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Author Topic: :( Struggling so much with my anxious boyfriend.  (Read 419 times)

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Offline walkingonglass

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:( Struggling so much with my anxious boyfriend.
« on: March 07, 2014, 06:38:08 AM »
Hi everyone.
Hope you are well.
Everytime I feel any distress about my partner who suffers from anxiety, I always turn to you guys who can fully empathize with my struggles.

I have a partner who is constantly struggling with anxiety, being diagnosed and treated for this 5 years ago, this has over the past 6-7 months flared up again.

I love him more than anything in this world, and God knows that I have supported him through out thick and thin. There has never been a moment where I am NOT there for him, whatever he is going through. And I have learnt to be so patient due to his illness. His behavior isnt always rational and he does not think like most people, but regardless of this I will never get frustrated. Not only do I accept his anxiety, but I love him for everything that he is.

The issue is that, every now and then he will suffer from relationship doubts. "Are we right for eachother" "do we have a future together" etc. And at the same time, he is only 24 and VERY IMMATURE. I can assure you all, we have a perfectly fine relationship and we have all the factors a GOOD relationship need; Trust, Love, Passion, Intimacy, Always there for eachother, Always support eachother, Can always talk to eachother about everything, have been through many struggles in life TOGETHER, etc. When we fist met, we clicked INSTANTLY, we used to sit outside in the cold and talk for 6 hours in a row, every day for atleast 2 weeks and the time flew. We were head over hills with eachother. Eventually that spark went away, like it does in any relationship.

We have been together for almost 3 years, and he keeps getting anxious because we do not have that "spark" any longer. We now have a mature relationship, and a good one but at times he does not seem to realise that. He gets very scared when we speak about marriage because hes scared it will fail (also hes seen alot of failed marriages in his family). He honestly has this thought that a relationship really needs that SPARK feeling, that EXCITEMENT, that WOW feeling ALL THE TIME. Infact, any activity he ever engages in, he gets so HYPED up over it and makes everything in to a WOW moment (if that even makes sense).

He told me yesterday night that for the past month hes been struggling to feel those STRONG feelings that he usually does, and that he has been overthinking constantly whether we will be good together in a marriage. He said "Do me and you have that spark?" "Do me and you have things to last a lifetime" "Could I talk to you for days and days without getting bored" (His exact words). He doesnt understand that for a GOOD relationship, you dont necessarily need all those things! Those things are just shallow, and I constantly try to explain to him that what we have is companionship and that is worth more than anything else. He has this distorted view of how a relationship should be, always so exciting and amazing, and everytime it isnt between us he doubts whether we actually go. He is the type of person to get bored easily with ANYTHING.

These doubts are killing me, and they always make me feel like there is something wrong with ME, and that maybe one day he will find a girl who he will always feel so amazing with and never have any doubts.
What do you guys think, do you think his doubts stem from his anxiety?

Thank you so much.
xoxo
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Offline kconnors

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Re: :( Struggling so much with my anxious boyfriend.
« Reply #1 on: March 07, 2014, 09:01:27 PM »
Hi,

Your situation, from my experience, is not unusual but it is a very difficult situation . . .

Your boyfriend's anxiety has focused on the relationship. The reason why this is not unusual is that for those of us with anxiety, we tend to focus on what we fear most of losing. In turn, then the anxiety is intensified and we get into a rather fierce cycle. The unfortunate part, there is often collateral damage to the other person and that happens to be you as you are now feeling guilty because you are beginning to assume responsibility for something that is beyond your control.

Your boyfriend has an idealized vision of his perfect relationship and his anxiety is telling him that if he cannot achieve this ideal then he should be worried which gives more power to the anxiety, etc.

For me, both of you need some type of professional advice. For him, he needs to work with someone to figure out what may have triggered this new episode of anxiety, stabilize his anxiety and identify the best techniques to manage it. For you, you may need support to go beyond the issue of guilt because you are now getting involved in anticipatory anxiety (what if one day he finds someone else).

I am not a med professional, but I have seen how anxiety intensifies into almost obsessive-compulsive behaviour which spreads to everyone within close contact especially those who are our husbands, wives, partners, friends, and family . . . it becomes a vicious and often times ever enlarging cycle off of which anxiety feeds . . .

