Everyone faces anxiety at some point in their lives, but that doesn’t mean everyone experiences it the same way or copes with it using identical tools. It can be especially challenging to navigate these differences in the thick of a high-anxiety moment in partnerships and committed relationships. No one goes into a relationship knowing exactly how to anticipate their partner’s needs, feelings, and ways to comfort them. However, it can be rewarding to learn how to make your partner feel seen during these moments and help soothe their anxiety as they process difficult feelings.
Anxiety Doesn’t Look the Same for Everyone
Even the most emotionally attuned partners will experience different emotions and cope with these emotions differently from their partners. If you are wondering how best to support your partner through anxiety, it’s a good idea to start with learning how to identify it.
Use the list below as a guide for recognizing anxiety-fueled behaviors in your partner, but be careful as to not to pathologize them. If you suspect your partner is struggling with anxiety, try not to diagnose them. Instead, listen as best you can. Some of the common issues people with anxiety may display in a relationship can include:
- Maintaining few relationships or self-isolating
- Difficulty identifying or expressing emotions
- Struggling to support others due to overwhelming emotions
- Difficulty feeling positive emotions
- Short temper, irritability, or impatience
- Overly critical
- Anxious attachment styles (hot and cold relationship dynamics)
- Lacking self-confidence
- Insecurity in relationships (i.e., doubting commitment or worrying if someone really likes them)
Ways to Support Your Partner with Their Anxiety
You can’t feel your partner’s feelings for them, but you can nurture them through it. If you see your partner is struggling to function through their day-to-day tasks or has been expressing their concerns to you, encourage them to seek therapy and resources for support. Group therapy for social anxiety can help individuals who struggle in social settings to develop skills and strategies for more fulfilling relationships.
In addition to encouraging therapy, you can support your partner in the following ways:
- Don’t aim to fix them: Strive to listen to your partner and meet them where they are in their lives. It’s unfair to your partner for you to place expectations on who they should be and what they should be like. Remind your partner that you love them as they are but don’t love seeing them in pain.
- Don’t downplay their feelings: It’s important to approach your partner with a compassionate understanding; you don’t have to bring rationality to the conversation. Instead, validate their feelings and remind them that it makes sense to feel the way they do, given their experience.
- Communicate effectively and offer reassurance: If your partner tends to get anxious when they don’t know where you are or haven’t heard from you in a while, try not to leave them hanging. It’s crucial for you to have your own boundaries, but talking through life’s experiences can bring you closer together.
- Accept that everyone processes differently: Part of what makes partnerships so fulfilling is the ability to live your life with another person, but that doesn’t mean you have to live exactly the same life. You might be having a great day and have a lot of high energy, while your partner may be experiencing the opposite end of that spectrum. Happiness and contentment look different for everyone.
- Focus on making your home a safe space: Anxiety is generally rooted in a feeling of the unknown or uncertainty. Sometimes, anxious people become concerned that they won’t be well-liked if they’re honest about their emotions. Remind your partner that they can share anything with you, and it won’t make them any less worthy of your love and affection.
- Ask how they’re feeling: If you know that your partner is struggling with anxiety, check in with them. Ask them what helps them when they feel anxious or if there is anything you can take off their plate. Doing a load of laundry for your partner or bringing them home a special treat can go a long way in showing your partner that you are there for them.
Therapy can help individuals struggling with all different types of anxiety. Hope Springs Behavioral Health proudly serves patients from all over the area. For a list of psychiatrists in Bucks County or more information about our services, don’t hesitate to reach out to our team today!