I’m not a serial dater, but people tend to get tired of me fairly quickly. I feel that part of that is because people don’t know what they’re getting into when they first start dating me. I’m the type of person that people say they can only tolerate “in small doses” (which is a problematic statement, but I’ll write about that, too). When I’m dating someone, it’s very important to me that my partner knows about my mental health. When someone you love knows about what you’re going through, it’s easier for them to understand your ups, downs, and everything in between. Whenever I talk to people about my conditions, the first question I’m asked is usually, “what can I do to help?” I usually tell people that there’s nothing they can do- after all, they’re not my therapists. I need to stop doing that, because there are ways our loved ones can help us with our anxiety.
When it comes to supporting your significant other with their anxiety symptoms, it’s the small things that make all the difference. This post includes tips that anyone can utilize. You don’t have to be trained in suicide prevention or mental illnesses to help your partner! Use these suggestions to help your partner get through their anxiety, and to show them that you’re there for them.
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1. Avoid saying “we need to talk” unless you’re going to talk about it immediately.
Especially avoid saying “we need to talk” if you aren’t going to be talking about anything serious. This phrase usually sends me into a whirlwind of panic. What did I do? Am I getting dumped? Who died? If you do feel the need to say this, don’t do it over text. Say it in person, and then immediately discuss the issue at hand.
2. Reassure your partner that they are good enough.
Anxiety is more than just feeling stressed about an event or situation. Anxiety involves feeling like you don’t do anything right, feeling like you’re not good enough for others, and feeling like you’ll never succeed. In a relationship, this sometimes comes out when I say things like, “You deserve better,” or when I ask my partner if they’re sure I’m not too fat for them to find me attractive. Yes, it might get annoying to have to answer the same questions over and over again, but please understand that your partner needs that reassurance. They’ll probably need consistent reassurance, too. Be patient with them, and remind them why you love them.
3. Pay attention to what’s not being said.
Most people show signs of anxiety as it hits them, but not everyone know what they are. You might be able to tell when your partner is anxious better than they are. When I’m anxious, I start speaking faster, and I start rambling. Half of the time, I don’t even realize it. I also start pulling out my hair more than I normally do. This is when my friends will step in and ask me if I’m okay. It means the world to me to know that people can tell when I need support. I need that from a partner, too.
4. If your partner doesn’t want to talk about what’s stressing them out, don’t push them.
Sometimes, I just want to let things go. Sometimes, I’ll appear anxious when I’m actually not. It can get pretty annoying when people ask me if I’m sure I’m okay. If I say I’m fine, I’m either truly fine, or I don’t want to talk about it. Let your partner open up as much as they are comfortable with, but don’t pry for more details if they aren’t budging.
5. Ask how you can help.
When your partner is upset, ask them if there’s anything you can do to make it better. Even if they say “no,” you’re showing that you’re there for them. Sometimes, all I need during a panic attack is for my partner to sit there or give me a hug.
If there’s anything else that you do to help your partner with anxiety, I’d love to know your strategies! If you have anxiety and felt that this post speaks to you, share it with your partner. I hope you found it helpful!