From personal experience, some of us, myself included, when we are experiencing anxiety become needy in terms of reassurance . . . this is very difficult for our significant other . . . we sometimes create scenarios in our minds of what if events and these scare us so we constantly seek reassurance which usually ends up damaging the relationship because the other person becomes overwhelmed with the constant pressure to reassure the other person . . .

I sincerely am sorry you are experiencing this . . .often many of us do not have someone who is so concerned, who is willing to reach out to others to find advice . . . .if you check back to the forum, I am sure others will respond who have had similar issues . . . but you need to take care of yourself as much as you do your boyfriend . . . . anxiety in a relationship is never just the one person's health issue . . . .please, if you can, let us know how you are doing . . . take care, kc
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Offline walkingonglass

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Re: :( Struggling so much with my anxious boyfriend.
« Reply #2 on: March 08, 2014, 09:00:40 AM »
Hi kconnors. Thank you soo much for your reply :)

The biggest damage this is doing to me, and perhaps the one I have the hardest to control, is the fact that I do not feel good enough. When he says he has doubts, I often feel like he wouldnt have these doubts if it was someone else and I AM the problem. That maybe if I was more fun/beautiful/adventurous etc then he would not feel like this, and maybe one day someone else will come along and suddenly he wont feel anxious about his relationship anymore.

You are SO right that he has an idealized vision of hi perfect relationship, he feels as if there always be this amazing SPARK, like the one you feel when you are newly in love. And if you dont have those STRONG feelings then something is wrong. I often try to explain to him that when you have been with eachother for 3 years then those new exciting feelings fade away but you end up with something so much better which is a companionship.

About a 3 weeks ago, he was telling me how much he loved me and for the past week this is how it has been, which confuses me because you dont just stop loving someone out of the blue. We have a great relationship otherwise, one that we are both usually very happy with.

Like I have mentioned, I have always been by his side (even times when it hurts me SO badly), I have never left him and always supported him. Always made sure that he is OK, and that I am there for him. No matter how much it has taken its toll on ME, i always prioritize him. And then, when you still hear words like "for the past month I have been struggling to feel the strong feelings for you that I usually do". That hurt me so badly.

Yesterday night, we were talking about what to do, he said he does not want to end our relationship but he wants to improve it. I asked him "do you love me?" he said "yes" and I asked " a lot?" (he usually says "I love you loads and loads"), and he answered "a lot? I dont know". After hearing that, I had a complete break down. I cried so much, my heart physically started hurting and I could not sleep. I wanted to run outside and scream.
How can he not know if he loves me alot when we have been perfectly fine!! :'( Was that a bad question to ask?

xx
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Offline kconnors

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Re: :( Struggling so much with my anxious boyfriend.
« Reply #3 on: March 08, 2014, 05:05:26 PM »
Some of the stuff that * might * be going on and I don't know might be:

Your boyfriend thinks (consciously or unconsciously) that his anxiety can be cured if he could just find what he feels is missing . . . in this case, the spark. This can be caused by a couple of things that I could see (1) he is unsure of himself; (2) he is fixated on a quick cure for his anxiety; (3) he may think that something just on the other side will be his magical solution to anxiety but he does not want to move forward (so he keeps you in the picture); and (4) he is just damn afraid of dealing with the anxiety.

He needs to deal with anxiety . . . right now, he is taking you down the path with him . . . not to support him, but to be a target for his anxiety . . . he is frustrated with anxiety, etc. and he does not know how to manage it . . . look, and I am speaking from personal experience, folks with anxiety can be pretty unthinking with respect to the people closest to them . . . we act out, if you will, because anxiety is not managed . . . sometimes we don't know what we want and we always think that one more change will cure the problem . . . until we (and in this case) I decided that I had to manage the anxiety, then it can be ugly for everyone involved with the person who has the anxiety. Sometimes we set up self-fulfilling prophecies . . .for example: may be he is saying those things to you and then if you leave him, he has an excuse to be anxious and depressed . . .so, that reassures him and his anxiety that he was right all along . . . .

