Navigating the world of dating and relationships is difficult at the best of times. However, it’s made even more complicated when you throw an anxiety disorder into the mix. While being a happy relationship certainly makes living with anxiety easier, it doesn’t solve or cure it. The only thing that can really get anxiety under control is therapy, medication, and a lot of self-care. Unfortunately, my ex-boyfriend didn’t quite get that memo, and it destroyed our relationship…
My anxiety-hating ex was my first real boyfriend. Until I met him, I’d been too socially anxious and mentally unwell to even consider dating anyone. However, after a few bouts of therapy, I finally felt confident enough to enter the dating world.
I told him about my condition pretty early on. I figured that since it’s such a big part of my life, it wasn’t fair to hide it from him. At first, I thought that it would make him run pretty quickly in the opposite direction and never talk to me again. However, he took it surprisingly well. He was taken aback for sure, but he didn’t dump me. That’s always a bonus.
It all started out shockingly well. When we first got together, my ex was super understanding of my anxiety. He didn’t know much about the condition but vowed to learn how to support me the best he could. I was really touched that he said he’d make the effort. It suggested that good things were to come.
It didn’t disappear by any means, but my anxiety did get a lot better for a while. The joy of being in a new relationship temporarily made all of my worries melt into nothingness. How can you feel stressed when you’re in that honeymoon state of bliss? I wasn’t naive, though—I knew that this positive change wouldn’t be permanent. Anxiety doesn’t work like that! I made sure to remind my then-boyfriend that while I was doing better now, he shouldn’t be surprised if my mood went downhill again in future.
As predicted, my anxiety resurfaced. There was nothing I could really do about it—I can’t do much to control when an anxiety attack is going to hit me. I tried my best to fight it off, but there’s only so much I can do. My mood dipped and my boyfriend noticed.
He became a massive part of my support network. I didn’t depend on him, but I knew he would be there to give me a pick-me-up if I needed it. It was a two-way street—if he ever needed support, I was there for him too. It wasn’t like I was just taking and not giving. We were a pretty good team, or so I thought.
The problems started when I realized how uninterested he was in my struggle. I noticed that whenever I mentioned that I was having a bad day, my boyfriend became more distant. We’d been together for nearly six months when this started. Honestly, this change in behavior surprised me. He seemingly didn’t want to hear about my low points and bad days anymore yet still expected me to listen to his complaints. That was a bit of a red flag. Why did our relationship have to be all about him all of a sudden?
For a while, he insisted that nothing was wrong. He said to stop worrying—a novel idea for anyone with an anxiety disorder. He insisted that he did care about how I was doing and was just really busy. Most importantly, he promised to make more time for me. He even told me that he loved me!
Even though he promised to change, nothing did. Eventually, I confronted him more forcefully and told him that I simply didn’t believe him when he said things were fine. I tried to convince him that talking things through would be the only way to address whatever was bothering him. I wanted us to have a calm and thorough discussion. Unfortunately, he had other ideas.
Our ‘calm discussion’ quickly turned into a furious fight. It turned out my boyfriend had been feeling a lot of anger about our situation for a while and had just kept it all pent up. He was furious that I still had the nerve to be anxious when he was trying so hard to make me happy. He genuinely believed that his love should have “cured” my anxiety and accused me of not trying hard enough to get better. I tried to tell him that love isn’t a magic pill that can cure all ailments, especially not anxiety. He didn’t believe me.
He issued me a ridiculous ultimatum. Either I stopped talking to him about my anxiety totally or we broke up. He said that hearing me talk about it made him feel like a failure because he hadn’t managed to “fix” me. He didn’t want to be a part of my support network anymore. After hearing him say that, I quickly decided that I didn’t want to be a part of the relationship anymore.
I don’t regret breaking up with him. I’m now with someone who loves and supports me for who I am, anxiety and all. Staying with my ex would have just led to more misery. He wanted a perfect, mentally well woman who would never need his support or reassurance. That just wasn’t me.
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