Chances are you know someone with anxiety. It could be your friend, family member, coworker, roommate or partner. Having anxiety certainly doesn’t mean you can’t be a good friend, but there are some things that friends and loved ones of anxious people need to understand. If you don’t have anxiety – or even if you do –this guide will help you build stronger relationships with the anxious people in your life. So, without further ado, here is your handy guide to making plans with a friend who as anxiety.
Step One: Actually Make Plans
Maybe your friend with anxiety is an introverted soul who prefers a quiet night in to a wild night out, or maybe it’s been a while since they reached out to you. Either way, you should still invite them to do something with you. Even though your idea of rollicking good time might be too overwhelming for us, people with anxiety still crave friendship and human interaction. If your friend with anxiety hasn’t reached out to you in a while, it probably has nothing to do with how much they like you; it’s just that anxiety can sometimes make you doubt whether even your best friends really want to talk to you.
Step Two: Come Up With Concrete Plans
Hearing “Let’s meet up around 6-ish and, I dunno, do something” is a nightmare for someone with anxiety. A lot of us feel very uncomfortable with uncertaintyand absolutely loathe surprises. A better way to propose a plan to a friend with anxiety would be something like, “Let’s meet up at the Starbucks on Maple Street on Sunday at 2:00 P.M. We can get coffee and muffins and then walk around the park.”
Step Three: Be Patient
Even if you have your exact date and time all worked out, there still may be some uncertainties. Your friend might worry about what they should bring or wear or what parking will be like. Be patient with your friend and do your best to answer their questions.
Step Four: Confirm Your Plans With Your Friend Beforehand
This is just a nice courtesy in general, but it will reassure your friend with anxiety that they don’t have the wrong date or time.
Step Five: Try to Be Understanding if Your Friend Needs to Change or Reschedule
It’s fair to expect an apology and an explanation if your friend needs to back out at the last minute, and it’s fair to be frustrated and even angry if your friend is always cancelling plans on you. One of the unpleasant realities of living with anxiety is that occasionally we can’t follow through on plans that we’ve made because we’re having a bad anxiety day and really just don’t feel up to it. Trust us when we say that we feel worse about it than you do.
Step Six: Do Not Change any Aspect of the Plan Without Giving Your Friend a Heads up First
I really cannot stress how important this is. It’s totally fine to change the plan, but please do not surprise your friend with any changes. Even if you’re just running a bit late and think you might be there at 7:20 instead of 7:00, text your friend and let them know.
Step Seven: Have a Great Time
Just because we have anxiety doesn’t mean we aren’t witty, charming, generous, great listeners, or lots of fun!
Step Eight: Follow up Afterwards and Let Them Know You Had a Good Time
Your friend probably enjoyed hanging out with you, but they may be wondering if you did too. It’s nice to let them know that you had fun hanging out with them and appreciate their friendship.
Remember, your friend with anxiety might need to do things a little differently, but that doesn’t make them any less awesome or any less deserving of your friendship.