You are not wrong to ask any question . . . this is your life also . . . . you are trying to make it work as a couple but a couple requires that both sides play an active role in identifying and managing the issues . . . people with anxiety, again sometimes unintentionally, play stupid games . . . we need to control something or someone and, for some of us, that is our significant other . . .

You need to decide what you want to do . . . it won't be easy and I am not suggesting that you make any drastic changes but you have to refocus your attention to you ..  .it appears that all of your time and effort has focused on him . . . what you asked is not a bad question at all because it is something you need to know . . . .what was bad about it was the situation and that he did not (apparently) think through the impact that his answered would have on you after all your time together . . . .

If you are indeed walkingonglass, then this is not good for you and if it is not good for you, it is not good for him or for both of you as a couple . . . you need to consider centering yourself and that may mean making some very difficult decisions . . . don't do anything in haste unless there is an issue of personal safety . . . .but understand that a person with anxiety must chart his/her own recovery and, if possible, with the help of a trained professional . . . for as much strength as you have, people with anxiety need an outside objective focus at times . . .

Right now, this situation is keeping you off balance and my concern is that you begin to develop anxiety because you will start, if you haven't already, anticipating what if scenarios and that leads to both anxiety and depression . . . so, as much as you love this person, do think of yourself and your health needs . . . I am so sorry that you are going through this . . . please come here anytime . . .I don't have a quick fix because there isn't one . . .recovery from anxiety is really a process . . . .but I am more concerned to prevent you from developing symptoms of anxiety and anxiety itself . . .take care, kc
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Offline walkingonglass

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Re: :( Struggling so much with my anxious boyfriend.
« Reply #4 on: March 10, 2014, 05:12:36 PM »
kconnors. U are on point about what you are saying. And I am scared i am also developing anxiety. On friday night I actually had something I think was an anxiety attack. My body started shaking, I was crying and I wanted to run out and scream. His doubts are really affecting me and he does not want to realise how bad his anxiety had become. Especially this past month. Can the results of an anxiety attack last for over a month? I remember him saying he had a sudden anxiety attack about a month ago.

We did meet yesterday to have some quality time and went for a picnic. It was really nice and we had a lot of fun. He told me that he wanted me as a girlfriend still and he did love me. He also said that it was a beautiful day and he wished he could just relax, but in the back of his head he was thinking about revising for an exam he has in June. He was getting stressed about how he will be able to revise when he is working all day, and after work he gets really tired.

However, when we came back to my flat he was tired. We were not as intimate as we would usually be, as I was holding my guard up. I felt hurt by what he had said a few days earlier about how he had doubts regarding our relationship and I didnt want to be as intimate as I usually would because of that. I dont know if that was a bad thing or not because he did make a comment about that today. Anyway, after cuddling for a while he became very quiet, distant, only replied to what I said but did not make conversation. I asked him what was wrong, he said he was just tired.

He later on that day messaged me then he got back home and said he had a nice day and was glad we spent it together (he lives 45 minutes away from me). He just rang me a while ago, and again he was being very distant. He said he felt ill and was tired from work. He said he wanted to revise for his exam but now he could not because he is ill. I reassured him that he would do great on his exam, and that as soon as he feels better he can start revising for it and he will be fine as he is very intelligent. I asked if I could come to see him this week, he said no because he wanted to study after work. I asked if I could come next week, he said "maybe", if he had time because his studying came first. I felt really really upset, I am trying to hard here to make things better here but I feel like i keep getting shot down. He is so numb, so distant and cold. I dont know if I am making it worse by being the way I am, because I know he has studying to do and is always worried about it. And I know he is tensed because he works, and it really drains him and then he has to study. I just feel so helpless, if we never see eachother and he keeps being distant then how are we ever going to fix things :'( If he keeps being like this then what if he leaves. I am so scared and hurt.

Can you or  anyone else please tell me if its a part of anxiety to become very emotionally numb, distant and cold? I do not want to leave him when he is in this position. I want to help him.

Thank you x
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Offline kconnors

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Re: :( Struggling so much with my anxious boyfriend.
« Reply #5 on: March 10, 2014, 06:03:51 PM »
Without a doubt . . . it sounds like anxiety and it almost sounds as if he is in denial . . .

