Category: Confidence

6 Things Anxious Partners Can Do To Improve Their Relationships

Anxiety has a way of invading all aspects of life and can have a significant impact of romantic relationships. Those with anxiety feel misunderstood, invalidated and fearful of rejection while their partners feel alone, impatient and unsupported. If you struggle with anxiety, here are few things you can do to help lessen the impact.

Reality Checks. You might think you can read your partner’s mind; you can’t. Anxiety is great for creating a narrative but that narrative is rarely based in reality. So the next time you are making up a story about what your partner must be thinking, check it out. I’m a fan of something like, “Hey dear, I know this might sound weird but I’m worried you are _____________. Should I be worried?”

Be Vulnerable. I don’t know who first used the saying “name it to tame it” but Dr. Dan Siegel has popularized the idea that by naming our emotions we can reduce the degree to which they overwhelm us. It also helps put things in context for our partners. Knowing that you're upset about something at work and not at your partner will help them to respond with compassion rather than defensiveness.

Make Sacrifices. If you want to be in a relationship and you have anxiety, sometimes you're just going to have to do the thing that makes you anxious. If your partner is always the one doing the accommodating or altering plans they're going to eventually become bitter and resentful. Acknowledge your anxiety and then do it anyway.

Ask for Help. The National Institute of Mental Health estimates that up to 18% of adults in the United States suffer from some type of anxiety disorder. And while anxiety disorders are highly treatable, less than a third of those suffering seek out help. It’s important for your partner to see that you’re trying; so try.

Seek Reassurance (sometimes). “Are you ok?” “Is anything wrong?” “Do you love me?” “Are you sure you’re ok… How about now?” Get it? Dial it back a few notches. If you can't, it will only lead to your partner distancing from you which is exactly what you're trying to avoid. It’s not your partner’s job to relieve you of your anxious thoughts. That’s your work; most of the time.

Find Ways to be a Support. Relationships like balance. If your needs are taking up too much space in the relationship it doesn’t leave much room for the needs of your partner. Anxiety has a way of keeping you focused inward, making it easy to miss what’s going on with the person right next to you. Sit down and make a list of things you can do to make your partner’s life easier. If you need to, set reminders in your phone to ensure follow through.


If Anxiety is Impacting Your Relationship, Let's Talk

Creatives and Money Boundaries

creatives don't have to be poorMany creatives have a hard time putting a monetary value on their work. That difficulty is often compounded when family or friends or even friends of friends ask or expect work to be done for free. If you are a designer, photographer, writer or musician you probably know what I’m talking about.

First things first, if you haven’t already, put a monetary value on what you do. Whether an hourly or project rate, come up with a number. Then add 20% - just enough to make you uncomfortable. That’s your number.

Second, adhere to a script. Lots of folks are uncomfortable talking about money, having a script makes it easy to know how to respond. As silly as it sounds, practice saying the script out loud, it will help with recall in the moment. Examples include:

“I’d love to ______, what’s your budget?”

“I’d love to _______, my fee is ________.”

“I’d love to _______, my fee is ________ but I give friends and family a __% discount.”

“I’d love to _______ but I’m unable to take on anymore pro bono work at this time.”

Worst case scenario, if you are too uncomfortable to set a clear and direct boundary in the moment, buy yourself some time. Let the person know that you need to think about their proposal and that you will get back to them in a few days. That gives you time to really evaluate what they are asking for and how you want to respond. If you are really struggling write out your response/counter proposal in an email, that will help you keep a bit of emotional distance from the process.

If someone wants you to do work in exchange for exposure, ask them to define what the exposure will look like. You want to negotiate what they will do in a way that most benefits you. Don’t just settle for “people will see your name/work.” Ask them how many people will potentially see your name/work. Ask if they are able to promote you via their website or social media accounts. Be specific about the frequency and duration of exposure to make sure it will do what you want it to do.

Donating work for causes or people that you want to invest in is completely fine. I put some structure to that in my private practice by taking a reduced rate for 10% of my clients. That works out to about 10 appointments per month that are below my set fee. When I receive inquiries from potential clients about free or reduced rate services, I let them know my policy and ask if they would like to be on my waiting list if I can’t see them right away. I don’t apologize or make excuses. I empathize and offer referrals if they aren’t able to wait.

Most people understand and respect it when creators own their value. If you encounter a rare entitled response, run. They are going to be a huge pain in the ass to work with whether they end up paying something or not.

If you have difficulty setting money boundaries with friends or clients, let's talk!

Dating Doesn’t Have To Suck

awkward dating austin tx

People love to hate dating. It makes sense if you've got the pressure of possibly screwing things up with a potential life partner with every swipe, text or email.  It's hard to be yourself and know what you truly want with that kind of stress hanging over you.

Ways To Make Dating Survivable (and maybe even fun)

Keep Perspective: let it just be coffee, dinner or a walk around the lake. It is so easy to think about step 10 when you're only on step one. Be deliberate about enjoying the moment with another human, even if you know you won't be going on a second date.

Try Variety: the great thing about the internet is how it opens up our worlds to meeting people we would otherwise never cross paths with. Take the opportunity to spend some time with people you wouldn't ordinarily pursue. The risk is low and it will help you refine what you like and don't like.

Thicken Your Skin: rejection is part of the process. You are not going to feel it for everyone you go out with and, brace yourself... not everyone is going to feel it for you. That's ok, it's how it should be. There are 7.5 billion people in the world (2016), there is room to take your time and choose wisely.

Know When To Quit: not everyone communicates clearly. If you are operating in the absence of information from the other person it is probably time to take a step back. Don't expend energy towards someone if it isn't reciprocated.

Know When To Lean In: intimacy and connection can be scary at times, especially when a relationship is new and untested. Finding a balance between taking a risk and keeping yourself emotionally safe can be a fine line that doesn't always feel good.

Practice Vulnerability: if there is one thing I've come to realize it's that people are craving connection; they just don't do it very well. If you're tired of having the same date over and over again, shake things up by setting a rule of no small talk the next time you meet someone new. Need some help? Check out this article from the New York Times.

How Long Should I Wait To Date After A Breakup?

It depends on a number of things including the length of the previous relationship, the nature of the breakup and the goal of getting back into dating. There is really no magic length of time. Sometimes it may be appropriate to rediscover what makes you happy outside of being in a relationship. Other times it may be helpful to lean in and connect with someone new even when you don't feel quite ready.

Regardless, take time to process, mourn and integrate lessons; the end of a relationship has a lot to teach. If you have a pattern of jumping from relationship to relationship you are probably cheating yourself out of the opportunity for real growth and insight. Grief and loss are tough issues to confront but doing the work in the present can save you from heartache in the future.

What Do I Do Now?

Sometimes when you're in the middle of something it's hard to see your way out. Friends and family members may be important for support but they may not be the most objective source of feedback. Working with a counselor to identify fears and maladaptive patterns of behavior can help increase your chances of enjoying and maybe even finding success in dating.

If you want to have more success in the dating world, let's talk!