My Partner Doesn’t Understand My Anxiety (7 solutions)

This blog caters to the problem “My Partner Doesn’t Understand My Anxiety” and covers topics like ways your partner shouldn’t act when you have anxiety, ways to explain your anxiety to your partner, and how your anxiety can affect your relationship and what you can do to stop it. 

Why doesn’t your partner understand your anxiety?

Your partner likely doesn’t understand your anxiety because they might not be aware of mental health. Even though awareness about mental awareness has increased in the past few years, it is still a stigma.

Your partner might acknowledge your anxiety but them understanding what you go through on a daily basis is a bit hard and rightly so, if a person hasn’t experienced anxiety themselves it is difficult for them to understand the symptoms others feel. 

However, anxiety is the most common mental health issue people deal with and statistics show that around 40 million people in the U.S. have been affected by anxiety. 18.1% of adults in the U.S. population are currently suffering from anxiety. 

A few factors that contribute to the development of anxiety can include: 

  • Family history of anxiety
  • Prolonged or recent exposure to stressful situations
  • Excessive caffeine or tobacco use
  • Traumatic childhood events

However, symptoms that manifest anxiety are:

  • Excessive worrying
  • Restlessness
  • Get startled easily
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Chronic stomach aches
  • Muscle tension
  • Irritability
  • Sweaty palms
  • Fatigue or exhaustion
  • Shaking
  • Numbness or tingling in different areas of your body

Regardless of anxiety being one of the most common mental health illnesses, talking about it with others is hard. Only 36.9% of the population seek out treatment for anxiety because it takes a lot of courage to accept your anxiety and talk about it.

However, talking about your anxiety with your partner might even be harder. So thinking that your partner doesn’t understand is understandable as you’re not the only person who thinks this way. 

Following are some ways in which you can explain your anxiety to your significant other.

What Are The 7 Ways To Explain Your Anxiety To Your Partner?

Write It Down

Starting jotting down your thoughts as the first step; that will help you prepare. Clarissa Silva, a behavioral scientist, suggests writing a letter to your partner. 

She believes that talking about your anxiety face to face can also give you anxiety. Hence, non-verbal communication seems like the easier option here. 

Think about what issues you’d want to address and make notes. This could include the triggers that cause your anxiety or symptoms that you face. 

Explain Your Symptoms

If your partner doesn’t have anxiety, they’ll find it difficult to understand the physical and emotional symptoms of the illness. So, you must try to communicate a symptom of anxiety to them. 

Explain to them how you feel while describing a few scenarios and the conditions that create them, this might reduce the knowledge gap your partner has related to anxiety.

Share What Helps

Everyone experiences different reactions when symptoms of anxiety occur to them, it is important that you guide your partner on how to help when you’re experiencing the symptoms.

For instance, if you think you need space at that moment, let your partner know. Otherwise, they might instinctively feel the need to help and you may feel overwhelmed. So it’s better you clearly tell them the dos and don’ts. 

Tell Them Your Trigger Words

There may be different words or phrases that may trigger your anxiety and these words or phrases may vary from person to person.

Hence, it is important that you let your partner know what your trigger points are because without them knowing they wouldn’t know that even them saying phrases like “just relax” or “don’t think about it” could trigger your anxiety.

Make A List Of Ways They Can Support You

If you want your partner to be on the same page as you, make a team with them. When you’ll both work together to treat your anxiety, you’ll feel comfortable.

Your partner helping you cope up with the symptoms will make you feel good and you’ll be more encouraged to tackle your illness. You could make a list of things they can do to help you, that will make them feel more involved.

The list could contain reminders about self-care, avoidance of triggers or ways that reduce anxiety.

Help Them Understand Anxiety-Provoked Emotions

You must make it clear to your partner whether your emotional responses are related to your anxiety or are they related to frustrations you have with them.

They must know the difference so that they understand that anxiety induced emotions are not under your control and are completely valid.