As hard as it is for you to realize this and I think you have to do so, no one can cure someone else of anxiety . . . . we can accept that he is anxious because of his exam . . . but it seems as if there are much greater issues playing into his anxiety and he does not know how to identify or articulate them or how to manage them and these are making him sick and becoming more isolated  . . .

You are doing the best you can for him . . .you have made the offers, but if he does not accept that he needs support and he is pushing you away, then you need to consider the following approach: you have told him and shown him that you are there for him, now it is time for you to focus on you . . . what he says and what he does are a disconnect that are keeping you on edge . . . as much as I hate to admit it, this is a control method those of us with anxiety sometimes use (I did) . . . this way, we do not have to make a decision . . .we keep all the cards and play them when and how we want them . . . in other words, often but not always, this is a management strategy for the person with anxiety to retain control over at least one situation in his or her life . . . but it is not fair to the other person . . . you are getting shot down . . whether intentionally or unintentionally, it does not matter because of the negative impact it is having on you . . .

Anxiety can last for years . . . the trick is to start to manage it but that takes the willingness of the person with anxiety to deal with his anxiety and not project it on another person and bring that person into the anxiety cycle . . .right now, you are helpless to help him if he does not want the help but you are not at all helpless to help yourself . . . be there for him when he approaches you and if he asks why you haven't called, nicely but firmly tell him that the message that you are receiving from him is that he is too busy with his exams so you do not want to interrupt that and you are waiting for him to contact you . . . in the meantime, however, don't sit by the telephone . . .get out . . . this is your life to live . . . not merely be in a standby position for someone else . . . look, I know you love him and you have illustrated that over the years and he probably loves you but his behaviour is causing you grief  . . .so change the pattern . . . after the exams, then see what happens but in the in between time don't get slurped into anxiety because of love . . . . you won't do yourself any good and you won't do him any good if both of you are struggling with anxiety . . . .you cannot control if he leaves you --- as hard as that is to accept, it is reality . . . you can, however, manage your emotions and, yes, it will be devastating but you are strong and you will recover . . . . which is worse? Him leaving you and allowing you to get on with your life or him bouncing you back and forth between his words and his actions?

Again, you don't have to leave him . . . you don't have to make any decisions except to look at your needs and get out . . . you don't have to go trolling for a replacement but you need to reconnect with other people . . . . anxiety manifests itself in many different ways and yes, people do become emotionally numb and distant and cold and often lash out at those in their circle of friends and family because they are angry . . . doesn't make it right . . .and, if you allow this to happen, there is a very real chance that what you think is helping is actually allowing him to deny that he has a problem . . . again, I am not saying dump him . . .I am simply saying protect yourself . . . find out how to manage the stress and anxiety of this situation and how you go forward . . . if you will, a friend once likened his coping with his wife's anxiety as being someone who is coping with a family member with an addiction to alcohol . . . these folks attend Al-Anon meetings to understand that the person with the issue will use guilt, anger, whatever to rationalize their behaviour . . . .he learned that he would be there for her but she had to make the decision to recover but until that time, he was going to live his life and not play into emotional blackmail . . .

Every situation is different . . . .you are not doing anything wrong . . . in fact, you are showing tremendous capacity and strength but you need to protect yourself . . . .please, again, know, that you wanting to help him is not the key; he has to want to help himself and until that time, you run the real risk of being dragged into anxiety and anger and frustration . . . please, consider the alternatives . . . sorry I could not be of more help and there are many on this forum who have way more insight than I do so check back often and do let us know how you are doing . . .take care, kc
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Offline walkingonglass

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Re: :( Struggling so much with my anxious boyfriend.
« Reply #6 on: March 10, 2014, 07:14:19 PM »
Without a doubt . . . it sounds like anxiety and it almost sounds as if he is in denial . . .

As hard as it is for you to realize this and I think you have to do so, no one can cure someone else of anxiety . . . . we can accept that he is anxious because of his exam . . . but it seems as if there are much greater issues playing into his anxiety and he does not know how to identify or articulate them or how to manage them and these are making him sick and becoming more isolated  . . .

