Having anxiety can leave you with a constant fear that your partner will break up with you. Except it feels less like a fear than an intuition. An intuition that everything is objectively, incontrovertibly doomed.
When you're dating someone with anxiety, it helps to understand this. That's why Callie Amelia Theodore fills her boyfriend Chris Briggs in on her emotional struggles, and he addresses them.
In a viral Facebook post, Theodore, who suffers from anxiety, shared a text conversation between her and Briggs, Self reports. "Are we okay?" she asks him. "Very much so honey," he replies. She responds with "okay good" and three hearts. All it took to calm her nerves were those four understanding words.
In her Facebook post, Theodore explains that since people with anxiety are prone to worrying about their relationships, it's important for them to find supportive partners who don't minimize their struggles.
"Always communicate when you're feeling anxious and allow your partner to comfort you," she elaborated to Refinery29. "You don't want to keep your negative thoughts bottled up until they unleash. Don't settle for someone who doesn't even attempt to understand you."
And for those in relationships with people with anxiety, Briggs himself has some advice. "Dating someone with anxiety is like owning a beautiful house, but you don't have a key for it," he told Refinery29. "You can't just break the door down, but you have to find some other way into it. You know how beautiful it is on the inside, but you have to let the walls come down on their own."
Unfortunately, there's still a stigma against dating people with mental illnesses. A recent study in Evolutionary Psychological Science found that people viewed those with mental illnesses as less attractive partners than those without them. But as Theodore and Briggs — who also has a mental illness — prove, our personal struggles don't have to get in the way of our relationships. If handled compassionately, they can bring us closer.