How to improve your partner's anxiety and avoid damaging your relationship?
Dating a person who suffers from anxiety can be difficult at times and can create a feeling of lack of control and helplessness because you don't know how to help. Therefore, helping to manage your partner's anxiety is essential. Anxiety, as well as causing discomfort in certain situations, can affect your relationship. It is expected that the person who suffers from it ends up paying less attention to their partner because they are not feeling well, which will damage the relationship. This worsens their anxiety, creating a loop from which it is difficult to escape.
It may also happen that the partner's problem already exists and that this generates more anxiety, deteriorating the relationship significantly. In this case, "curing" your partner's pressure will be just one of the many steps you will have to take together to restore your union.
A person suffering from anxiety can become more controlling and may even involve their partner in their worries. For example, sometimes they may worry that the relationship will break up because of them, that they will leave you, that they will find someone else who won't give them trouble or that they will end up cheating on you, and it is the other party who is in charge of calming their unease.
In reality, you should know that dealing with your partner's anxiety is not your responsibility, and you don't have to know how to do it. What is important is that you are there to support them in the process, but at no time should you blame yourself for their state.
It is essential to pay attention to the appearance of specific anxiety symptoms that can wear on the relationship. Making an effort to work on them in time can prevent the connection from breaking down. Some examples of these warning signs are:
- Loss of interest in partner activities.
- Indecisiveness and irritability.
- Absent behaviour.
- Lack of interest in sex.
What to do about your partner's anxiety
To protect your relationship, the first step is to understand what anxiety is, what the person who suffers from it feels, and how it limits them in their relationships with others and their partner. Only then will you be able to collaborate effectively in managing the anxiety that affects them so much.
Firstly, they have greater difficulty in managing negative situations. To all this must be added the anticipatory anxiety that he suffers or, in other words, the fear of the expectation that something bad might happen.
While a person who does not suffer from anxiety would react by thinking something like, "What a drag! Well, I'm going to cancel the card, and as soon as I get off work, I'll go and make a duplicate".
People who suffer from anxiety have good days and bad days, just like everyone else, you might think, but there is a nuance that is important: on both a good day and a bad day, the anxiety is there and therefore the way you react to each situation is affected.
On a good day it may only be small details that make a difference, but on a bad day the very different way of handling situations can even lead to panic attacks, intense crying or inappropriate responses. Anxiety is unpleasant and disabling and causes physical symptoms; it is often assumed that the discomfort it generates is merely emotional.
However, the physical consequences of anxiety are significant and can affect health if action is not taken to reduce anxiety levels in time.
Anxiety hurts, not everyone equally, but headaches, nausea, muscle tension or a feeling of suffocation are common if a panic attack occurs. It should be noted that changes in sleep and tiredness may also be part of the process.
To manage anxiety it is necessary to understand that it is a problem that does not take place in the imagination, but in the brain, and that no one would voluntarily choose to suffer from it. Therefore, trying to relativise the problem is an ineffective technique. However, the fact that it causes important changes in the person does not mean that it has no solution: not only does it have a solution but, if the anxiety response is not fed, it may end up exhausting itself.
One of the first steps you can take to start working on your partner's anxiety is to eliminate these phrases from your vocabulary:
- I don't think you should worry about that nonsense.
- Why don't you just do it instead of thinking about it?
- Relax, it's not that important.
- It's all in your head, just ignore it.
- How can you feel bad about it?
How can you help them manage their anxiety?
While it is true that curing an anxiety disorder is only possible with the help of a professional psychologist and that your partner's emotional health is not a responsibility that you can or should take on, it is also true that there are some things you can do to help the person you share your life with to be calmer and happier.
1. Understand how your partner's anxiety affects you
By trying to understand the specific limitations that anxiety creates for them, you can get a sense of their constant struggle and know what they are fighting against. All the information you gain about your partner's condition, symptoms or causes will make you aware of the process, the fear and the burden it places on them, and how it can affect your relationship.
2. Your best help may be communication
Making the person feel listened to is a key point in your relationship. The moments that come with anxiety are unpleasant and uncomfortable for both of you, but changing the criticism of their behaviour for reinforcement towards them will make them feel better and reduce both physical and emotional discomfort. Listening and being sensitive to your partner is much better than giving advice.
3. You are not going to cure your partner's anxiety.
They are your partner, and it is important to you that they feel well and that you can enjoy yourselves together, that is why you can be a fundamental part of their recovery, but you are not their salvation. What happens to him/her is neither your fault nor your responsibility, there are things you cannot do because they are out of your reach. Professionals are in charge of the healing process, but your way of managing conflicts can make the situation better or worse; if your weapon is patience, you will have a point in your favour.
4. Be an active part of the recovery
The first step if your partner does not engage in treatment is to encourage him or her to seek help. Let them see that the answer to how to manage anxiety can be found in counselling and that you will help them both in the search and in the process. The fact that you are an active part of the therapy gives him/her confidence to face the most difficult moments.
5. The person who suffers from anxiety already knows that it is not pleasant
Seeing your partner constantly overwhelmed, worried and negative thoughts is not comfortable, but if this is how you perceive it, it is much worse for the person who suffers from anxiety. There is no need to remind them how annoying it is, they know perfectly well. In this sense, take care that they do not feel ashamed of their problem. Avoid talking about the anxiety, accept it and become their protective figure.
6. Work on forgiveness
You have to keep in mind that getting out of anxiety takes time and along the way there will be situations that make you feel bad. Knowing how to forgive can be a fundamental factor in your partner's recovery and in the strengthening of your relationship. Showing your support and trying to be available to help him/her overcome critical moments will boost your trust and prevent the bond from deteriorating.
7. Take care of yourself
As we have seen, this is a situation that affects your relationship even if you do not have the problem, frustration at certain times is logical and bad reactions are understandable and logical. You need to keep some time for yourself, don't abandon yourself and remember that you also need to take care of yourself. Maintain your hobbies and tastes, this will give you a source of relief and relief and not give rise to resentment towards your partner.
Don't let anxiety kill your relationship
Worries, negative thoughts and everything that provokes anxiety can lead to two situations: the relationship can break up or it can be strengthened. Put the above tips into practice and make sure that the result is the latter.
If you notice behaviours in your partner that make you think that he or she may be suffering from anxiety or if you are the one who experiences one or more of the symptoms frequently, professional help will be key for your relationship to overcome this and any other circumstance. If you want to analyse your current situation, this anxiety test can be very useful to take into account the effects of quarantine on our minds and the management of the relationship in these times of isolation and with so many changes.
At therapyside, you will find professionals who can advise, support and help you achieve your best version.