Hammer Down Coping Mechanisms

Lastly, you must prepare your partner for possible scenarios that could occur and you both should mutually decide on the coping mechanism you can opt for in each situation.

Always remember that talking about your anxiety will allow your partner to show their support to you when you need it and will help them understand you and your illness better. 

What Are The Ways Your Partner Shouldn’t Be Acting When You Have Anxiety?

Managing anxiety becomes harder when you’re in a relationship so your partner must not make you feel worse. If they’ve never dealt with anxiety they probably would have a hard time understanding your illness.

Hence, there are chances that they’ll mess up sometimes. Following are ways that your partner shouldn’t be acting when you’re suffering from anxiety:

They Shouldn’t Make You Feel Crazy

You probably would encounter thoughts that are irrational if you’re an anxious person but that doesn’t make you irrational or unreasonable. 

So your partner should never make you feel like you’re insane or shouldn’t ever tell you to “calm down”, this might be a trigger to your symptoms. 

You should discuss these things with your partner beforehand and they should know the dos and don’ts when you experience the symptoms. This way they’ll always be prepared to help in such instances.

They Shouldn’t Ignore It

Just because your partner is having a hard time understanding your anxiety doesn’t mean they should ignore it. They should understand what you go through and should support you at all times. 

They Make You Apologize For It

We’ll acknowledge that anxiousness can cause us to snap or withdraw from our spouses at times. That must be really difficult for them, as it would be for anyone else. 

So, while you should show compassion and refrain from taking your anxiety out on your spouse, they should also work on understanding that your concern is not about them. 

If your partner is always whining about your anxiety or using it as a bargaining chip in the relationship, it could be a sign of emotional abuse. You should never feel guilty for feeling anxiety or for seeking help when you need it.

They Can’t Compare Your Anxiety

Everyone has a different type of anxiety; anxiety has a lot of types and the severity level for each person varies. Someone may have very mild anxiety while someone may have extremely severe anxiety. Nonetheless, it should never be compared.

Your partner should never underestimate your triggers or symptoms and compare them to other types of anxiety. Rather, they should be empathetic to everyone’s experience. 

They Shouldn’t “Play Doctor” With You

Your partner might try to explain your anxiety to you and seem to have all the answers, they may be doing this with good intentions but telling someone who has anxiety what they should do or shouldn’t do (if you’re a professional) is going to make it worse for them.

Your Partner Should Never Have An Opinion About Your Medicines

A partner should never make you feel guilty about taking anxiety drugs or complain about their adverse effects. No one else can make that decision for you; you (along with your doctor) know what’s best for your body and what side effects are worth it. 

Even if you don’t use medication, you probably have some other method of self-care, such as scheduling regular “me time.”

A partner who criticises you for taking your prescription or practising self-care clearly does not believe your mental health is a priority or that anxiety is a choice. They should be proud of you for looking after yourself.

What Is The Impact of Anxiety On A Relationship?

Depending on the symptoms you’re experiencing, anxiety can have a variety of effects on your relationships. 

Some people may become too dependent on their loved ones, while others may separate themselves out of fear of being judged or becoming a burden.

Let’s discuss a few ways in which anxiety impacts relationships: 

Being overly dependent

Some people tend to become overly dependent when they’re anxious, their anxiety might make them frightened to be alone. 

Another reason for this over-dependence can be that some people question every decision they make when they’re anxious, which is why they need acceptance and support from their loved ones.

However, this negativity impacts a relationship as people who are overly dependent tend to struggle to communicate properly and set upon in ways that could be bad for their relationship

This could bring an emotional and physical gap between you and your partner.

Social isolation

On the contrary, some people end up isolating themselves when they suffer from anxiety, they avoid interacting with their partner to avoid any negative feelings like frustration or disappointment.

Because of this your partner might start feeling distant and might think of you as cold or emotionally unavailable.

Chronic tension

Anxious people are often tense or restless, and those around them can sense this tension. 

Others may feel as if they need to walk on eggshells around someone who is expressing stress because they don’t know how to respond. 

