10 Tips For Dating Someone With An Anxiety Disorder

Updated April 6, 2024by Regain Editorial Team

Anxiety disorders are the most prevalent type of mental illness in the U.S., affecting 18.1% of the population. Given the number of people who experience generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), panic disorder, specific phobias, and other conditions in this category, it’s not uncommon to date someone with an anxiety disorder.

While you care deeply about the person you’re dating, you might find it difficult to understand their experience, especially if you have never been diagnosed with an anxiety disorder. 

If you’re wondering how to support your partner and strengthen your relationship, these 10 tips can help you build mutual understanding and support a loved one who is living with an anxiety disorder.

1. Learn more about anxiety disorders

Even among people with the same anxiety disorder, their experiences are not uniform – which is why understanding the most common types of anxiety disorders can be beneficial. According to the Anxiety & Depression Association of America (ADAA), common anxiety disorders include: 

  • Specific phobias, which affect 19.3 million adults, or 9.1% of the U.S. population.
  • Social anxiety disorder (SAD), which affects 15 million adults or 7.1% of the U.S. population.
  • Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), which affects 6.8 million adults or 3.1% of the U.S. population. 

If you’re interested in learning more about your partner’s anxiety disorder and related conditions, the ADAA, the American Psychological Association (APA), and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) offer fact sheets, research, personal stories, and other resources.

As you learn more about anxiety disorders, you can develop a deeper, more personalized understanding of how a specific diagnosis might affect your partner. Self-education is a powerful way to challenge the stigmas around anxiety and other mental illnesses and to show your partner that you’re invested in supporting them. 

2. Understand the symptoms of anxiety disorders

While your partner’s symptoms will vary depending on their specific diagnosis, common symptoms across anxiety disorders include: 

  • Excessive or disproportionate worry
  • Racing thoughts
  • Restlessness
  • Hypervigilance
  • Body aches or tension
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Trembling or shaking
  • GI distress (e.g., nausea and diarrhea)
  • Irritability
  • Fatigue and trouble sleeping 

By taking care to notice your partner’s symptoms, you can help them prepare for events that might be especially anxiety-inducing, like a major exam or high-stakes work event. Addressing symptoms is generally the starting point for treating anxiety disorders, and can help you develop a better understanding of your partner’s diagnosis and needs. 

3. Ask your partner how you can support them

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Want to better understand your partner’s anxiety disorder?

When you love someone with anxiety, one of the most meaningful questions you can ask is simply: “How can I best support you?” 

Rather than assume you know what your spouse or partner needs, ask how you can help, and then listen carefully to their response. 

When framing your question, it may be helpful to specify exactly how you can help: for example, you could ask “Would you like me to make dinner for us tonight?” or “Is it helpful when I do the dishes for you on weekends?”

Specific, targeted questions can help you develop a clearer understanding of what might help your partner, particularly when they’re experiencing more severe anxiety symptoms and may not be able to express exactly what they want or need. 

4. Practice patience

Even after years of loving your partner, you may find it hard to understand why they feel anxious, especially if you’ve never experienced an anxiety disorder. At times, you may feel frustrated or even impatient with your partner, especially if their symptoms are affecting the quality of your relationship and life together.

In these moments, knowing when to practice patience and when to gently push your partner to overcome their fears can be tricky. Most couples need time, trial, and error to find the right

balance of patience and gentle encouragement.

5. Remember that their diagnosis isn’t your fault

If your partner seems especially distant or more irritable during an episode of anxiety, you may wonder if you’re somehow contributing to their symptoms. However, anxiety disorders are complicated conditions, and it’s important to remember that you are not the cause of or contributor to their diagnosis. 

Anxiety disorders stem from a complex combination of genetic, environmental, psychological, and developmental risk factors. The symptoms are not typically dependent on who you’re with; and even with treatment, people with anxiety often need to revisit and manage their symptoms over time.

6. Combat the “fix-it” mindset

When someone you love is experiencing a mental health condition or another major challenge, you might be tempted to find a way to “fix” their problems with a quick solution. Generally, this desire comes from a place of good intentions – but in most cases, anxiety symptoms take time, patience, and ongoing effort to resolve. 

Although anxiety disorders are treatable and manageable, there is no established cure. As a partner, try to approach your loved one’s symptoms with empathy and understanding, rather than chase the possibility of a quick fix.

7. Take care of yourself too


While it’s great to be present for your partner, it’s just as important to take care of yourself. As the partner of someone with an anxiety disorder, the following tips can help you prioritize self-care:

  • Establish boundaries. Boundaries can be emotional, financial, or physical: for example, you and your partner might agree to spend Sunday mornings doing separate activities and reunite in the afternoons.
  • Pursue your own hobbies and interests. Your favorite activities can provide a mental break and an emotional boost.
  • Maintain connections outside of your relationship. The ability to confide in other friends and family members is invaluable, especially if you’re navigating challenges in your relationship.

Far from being selfish, healthy boundaries and self-care are essential to the health of your relationship. By taking care of yourself, you’ll be better prepared to show up for your partner when they need you most.

8. Understand your role in the relationship

As a partner, you’re a special person in your loved one’s life. But regardless of your personal or professional knowledge, you are not their doctor or therapist. Recommendations about treatment should come from medical and mental health professionals, who can offer more specific coping skills and treatment plans. 

As a partner, your role can include: 

  • Listening to your partner’s concerns and progress
  • Accompanying them to a therapy session
  • Helping around the house
  • Relaxing with them after a tough day

While you might be tempted to offer recommendations, giving unsolicited advice or suggesting “cures” can muddy the line between personal and professional roles.

9. Validate their experiences

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Want to better understand your partner’s anxiety disorder?

While you can’t force your partner to pursue treatment, you can offer positive comments that validate their fears and encourage them to consider how they might overcome their anxiety. 

If you’re wondering what to say, comments like “That must feel overwhelming” or “I’m always here for you” can affirm their feelings, offer comfort, and remind your partner that you’re available and listening. 

10. Seek help from a professional therapist

By practicing these tips over time, you can develop a more transparent and meaningful connection with your partner. But regardless of whether your partner is experiencing anxiety, your relationship could benefit from the support of a mental health expert. 

Some therapists, such as couples therapists and marriage counselors, specialize in common challenges faced by romantic partners. In a standard session, these therapists typically divide time between partners and provide fair, balanced opportunities for all partners to receive care.

Online counseling through Regain

While some couples prefer in-person therapy, more people are using online therapy to strengthen their relationships. Whether you’re looking for treatments to support your partner or are interested in couples counseling, digital platforms like Regain make it simple for both individuals and couples to get the help they need. Regain ensures the licensure of every professional on the platform, and many therapists help their clients navigate the complexities of dating someone with anxiety and other mental health challenges. 

A growing body of research shows that online therapy can be just as effective as face-to-face options, including a 2021 study of virtual couples therapy (VCT) to support romantic relationships during the COVID-19 pandemic, when many couples experienced shifts in their quality time and personal space. While setting boundaries during the pandemic was challenging for many couples, these changes presented opportunities for couples to connect more deeply and invest in their relational health via online therapy. The researchers concluded that VCT can effectively support couples’ relationships during the pandemic and other stressful times.


If you’re dating someone with an anxiety disorder, you may be searching for ways to understand and support your partner in their most challenging moments. By addressing their symptoms and working from a place of compassion, you can help your partner manage their anxiety and improve the quality of your life together.

If an anxiety disorder is straining your relationship, an online therapist can offer empathy, expertise, and personalized strategies. No matter where you decide to seek help, you and your partner deserve quality support.

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