If someone you love has anxiety, it may require a little extra effort to make them feel loved and reassured. With constant worrying and doubt filling their heads, they may feel insecure about their importance, and place within your relationship. An unanswered text message may not worry someone without anxiety, but to an anxious person, this opens the door to “what ifs” and a spiral of negative thoughts and emotions. Fortunately, there are a few things you can do to make your loved one with anxiety feel safe and secure.
Reassurance is a huge part of making an anxious person feel better. Uncertainty is the enemy of an anxious person, so reassurance will help tremendously. If your loved one tends to ask you unsolicited questions like “Do you still love me?”or “Am I being annoying?” try not to be insensitive or impatient. Instead, gently reaffirm that yes, you still love them, and no, they are not being annoying, and that you enjoy spending time with them.
Communication is key in any relationship, but it is especially important when dealing with someone who struggles with anxiety. If you don’t communicate clearly with your significant other they may assume the worst, and spiral. For example, if you know ahead of time that you won’t be able to talk to them as much as normal one day, let them know in advance. That way, they know that you’re not ignoring them, and they still feel loved and secure. Reassurance can also play a crucial role in communication. When you tell them that you’ll be busy, remind them that you love them and it has nothing to do with not wanting to talk to them. This way, everyone is happy and can go on about their day worry-free!
Another great way to improve communication between you and your loved one is to ask “Do you need comfort or solutions?” when they're venting to you about a problem. This helps them figure out what they need at that moment, and it also informs you how you can be most helpful.
Sudden change, or change in general, is a big trigger for people with anxiety. They like to have a plan or schedule ahead of time, especially going into new situations. To avoid triggering your partner’s anxiety, sit down with them and make a concrete plan when you are going on a date, on a trip, or anywhere new. Discuss important details such as what time the event will occur, when they need to be there, and where they need to go. You should also discuss the seemingly insignificant details like what they should wear, who's likely to be there, or, if it's a new environment for them, what that environment is like. Whenever possible, stick to the plan you created with them and try to avoid cancelling or changing the plan at the last minute. If you absolutely do need to cancel, explain why and reassure them that it’s nothing they did and that everything is okay, and something just came up. Again, reassurance ties in with this too!
It’s also important to remain consistent with your behavior. Ignoring your significant other for days on end, or getting angry on the flip of a dime, will really throw them off. Consistency is critical to the health of any relationship, whether your partner is anxious, or not.
In the end, people with anxiety are just as loveable as the rest of us; they may just require some extra effort on your part. Everyone is different and the best way to help your loved one is to ask them what they need, and how you can help. Just remember: Patience, gentleness, and kindness go a long way in any relationship.
Written by: Denver Morehead