Confident is never a word someone will use when they have anxiety. Especially when it comes to relationships. In relationships, people with anxiety are almost too careful. Afraid to ever fully be themselves because they believe this single word that has influenced so much of their life even dictated it, won’t be accepted or understood by a partner. Simply because they haven’t accepted it within themselves.
How can you accept something that seems to rear its ugly head into your life, turning everything that could potentially be good into something horrible? Anxiety replays every moment, every conversation, every memory, every smile, every look and runs it over with a fine tooth comb. This way you can analyze the situation from a different point of view. Creating problems in your life that aren’t actually problems, but you are making them be. Overthinking. Overtrying. Overcaring. All of this is generated by the fear of reading a situation wrong, fear of getting hurt, fear of not having control.
So you replay everything seeing it from every different point of view just so you aren’t surprised or caught off guard. Just so you can prepare for how you’ll react if the worst case scenario were to become a reality.
When it comes to relationships, without even intending to, you expect the worst. You expect someone leaving. You expect some abrupt ending you don’t understand. And the relationship might only be in the beginning stages, but those beginning stages are the hardest for someone with anxiety. Because you are inclined to think negativity.
Maybe it’s the fear of an ending that manifests it. Maybe it wasn’t meant to be. But anyone with anxiety will always point to themselves than analyze what they could have done differently, holding it over their own head and beating themselves up more.
Carefully wording every text. Wanting to confirm plans. Anticipating someone canceling last-minute. It’s wanting to be excited about something, but managing your expectations. It’s not trusting anyone. Because you’re afraid to let someone too close and you’re afraid to get hurt. It’s constantly doubting yourself, because people with anxiety take responsibility for every part of their life and every part of the relationship.
But in the beginning, someone with anxiety will hide all of this.
You might seem calm, cool, and collective, but as someone gets to know you, they will understand silence means something so much more. And when someone asks what you are thinking, you are afraid to say it.
Because if they suddenly told you everything like “I’m scared. I didn’t sleep all night because I couldn’t stop replaying what happened, and what I might have said or done wrong and how you might have interrupted it. I’ve been thinking about a single text all day. I’m looking forward to seeing you, but I understand if you want to cancel.” All of these thoughts plague your mind.
You won’t say anything like that though. On the surface, you will play it cool like there isn’t anything that wrong with you.
But in time the partner will begin to notice, picking, shaking, tapping, biting nails, humming, snapping, pacing around, rushing, deep breaths, lack of sleep, getting up early, oversleeping, routines, schedules, to do lists, silence, leaving and breaking down.
Struggling to articulate what it is that’s wrong, when it’s problem you’ve created in your head and you know you are overreacting, you know you are over thinking, you know it sounds nuts. But you are who they are and even though you don’t like it, you can’t help it either.
As a partner gets to know you better what they thought was high achieving and admirable traits was really a facade of pretending. They will begin to see how hard you are on yourself, how mean you are to yourself in moments, how hard it is to deal with sometimes, this part of yourself you hate. When you aren’t succeeding or achieving something or being the best at it, you beat yourself up. As they get to know you, what they thought was someone initially so confident, is really someone who doubts every decision they make and analyzes every flaw.
It’s the apologies that aren’t needed. The situations, assumptions, and jumping to conclusions meanwhile; your partner might not even have thought twice about their dialect of how they said something or how it might have come across in a text. It’s the silence they didn’t think about meanwhile, you assume they are mad. It’s getting to a point where you fearfully let this person in, sitting there explaining to someone this is everything going on in my head and your partner will realize how careful they have to be, because people with anxiety have a different level of sensitivity than the rest of the world.
The root of someone with anxiety is someone who cares and someone who is so afraid of doing something wrong or ruining something good or hurting someone.
And as a potential partner, the best thing they can do is try to understand and be accepting of it.
People with anxiety didn’t ask to be this analytical but they are, and it’s exhausting, and the best thing for someone like that, is a partner who isn’t going to be afraid to be the confident one sometimes. Be the one who just sits and listens. Be the arms when they break down. Be the one lying next to them when it’s late and you know they are awake and just hold them. Be the reassurance that you’re still about it and them, that you’re still here because they are sitting waiting for your mind to suddenly change. Be the person that answers texts quickly. The person who over explains things. The person who overshares. The person who sticks to a plan because people with anxiety need that structure. Be able to read them because even if they aren’t articulating what it is they are thinking and feeling, their face will say it all. Be one step ahead of them before they can jump to conclusions. Be able to communicate what is okay and what isn’t, because if you leave them guessing, you’ll get some letter that’s a long apology of things that weren’t even a problem, but they made one in their mind.
Anxiety leaves them doubtful and questioning everyone and everything. It’s ruining relationships before they begin. It’s struggling to take things slowly and struggling to trust someone new. It’s wanting the best and giving the best, but worrying when you’ve gone overboard.
But if you do have a relationship with someone who has anxiety, what you’ll get out of that is someone who will always be brutally honest. Someone who will always have your best interest at heart. Someone who will care too much sometimes. Someone who is sensitive and understanding. A person who won’t judge you for breaking down, because it could very well be them tomorrow. Someone who will give you strength, because they know the hardest obstacle to overcome are battles you have with yourself.
If you can overcome the hurdles together of them vs. themselves and you help them to be more confident, you will get their loyalty and love in its purest form.
Because people with anxiety might be bad at starting relationships, they might worry about them ending, but they are good in relationships.
And you’ll catch them in little moments, where they just whisper “thank you” under their breath and you won’t think much of it.
But really what they are saying is thank you.
Thank you for accepting me.
Thank you for not judging.
Thank you for reassuring my fears.
And always saying the right thing.
Thank you for loving me.
Thank you for making me better.
Thank you for standing by me.
Thank you for trying to understand.
But most of all, thank you for teaching me I’m not that hard to love.