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The guy I like has severe anxiety, but am I being too forgiving?


Skylark89
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I've been seeing a guy for some time. We've both told each other that we really like each other, and we've talked a lot about a future together.

 

However, my guy suffers from crippling anxiety. He told me he didn't used to have it, and thinks he's gotten better over time. I wonder if he's really just adapting to it. I think it's worse than he believes. He can't go to certain places or do certain things, for fear of having an anxiety attack. At times, he says he "can't handle" people and shuts down. He has a "comfort zone" of about 60 miles in radius, which he can't leave. He can go to the grocery or work, but I think he has to stick to a slight routine.

It's frustrating that his doctor just prescribes him pills. I don't think his doctor ever suggests he sees a therapist or support group.

I've tried to gently suggest therapy, but he has no interest in going. In the end, I drop it and don't push it.

 

The problem is I don't feel like I can always talk to him. I try to be understanding about his anxiety, but how much is too much? I start to wonder if he's actually just taking me for granted...or maybe even playing games. I don't know what to think at this point.

Whenever I try to state what I need out of this relationship or we begin to disagree on something, I think it starts to trigger an anxiety attack in him. He will either verbally lash out and abruptly end things, only to come back a few days later...or he will just shut down and push me away for some time. I try to give him space and wait until he reaches out.

When we end up talking again, he usually brings up what happened and wants to talk about it. Yet, he never fully apologizes unless I directly tell him how much he hurt me. He also reassures me that he doesn't want me to feel like I can't speak freely; he wants me to tell him whenever something is bothering me. It's very annoying when I hear him say that. I don't know what to do, because whenever I do try to state what's bothering me, he gets triggered all over again. I know it's not healthy, and it's really hurtful.

 

I realize I can't and shouldn't continue a relationship with him, unless he's willing to go to therapy. It's starting to affect my self-esteem and mental health a lot. But I don't know how to say this, without him getting defensive.

I want to be understanding and supportive. I want to give him space when he needs it. I just can't keep going on with the way things are. It's tearing me apart. If anything, I'd like to be a friend to him.

 

My friends aren't helpful in advice. One says I should just let it go and give him space when he needs it, because it's probably very hard for him. The other says I should dump him.

 

Right now, my guy and I aren't speaking again. I've written down a few things that I want to say to him, but I'm not sure which is the right step to take. 1. Should I just give him space and wait for him to reach out again? 2. Do I contact him and ask if we can talk? 3. Do I send a text saying that I can't do this anymore and can only be friends?

 

I would really like to remain friends, if that's all we can do. I enjoy talking to him and spending time with him. We have a lot of fun together. I don't want to have to say goodbye. :(

 

I hope I can hear some replies from people who have had or do suffer from a similar form of anxiety. Even if you don't, I'd like to hear your perspective. Thank you.

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Hi,

 

I dated a guy for eleven years. Let me tell you from personal experience the last three years with him were hell!

He suffered such crippling anxiety it consumed every thing. So I tried for the last three years with him and I lost myself in the process. No matter what I did it wasn’t enough!

 

You can’t be his personal therapist and it’s not right he won’t get help. What’s worse is that it’s taking a toll on you. Ending it is the right thing to do. Be firm and call him up and tell him that although you two aren’t suited for a relationship it doesn’t mean you can’t be friends. Either he understands or doesn’t. Either way, you set yourself free from his problems weighing you down.

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Your guy is a high maintenance project. :upset: You are the one who ends up as his therapist which is unreasonable and defies all logic. He's a drag.

 

After you give him space, he'll come around and contact you. Then talk. Of, if he texts, text him and tell him it's over.

 

No, don't be friends because again, he'll be your endless assignment.

 

Saying good-bye is what you need to do to save your sanity.

 

I've dealt with people with anxiety and you either need the patience of a saint to deal with them or dissolve the relationship or friendship in order for you to have less stress and more peace of mind for yourself.

 

People with anxiety will give you drama. With some people you can enforce healthy boundaries and maintain a superficial relationship with them. Your conversations must remain generic otherwise you risk getting entangled with their problems and you'll end up as their psychologist all over again.

 

Some anxious people push other people away permanently because usually people don't wish to associate with people who dump their problems onto others. Instead of a relationship or friendship, dynamics, correspondence, verbal and written interactions feel burdensome.

 

Yes, you're too forgiving. Forgive means to move on. Forgive doesn't mean condone nor forget. In order for you to move on, you need to make your exit. Then you can heal and let him sort his own life out.

 

You're too accommodating. It's over. He will not give you a smooth, content, harmonious relationship. He will give you a relationship filled with endless angst and tension.

 

Mind games and volatile temperaments are real deal breakers. I'm sure you're fed up by now. Diplomatically and respectfully part ways. Be gentle yet firm and final. If he's relentless, then ignore, ghost, block and delete him.