This stress can make it difficult to connect and communicate in relationships.

How To Cope Up

No matter how bad your anxiety is and how difficult you find it to overcome it, there are still ways that you can maintain and nurture your relationships despite suffering from anxiety.

Take the examples given about and think how you can become aware of your behaviour when you’re anxious and then find ways to  fight them.

For instance, if you think you’re overly dependent you can search for ways to cope up with your anxiety on your own rather than expecting other people to be there.

You can do this by the help of a therapist who could guide you to manage your anxiety and become autonomous.

If you find yourself isolating and feeling alone as a result of your anxiety, counselling may be a good option for you. 

A mental health therapist can help you overcome your anxiety by teaching you new methods to express yourself and how to let people in. 

They may also be able to direct you to local support groups that can help you connect with others who are dealing with similar issues.

Lastly, if you’re experiencing feelings of tension or restlessness due to your anxiety you could try some stress-relieving methods like meditation and breathing exercises.

Always remember that there’s no shame in not being able to manage your anxiety on your own. 

Anxiety is a mental health disorder that is difficult to be dealt with on your own so taking professional health can always help you recover from it.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs): My Partner Doesn’t Understand My Anxiety 

Why doesn’t my boyfriend understand my anxiety disorder?

If you’re in love with this person then be prepared to deal with your internal struggles all your life and be prepared to be treated unkindly when you have episodes. However, this is not a good sign.

If our partner doesn’t care about our problems and isn’t supportive then we shouldn’t be with them. You need to know your worth and should foresee that your future wouldn’t be good with them.

How can I be a better partner to a person with anxiety?

Anxiety is a very common problem, but if you haven’t dealt with it before, it might be difficult to understand someone else’s worries. There is also a wide range of types of anxieties, degrees of anxiety, and levels of impairment. 

If someone is severely afflicted by anxiety, it may be useful for them to seek treatment from a therapist to address their concerns. I’ve seen various things from partners that are useful for persons who aren’t disabled but yet have regular anxious thoughts or feelings: empathy, validity, and support.

Empathy makes you understand your partner’s point of view and their triggers. You can validate your partner’s feelings by acknowledging them and making them feel sane. Lastly, your support can make your partner feel comfortable sharing their anxiety related stuff with you. 

References

Tye, K. (2015). How Anxiety Destroys Relationships (and How to Stop It). Retrieved from https://www.goodtherapy.org/blog/how-anxiety-destroys-relationships-and-how-to-stop-it-0622155

Heaney, K. (2017). When You Have Anxiety and Your Partner Doesn’t. Retrieved from https://www.thecut.com/2017/08/when-you-have-anxiety-and-your-partner-doesnt.html

Fratti, K. (2017). 7 ways your partner shouldn’t be acting when you have anxiety. Retrieved from https://hellogiggles.com/love-sex/relationships/ways-your-partner-shouldnt-be-acting-when-you-have-anxiety/

Mazza, L. (2017). What Your Partner With Anxiety Wants You to Know. Self. Retrieved from https://www.self.com/story/partner-with-anxiety

Help! My Husband Doesn’t Understand My Anxiety. Kenosis Counseling Center. Retrieved from https://kenosiscenter.com/help-my-husband-doesnt-understand-my-anxiety/

Young, K. (2021). When Someone You Love Has Anxiety. Hey Sigmund. Retrieved from https://www.heysigmund.com/when-someone-you-love-has-anxiety/

(2018). 7 Ways to Explain Anxiety to a Partner. Genomind. Retrieved from https://www.genomind.com/blog/7-ways-explain-anxiety-partner

Chatel, A. (2017). 7 Ways To Explain Your Anxiety To A New Partner. Bustle. Retrieved from https://www.bustle.com/p/how-to-explain-anxiety-to-a-new-partner-7509402

(2020). How Does Anxiety Affect Relationships? Alvarado Parkway Institute. Retrieved from https://apibhs.com/2020/03/17/how-does-anxiety-affect-relationships

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