By Charlotte Hollingsworth
1. Listen to them
When they tell you they feel anxious, it’s because they feel anxious. And it’s probably their disease. Maybe they want some comfort, maybe they want solutions, but if you listen they’ll tell you.
2. Ask them if they’re ok
Just ask them how it’s going. And then listen to what they say. Remember that anxiety is not logical, and so even if you can’t figure out what is making them anxious, that doesn’t make their feelings any less real. Their body is doing stuff that doesn’t make sense, so believe them even if you can’t figure it out.
3. Just, seriously, listen
People with anxiety have been dealing with it longer than you, so when they say “I just need you to hug me and tell me I will be ok,” then what you should do is hug them and tell them they will be ok. If you listen now, you’ll be able to offer suggestions on how to cope when anxiety makes it hard to know what to do. Everyone has different coping mechanisms, so listen out for the ones that work for your partner.
4. Ask them questions about what they need
Ok, seriously, just talk to them. Like you would with anyone you are dating because you are a compassionate and good person. When they say “i am feeling anxious from my anxiety” then that’s what’s happening. And if you say “How can I help?” and they say “Just being here is helping,” then just be there. Like in number three, asking about how to help will help you know some of the things they might need you to do later down the line. Much like any other person you ever date will need things from you for comfort. It’s just that sometimes anxiety doesn’t make sense.
5. Is this not clear? Just communicate
Being with someone with an anxiety disorder is like being with anyone else, it’s about learning your partner and figuring out how they see the world and how you can see the world together. Anxiety, like any other mental health issue, is different for everyone that experiences it. It’s not something that you can just read an article about and understand, so talk to your partner. They know best how to help themselves, and so when they tell you what they need just do that. And if you can’t, then don’t date them. That’s ok. You don’t have to give more than you are able in a relationship. And it’s better to acknowledge that and end things respectfully than get overwhelmed, intertwined and unhealthy.
6. Again, for the people in the back: TALK ABOUT IT
You are not going to know what to do if you don’t talk openly about what’s going on. If your partner doesn’t want to talk about their anxiety, give them time to build trust. Seriously, you should be doing that in every relationship anyways. Being emotionally available and supportive is a key to any pairing, so just do that. The only thing to know is that anxiety does not make sense to the person experiencing it any more than it does to you, so be patient when they don’t know what’s wrong. Sometimes it’s just that everything is wrong for a while. But it passes and then you can go back to Netflix and Chill.