4. Sensitivity does not mean lack of strength.
In general all individuals know their boundaries and abide by self-defined rules in order to respect those boundaries. People with anxiety are more aware of those boundaries and often times have a plan for “boundary crossings.” Strength lives in this practice. Anxious individuals are constantly asked to confront their fears and move past them, all while being sensitive to their own feelings and the feelings of those around them. They can be the comedian, the sounding board, or the face to look to for kindness.
5. Be flexible.
Remember the term “loud thoughts,” and be aware that though something that is seemingly normal and harmless in your sphere or environment may cause your anxious partner to enter a realm of thought hyper-drive which is where anxiety attacks are birthed. If you find yourselves in an environment that seems troubling, offer an alternative — a whole-hearted offer. Anxious people are generally not of the “everyone please me” mentality. Your ability to be flexible will be met with much appreciation and adoration.
6. Positive words met with positive action are gold, pure gold.
Most people do not want to think of themselves as a burden to others, especially the people they love the most. Your anxious partner will often feel like they are their anxiety and nothing more. Remind them of their great qualities, sing a few praises and accept small changes that will help your partner feel comfortable. There’s little room for passive aggressive kindness. Make it real. Know that your partner’s desire to control their surroundings does not mean they want to control you. Yes, at times you will feel annoyed that you have to wait while s/he checks the see if the stove burners are all the way off every time you leave the house or if you have to sit at the end of the row in the movie theater, but tolerance is a two-way street in all successful relationships.
7. Put your tool belt away and just listen.
It’s part of human nature to want to fix what we may see as “broken,” but when people are involved, feeling broken all the time greatly affects a person’s sense of self worth. Don’t try to fix your partner; just listen to them. Show up for them and if they ask you for advice give it, but advice is not necessary otherwise. This doesn’t diminish your role. Quite literally, it magnifies it.