Dating someone with anxiety can come with its ups, downs, and hurdles (just like any relationship), and as such, it’s important to know how best to support your partner if they have an anxiety condition.
Sometimes, a partner with anxiety will require more reassurance that you love them and wish to stay than a partner without the condition. In some cases, anxiety can also cause your partner to feel distrustful of others, irritable, or focused on perfection.
It is important to remember that while you can offer support for a partner who has anxiety, they should seek the help of a mental health professional for treatment.
Below are several tips that may help you in your journey to better understand and support a partner with anxiety.
1. Understand that you cannot “cure” or “fix” them
Anxiety is an illness that has no magical cure.
However, there are methods and treatments available to assist a person with anxiety in regaining control of their life. The treatment methods of anxiety vary, but popular options include Behaviour Therapy, Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), e-therapy and Exposure Therapy.
Treatment is not a one-size-fits-all approach, and often a mental health professional will need to work with your partner over time to find the methods that best suit them.
Other complementary therapies also exist for anxiety and can be used in conjunction with seeking help from a mental health professional. These include –
- Biofeedback, and
- Practicing mindfulness
2. Encourage your partner to try therapy
If your partner is not yet attending therapy, it can be a good idea to try to convince them to give it a go.
Receiving help from a mental health professional can assist your partner in learning more about their condition and the methods they can use to help manage their anxiety.
Different mental health practitioners specialise in various fields, and as such, some may be more suitable than others.
Through research, you can learn about which professionals close to you are best suited for your partner’s needs. If your partner is anxious about making phone calls or speaking to new people, consider offering to book the appointment for them or being there to support them while they do so.
Some therapists also offer consultation over the phone or online, which may be a better option for some people with anxiety.
3. Learn more about mental illness
There are plenty of free online resources available that discuss mental health conditions such as anxiety.
These resources can help to explain the possible treatments, the way your loved one may be feeling, and the best ways to offer your support as a spouse. If through your research you have found an interest in the idea of helping those with mental illness, and wish to pursue a career in the field, there are also online educational courses available to expand your knowledge on the subject and prepare you for employment.
However, it is important to remember not to pursue a career in mental health with the aim of helping your partner as you do end up in the field, you will be unable to provide them formal assistance due to ethical boundaries and being too close to the situation.
4. Talk with them and be a good listener
Keep communication channels clear with your partner.
If they are feeling worried about something, listen to their concerns, rather than dismissing them as ‘just their anxiety’. Remember that they did not choose to have a mental illness.
Make time to listen if they wish to discuss their therapy progress, and remember to be encouraging of the positive steps they take.
It’s also vital to remember not to shy away from discussing important issues regarding your own life or the relationship when they come up. While it’s good to keep in mind that your partner has anxiety, and as such some issues may need to be approached delicately, you should not avoid talking about them altogether if they are important to you or the health of your relationship.
5. Take care of yourself
Keeping your own mental health and wellbeing in check is important when supporting a loved one with a mental illness.
Being so close to someone who is struggling, can come with its own form of stress, and as such it’s important to find healthy coping mechanisms for yourself.
As with anxiety itself, there are many resources available online that discuss how to manage your emotions when in a close relationship with someone with a mental illness.
Seeing a therapist could also be beneficial, as they should be able to offer a balanced, outside opinion for any issues you may be facing whether within the relationship or in general life.
Therapists aren’t just reserved for those with a mental illness, but more anyone who is going through a difficult time or who feels like some outside advice could be helpful for an issue they are facing.