Dating can be awkward and filled with ups and downs.
Dating someone with anxiety amplifies everything even more.
For someone living with anxiety, it can be crippling to experience intense fear and worry. Anxiety makes daily interactions hard and can negatively impact relationships. All of this makes dating someone with anxiety a bit more complex.
So what can you do?
Let’s dive into what you need to know about dating someone with anxiety and some tips to help your relationship flourish!
What Is Anxiety?
Anxiety can be a normal response to stressful situations. At some point, we will all experience some level of anxiety; however, for those who have a diagnosed anxiety disorder, it goes beyond a little worry.
When someone has anxiety, they experience intense, excessive, and constant worry and fear that interferes with daily living. This is indicative of an anxiety disorder.
Depending on what kind of anxiety a person is dealing with, something as simple as going to the grocery store or making a phone call is difficult for them.
Some people with anxiety worry excessively about everyday life events, even when it doesn’t seem rational. They may live in fear that something terrible is going to happen to them every time they leave the house or they could spend large amounts of time worrying about their health.
This is known as generalized anxiety disorder which you can read about here.
When you’re dating someone with anxiety, you may want to understand their condition and how you can support them, but feel confused on where to start.
The good news is there are steps you can take to support the person you’re dating.
Here are a few tips for dating someone with anxiety.
10 Tips for Dating Someone With Anxiety
1. Educate Yourself
The first step in supporting the person you’re dating is to learn all that you can about anxiety. Taking time to educate yourself about the symptoms of anxiety as well as the causes and treatment options will help you to understand your partner’s condition.
Common anxiety symptoms include:
- Feeling nervous, restless, or tense
- Persistent worry or fear
- Rapid heart rate
- Breathing rapidly (hyperventilation)
- Sweating or trembling
- Difficulty concentrating
- Irritability or agitation
- Trouble sleeping
- Physical symptoms such as nausea or dizziness
Realize anxiety is a real problem that can make a person’s life difficult. It’s also important to know what kind of anxiety the person you’re dating struggles with as there are various anxiety disorders.
The National Alliance on Mental Illness has a section on their website about anxiety disorders which you can read here.
2. Encourage Them to Seek Treatment
Treatment for anxiety usually consists of therapy or medication and sometimes both. It’s common for people to feel shame around seeking help so reassuring them may be encouraging.
You can talk to them about the benefits of treatment and help them find a doctor or mental health provider. A therapist will help them manage how they deal with anxiety and assist them in coming up with healthy coping methods.
3. Be There For Them
Being there for them will mean a lot. Take time to listen to them when they open up about their struggles. For many people who are struggling with their mental health, it’s not always easy to be vulnerable.
While listening to them, ensure you’re doing so without judgment. You can also express any concerns you have. Remember to be patient with them.
4. Learn Their Triggers
Your partner is the expert on their anxiety so they will likely know what sets it off. By discussing what triggers them, you’ll learn what you can do to help them through episodes of anxiety.
For example, if they struggle with social anxiety, they may get nervous before an event and try to back out last minute to avoid the overwhelming feeling of anxiety. You can help by checking in with them before the event and asking them what they need.
You can read more about helping someone with social anxiety in this blog post.
5. Offer to Help With Daily Tasks
Depending on which type of anxiety they have and how severe it is, your partner might have a difficult time going out.
You can show support by offering to assist with daily tasks such as bringing them groceries or picking up their medication.
Keep in mind that when someone is struggling, it’s often difficult to ask for help so you’ll probably have to offer without being asked.
6. Don’t Take Their Behavior Personal
If you’re out on a date and they seem quiet and withdrawn, it likely has nothing to do with you and more to do with their anxiety.
It can be easy to assume they’re not interested or ignoring you but it’s important to pause and question whether their behavior is due to anxiety.
Don’t take it personally, and instead ask them what’s on their mind.
7. Help Them Find Healthy Coping Skills
Aside from seeking treatment, there are coping skills a person can utilize to manage their anxiety.
Having a few coping methods can be extremely beneficial in moments of anxiety. You can work with the person you’re dating to create a list of things they can do when their anxiety creeps up.
Some coping skills to include are:
- Deep breathing exercises
- Exercise or yoga
- Muscle relaxation exercises
- Being outdoors
- Reading, writing, or painting
- Watching a movie
8. Check In With Them Regularly
Having regular check-ins is very effective. Ask them about their anxiety levels, how treatment is going or if their coping mechanisms are helping.
People with anxiety tend to be hard on themselves so you can also offer words of affirmation to uplift them. Use this time to celebrate their progress and let them know how proud of them you are.
9. Take Care of Yourself
We’ve all heard the saying, “you can’t pour from an empty cup”. This applies when you’re dating someone with anxiety.
If you’re finding yourself spending all your time trying to help them, it may be time to set some boundaries. It’s perfectly fine to want to help them but ensure you’re taking care of yourself as well.
This could look like carving out time during the week to practice self-care or setting boundaries around how often you’ll be available to text or talk on the phone.
10. Offer Reassurance
Someone with anxiety will need a lot of reassurance. They will constantly have thoughts swirling around in their head about how much you like them, why you haven’t responded to their messages or if you still want to date them.
It can be overwhelming to constantly worry about how someone feels about you. Try to reassure them as much as possible.
Send them a message telling them how much they mean to you or let them know you’re working to understand their anxiety and that you’re here to support them.
These may seem like small things to you, but for a person living with anxiety, it’ll mean a lot.
What’s most important is knowing how anxiety affects the person you’re dating because every person living with anxiety is different. For them, living with constant worry can be devastating and what they need is to be surrounded by people who support them and want what’s best for them.
Yes, dating someone with anxiety is challenging, but it doesn’t have to negatively impact your relationship. By following these tips, the two of you can have a healthy, loving relationship.