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Having had my husband be crippled with anxiety until 12 years ago and having had a nervous breakdown in 2012 and have suffered severe on and off anxiety since I can understand his position and yours.

 

The best course of action is usually therapy and medication. Therapy is a very critical part of it and medication is very critical part. However the person has to be prepared for therapy and want to do it or it’s not going to work.

 

If this relationship is beyond what you can tolerate it is time to leave it.

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I want you to understand, that there is no magic cure for the type of anxiety your boyfriend deals with.

Pills, therapy, support groups, etc. They may help..notice, I said MAY. But they aren't any kind of guarantee either.

 

I think people assume that if only someone with anxiety would get therapy, or if only they would try harder, if only they pushed themself more...it would magically cure them

And that's sadly, not the case.

 

Anxiety to your boyfriends degree, is lifelong. It may get better in time and it may get worse. It could be a combination of the two where some months, years it improves and gets worse and improves again.

It's difficult to tell and there isn't always a rhyme or reason to it.

 

What your boyfriend needs, is someone who will 100%, fully willing to accept him and his limitations.

The last thing someone with an anxiety disorder needs, is someone who is belittling them, assuming they aren't trying hard enough, or not accepting his limitations.

 

You making the statement that he is "playing games" really does show how little you understand.

He is not playing games...he is trying to survive.

 

I know you don't suffer with an anxiety disorder like he does, but I can tell you it's incredibly difficult. If you can imagine someone carrying a boulder on their shoulders, every single day, and having massive struggle, then you might comprehend a small part of what an anxiety disorder is like.

 

Please don't downplay his suffering.

But on the other hand, if you can't or don't want to deal with it, then be honest with him.

He needs a lot of love and a lot of support and understanding right now. Believe it or not, the more of that he get's the better he will be, more so than any therapy will give him.

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Reading your post it seems like underneath all the swirling feelings there is a single undercurrent. It looks like you already know exactly what you want to do, but maybe you are seeking some third party encouragement? In fact you have a written list of things you want to say. What kinds of things are on the list? What would the ideal result be of reading that list to him?

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I want you to understand, that there is no magic cure for the type of anxiety your boyfriend deals with.

Pills, therapy, support groups, etc. They may help..notice, I said MAY. But they aren't any kind of guarantee either.

 

I think people assume that if only someone with anxiety would get therapy, or if only they would try harder, if only they pushed themself more...it would magically cure them

And that's sadly, not the case.

 

Anxiety to your boyfriends degree, is lifelong. It may get better in time and it may get worse. It could be a combination of the two where some months, years it improves and gets worse and improves again.

It's difficult to tell and there isn't always a rhyme or reason to it.

 

What your boyfriend needs, is someone who will 100%, fully willing to accept him and his limitations.

The last thing someone with an anxiety disorder needs, is someone who is belittling them, assuming they aren't trying hard enough, or not accepting his limitations.

 

You making the statement that he is "playing games" really does show how little you understand.

He is not playing games...he is trying to survive.

 

I know you don't suffer with an anxiety disorder like he does, but I can tell you it's incredibly difficult. If you can imagine someone carrying a boulder on their shoulders, every single day, and having massive struggle, then you might comprehend a small part of what an anxiety disorder is like.

 

Please don't downplay his suffering.

But on the other hand, if you can't or don't want to deal with it, then be honest with him.

He needs a lot of love and a lot of support and understanding right now. Believe it or not, the more of that he get's the better he will be, more so than any therapy will give him.

 

Thank you, yes. Recovery from this type of anxiety is not linear. It is also usually lifelong. There will always be an up and down and up and down and up and down. It’s usually pretty rare with somebody with severe anxiety to make a complete recovery. My husband is pretty good but it took the right medication and 10 years of therapy.

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Every time you give him space and take him back you are condoning his behaviour.

Basically your actions are telling him it’s ok for him to treat you this way because you will be waiting for him.

 

Time to change things and only you are in control of that right now.

Don’t reach out to him.

When he reaches out to you , tell him sorry but that this behaviour is no longer acceptable to you.

And that you need to walk away for your own sake.

 

Do not tell him what to do , simply tell him what you need from a relationship and that you aren’t getting it.

 

If he begs or pleads for another chance , simply say you have done that and nothing has changed.

 

If he likes you as much as he says , he will respect your wishes and if he wants to fight for you he will enrol in therapy and come back when he feels he has made significant change and not a day before.

 

You can NOT be his friend or suppprt.

That has not helped so far has it?

It has only allowed him to continue with poor behaviour and disrespect to you.

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It really does bother me how people are treating a person with mental illness, as though they were a naughty child or worthless.

 

Mental illness is no different than any other body part not working right. I am reading some of these replies, and am seriously shaking my head. It is sincerely horrible and so insensitive, it's not even funny.

