My partner explains that his anger and negativity are because of his anxiety, but I still feel really hurt when he blows up at me after I go on dates or says tons of negative things about anyone I have even slight interest in. How can I be both supportive of his anxiety, which I know he’s trying to work on, and also take care of my own emotional needs? I feel like I’m taking on all the emotional labor because my anxiety isn’t as “loud” as his is and it’s really starting to make me miserable

Mental illness is never an excuse to be hurtful. It can be an explanation, a way to give language to the challenge, a way to help understand and communicate through tough spots. But explanations are not the same as excuses.

You are not obligated to simply bear your partner’s anger and negativity because he can tie it to a diagnosed mental illness. Your partner’s behavior - making extreme emotional demands, refusing to take responsibility for his behavior, guilting you about your feelings for other people, blowing up at you - is not healthy and it is not okay. Period.

If this relationship is making you miserable, leave it. If you want to try and make things work, let your partner know that some pretty big changes need to happen. He can no longer dump negativity and anger on you simply because he has tough-to-manage thoughts and feelings. Not all thoughts and feelings need to be acted on. He needs to make some major steps to start working on this unfair and unhealthy behavior, stat. If he is not seeing a therapist, he needs to do that. If he is seeing one, he needs to make this a treatment priority.

You have the right to set down clear boundaries: “I am no longer going to accept this kind of treatment. I am no longer going to have this kind of conversation. You need to come up with a healthier way to relate to me about these issues. Your current strategies for managing your anxiety are not working and you need to commit to serious changes for the sake of our relationship.” If he cannot or will not do this, this relationship isn’t healthy for you.