5 Things Girls With Anxiety Have to Deal With In Relationships

Living as a woman with anxiety is a struggle––dating as a woman with anxiety is impossible AF. You’re already tense because any little thing could send you into a full on apocalyptic meltdown. How are you supposed to bring another person into that?  From second-guessing that awesome sex you just had to tearing up at everything to wondering if they’ll ever be able to understand you, saying that your romantic relationships are “complicated” would be the understatement of the century.

You’ll totally relate to all these struggles that women with anxiety have while dating, but we also have some practical advice to help you get through them. Don’t worry girl, we gotchu.

1. It’s hard to find someone who understands you

Anxiety is the most common mental illness around, but that’s no guarantee that your partner can understand and empathize with you. At the start of a relationship, your new SO probably tries to relate to you and give you advice on how to get through your anxiety attacks, which just. doesn’t. help. As things get more serious your anxiety may even lead to resentment between you because they just can’t grasp the deep, complicated aspects of your personality, while you’re hurt that they can’t understand.

Carly, a senior at the University of Michigan, has dealt with this before. “I’m a stressed-out mess, and I know that my emotional spectrum is a heavy burden to take on,” she says. “In my one serious relationship my boyfriend eventually learned the best ways to interact with me when my anxiety was at its worst, but that’s not the same for casual relationships that might not go anywhere. Sometimes boys probably think I’m crazy, which hurts, and it also makes me a more bitter person towards dating in general.”

You’re no stranger to the difficulties that come with dating you, but you should also know that any issue with your anxiety is made up by how hard you love. People with anxiety are dedicated, and if you can handle it, they’re some of the most loving people to spend your time with. You get anxious about everything because your partner and certain aspects of your life mean that much to you. The next time it feels like your SO just doesn’t get what you’re going through or you feel bad about yourself, take time to notice all the good you do in your relationship and how much you care. If the person you’re dating doesn’t try to see that, then it’s time to move on to someone who does.

Related:  11 Things Only Girls Who Have Been Disappointed By Guys Understand

2. You second guess your relationship

While the rational side of you knows that everything is chill and your SO loves you like crazy, the anxious part of your brain is telling you that you’ll never be able to keep your partner’s interest and they’ll be gone soon enough. Fun stuff, isn’t it?

“A very significant source of anxiety in your relationship may be you wondering if your partner is going to leave you,” says Dr. Kelly, a psychologist at the University of California, Irvine. “Your interactions will cause peak anxiety if your critical inner voice is telling you things like ‘you’re not good enough, you can’t trust him, you’re not going to keep his interest.’ When this happens, you get snared fixating on what you’ve fictionalized or problems that are completely hypothetical, so that you get distracted from the reality of your relationship.”

Dr. Kelly totally gets what it’s like to constantly second guess your relationship. What’s important is to catch yourself when you overthink and worry about problems that aren’t problems at all. Taking deep breaths, distracting yourself for a while and revisiting the problem later when you’re not overcome by anxiety will help you work through it and train yourself out of that harmful behavior. Bae loves you, just recognize it!  

3. You punish your partner

Your anxiety doesn’t just come out as stress and overthinking. Sometimes it manifests as anger, frustration and depression. All of us know that hands down one of the biggest struggles of dating is when you unintentionally punish your partner for your anxiety disorder. Something they do may set you off and make you yell at them or be cold AF, which you know wouldn’t happen if you hadn’t been under an attack. You might find yourself trying to set rules limiting what they can and can’t do because you can’t control your own anxiety. When this happens, take a hella deep breath and think about whether you’re acting rationally to something your partner did or whether you’re acting out because of something that’s happening internally with you.

Dr. Kelly tactfully explains just what’s happening inside us when anxiety turns us from Jekyll to Hyde. “When anxiety flares up, it surges the body with cortisol and adrenaline to get the body ready to run for its life or fight for it,” she says. “This is the fight or flight response and it’s in everyone. It’s just that in some people with anxiety, the ‘go’ button for fight is a bit more sensitive.”

When you find yourself with smoke coming out of your ears and carrying a blazing sword of vengeance against your partner, that’s a great time to pause and not panic or act out. Go outside and breathe in the fresh air, smell some lavender soap and let yourself calm down and think through things before you act. Once the anxiety attack pass, rethink whether your partner has done something to make you upset.  Just because you have anxiety doesn’t give you the right to bully or control them. Keep yourself grounded in the reality of your situation, and your unprovoked anger will become less of a struggle.

4. You’re always suspicious

In the middle of an anxiety attack, nothing makes sense. For some reason, you think your partner is lying about where they were. You think they’re hiding a bad habit or texting their ex-girlfriend. It will feel like your world is falling apart, even if nothing has happened and your anxiety has tricked you into being suspicious without reason.

“Anxiety affects my trust a lot,” says Isabella, a senior at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. “It’s like even if I know nothing bad has happened, I’m still convinced my boyfriend is lying to me about something. Whether it’s where he is or who he’s with, I convince myself he’s not telling the truth. I think it also comes from my having low self-esteem, but anxiety coupled with that just leaves me with trust issues.”

People with anxiety have overprotective brains that are trying to realize the worst before it happens, and dating only amps this a whole new level. It’s crucial to realize that your suspicion about what your partner is doing is unwarranted, otherwise, you could easily sabotage your relationship. It’s not fun (or healthy) to date a person who constantly distrusts you. Your partner has their work cut out trying to reassure you, and you should meet them halfway by trying your best to approach sensitive or troublesome situations with a clear mind.

Related: 5 Signs of Emotional Abuse You Should Watch Out For

5. You can cling like crazy

Having anxiety can make you clingy unintentionally––but clingy nonetheless. When your brain is simultaneously telling you that your partner is pissed at you for that thing you said about his haircut, is cheating on you and is also going to die in a horrible fiery accident, how are you supposed to react? By being as close as physically possible of course. It’s very probable that your anxiety could leave you as that clingy girl you don’t want to be, just so you can make sure your partner is okay and is still into you. But isn’t it such a struggle when you realize how overwhelming you’re definitely being? Nobody likes to be smothered, and desperation is not attractive, but us ladies with anxiety just can’t help it.

Aside from being the world’s clingiest girlfriend, having anxiety also puts you at risk for becoming dependent on your partner to help you through things that make you anxious. It starts out with a simple situation where your boyfriend calls and orders takeout because he knows how much you ~hate~ talking on the phone. It’s a slippery slope of dependency where you could potentially end up useless without their help to get you through a stressful situation instead of a powerful, independent woman who can deal with her own anxiety disorder.

When you start to feel as though you’re losing your independence or can’t stand on your own, remember how strong you are. Your entire life your anxiety has constantly put you in circumstances that challenge you, and that just shows the strength of your courage.

So, we get it, dating with anxiety feels impossible and improbable, but it’s so worth it. We know that every small thing feels like the end of the world, and that increases by 100 percent when you bring bae into the mix. But if you have a supportive partner and always love yourself through your anxiety, these struggles that seem so big will become less.