations, as well as gives the two of you the space to take care of your own needs. 

6. Consider individual and/or couples counseling 

In connection with healthy boundaries is the truth that you’re not a counselor and some things are best handled with the professional knowledge and care of a mental health professional.

There are many routes to consider here, from couples counseling for your relationship, counseling for yourself or even anxiety counseling for your significant other. 

Professional counseling can provide both of you with new perspectives, healthy coping mechanisms and methods for remaining united as a team as you combat the mental disorder together. 

Contact Pyramid Family Behavioral Healthcare today 

If your partner is battling anxiety, it can be difficult to just sit by watching, hoping it one day disappears. Unfortunately, mental illnesses rarely go away on their own, so the best method of helping your partner live fruitfully and peacefully alongside anxiety may be recommending counseling.

If your significant other, or yourself, is seeking counseling, contact Pyramid Family Behavioral Healthcare for more information, or to speak with a therapist today. Call anytime at 678-274-4936.

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