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Dear Thought Catalog, Anxiety Disorders Are Not A Beneficial Factor In A Relationship

This morning, I came across an article on my twitter timeline with the title “This Is Why People With Anxiety Are The Best People To Fall In Love With” by author Lauren Jarvis-Gibson for Thought Catalog. When I first read the title, I’ll admit I did about five solid double-takes.

We’re the best people to fall in love with? Since when?

I didn’t want to judge the contents of the article before I read it because my experience and growth through writing has taught me better than that; so I sat there silently praying that the author would touch base on the symptoms of living with an anxiety disorder and why those symptoms can be quite…alarming to someone who doesn’t experience them.

Dating someone with anxiety comes with a list of terms and conditions, including but not limited to panic attacks at home, panic attacks in public, getting phone calls at three in the morning when they have a nightmare, understanding that going to the store can be a tedious task, and so on. 

But, everyone experiences mental illness differently, which is why I hoped that this article would give me a different perspective on anxiety and romantic relationships. It didn’t. The purpose of me writing this response isn’t to tear down the author’s view of romance and anxiety, but to explain why some people with anxiety disorders are quite uncomfortable with the title of “being the best people to fall in love with ad the type of relationship that mentality entails.

“When you love someone who has anxiety, you’re loving someone who is in tune with their every emotion. Someone who feels everything with their being and doesn’t apologize for it.”

When first reading this, I agreed with the author that yes, those who have anxiety are very in tune with their emotions. How that made us better partners was still questionable to me. Then, I read “Someone who feels everything in their being and doesn’t apologize for it.” and I really did a double-take. I’m sorry, come again? Last time I checked, no matter how one experiences their anxiety disorder, they’re still gifted a period in their life that’s dedicated to chronic apologizing. If every person with some form of an anxiety disorder had an apology jar, there’d be enough money to start a new country. (Exaggeration of course, but the point is still there). This chronic apologizing also often leads to annoyed friends and peers. We apologize for laughing too loud, talking too much, feeling the way we feel, and saying what we want to say.

People with anxiety apologize for apologizing too much. 

“They are going to be the type of person who senses your tension after a long day of work. They are going to sense your anger, just from your footsteps in the room. They are going to see your body language and hear the way you’re talking and immediately know if something is wrong.”

The author isn’t wrong, having anxiety does cause you to have a keen sense of other’s emotions. But in a scenario like this, we aren’t going to come to your beck and call. We’ll most likely hide somewhere until we believe it’s safe to come out. Body language is a huge determinant in whether one’s anxiety levels rise or not.

“People with anxiety are sensitive and old souls. They have so much heart. And they are going to pour all of their energy into this relationship.”

Now this sounds nice, and I wish it were 100% true, but it’s not. There’s some fine print behind this statement. Yes, like most people in a relationship, those with anxiety will pour their hearts into the relationship; there’s no doubt on that. But here’s the catch, this sole devotion is partially due to the fear that they’ll lose their relationship if they do anything other than that. The constant fear of ruining/losing relationships whether they be with friends, family, or partners is a fear that clouds the back of our minds every minute. So yes, it might be nice for the other person in the relationship to have someone who will bring the world to their feet,

So yes, it might be nice for the other person in the relationship to date someone who will bring the world to their feet, but last time I checked partners are not pets. Anxiety in a relationship is not a beneficial factor to a partner.

With all due respect to the author, I would love to be able to be swept away to a castle where I spend my days being pet and coddled by my loved one and have the only time I ever to deal with my disorder be when it’s beneficial to them, this mentality isn’t healthy. Are people with anxiety capable of being loved/being in love? Yes, obviously, but there’s also a necessary understanding that needs to be exchanged in the relationship about the effects of anxiety and how it may effect said relationship before it truly can be healthy.

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