 

Would you treat someone with MS this way? Or heart disease? What about someone who was disabled?

The brain can malfunction like any other part of the body, and this is exactly what anxiety disorder is.

 

To punish or berate over it, is horrible...downright horrible.

He cannot help it anymore than if he had any other kind of disease. And why people think that getting "therapy" will magically solve the problem, just floors me and shows how little the people posting, actually know about anxiety disorder.

Therapy is not a cure, pills are not a cure. They might help, but then again, they may not.

 

Anxiety disorder is a very complex and difficult disorder.

What a person would need the most is understanding, acceptance, empathy, support. What some of you are promoting, is hate towards someone who is suffering with this disorder.

 

I will say it again...he CANNOT help it. There is no way anyone would choose to live this way. It makes life a million times more difficult and whats worse, is to have people judging, criticizing, berating, humiliating.

That's exactly what pushes people dealing with something like this, to commit suicide.

Please be careful with your words. They can be extremely damaging.

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Every time you give him space and take him back you are condoning his behaviour.

Basically your actions are telling him it’s ok for him to treat you this way because you will be waiting for him.

 

Time to change things and only you are in control of that right now.

Don’t reach out to him.

When he reaches out to you , tell him sorry but that this behaviour is no longer acceptable to you.

And that you need to walk away for your own sake.

 

Do not tell him what to do , simply tell him what you need from a relationship and that you aren’t getting it.

 

If he begs or pleads for another chance , simply say you have done that and nothing has changed.

 

If he likes you as much as he says , he will respect your wishes and if he wants to fight for you he will enrol in therapy and come back when he feels he has made significant change and not a day before.

 

You can NOT be his friend or suppprt.

That has not helped so far has it?

It has only allowed him to continue with poor behaviour and disrespect to you.

 

I allowed my ex to treat me like this and worse. I tried talking to him, tried to encourage him to tell me what was on his mind, made numerous concessions, excuses and accommodations for him... it got me nowhere, as did suggesting to him that going to his GP would be useful because they could offer medication and/or therapy. He didn't want to do anything, though, and it had come to the point where his behaviour was impacting upon my life and self esteem way more than was possible to cope with. I did exactly what Billie28 has suggested and I am happier without him.

 

Yes, it is an illness, but it is one that has the ability to make others ill too and they are within their rights to say "no more". Just because someone has mental health issues it doesn't force a partner to endure a lifetime of being treated badly by them (and, speaking from experience, they might not be able to help it, but they know full well the impact it has on their other half).

 

To be honest, the anxiety, need for routine, over the top reactions, pushing you away, defensiveness and lack of apologies suggests Aspergers could be a possibility.

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I will say it again...he CANNOT help it. There is no way anyone would choose to live this way. It makes life a million times more difficult and whats worse, is to have people judging, criticizing, berating, humiliating.

That's exactly what pushes people dealing with something like this, to commit suicide.

Please be careful with your words. They can be extremely damaging.

 

I know all too well about anxiety disorder. I also know that while it is an illness just like MS or cardiac disease , there are steps that sufferers can take to help recover.

 

If someone you knew had heart disease due to unhealthy habits would you be ok with them taking a pill but continuing to eat excessive fatty foods and gain weight?

 

What’s happening here is that the sufferer is wallowing in his suffering, self pity and not taking the necessary steps to improve and excusing poor behaviour on his illness. He is NOT getting better.

For the OP to stay as she is with him is not helpful at all.

 

I was not berating him or suggesting the OP does.

She cannot be his support.

 

Be careful about your words as you may very well be instilling guilt in the OP to stay and thereby hindering this guys prognosis.

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Bull, there is no "recover" , You're just proving now you know little to nothing about anxiety disorder.

 

You don't "recover". You can get therapy and take pills, go to support groups, Those all help with giving you coping skills, but they are not cures nor does a person ever recover.

 

You may have times where it goes slightly into remission, but that too is not exact and not everyone follows the same pattern.

What works for some, might not work for all.

 

I can attest to that. I have had an anxiety disorder since I was 14. I have tried every therapy known to man....name one....I have tried it.

Many had great ideas and they did help for a time. But you have no clue as to how overwhelming anxiety can become. It is NOT controllable and it is not something someone chooses.

 

I have never been lazy about getting help. I have never felt sorry for myself or "wallow". God...such berating words to use for someone who is clearly suffering.

But just the same, I have had jerks accuse me of "not trying hard enough" "not pushing myself more".

For the record, I have pushed myself so hard, that I have flown internationally on my own, but there are other times where I panicked so badly I couldn't even leave my bedroom.

 

In both cases, I was trying equally as hard!!!! I was pushing myself equally as hard!! But at times the anxiety lets up, at other times it so bloody overwhelming you can't think straight.

But for people like you, to sit on your high horse and judge, when you have no clue, truly is a type of bullying.

