They say that distance makes the heart grow fonder—and yes, most of the time that's true—but honestly, distance makes the heart grow the fuck up. Relationships, in itself, are hard work but when you add distance to the mix, the emotional strain intensifies. As a very anxious person, the distance will always be unsettling. No matter how long you've been dating the person, it honestly doesn't get easier.
When I asked my partner, "What's it like to be with me?,” he took the time to think about his answer. I guess he knows that he has to think about his answer, given that I'm very sensitive and there's a huge chance for me to misunderstand whatever he says next. After giving it much thought, he replied with, "Honestly, it's really stressful." Immediately, he followed it up with, "but I love you and I'm sure that it's worth it." He thought that I would get mad at him, and I expected him to sugarcoat his answer and tell me that being with me is easy but no, he told me the harsh reality of how hard our relationship is. He was honest, but he was also sensitive.
And that's how it should be when you're with someone who has anxiety. You should always be honest, but you should also think about your words. Not that you're ultimately walking on eggshells but it's knowing that your words will affect how your partner thinks. Once you lie to someone with anxiety, it almost immediately sets them off into questioning everything you've said in the past.
When you're in a long-distance relationship with someone with anxiety, you have to be prepared to answer a lot of questions.
People with anxiety tend to have a lot going on in their mind, and most of these thoughts are comprised of hypothetical situations, which may or may not be realistic but will cross their mind anyway. With anxiety, you're constantly battling your thoughts and the slightest inconvenience may send you off into a deep black hole of unnecessary ideas. You're constantly at the edge of your seat, thinking about what's next and constantly feeling unsettled because you're never really sure of what's next. It's exhausting, but it never really stops. You're stuck in a loop of what-ifs, and as much as you want it to stop—it doesn't.
Be prepared to spend time comforting your partner and helping them get through their anxiety attacks. Anxiety attacks don't always involve hyperventilating while rocking back and forth. Most of the time, they are moments that could go unnoticed once you're unfamiliar with the person. Sometimes, they can be moments of complete silence, staring into space, bouts of rage, or fast-paced talking. Anxiety is not a one-size-fits-all concept and once exposed to someone who has it, it takes some time to get used to.
The distance makes it so much harder. Technology can only do so much, but that shouldn't stop you from helping your partner get through their attacks. We need all the reassurance and patience that you can give us.
And as hard as it is, we know that you can't be with us 24/7. It's hard enough not to have you physically there all the time, but it's much harder when we can't communicate with you. The number of trust issues that come with anxiety can put a great deal of pressure when it comes to communication since it's pretty much all you have. The consistent updates mean so much to us because they put us at ease.
But long-distance relationships are not living nightmares—contrary to what everybody thinks, they're actually quite beautiful when done right. Being in a long-distance relationship made me value our time together so much more. I don't get to see my partner as often as I'd like to but once we do see each other, the high that I feel is so intense. Even an hour of just being with each other can make me feel so happy, and I know that goodbyes are never really easy, but it's constantly reminding myself that even if I don't have that person near me, I know well in my heart that he thinks of me, and that one day, if this works out, we won't have to say goodbye anymore.
But the most important lesson I've learned from being in a long-distance relationship is the power and beauty of love. I know that sounds cheesy but that's really how it is. When you know, you truly know and you would do whatever it takes to make it work. Love can truly withstand distance, time, and quite possibly, even anxiety.