You are doing the best you can for him . . .you have made the offers, but if he does not accept that he needs support and he is pushing you away, then you need to consider the following approach: you have told him and shown him that you are there for him, now it is time for you to focus on you . . . what he says and what he does are a disconnect that are keeping you on edge . . . as much as I hate to admit it, this is a control method those of us with anxiety sometimes use (I did) . . . this way, we do not have to make a decision . . .we keep all the cards and play them when and how we want them . . . in other words, often but not always, this is a management strategy for the person with anxiety to retain control over at least one situation in his or her life . . . but it is not fair to the other person . . . you are getting shot down . . whether intentionally or unintentionally, it does not matter because of the negative impact it is having on you . . .

Anxiety can last for years . . . the trick is to start to manage it but that takes the willingness of the person with anxiety to deal with his anxiety and not project it on another person and bring that person into the anxiety cycle . . .right now, you are helpless to help him if he does not want the help but you are not at all helpless to help yourself . . . be there for him when he approaches you and if he asks why you haven't called, nicely but firmly tell him that the message that you are receiving from him is that he is too busy with his exams so you do not want to interrupt that and you are waiting for him to contact you . . . in the meantime, however, don't sit by the telephone . . .get out . . . this is your life to live . . . not merely be in a standby position for someone else . . . look, I know you love him and you have illustrated that over the years and he probably loves you but his behaviour is causing you grief  . . .so change the pattern . . . after the exams, then see what happens but in the in between time don't get slurped into anxiety because of love . . . . you won't do yourself any good and you won't do him any good if both of you are struggling with anxiety . . . .you cannot control if he leaves you --- as hard as that is to accept, it is reality . . . you can, however, manage your emotions and, yes, it will be devastating but you are strong and you will recover . . . . which is worse? Him leaving you and allowing you to get on with your life or him bouncing you back and forth between his words and his actions?

Again, you don't have to leave him . . . you don't have to make any decisions except to look at your needs and get out . . . you don't have to go trolling for a replacement but you need to reconnect with other people . . . . anxiety manifests itself in many different ways and yes, people do become emotionally numb and distant and cold and often lash out at those in their circle of friends and family because they are angry . . . doesn't make it right . . .and, if you allow this to happen, there is a very real chance that what you think is helping is actually allowing him to deny that he has a problem . . . again, I am not saying dump him . . .I am simply saying protect yourself . . . find out how to manage the stress and anxiety of this situation and how you go forward . . . if you will, a friend once likened his coping with his wife's anxiety as being someone who is coping with a family member with an addiction to alcohol . . . these folks attend Al-Anon meetings to understand that the person with the issue will use guilt, anger, whatever to rationalize their behaviour . . . .he learned that he would be there for her but she had to make the decision to recover but until that time, he was going to live his life and not play into emotional blackmail . . .

Every situation is different . . . .you are not doing anything wrong . . . in fact, you are showing tremendous capacity and strength but you need to protect yourself . . . .please, again, know, that you wanting to help him is not the key; he has to want to help himself and until that time, you run the real risk of being dragged into anxiety and anger and frustration . . . please, consider the alternatives . . . sorry I could not be of more help and there are many on this forum who have way more insight than I do so check back often and do let us know how you are doing . . .take care, kc

kconnors.You are right. It is really affecting me. I have several times told him that it is worth it seeing a doctor again. He thinks that if he tells himself its just anxiety and his anxious thoughts, then it will go away and he can manage it. I think his anxiety is there for many reasons, his exams being one of them. He is always stressed, if it is not his exams then it is his job, if its not that then its something else. He can NEVER relax, always so nervous and on edge. He shakes one leg or an arm even when he eats. Like you said, I thought that I would just give him space and focus my time on me. But then I also thought that if I am not there for him right now, then he is all alone in this and he may feel betrayed by me and feel that I dont want to help. '

You mentioned that he may be using a control method, I agree with you. He wants to be in control over the situation with me. When he expressed is doubts about us, I said I could leave him and give him space. He did not want that, he wanted to be together. So for him, its a win-win situation. How do you think I can "win" that situation? How should I behave?

kconnor. You have given me alot of strenght, Thank you for that. U are right, I cannot control if he leaves me or not, but I can control my own life and chose to live it instead of getting worried.

