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Yahoo – Fans are upset with Bachelorette Becca Kufrin because of her anxiety-shaming

Anxiety-shaming got fans pretty upset on Monday’s season finale when Bachelorette Becca Kufrin cited anxiety for the reason she didn’t choose the runner up and crowd favorite, Blake Horstmann. She said in an interview his anxiety was something she thought could make him a bad partner, and poor father. And fans took to social media Monday to set the record straight.

Dating isn’t always easy, and especially when broadcast on reality TV, and anxiety can be pretty normal. But anxiety can also be tough to understand too. Being so highly correlated with caring, anxiety can mean someone cares, a lot. And this actually can make a more anxious person a better, more compassionate partner. Yahoo asked me to weigh in on how anxiety can affect relationships, and if anxiety-shaming is warranted when it comes to relationships. I was very pleased to help.

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Having anxiety actually means that someone cares, Alicia Clark, a psychologist and author of Hack Your Anxiety, tells Yahoo Lifestyle. “People that are anxious care, and they care deeply,” she says. “In that way, anxious people can be fantastic partners because they care about you and things going well, and are tuned into what they need to do to protect the things they care about.”

Being able to communicate that you’re struggling with anxiety, like Horstmann did during several times on the show, is also a sign of good mental health, Clark says. Acknowledging anxiety about a particular situation shows that someone understands their emotions, can communicate them effectively, and knows when they need to speak out about it, Clark says.

It’s important to note that there is a difference between having anxiety in certain situations, like when you’re on a reality dating show, and suffering from a bona fide anxiety disorder. Moderate levels of anxiety can be helpful in a stressful situation because it can motivate someone and help fuel them to find a solution, Clark says. People with an anxiety disorder, on the other hand, tend to have anxiety that is more persistent and long-lasting, and it may even be caused by factors that may seem to other people to be disproportional, she says.

If your partner tends to be anxious or suffers from an anxiety disorder, there are a few things you can do to help them. Listening to their fears, and being supportive and nonjudgmental is important, Wiesel says. “Validate what your partner is feeling, even if you don’t necessarily agree with what they are saying,” she says. It’s important not to criticize your partner for feeling anxious, as that usually only makes the anxiety worse, Clark says.

Above all, remind your partner that they can handle the stressor that’s triggering their anxiety. “Not wanting to handle the situation is not the same as not being able to handle it,” Clark says. “Telling your partner ‘I know this feels really crummy and it feels like you can’t manage this, but you can,’ can go a long way toward helping.”

Beyond the anxiety of being on a reality TV show, it seems Blake’s anxiety might have been nudging him to recognize Becca’s doubts about him, or her impatience. Sure her on-air anxiety-shaming wasn’t the first time he picked up on her ambivalence about him. Sometimes whisper anxiety can do that – tune us into messages we need to hear, even if we don’t want to. Relationship anxiety can be an effective tool to understand relationship dynamics more deeply. My guess is that Blake is going to be just fine.

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Alicia H. Clark, PsyD

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