Do not lecture me on what I know or do not know about anxiety disorder.

I have lived it, for over 30 years....what about you??

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Meditation, CBT, exposure therapy, support groups, anxiety forums, anti-depressants, benzos, hypnosis therapy, counselling..those are just a few that I have tried, and by "try", I mean worked my a** off for months, some even years.

 

Some worked for a time, but it's no cure. I still have anxiety attacks. I still struggle to do certain things or go certain places. And it has gone on for the majority of my life.

 

Thank GOD I was lucky enough to have good friends, a loving family and found a wonderful husband, to accept me and give me the support I needed. Because I know first hand how hateful people can be and are.

 

So please don't berate me or anyone else with this disorder and pretend you know,.... when clearly you do not.

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So please don't berate me or anyone else with this disorder and pretend you know,.... when clearly you do not.

 

I know first hand and I did not berate anyone.

You have on the other hand berated me and judged me.

I simply said the OP cannot help this guy at this point , because I know first hand.

I am speaking from experience.

 

I am glad you have support but I am sure you also realise that the OP cannot provide the same as your husband did given the fact that you were willing to try and did try to help yourself but the guy here is not!!!

 

Please don’t take my comments personally.

They are not about you and in fact about another who is not doing what you did.

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I wouldn't say you are being too forgiving. I'd say you really like this guy but are in over your head. The majority of people would be overwhelmed by this, as it's complicated and messy and not as simple as him being a jerk. It really is about his anxiety and the challenges that go with that. He probably can't manage what you need in a relationship right now. Not his fault, not your fault. It's one of those " is what it is, even though it sucks" situations.

As someone who has dealt with severe anxiety for most of my adult life, his behaviors sound super familiar to me. I can totally see how someone who hasn't dealt with severe anxiety might think it's mind games, but I don't think it is about that. He's struggling to survive, as SherrySher said. It's not about you. It still impacts you, I'm not minimizing that at all. But realizing it's not a personal thing can be helpful, in being at peace and understanding it.

I would avoid trying to get him to change by telling him this can't work unless he gets therapy. Keep it simple, if you are saying good bye. Don't say anything about being his friend. Keep it simple. I'd say that for any break up but in particular if you know the other person is not in the best position to be processing it on top of what they already have going on. Don't ask him to jump through hoops in the hope he could meet your needs. He doesn't meet them. It's ok. It's just not working.

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I wouldn't say you are being too forgiving. I'd say you really like this guy but are in over your head. The majority of people would be overwhelmed by this, as it's complicated and messy and not as simple as him being a jerk. It really is about his anxiety and the challenges that go with that. He probably can't manage what you need in a relationship right now. Not his fault, not your fault. It's one of those " is what it is, even though it sucks" situations.

As someone who has dealt with severe anxiety for most of my adult life, his behaviors sound super familiar to me. I can totally see how someone who hasn't dealt with severe anxiety might think it's mind games, but I don't think it is about that. He's struggling to survive, as SherrySher said. It's not about you. It still impacts you, I'm not minimizing that at all. But realizing it's not a personal thing can be helpful, in being at peace and understanding it.

I would avoid trying to get him to change by telling him this can't work unless he gets therapy. Keep it simple, if you are saying good bye. Don't say anything about being his friend. Keep it simple. I'd say that for any break up but in particular if you know the other person is not in the best position to be processing it on top of what they already have going on. Don't ask him to jump through hoops in the hope he could meet your needs. He doesn't meet them. It's ok. It's just not working.

 

Nicely put, Grand. A great explanation that not only makes sense, but is kind. Thank you.

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Sorry to hear this. It sounds stifling. Unfortunately you can't fix or change him no less manage his illness. Ultimatums do not work. Particularly when you insist someone change for you.

 

Let the dust settle and give each other some space. Do more things with your friends if he's a homebody. Basically you seem incompatible.

It's frustrating that his doctor just prescribes him pills. I've tried to gently suggest therapy, but he has no interest in going. I would really like to remain friends, if that's all we can do. I enjoy talking to him and spending time with him. We have a lot of fun together. I don't want to have to say goodbye. :(

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Perhaps another homebody would be a good match for him. As for you, you're not happy and your fate lies elsewhere. You won't be able to fly anywhere on vacation. He might up and leave you sitting there if you went to the movies or a play or dinner with another couple, etc. If a relationship is regularly more upsetting than satisfying, it's the wrong relationship for you.

 

I don't recommend remaining friends. You will have a hard time finding someone to date, because the new man in your life likely won't like you communicating with a man you were intimate with. And when he gets a new gf, you will either be placed far back on the back burner or the friendship will totally end.

 

If a person has to change in a major way for you to be happy, and he doesn't agree that changing is in the cards, realize he has the right to be who he is and you have the right to see it's not working for you.

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