When you're dating someone who's battling anxiety, there may be times when you find it challenging. For example:
- There may be times when you find it hard to understand what they're going through;
- There may be times when you want to try to help them, but you don't know how to do so;
- There may be times when you try your best to help them, but you accidently end up upsetting them and making the situation even worse;
- There may be times when they lash out at you unexpectedly, which may cause you to feel upset and frustrated;
- And, there may be times when you feel burned out and exhausted from trying to help and support them.
For these reasons, we recently posed a question to our 3,000,000+ person social media community:
What suggestions do you have when it comes to dating someone with anxiety?
And below, we'd like to share some of the responses with you.
Tips For Dating Someone With Anxiety (As Told By People With Anxiety)
- "If you're dating someone with anxiety, then I think it's really important to have a conversation (or more than one) with them about what they need from you, and what you can do to best support them. Don't assume you already know everything, because anxiety, like all mental health challenges, manifests in different ways for different people - so what might be helpful for one person may not be helpful for another."
- "Even when their fears aren't rational, remember that they feel completely real to the person you're dating. Telling them to 'just calm down' or that there's 'nothing to feel anxious about' is very unlikely to help, and is probably only going to make things even worse."
- "Fighting anxiety every day is really, really, REALLY hard - so try your best to be patient, kind and understanding with the person you're dating."
- "Even though it can be difficult to do so, try not to automatically take their behaviour personally (such as if they cancel plans at the last minute, for example). Often their actions have nothing to do with you, and are 100% a product of their anxiety."
- "Understand what you're getting yourself in for. Sometimes they may cancel plans at the last minute, sometimes they may want to leave straight away as soon as they arrive somewhere, sometimes things that may be easy and second nature to other people will feel impossible for them, and sometimes they might feel too anxious to leave their home. The more you know about anxiety, the better you'll be able to navigate all its challenges with the person you're dating. Without this understanding, it's really hard to make the relationship work, and you're both probably better off without each other."
- "If you're dating someone with anxiety, then try to be as patient as possible, and remind yourself that they're doing their best."
- "I have a code word I use in social situations - 'gardening' - which my partner knows means that my anxiety is really getting to me and that I need to get away for a bit (or a while). If we're by ourselves and I'm feeling really anxious, they know just to hold my hand and not say anything until I'm ready to start engaging with them again. Communication between you and your partner is super important for this reason - so that they know when and how to help you."
- "The most important thing for me: offer lots of reassurance."
- "If you're dating someone with anxiety, then try to understand what triggers their anxiety. Otherwise, you might end up unintentionally making everything worse."
- "Acknowledge their fears and stressors. Understand that although you might not feel a certain way about a stressor, they do, and it is something that causes them anxiety. Don’t make them feel crazy for having fear about something, but instead, be patient and reassure them as they work through it."
- "Whatever you do, never belittle them for their fears or for struggling to do things that other people find easy."
- "While it's important to be patient, reassuring, loving, compassionate, etcetera like others have said, it's also important to keep in mind that you are NOT their therapist, and that it is NOT your job to 'fix' their anxiety. In order to get better, they need professional help."
- "Remember to take care of yourself as well. Dating someone with anxiety can at times be tiring and frustrating, so self-care is important for you as well. Your needs also matter."
If you're thinking about dating someone who's fighting anxiety or are currently dating someone who's fighting anxiety, our friend, then we hope you find some of these suggestions helpful.
All our love,
The Depression Project Team.