Anxiety in Romantic Relationships -- It’s Complicated
Anxiety in romantic relationships, for better or worse, complicates love. I’ve had a variety of significant others. Some partners were supportive of my mental conditions, while others were not sympathetic to any significant degree. I’ve had to deal with many problems, such as rejection and anxiety about the state of my relationships. Though anxiety complicates my romantic relationships, it doesn’t make romance impossible for me.
Anxiety in Romantic Relationships and Rejection
There are many ways anxiety can complicate romantic relationships, but the most obvious is rejection. Most of us have experienced romantic rejection in our lives, but anxiety can make these experiences significantly worse. As a teenager, I hid my anxiety symptoms and disorders for fear of rejection. When my romances failed, I also obsessed about every possible cause of the break-up, nearly driving myself to a breakdown.
I’ve also had many men refuse to pursue a romantic relationship after hearing that I have anxiety disorders. A potential mate once said that he wasn’t concerned about my anxiety issues. Then when certain events revealed the severity of my condition, the same person suddenly acted as though there was something wrong with me. These rejections are beyond disconcerting to me. In fact, rejection can be devastating.
Address Anxiety Stigma in Romantic Relationships
For you to thrive in your romantic relationship with anxiety, both parties must recognize that anxiety is a real illness and not contrived. To understand your specific disorder or some basics about anxiety, encourage your partner to do some research. If possible, have your partner or spouse participate in counseling with you. If you have a disorder that is chronic, help them to understand that the course of your condition lasts a lifetime (How Mental Illness Stigma Affects Romantic Relationships).
I understand that it can be frustrating when your partner doesn’t entertain your perspective. Often, when choosing a partner, you need to consider the level of support they are willing and able to provide. But it is also important to recognize that your partner is not your therapist.
Don't Tolerate Abuse Just Because of Anxiety in Romantic Relationships
In my relationships, I’ve found that open and honest communication is key. I’m open about my disabilities, so much that I include my disorders on dating profiles. I’ve been the victim of disparaging comments because of it, but I am not ashamed of who I am. The insensitive comments help me weed out those who would be incompatible.
In one particularly harmful relationship, a partner chose to verbally abuse me about my mental illness. I will never tolerate this again as it was completely uncalled for. You do not deserve to be belittled because of your condition (Mental Illness Used as a Weapon). You matter just as much as your significant other. Just because anxiety complicates your romantic relationships, it doesn’t mean that your thoughts, ideas, and opinions don’t count.
Though not all partners are compatible with an anxiety sufferer, I haven’t given up hope that someone will truly value me while understanding my anxiety struggles. Anxiety often complicates romantic relationships, but education, equality, and empathy can effectively enhance romantic connections.
Slavin, C. (2018, January 22). Anxiety in Romantic Relationships -- It’s Complicated, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2020, August 10 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/anxiety-schmanxiety/2018/01/its-complicated-anxiety-in-romantic-relationships
Author: Cheryl Slavin
Such an important read. Anxiety is certainly not a reason to avoid romantic relationships but it does add an element to be aware of. Having open, honest conversation where both parties recognize the anxiety and work to support are critical pieces of a healthy, happy relationship. Being vulnerable is never easy, and anxiety can certainly heighten that but so much beauty can come from an open, equally vulnerable relationship among partners.
I agree with you Lizanne, and I would really like to think I’ll have a healthy relationship one day. I’m 57 now, divorced/separated for over 6 years now. Anxiety and depression keep me from doing anything I used to enjoy, and I feel I have lots of love to offer, but it’s so hard meeting anyone these days. Communication is so poor with texting and games people play at my age as well. Those saying they’re looking for a relationship, seem to all mean a casual friends with benefits type thing that I’m just not comfortable with. Until something different happens it’ll be myself and my dog who’s been my only companion and friend all this time. I don’t know what I’ll do when she’s gone. She’s been my life when everyone else has walked away and forgotten me. That’s a hurt that never goes away. (Except my now ex spouse). That was a toxic relationship for the last several years before splitting up. I did find some peace after he was gone