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Anxiety is tough, not only for the victim, but for the person who loves the person struggling with chronic worrying. Those who suffer with anxiety feel like their emotions are on a roller coaster ride, up one minute and down the next, and the person they’re dating can feel those changes. It can put an emotional strain on your relationship, especially if you don’t have the tools in place to know how to manage it. While anxiety can be confusing, frustrating and even intimidating, there are certain things that you can be aware of that will make things a lot easier. Here are seven things to know if you’re dating someone with anxiety.
They can’t just get over it
You can’t change how a person’s brain functions. A person you’re dating with anxiety may realize that their worry is excessive but find it difficult to control. Research shows that when anxiety takes over, rational thought disappears making it impossible to just “get over it.” It’s important that you have empathy. You wouldn’t tell someone who broke their legs to “just get over it and walk.” You would see and understand that they’re in visible pain. For those who don’t live with anxiety, it’s easy to dismiss it as something that can be easily overcome. It’s important for you to know that just because you can’t see a person’s mental pain doesn’t mean they’re not struggling through it.
Be mindful of the things you say
Some people think that saying things like “stop thinking so much” and “it’s all in your head” will help a person get over their anxiety, but these are some of the worst things you can tell someone dealing with anxiety. It undercuts their stress and their pain. For someone going through it, it feels real and it is real to them. Yes, anxiety might cause their thinking pattern to be warped, but when someone is in the grips of anxiety, it is impossible for them to see that. Another common aspect of anxiety and anxiety disorders is obsessively overthinking things. Anxious people have a way of overanalyzing situations and it can be difficult for you to watch them go through. If you’re dating someone with anxiety, try to avoid saying things that might imply their feelings are an overreaction.
Be prepared for tears
A person who struggles with anxiety is usually worried about most of areas of their life. It is likely that he or she is probably worried about your relationship and has even cried at the insecurity they have to deal with. If you’re dating someone with anxiety, it’s important that you try to understand their pain before you point it out as a weakness. Take time to understand where they may be coming from. Suggest a solution, offer some tissues and be there with them while they may be going through a rough patch. Try to make them smile.
It helps when they can talk to you
People who struggle with anxiety may seem like they’re stressed out all the time. While you may not be their therapist, there are things you can do to alleviate their anxiety. It’s easy to pinpoint when some people are worried and anxious, but for those who are good at covering it up, it can be difficult to discern when they are struggling with discouraging thoughts. These people can project such confidence and victory that we don’t see the signs when they are in great need. For someone who is chronically anxious, it helps when they feel like they can just vent sometimes. Those struggling with anxiety may not want to share what they’re dealing with. However, it helps for them to know that they can talk to you whenever they need to about anything. If they follow up on your offer, they are giving you permission to love them at their most vulnerable point. That’s beautiful.
They just might want some space
Sometimes, they just want to be left alone and if they want to be by themselves, you should give them space. Some alone time can give them the space they need to work through their thoughts and come down from their anxiety. You can check in but there’s no need to be overbearing. They will call on you when they know the time is right.
Learn the things that bring down their stress
When you’re dating someone with anxiety, you can help them by tapping into the things that help them de-stress. Figure out what they enjoy the most and what activities reduce their stress. It might be cooking a meal, traveling to a new place, or just going shopping. You can use these as tools to distract his or her mind at least for some time.
They appreciate you
Those who are suffering with anxiety are not oblivious to their irrationality. They know that there are certain things that you may have liked doing but you didn’t do because they couldn’t. They are also not oblivious to the fact that you have stayed by their side and supported them. People suffering with anxiety worry a lot and part of this over thinking comes back to the people that have supported them, always. Fear that you’re not satisfied, that you’ll grow frustrated or dismissive, fear that they don’t have things in order are a just a few of the things that those suffering with anxiety obsess over in their relationships. They definitely recognize your support and appreciate you for sticking by them.
Those struggling with anxiety can find letting things go difficult. They are programmed to worry so not harping on a particular issue or concern can be tough. They benefit when they date someone who is their advocate who will stick with them when times are good and when times are tough. They may not always acknowledge it, but they appreciate your commitment more than you know.