Lots of love xo
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Offline kconnors

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Re: :( Struggling so much with my anxious boyfriend.
« Reply #7 on: March 10, 2014, 08:25:34 PM »
You see, this is a bit of a game that some of us with anxiety have played . . . it's basically emotional blackmail where the person with anxiety says, I get to make all the rules and if you do not fall in line with how I want things to go then it is your fault . . . please understand what I am about to say is not a judgement but I worked with women suffering from abuse and I am not saying that your boyfriend is abusing you, but emotional blackmail is one way that an "abusive" situation festers and continues . . . I cannot tell you the number of times a physically and emotionally battered woman would say "If only I was nicer to him, he wouldn't hit me. I am the one causing him to get angry", etc. Abuse comes in many forms as does emotional blackmail . . . it may be unintentional but it still has a negative effect on the other person. He wants you, but only on * his * terms but a relationship is just that . . . a give and take . . . if he has the physical symptoms that you describe, then he is not managing his anxiety, his anxiety is managing him  . . .

No matter what you do, he will, in his anxiety, use it to exert more influence over you . . . you could be on call 24/7 but if you went for a coffee at the local restaurant for 15 minutes and he called, then you would be to blame for him feeling unwell or anxious . . . .in other words, the only way that this can become a win situation is for * him * to seek professional help . . . . this is not a situation where you can do anything . . . you've done it . . . there will always be another reason for him to act the way he does . .. if not exams, then the job, if not the job, then someone else or something else . . . again, I am not saying leave him but the minute a person starts to feel guilty, I have to ask whether the guilt is well founded . . . you have done nothing except support this person and right now, from where I sit, again, intentionally or unintentionally, this person is taking advantage of you . . . .

If you want to continue your sliding into anxiety and depression with guilt and a sense of inadequacy, that is * your * decision but consider the consequences . . . you are giving up your life to allow someone else to control and live it for you, to slot you in when it fits his purposes . . . if this is what you want, then that is your decision but make it an informed decision . . . .you can still support this guy but you need to protect yourself  . . . otherwise, you will be wondering where your life went and why you are dealing with anxiety . . . look, love is great; fantastic; all the good things . . . it is also challenging but both people have to be engaged and accept that there will be rough spots but they have to do something to rectify those rough spots . . . not simply but the responsibility on to someone else . . . you are in a difficult position but, and this sounds like an old fart speaking and I am an old fart, but you only have one life . . . you get to decide what to do with it . . . .and until he decides he needs help and gets it and invests in the process, you will never make this a win situation for yourself . . .I have been on both sides  . . . hard decisions, a lot of tears, but no regret . . . you have to be comfortable in making the decisions that are best for you . . . if your relationship is going to last, then it will last  . . . you are not doing anything negative or destructive . . .he may perceive it as such because it means he is not in control . . .but it is your life to decide what you want to do with it . . .I really am sorry that this could not be a more positive post . . .but I won't lie about my position . . . again, though, listen to as many people as you want, but you have to be comfortable in your actions because you are going to be the person who lives with the consequences of them . . . you take care of yourself . . . be proud of what you have already done for this man, but don't sacrifice your health . . . take care, check in when you can, kc
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Offline walkingonglass

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Re: :( Struggling so much with my anxious boyfriend.
« Reply #8 on: March 12, 2014, 04:13:35 PM »
Hi kconnors.
What you are describing is correct. It does soemtimes feel like it is emotional blackmail because I have always felt like I am on his terms. i am scared of losing him because 95% of the time we have a great relationship, its just been hard lately. But if I had to chose then the good times that are plenty more would definitely win over the bad times. It is just a shame that when he does get anxious he cannot remember those times. He is not recognizing that he needs help, he knows he is ill and he told me "i am the one with the issue, it is me and not you" but when I have told him to go to the doctor he just wont do it. I dont know how to make him see the importance in this. He was prescribed with propranolol once upon a time, but took that for a few months. That was about 5 years ago. I have decided tho to focus a bit more on myself and give him some space. I think I need to take care of myself right now. Thank you for your advice, you dont understand how much I appreciate it. Wish u all the best in life xx
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