When you love someone who has anxiety, often times it’s a package-deal. And while love can conquer a lot, it isn’t always enough to defeat the dragon that is an anxiety disorder.
But anxiety doesn’t make someone impossible to love, or even hard to love. And partners who learn how help reduce their loved ones’ anxiety can a make a huge difference in their significant others’ lives. To find out more, we asked people with anxiety tell us what they want their significant others to know.
Here’s what they had to say:
1. “You’re the only person I can share the racing thoughts with; the bombardment of traumatic scenarios and all consuming panic that follows. You remind me of the good in my life, which includes you.” — Tricia Bruno Derrick
2. “Going out is really hard for me. I do it because I don’t want my anxiety to ruin my life and because I still want to do nice things with you. But please don’t be mad if going shopping in a shopping mall triggers my anxiety, or going by a bus triggers a panic attack.” — Borderline Heart
3. “Please forgive me when my moods shift rapidly. I don’t mean to hurt or confuse you. It is beyond my control. I love you, and I am so grateful you love me flaws and all.” — Tamesha Scott
4. “Sometimes, you’re the only person who can stop me from descending into complete fear over my symptoms. Please don’t make me feel stupid or get mad at me — I’m already so discombobulated I can’t handle it. Just be there for me, and when I’m a little more calm, help me think logically.” — Ashley David Stevens
5. “You are my sun and moon. I could survive without you, but I would not thrive. In all of our years together, I’m so grateful you share this journey with me. When I’m overwhelmed, you reach back and take my hand. Thank you.” — Becky Nelson
6. “Just because I know, logically, I’m stressing out over something minor, it doesn’t mean my anxiety knows that. My anxiety doesn’t care about logic; it just wants to panic about everything.” — Darcy Krieger
7. “I’m not using it as an excuse; if I say I’m too anxious to do something, it’s a real problem. Please believe me.” — Holly Cooper McNeal
8. “When I take it out on you, please don’t take it personal. You are the only one I know will still be there in there morning no matter how ugly I get. I really don’t know what I would do if I didn’t have that assurance.” — Paige Lenox George
9. “I love the way his face changes when he knows ‘it’s’ coming, and I am and will always be grateful for his hugs when it arrives.” — Jade Jd Dempsey
10. “I don’t need space from you; I need space for myself.” — Tera Marie Major
11. “Something I’ve done 100 times can still bring about anxiety, so if on the 101st time I can’t bring myself to do something, please don’t judge or force me to do anything I know I can’t do.” — Marissa Levi
12. “I’m sorry if there are times when I can’t communicate to you what I’m feeling. I usually don’t understand it either.” — Emily Waryck
13. “I know it sounds irrational, but to me, the fear is real. Just sit in that and know I will return from it.” — Alana Reid
14. “I’m not asking you to understand my anxiety, I’m asking you to respect it.” — April Schneeman
15. “Your physical presence is enough to assure me I can get through this.” — Ninny Mundt Ryan
16. “Even though I trust you completely, I still need the reassurance you aren’t going anywhere!” — Ashley Nicole
17. “I worry all the time. A simple hug from you gives me so much comfort and reassurance. You have no idea.” — Kara Cardoza
18. “It doesn’t make sense, but a small grain of sand to you is an enormous, perilous mountain to me: covered in sharp jagged rocks, slippery slimy trails, hidden threatening holes and adrenaline pumping ravines. And I have to traverse this obstacle untrained, unprepared and alone every day.” — Elisa Fraser
19. “Thanks for never making me guilty for when I have to close myself off in our room because I’m tired from the hurricane of anxiety going on in my head. I appreciate that you always ask me how you can help and that you order/cook food when I have no energy to make dinner.” — Nicole Campbell
20. “Thank you for telling me not to worry every time I ask an anxiety-induced question. It makes me feel loved instead of annoying and that’s all I could ever ask for.” — Rachel Silton
21. “When I’m having a full blown anxiety attack, what I need more than anything is someone who can just be present with me. I don’t need you to solve my problem, because you can’t. I don’t need you to validate my feelings, because they are real to me. And I don’t need you to fix anything because I’m not broken.” — Kristine Burch McCourt
22. “I appreciate all the things you do, from comforting me during an anxiety attack to the little things like fixing a cup of tea and cuddling. Knowing that someone is there for me and loves me unconditionally helps me more than you’ll ever know.” — Christy Kira Miller
23. “If you’re away on business and I seem to be worrying about you too much, please do not be annoyed. Please know I worry because I love you, because you mean the world to me. Please try to be understanding, rather than telling me to get a handle on my anxiety.” — Natali Wind
24. “Sometimes you can’t touch or hold me. It’s not personal, it’s not your fault. It’s my anxiety in a really, really bad place. I will come to you as soon as I’m ready, no doubt about it…you’re the one that I want.” — Victoria Churchill
25. “When I don’t get things done around the house, it’s not because I’m lazy or don’t want to do them; being overwhelmed causes anxiety, and that can be brought on by even the simplest tasks.” — Amy Dale Aranda
26. “Sometimes I just need a hug and to know I’m loved. Sometimes there’s nothing more you can do than that. Some days I might be overly emotional and scared about things that seem like nothing to you, but when I feel broken, I just need a rock to stand by my side.” — Lyddie Leanne Wargo
*Answers have been edited and shortened.
Editor’s note: Not everyone experiences anxiety in the same way. These answers are based on individuals’ experiences.