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I love a man who has terrible anxiety. It’s not just social or general; it’s both. If he sees a slightly upsetting political rant on social media, he starts to talk about the ways the world is ending and how we need to escape to a mountain in the middle of nowhere. His imagination can get the best of him, and he is quick to assume the worst. He easily and often accelerates a situation, believing it is actually, currently, as terrible as it is in his head—but it’s all in his head. He also suffers from quite a bit of social anxiety. Coming home from a party often entails him analyzing a few interactions he had, wondering if someone mistook something he said, and worrying he has someone he needs to send an apology email to. I adore him, we have so much fun together, and between the two of us—when it’s just him and me—he has no anxiety. We laugh a lot together and are totally open and communicative. That being said, I’m very protective of him because of his anxiety—I feel an obligation to reduce his anxiety and fight it around corner. Sometimes, that battle alone causes me anxiety. Are you dating or married to someone with anxiety? Does this sound familiar? Here are signs your partner’s anxiety is rubbing off on you.

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You explain what people mean

If you’re in a conversation with your partner and another person, and the third party says something that makes your partner a bit confused—something that might possibly make your partner think the third party is upset with him or doesn’t like him—you jump in to save the day. You immediately say, “I think what the person means is fill in frantic explanation here.” You have to mediate conversations between your partner and strangers.

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You isolate him from certain people

There are some people you just don’t think your partner should be around. Maybe they are hard to read, come off as cold, or can be judgmental. Maybe you know they won’t get his sense of humor. Either way, if you see them at a party, you make sure your partner avoids them like landmines. Your whole night is dedicated to keeping those two apart, without letting your partner realize you’re doing that.

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You ask lots of questions, in advance, for him

If you’re taking your partner to a restaurant/party/event/hotel, you call in advance and ask a lot of questions for your partner’s sake. You have questions about who will be there, what exactly the dress code is, what the noise level is, and much more.

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You’re always asking him what’s wrong

You’re acutely aware of your partner’s tiny changes in body language or facial expressions. If you see the slightest change you immediately pounce and ask, “What’s wrong? Tell me!” so you can try to fix the situation before it gets worse.

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You hide all the accommodations you make

You’re almost like one of Santa’s elves or a super secretive spy, the way you sneak around, making all sorts of accommodations to prevent anxiety attacks on your partner’s end. He has no idea you’re even doing it…you always just have a smile on your face while, secretly, you just bent over backwards to avoid a catastrophe.

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You ask people to watch their words around him

When you’re going to bring him to a friend or family member’s place, you often have to call them and just list a few subjects about which your partner can be sensitive. You have to give them a cheat sheet to help them not cause your partner anxiety.

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You worry people misunderstand you

You sometimes find yourself fearing that someone misinterpreted something you did or said. In your attempts to ask questions/prevent disasters/bend over backwards to prevent your partner’s anxiety attacks, you’ve wondered if you have insulted anyone and now you have anxiety about that.

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You over-explain things

You find yourself over-explaining things to your partner, and everyone. You want to leave absolutely no room for interpretation. You obsess over being perfectly clear.

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You can’t relax with him at a party

You can’t fully relax when you take your partner to a party. You always have one eye on him to make sure he isn’t talking to someone with whom he could have an anxiety-riddled conversation.

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You say you’re fine when you’re not

Sometimes, when you’re actually feeling anxious, you tell your partner you are totally fine. You don’t believe that he could possibly handle his own anxiety and yours. You’re so used to keeping this boat afloat for everybody.

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You tell a lot of white lies

You tell your partner a lot of white lies about…all sorts of things. You tell him that things you bought him cost less than they did so he doesn’t feel guilty and anxious about it. You exaggerate compliments people passed along to him, to make sure he feels completely certain the person likes him.

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You work very hard to hide bad news

You’ve pulled off insane feats of secrecy to hide bad news from your partner during times when you knew he couldn’t handle it. You’ve pretended the TV wasn’t working so he couldn’t watch the news. You’ve instated a “no phones at dinner” rule just for the night because you didn’t want him looking at social media.

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When he’s very down, you feel very distracted

When your partner is having a particularly bad bout of anxiety—a multi-day one that has him completely out of touch with reality or any sensibility—you’re completely distracted. It weighs on you as heavy as bricks. You can’t concentrate on your own tasks.

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Sometimes you lash out

Sometimes, you lose it on your partner. The full-time job of keeping his anxiety at bay catches up with you. Of course, that isn’t fair to him—he doesn’t ask you to do that. You took that upon yourself.

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You won’t go to him when you’re anxious

You wouldn’t necessarily go to your partner when you were feeling anxious, because you’d worry that he couldn’t handle your anxiety. The truth is that, if he really loves you, he’ll knuckle down, suck it up, and be strong for you when you’re feeling weak.

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