Your question: Why does my partner blame me for his anxiety?

My reply:

Hi, I hope this message finds you well. My name is Cesar Guedez, a psychologist trained in cognitive behavioral therapy. 

Relationships are naturally complicated, as they involve establishing a balance of power, respect and intimacy between two people with different personalities and attitudes. Therefore, it is completely common that even in healthy couple relationships, arguments and disagreements occur.

Anxiety is a problem that can generate short, medium and long term problems in people’s lives. In addition to causing unpleasant physical and emotional symptoms, anxiety can deteriorate work and academic performance, people’s self-esteem and their interpersonal relationships.

Therefore, having a relationship with a person with anxiety, while possible, has its specific complications. Studies have shown that couples in which at least one partner has a chronic, diagnosed anxiety problem face extra difficulties in their relationship (1).

Anxiety can take hold of people and cause them to act inappropriately. Even if it is not a justification for their actions, it is common for people with anxiety to react in an irritable manner to others, pointing at them as being to blame for all their problems, regardless of whether they are or not.

If you’re reading this, you’re probably dealing with this problem in your relationship. Every time he experiences an episode of anxiety he blames you, pointing to you as the only person responsible for his anxiety. This is a problem for both you and your partner; on the one hand, it makes you feel bad and vulnerable, and on the other hand, it keeps your partner thinking that other people are responsible for his anxiety problems.

Therefore, you need to start acting on what you want to change in your relationship. To do this, I will show you some coping strategies for anxiety that you can teach your partner, and communication strategies that will allow you to cope with this problem of your partner’s guilt towards you.

Even if you are currently feeling overwhelmed, there is a solution to this. Through strategies and professional help, you can find ways to make the right decisions that put you first and bring you the greatest long-term benefits.

Why does your partner blame you for his or her anxiety?

There are several reasons why your partner could be blaming you for your anxiety, however, it is worth noting that no reason is justification for humiliating, mistreating or assaulting a partner. If your partner with anxiety constantly makes you feel bad on an emotional level when he blames you for his anxiety, it is a problem that should not be justified, and that you should confront with communication strategies. Some of the most common causes for which this problem can occur are:


Irritability has been associated with anxiety, stress and depression in multiple investigations. This occurs because anxiety causes dysregulation of emotions, making people more reactive and prone to react aggressively to everyday situations (2). Your partner is likely to blame you for your anxiety because the same anxiety makes him or her feel irritable and sensitive. Any little thing can be a trigger for an aggressive or rude attitude when people are irritable.

Anxiety in everyday life

One problem with anxiety is that people often believe that it is associated with a single aspect of their life. In reality, in most cases, anxiety is multi-causal. Possibly your partner is dealing with work anxiety, academic anxiety in their family relationships, or personal issues with their identity and self-esteem. Blaming one specific person for their anxiety is an easy way out of confronting the fact that there are several aspects of their life that are causing them anxiety.

Relationship problems

You need to do some self-observation of your relationship. While there is no justification for your partner to treat you in an irritable manner by blaming you for your anxiety, it is helpful to reflect on the problems in your relationship, noting which situations might make your partner feel more tense and anxious.

What can you do?

First of all, it is important to understand that no matter how much you love your partner, you must make yourself your own priority. You cannot help the people you love if you feel bad about yourself. Therefore, you must stop to observe whether your partner’s anxiety, and his tendency to blame you for his anxiety, has had a negative effect on your life. Some coping strategies to help yourself and your partner deal with this situation are:

Breathing exercises

When a person experiences an anxiety attack their entire body goes out of control. Therefore, breathing exercises that help relieve the feeling of anxiety are useful. You can help your partner practice breathing exercises when he has anxiety by serving as a model for him to imitate.

Ask him first if he wants physical contact. If so, hold his hands. Close your eyes and inhale slowly for 4 seconds, then exhale slowly for 4 seconds. Keep a slow rhythm. Notice that your partner is doing the same. Practicing this exercise for 5 to 10 minutes a day is quite helpful in combating anxiety, and will teach your partner to do it when he or she is on his or her own.

Effective communication

You need to talk to your partner about this problem in an assertive way. Approach him or her and tell him or her how you have been feeling recently about his or her tendency to blame you for his or her anxiety, and how you consider that to be a problem because it makes you feel bad.

Being honest with your emotions is a key step in ameliorating relationship problems, regardless of your partner’s response to it. This will allow you to express the problems you are going through by indicating where improvement is needed.

Set boundaries

Relationships should be based on respect, and when there is constant blaming of one partner for all the problems that occur, you lose that respect in the relationship. Therefore, you need to stand firm, communicating to your partner the things that you will not allow to continue to happen.

This can be difficult as you probably think that you should be there to support your partner unconditionally in his or her anxiety problems. However, anxiety does not allow anyone to treat other people badly without consequences. These boundaries are healthy for your relationship, because they will guide both of you toward change.

In my experience…

The irritability of people with anxiety can be a problem for their interpersonal relationships. Even if they don’t mean to, they treat their loved ones hurtfully. However, no matter how much love you have for your partner, it’s not something you should allow. Anxiety does not usually occur through the sole fault of one person. Therefore, by working on your relationship communication and putting yourself as a priority, you will discover which decision is best suited to deal with this problem.

Although you may be afraid to make changes in your relationship, even considering ending it, it is necessary to take the first step and start making changes in order to feel better about yourself and your relationship. With dedication and the right professional help, you will be able to make those decisions that intimidate you and generally improve your quality of life. You have the strength and ability to deal with it.

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