What I Need in a Partner as Someone With Anxiety
You ask me the least favorite part of myself and I’ll always respond with the mental health aspects of my life I feel I can’t control sometimes.
Anxiety is part of it. The part I try to hide. The part I try to live with as gracefully as I possibly can. The part of myself that doesn’t seem to go away.
The part of myself that explains why I don’t sleep at night. Why I’m always picking, tapping something or biting my lip nervously. Why I always doubt myself and can’t make decisions. The part of myself that looks like I’m always busy. Productive. Always achieving something. Appearing perfect on the surface but mastering an act because I always feel like I’m not good enough.
The part of myself that doesn’t think I can have a normal relationship because I’m going to need so much.
I need someone who will answer texts quickly.
It seems really silly. I know this. But in the past, I’ve seen relationships completely change through simple words across a screen. Silence. Delays. Pauses turn into ghosting that turns into endings all the while I’m rereading everything wondering what I might have said or done wrong.
I’ve watched people play “the texting game” in relationships and above everything else, deliberately being ignored really fucks with my head.
It’s something really simple. And as much as I wish I could change not putting so much of an emphasis on this, it’s important that the least someone can do is answer a text message quickly.
I answer texts maybe entirely too quickly but that’s what I hope for in others.
I need someone who is going to follow through with plans.
I’ve learned to never get my hopes up. Hope for the best, but expect the worst. And to me the worst is showing up and waiting as I’m staring at my phone or analyzing my reflection as I get ready only to find out I’m dressed up with nowhere to go.
When you have anxiety, you are someone people can rely on simply because you hate the feeling of being let down yourself.
I need someone who is going to be OK with over-explaining things.
Before I jump to a million conclusions that are unjustified, just explain things to me. Even if it’s little details that don’t seem important. You don’t have to tell me everything, but I appreciate the things you do share.
I need someone being completely honest.
Even if it’s something I don’t want to hear, I’d rather you be the one to tell me. I watch things really closely. I listen even more attentively. And it’s not like I’m looking to catch you in a lie, I’m looking to protect myself from getting hurt. Protect me from being deceived. So many people in the past have lied and I’ve caught them as they backtrack. And it hurts like hell.
I don’t trust myself enough with every thought that runs through my head. I want to trust you, I just need you to be honest with me.
Tell me when you’re unhappy with something I’ve done. Tell me when something is not OK or I shouldn’t act a certain way. I’d rather get hurt by the truth than comforted with a lie.
I need someone who will talk me through my doubts.
I drew this conclusion because of XYZ and it led me to think this. Even if you don’t understand where I’m coming from, try to.
I’m going to doubt you. I’m going to question you. I’m going to test you. But more than anything, I just need that reassurance.
Counter the ridiculous things I might come up with and make me feel like the fool for every doubt. But don’t make me feel like I was a fool because the things I was anxious about became reality.
I need someone who will accept my apology.
I’m going to say sorry for things that might not even cross your mind. But I’ve created this whole story behind why you could be upset. Even if you aren’t upset, just tell me it’s OK.
Tell me it’s OK when I wake up feeling guilty and hungover. Tell me it’s OK when I say the wrong thing and I feel horrible about it.
People who have anxiety are the most considerate people in the entire world and if there’s even a chance they could have done something to upset you, they are going to want to make it right.
And when I actually do something wrong and we are fighting about it, there isn’t anything you can say or do that will make me feel worse than I’m making myself feel. Know I’m going to beat myself up for days. Know I’m going to think about it too much. Know even if you forgive me I’ll struggle in forgiving myself.
When you have anxiety, you are your own worst enemy.
I need someone who is going to show up on time.
I’m always going to show up early to things. When you have anxiety you hate being late to anything. The thought of someone waiting for you makes you feel guilty.
I need someone who is going to show up on time because if you don’t I’m going to be sitting there thinking you stood me up and that’s the worst feeling in the entire world.
I need someone who is consistent.
Consistency is everything to someone with anxiety. Knowing I can rely on you and you can be there when I need someone and trusting you enough is huge for me.
I need someone who is going to show me they care not just tell me everything I want to hear.
Show you care through little things. Maybe it’s something I told you in passing, you remembered. Show you care through gestures. People with anxiety pay attention to the smallest of details. We’ll remember your favorite drink and make sure we have it the next time you come over. We’ll watch that movie you told us you liked on Netflix.
Don’t just tell us the things we want to hear that sound nice. Because anyone can put together words. Actions will always mean more than words ever can.
I need someone who is going to sit down and listen.
Listen when I’m going off. Listen when something isn’t right or I’m upset. Even if I have no reason to be. Sometimes I just need someone to project all this onto so I can make sense of it myself.
I’m not always looking for a solution. Sometimes there isn’t one. Sometimes you won’t be able to fix the problem but sometimes it’s enough to just have you there.
I need someone who is going to know how to read me.
When I’m thinking too much and talking, even more, I need someone who is going to get me to shut up. To calm me down a bit.
When I’m upset and pushing you away and maybe saying things I don’t mean, that’s probably when I need you to stay the most.
When I’m quiet and it seems like something is off and I’m in my own world, I need someone who will pull me in and bring me back to this moment.
I need someone who is going to be patient with me.
Someone who is going to let me take the lead. Someone who isn’t going to pressure me. Someone who understands we will get there, wherever there might be it just is going to have to be slow.
I need time to know I can trust you.
Because so many people in the past I’ve let lead and all it’s left me with was giving them what they wanted then ending up alone.
When it comes to anyone with anxiety, don’t rush things.
I need a confidence boost every once in awhile.
It’s obvious there are things I’m insecure about. There are parts of myself I doubt. But if you heard every ugly comment anxiety said about me, you’d get.
Throughout the day, I’m counting this voice that tells me a stream of lies. “You aren’t pretty enough, smart enough, good enough, successful enough.” I hear things like, “you’re going to fail, this good thing you have going is gonna end, you’re going to get fired, you’re going to lose everything you worked for.” The phrases are on repeat. “Nothing you ever do is going to be enough. None of your friends like you. You’re a burden.”
And there are days when I believe these things.
I find myself in a healthy relationship and I’m waiting for the other shoe to drop and for something to go wrong.
Tell me the thing you like about me even if I dismiss it. Know even if there are moments I don’t believe that I look beautiful or I make you so happy, I want to believe it and I’m working on it. I really am working to be someone you deserve.
Sometimes though it takes someone else to get you to a place you can’t get to yourself.
I need you to be the confident one.
I’m never going to be the confident one. Not in myself. Not in you. Not in us. That’s going to be your most important role. When doubts are running through my head. When things seem perfect. When nothing seems to be going wrong. In my head I’m going question it. I’m going to doubt it. I’m going to wonder when this might end and knock the wind out of me if it does. I need you to be the one who is sure. Because I never will be.
I’ll love you unconditionally and honestly and as best I can, but regardless of how strongly I feel I’ll never be completely sure just based on my feelings. My feelings have led me in the wrong directions. So I don’t trust myself I don’t know if I ever will fully.
But my lack of confidence has more to do with the fear of losing something good than believing in you. Because I want to believe in you. I want to be the partner you deserve. There are just going to be some moments where you carry me to get there.
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Unsplash photo via Jared Sluyter