Anxiety has a way of permeating every area of your life, like an invisible hand holding you in a stranglehold.
With the right combination of practices or treatments, you can keep it in check and take back control of your life.
However, sometimes it gets its way. And, sometimes, you do something you regret.
It’s hard to keep anxiety from affecting a relationship. When you’re barely managing to stay above water yourself, it takes every part of you not to lash out or do something irrational because frankly, it’s hard enough without having someone else to love and care for besides yourself.
Whether it’s you or your loved one who is dealing with anxiety, it can be helpful to know what are some of the common missteps someone with anxiety might make in a relationship. If for nothing else to know what to look for so you can try and catch it before you, or they, step over the line.
Anxiety is love’s greatest killer. It makes others feel as you might when a drowning man holds on to you. You want to save him, but you know he will strangle you with his panic.
– Anais Nin
Here are five relationship missteps you or someone you love might make if they have anxiety.
1. A lack of presence
Few things are as necessary for a relationship as just being present for the one you love. And anxiety screws with that masterfully.
With anxiety, it’s extremely difficult to stay present to what’s going on around you because you’re so overwhelmed with what’s going on between your ears.
However, the more you work with a breathing practice or something like mindfulness meditation the easier it becomes to manage the anxiety in the moment and give your loved one more of yourself.
2. Trying to control the relationship
Having anxiety can sometimes lead a person to try and control their surroundings in an effort to manage their anxiety.
Anxiety makes you feel like everything is out of whack, like the floor beneath you could crumble at any moment.
In an effort to reduce this feeling you or your loved one might develop the basic response of trying to control the relationship so as to manage the situation. But this often backfires as you end up trying to control the other person’s behavior, especially when your anxiety is peaking.
It’s hard to notice this is happening when you’re so absorbed in your own pain but the calmer you can keep yourself, the greater clarity you’ll have to not only notice but stop it.
3. Making something out of nothing
Everything is magnified with anxiety. When even the slightest thing can set you off, it’s easy to lose it and snap over something small and insignificant.
To keep this from happening, it’s important to try and keep a clear perspective of things and use a calming practice to give yourself the space you need to let that pent-up frustration out regularly.
4. Letting overthinking lead to closing up
One of the most common behaviors of anxiety is overthinking. When your anxiety flairs up, everything becomes uncertain and we often turn inward to protect ourselves.
But in a relationship, this can lead us to close up around the one we love. But closing ourselves off will only make the situation worse, so it’s important to remember that they’ve got our back and want the best for us.
If you’re the partner, let them know that you’re here for them whenever they need. Give them a “no judgment” zone where they can be themselves without worry.
5. Letting off a little too much steam in their direction
Sometimes, it’s less about snapping at the other person and more about using them as a soundboard to vent off of.
That’s okay and to be expected sometimes. However, if they become your frequent tool for releasing steam, it can become exhausting for your partner who might feel more used than anything.
Your partner (or you, if you’re the partner) should be there to support you. However, it’s still your responsibility to respect their feelings and not take advantage of that support.
One of the most useful things you can do to keep this from happening is to use another exercise to vent in another way, whether physically through exercise or mentally through a creative endeavor such as writing or painting.
Any exercise that gets your body moving and/or thoughts pouring out can be very cathartic and help to release the pressure built up from anxiety.