I’m so tired of self-help books giving out one-size-fits-all relationship advice. As an anxiety sufferer, I’ve found most of these just don’t cut it for me at all. In fact, they were making my life a lot worse until I figured this out. Here are 10 relationship tips you really want to ignore if you suffer from anxiety.
“IF IT HURTS, IT’S NOT LOVE.”
Because the course of love always runs smoothly, right? Not when you suffer from anxiety, it doesn’t. When things are going well, I’m always terrified they’re going to go bad and when things are bad, anxiety makes them 1,000 times worse. Those are not good feelings. They hurt, but much of the time it has nothing to do with the relationship I’m in and everything to do with my own anxiety.
“TRUST YOUR INTUITION.”
Yeah, sure, unless your “intuition” is that constant feeling of dread that tells you the guy you’re into is going to leave you, isn’t interested, is just using you, or any other horror story that’s playing out in your head because anxiety’s taken over and you don’t know what’s real anymore. If that’s your intuition, then you’d better not listen to it. When you suffer from anxiety, you don’t know what to believe, so it’s best to rely on hard logic rather than the voices in your head. Maybe talk to a friend or your therapist or something. Someone objective who can look at the facts for you.
“IF YOU THINK HE’S CHEATING ON YOU, HE PROBABLY IS.”
I think everyone’s cheating on me ALL THE TIME. That’s part of being someone with anxiety. It took me years to come to terms with the fact that this is nothing to do with the person I’m with at all. My brain’s just going to turn anything into a sign that the worst is going to happen. That’s just how it works.
“IF HE’S MAKING YOU FEEL INSECURE, YOU SHOULD BAIL”.
How can I even tell who’s making me feel insecure? A guy’s gonna have to work pretty hard to make me feel secure in a relationship because whenever I care about someone, I become a total emotional wreck. A better tip is to force yourself to open up about your anxiety and see if you can get some reassurance. If a guy’s been told about your anxiety and doesn’t lift a finger to help you feel loved, then yeah, you should bail. However, just because you’re finding yourself feeling anxious around a guy doesn’t mean it’s his fault.
“YOU SHOULD BE ABLE TO FEEL PERFECTLY COMFORTABLE WITH THE RIGHT GUY.”
Yeah, maybe after you’ve been together for years, but this sort of intimacy is something you need to work at even if you don’t suffer from anxiety. If you do, well, it’s going to be a lot harder to feel completely at ease with anyone. Just because you’re struggling doesn’t mean you’re with the wrong person. It probably just means you need to build trust and intimacy over time so that you can relax. I’d love to be that person who clicks into a relationship and feels perfectly at ease within a few weeks or even months, but I’m not her. Hell, I don’t even know if such a person even exists.
“THE RIGHT GUY SHOULD MAKE YOU FEEL SAFE.”
There are a lot of things guys can do that’d make you feel insecure in a relationship – playing games, giving you the hot and cold treatment, not committing, etc. If someone’s doing that, then they’re definitely not the right person for anyone. But when you suffer from anxiety, you’re going to struggle to feel safe even with the perfect guy. I hate to tell you this, but much of this is on you. Anxiety is a condition and this is what the condition does. Relationship advice that’s based on perceptions and feelings assumes you are an “average person,” whatever that is. It doesn’t take into account a mental condition that makes you afraid and worried all the time.
“THE RIGHT RELATIONSHIP SHOULD FEEL EASY.”
This one’s bad advice for anyone, really, because building real intimacy is only easy if you’re perfectly well-adjusted. I’ve never met anyone who had the perfect upbringing, nor have I met anyone who didn’t have any emotional problems at all. Normal people need to work at their relationships and the idea that you don’t is really dangerous. I think that’s why so many people give up on perfectly good relationships instead of trying to make them work. If you suffer from anxiety, you’re going to have to work even harder at it, because the more you care about someone, the more terrified you’re going to be. Unless you learn to deal with your anxiety, not being terrified probably means you don’t really care enough about the relationship for your anxiety to be triggered by it.
“PLAY IT COOL.”
Don’t pretend you don’t have anxiety. This is a part of you and the person you’re dating should know this is part of the deal. Okay, so you should still think about the other person and try to spare them some of your repeating anxious thoughts, but pretending you’re feeling fine when you’re not is one sure way of ensuring you never have real intimacy with someone.
“HE SHOULD BE ABLE TO DEAL WITH YOU AT YOUR WORST.”
Not everyone you date is going to instinctively know how to deal with your anxiety. What matters is that they care enough to want to do it. Just because someone is lost and confused when you first present your problem doesn’t mean he’s wrong for you. You might need to teach him, point him at some reading materials or go to couples’ therapy before things work out. Expecting a guy to just know how to deal with your issues is unfair to both of you.
“MAKE HIM CHASE YOU.”
For the love of God, don’t play games. You have anxiety, you can’t possibly win. Pretending to be disinterested and sitting around waiting for a call is hard enough on its own. Couple that feeling with anxiety and you’re setting yourself up for a really bad time. Anxiety can make you think someone is playing games with you even when they’re not, which can also cause a world of hurt to both you and your guy. So just stop playing games and hope for the best. The last thing you need is a guy who needs to be manipulated into a relationship, anyway.
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