I have really bad anxiety and depression and whenever my partner is away or not responding I start getting really negative thoughts and thinking they’re with someone else and ignoring me because they think this other person is better than me and it’s really messing with me and my relationship. What can I do to make this go away?

Ooh! I know this one! The answer is therapy. Specifically DBT and/or CBT designed to address anxiety, obsessive thoughts, and intrusive thoughts. This is a well documented phenomenon and we have lots of tools to help address it! Talk to a professional for help, and in the meantime, you can also find self-help workbooks and apps for this. Check my resources here

So I’m in a relationship with 2 people. A guy and a girl, and I’ve been having trouble. I can’t help but feel like they both might leave me for each other or fall out of love with me all together. I have anxiety and I know they don’t like it and they want to help me, and I care for them both deeply but I’m still afraid that they’re just gonna get sick of me and leave. This is the first poly relationship I’ve had and it’s been giving me anxiety. I saw the advice and thought I might ask for help.

Are there specific things these two people do that spike your anxiety or make this fear seem founded? Are they a pre-existing couple who act in ways that privilege their couple-ness and make it clear that they’ll protect their relationship at the expense of what they have with you? If so, you need to talk to them about your position in this relationship, the kind of security you need, and figure out whether this is healthy for you to stay in.

If not - if your fears are unfounded and coming from inside your head rather than rational conclusions based on evidence - then you need to get help for those patterns of anxiety. These kinds of stubborn fears or convictions that you know other people secretly hate you or are planning to leave you are relatively common, especially in people with mental illnesses (though you can suffer from thoughts and feelings like these without having a diagnosable mental illness.)

Fortunately, since they are common as far as mental health issues go, there are lots of methods of treating them. Cognitive behavioral therapy is a great way to learn to recognize and battle unhealthy thoughts. One aspect of CBT that I like is working through evidence for and against a thought. Ask yourself:

  • What thought am I having?
  • What evidence do I have that supports this?
  • What evidence do I have that contradicts this?
  • What would the world be like if this thought was true?
  • Is that a world I want to live in?
  • How can I challenge or let go of this thought?

There are lots of books, workbooks, apps, and other self-help guides out there, and it’s always great to work with a professional who can help you as well. Remember that you are not psychic, and feelings are not facts - whatever your brain is telling you about another person’s thoughts or motives is coming from inside you, and it may not be completely true.

It’s hard, because we’d like to be able to believe our thoughts and assume that our perceptions are based on unbiased observations, but that’s not always the case! Some people find it helpful to personify the ‘bad thoughts’ to get some distance from them - picturing a nasty little monster on your shoulder whispering in your ear they secretly hate you, you mean less to them than they do to each other, you are not secure in this relationship so you can look at it and say “you’re a gross liar, shut up and leave me alone.”

Some resources: