The truth about anxiety and relationships is a hard truth. Those who suffer from anxiety love in different ways than others.
I wish to speak to you from a place of personal knowledge. I have anxiety, and for me, anxiety and relationships represent one of the most difficult combinations in life. To be honest, I find it easier to navigate complicated city streets.
In order to understand anxiety and relationships, unfortunately, you have to endure from one side or the other. Either you have anxiety or you’re trying desperately to understand someone you love who suffers from this beast. Difficult is an understatement.
How we love differently
People with anxiety do love much differently than others do. In fact, dealing with anxiety and relationships reveals factors that other individuals may not consider. If you’re finding it increasingly hard to understand your anxious loved one, maybe learning about how they love differently can help. I can help you with that knowledge.
1. We care differently
Someone told me that I didn’t care about people, and it was offensive. Thanks to years of abuse and hardship, I was able to recognize their lack of understanding of anxious people. Although I did make it clear about how wrong they were, I eventually let it go.
People with anxiety love different because people with anxiety care differently. We do not proclaim the things we do, we do not shine a spotlight on our accomplishments. Anxiety and relationships will reveal pretty quickly that we are unsure of how to approach things because we struggle with how we feel about ourselves.
So, just because we don’t reach out to others and make it known that we care, doesn’t mean that we do not. It’s just different…
2. We are truly loyal
I haven’t always been loyal in my life. No, I have betrayed people on multiple occasions. I say this because it took an incredible amount of disrespect and abuse before I decided to betray my abuser. I have no excuse except that I had become bitter and stayed much too long in a relationship that did not offer love, peace, and respect.
So, as I’ve grown older, I realize just how loyal I can be. If someone with anxiety is loved correctly, they are the most loyal people. In many cases, as with the first decade of my married life, anxious people will be loyal even through abuse, manipulation, and ridicule.
When you take a look at anxiety and relationships, and you notice all the negative aspects, remember, you will never find a more loyal partner than the anxious one. This is because we know what it feels like to be hurt and to hurt others.
3. We are sensitive
People with anxiety are some of the most sensitive people. We feel things much deeper, and when negative feelings arise, it causes our anxiety to spike. For instance, over time, we have developed “triggers”. These triggers can be a sound, a smell, an image, or even a specific person or place.
These triggers developed from early traumas, and they cause panic attacks when they emerge later in life. Most people that I have dated never understood how the triggers worked. Some would even criticize me for being upset by things they considered small or petty. This makes anxiety and relationships extremely hard to navigate.
Triggers are real, and for those who do not understand, they will seem illogical. Unfortunately, this does not change how the triggers affect us. Understanding and being educated about this topic is a much better solution to a healthy relationship with an anxious person.
4. We ask lots of questions
If you’re in a relationship with an anxious person, you will notice the magnitude of questions being hurled at you from out of nowhere. You could come home from work to us asking about 15 questions before you can even sit down. This is because people who suffer from anxiety have minds that are riddled with doubt.
And since we are sensitive, we notice all inconsistencies, we make random connections, and we often think everyone lies to us. Our pasts, even though it is wrong to dwell on them, form how we see other people. In our minds, we expect the worst case scenario, we think people hide things from us, and we are often insecure.
We ask questions in an effort to quiet many of the voices of doubt, and sometimes, we just can’t shut off our rampaging minds. The only temporary relief is to speculate and ask. The good part is, those who are patient with us will be showered with all of our love.
5. We have to feel safe…somewhere
We feel loved when we feel safe. We also show love much better when we feel safe as well. It’s about our comfort zone, I suppose. Here’s an example: I saw my home as my sanctuary, and the first time that someone who triggered me was brought to my home, it resulted in a domino effect of negative feelings for weeks.
My partner could not understand why it was so traumatic, but that didn’t matter to me. I just wanted my sanctuary back, and I felt like my safe haven was broken. I became angry and then reclusive. I could not show love as I did before because I felt violated and betrayed.
People with anxiety must feel safe in order to heal. Considering there are so many triggers out in the world, our home should be the one place where we can feel open and happy. When this is broken, it takes weeks or even months to repair. In some severe cases, even years. When this is respected, there is no limit to what we wouldn’t do to make you happy as well.
Yes it’s difficult, but there’s always hope
For those who love anxious people, this is a lot to take in. I guess in ways, it sounds hopeless. But think about something for a minute. If you’re that frustrated with your loved one who suffers from anxiety, how much worse do you think they feel? Anxiety is a monster who comes to destroy and take no prisoners.
To have a friend or loved one who cares enough to help us heal and grow means everything. So, before you decide to give up on yourself or someone you love, think again. We all have weaknesses at different degrees and levels. Let’s try to help where we can, as we can, and when we can.
If others criticize the way we operate, then maybe they battle a demon all their own as well I send my love and hope we can win this battle together. Anxiety and relationships don’t always have to be such a lethal combination. Let’s work hard to change how we see this.
By Sherrie H.