6 Ways My Anxiety Has Made Me Better At Relationships

6 Ways My Anxiety Has Made Me Better At Relationships ©iStock/Vlad_Lazutin

Is anxiety good for anything? I mean, it can ruin your social life, make relationships difficult and cause you to fear-sweat through all your makeup and bad ass outfits, sure. But aside from, you know, causing you a seemingly inhumane amount of discomfort, my anxiety actually makes me way better at relationships. Here’s how:

  1. It makes me a better communicator. Sometimes anxiety is irrational. Sometimes it comes out of nowhere. Sometimes things that don’t make me anxious one day will give me a panic attack the next. I have to be able to communicate how I’m feeling to my partner or there’s no way on earth she’ll understand. There’s often no way to predict when anxiety strikes, so communication is key. Plus, communicating when anxiety is low can help prevent it from getting high. I’ve become a master communicator thanks to this brain chemical imbalance.
  2. It makes me more compassionate. When other people experience nerves, fear or worry, even if it’s over something seemingly silly, I can step in and offer a sincere, “I get it. I’ve been there.” This might not seem like a big deal, but sometimes just feeling understood and knowing there’s someone out there who doesn’t think you’re overreacting is a better comfort than anxiety medication. This compassion makes me a better partner and wife.
  3. It’s taught me not to sweat the small stuff. Once you’ve been on the ledge of anxiety over the loss of everything you know and love, it’s kind of hard to get that worked up over little stuff, like a high electric bill or being late to a party. When my wife worries about normal, little things, I can be there for her because to me, it’s no big deal. It’s like the equivalent of leaping over a hill after you just got done pushing a boulder up a mountain.
  4. It puts me in touch with my needs. Sometimes I need to leave a place and go home. Sometimes I need alone time. Sometimes I need someone to talk me through a worst case scenario. If I don’t get those things, my anxiety can take over. If you’ve ever experienced a full-on panic attack, you know that’s something to be avoided at all costs. Because I have these needs, I’ve had to learn to express them, especially to my partner. Being in touch with and able to communicate your needs comes in handy in a lot of non-anxiety situations, too, which helps us maintain a healthy relationship.
  5. It’s taught me to ask for help. Asking for help sucks, and a lot of people don’t ask for help when they need it. When you have anxiety, asking for help can make you even more anxious.  But because of my anxiety, I’ve been forced to overcome my fear of asking for help. It makes getting my needs met much easier, and it lets my partner participate in the process of managing my anxiety. It also makes asking for help in non-anxiety situations a breeze, because if you can ask someone to help you from freaking out and losing your mind, you can ask them to help you take out the trash with no problem.
  6. It makes me learn to trust. I know my wife has my best interests at heart. Sometimes, even when I’m feeling anxious, facing those fears is the best option. I’ve had to learn to trust my wife to know when she’s pushing be too far, when she sees I’m capable of something I’m scared to do, or when she says things are going to be OK. Having this strong core of trust is essential to any healthy relationship, but it’s especially important when you have anxiety. It’s like having an extra spine when yours turns to dust.

So in some ways, I owe anxiety a “thank you” for making me dig deep and pulling out some of my best, most important qualities. They make my relationship that much stronger.

Teresa Newsome writes because she can't be a unicorn. She's the creator of the nail art blog Hello Glitter and the personal essay blog Lessons from Emotional Kindergarten. She's obsessed with mermaids, glitter, self-esteem, sassy feminists, lesbians (esp. her wife), nail art, sweet dance moves, snacks, fanny packs, and Amy Poehler. Most of her best friends are other people's dogs.